Meter in English: A Critical Engagement

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David Baker
University of Arkansas Press, 1996 M01 1 - 368 pages
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In 1993, poet, author, and teacher Robert Wallace wrote an essay, "Meter in English," to clarify and simplify methods of studying the line-by-line rhythms and structure of poetry. When David Baker circulated Wallace's essay to other poets and student of prosody, the ten propositions it contained elicited an excited and powerful reaction from each respondent. Some strongly concurred; others expressed rousing disagreement. United States Poet Laureate Robert Haas called the essay "a paradigm shift" in our understanding of English prosody.
David Baker has gathered Wallace's essay, fourteen essay-length responses - from poets as divergent in practice as Timothy Steele and Robert Hass, John Frederick Nims and Eavan Boland - and an extensive afterword by Wallace that brings the argument full circle. With Wallace's ten points as a common benchmark, the respondents have created an unparalleled sampling of thought on the status of meter in poetics today and the rich diversity of opinion on how poems achieve their sound and rhythm. Taken as a whole, the collection becomes a lastingly valuable teaching guide to meter as it's understood by some of its finest scholars and makers.

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Meter in English: a critical engagement

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In 1993, the poet Robert Wallace sent editor Baker and others an essay (included here) called "Meter in English," which seeks to clarify its subject through a series of propositions, the main being ... Read full review

Meter in English: a critical engagement

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In 1993, the poet Robert Wallace sent editor Baker and others an essay (included here) called "Meter in English," which seeks to clarify its subject through a series of propositions, the main being ... Read full review

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Contents

Meter in English
3
PART TWO
43
A Response
45
A Defense of the NonIambic Meters
59
MeterMaking Arguments
75
A Response to Robert Wallace
97
Some Responses to Robert Wallace
109
A New Footing
125
Verse vs ProseProsody vs Meter
249
Metrics and Pedagogical Economy
265
Two Letters
279
A Response to Robert Wallace
283
PART THREE
293
Completing the Circle
295
Bibliography
351
Contributors
357

Metrical Pleasures of Our Time
151
Strength in Diversity
169
Meter and the Fortunes of the Numerical Imagination
197
Staunch Meter Great Song
221
Index of Proposal Discussions
361
Index of Authors
363
Copyright

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Page v - The sound must seem an echo to the sense : Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows, And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows ; But when loud surges lash the sounding shore, The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar : When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw, The line too labours, and the words move slow ; Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain, Flies o'er th' unbending corn, and skims along the main.
Page 190 - Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother. Death, ere thou hast slain another Fair and learn'd and good as she, Time shall throw a dart at thee.
Page 127 - Jesus me, the last delinquent, Deems the profanest. Man disavows, and Deity disowns me ; Hell might afford my miseries a shelter ; Therefore Hell keeps her ever-hungry mouths all Bolted against me.
Page 20 - Christabel is not, properly speaking, irregular, though it may seem so from its being founded on a new principle : namely, that of counting in each line the accents, not the syllables.
Page 158 - I employ sprung rhythm at all? because it is the nearest to the rhythm of prose, that is the native and natural rhythm of speech...
Page 175 - And for ther is so gret diversite In Englissh and in writyng of cure tonge, So prey I God that non myswrite the, Ne the mysmetre for defaute of tonge.
Page 157 - THE FISH wade through black jade. Of the crow-blue mussel-shells, one keeps adjusting the ash-heaps; opening and shutting itself like an injured fan. The barnacles which encrust the side of the wave, cannot hide there for the submerged shafts of the sun, split, like spun glass, move themselves with spotlight swiftness into the crevices — in and out, illuminating the turquoise sea of bodies. The water drives a wedge of iron through the iron edge of the cliff; whereupon the stars, pink...
Page 252 - I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

About the author (1996)

David Baker is author or editor of fourteen books of poetry and criticism. He holds the Thomas B. Fordham Chair at Denison University, teaches regularly in the Warren Wilson College MFA program, and is the poetry editor of the Kenyon Review.

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