The Passion of Meter: A Study of Wordsworth's Metrical Art

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Kent State University Press, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 290 pages
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Brennan O'Donnell's The Passion of Meter is the first extended critical study of Wordsworth's metrical theory and his practice in the art of versification. Until now, relatively little attention has been paid to the relationship between Wordsworth's attempt to incorporate into his poetry the language of "common life" and the highly complex and decidedly conventional metrical forms in which he presents this language. O'Donnell provides a detailed treatment of what Wordsworth calls the "innumerable minutiae" that the art of the poet depends upon, and of the broader vision to which those minutiae contribute. The core of this book is dedicated to a close examination of the elements of Wordsworth's craft. It sets forth in detail the rules and conventions that govern the poet's habits of metrical composition, identifying the idiosyncrasies that distinguish his practice from those of his predecessors and contemporaries. It also offers a close reading of a substantial body of Wordsworth's poetry, with careful attention paid to complex relationships between the minutiae of its sensuous forms (metrical form, rhythm, rhyme, assonance, alliteration) and larger thematic, aesthetic, and philosophic concerns.

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