Meter in English: A Critical Engagement
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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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
A Defense of the NonIambic Meters
A Response to Robert Wallace
Some Responses to Robert Wallace
A New Footing
Verse vs ProseProsody vs Meter
Metrics and Pedagogical Economy
A Response to Robert Wallace
Completing the Circle
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accentual meter accentual verse accentual-syllabic meter accentual-syllabic verse amphibrach anacrusis anapestic Anapests and dactyls basis for meter caesura century conventional critical dactylic dactylic meters discussion double-iamb e-s ending English meter English verse example exist in English extra-syllable ending foot in English four-stress free verse Gioia green thought hear iamb iambic line iambic meter iambic norm iambic pentameter iambic verse Jeffers Jespersen lables language levels of stress linguistic Marianne Moore measure meter in English metrical stress metrists Moore's Nims non-iambic meters number of syllables pattern poem poem's poetic poetry poets Professor Wallace proposition prose prosodists pyrrhic foot quantity reader regular rhyme rhythm rhythmic Robert Wallace Robinson Jeffers Saintsbury scansion seems sense sound speech stress spondee stanza stressed and unstressed strong stresses syllabic meter syllabic verse syllable count syllables tetrameter Timothy Steele tion traditional trochaic trochaic meter trochee unstressed syllables variation versification words writing
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.