Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

"The Rise and Fall of Meter" by Meredith Martin, Princeton UP, 2012

"It is the premise of this book that the literary movements around the time of the First World War, along with the national, pedagogical, and political movements in the period leading up to it, essentially erased a vast history of debates about versification in English", p.5. The use of poetry's regular rhythms as therapy for wounded soldiers was also a feature.

There was Matthew Arnold - "Good poetry does undoubtedly tend to form the soul and character; it tends to beget a love of beauty and of truth in alliance together, it suggests, however indirectly, high and noble principles of action, and it inspires the emotion so helpful in making principles operative", ("Reports", 1880, p.200) then "Arnold's cultural metrics, in which poetry by Shakespeare, for instance, will subtly and intimately transform a student into a good citizen, is replaced by a patriotic pedagogy wherein verses written in rousing rhythms are taught as a naturally felt English 'beat'", p.12, and then "composing in meter, for many patients trained in poetic craft, was a new kind of therapeutic activity that coupled the expressive aspects of Freudian psychotherapy ... with sociological ergo-therapy, or, 'cure by functioning'", p.146

Consequently, "The immediate success of the [war poem] anthologies ... proved that the war had aroused in a new public an ear for contemporary verse ... There has never before, in the world's history, been an epoch which has tolerated and even welcomed such a flood of verse as has been poured forth over Great Britain during the last three years", Gosse, "Some Soldier Poets", 1917. "Few writers benefitted more from the boom in soldier poetry and the explosion of popular verses during the First World War than the poets associated with what we now call 'modernism'", p.181.

But actually, "Hopkins's metrical experiments were not ahead of his time; on the contrary, they place him firmly amid the Victorian concerns about the standards and character of the English language", p.78.

Other passages I noted include

  • "no fact of the world is better known than that metre, or rhythmical construction, is that form of language which is the first beloved of memory in its dawn, and the latest which attends it in its journey in decline", George Raymond, Chronicles of England: A Metrical History, 1842, p.viii
  • "Put simply, 'inscape' is the unified complex of characteristics that gives each thing its uniqueness and thereby differentiates it from other things, and 'instress' is the force of being that holds inscape together", p.54
  • "I do not write for the public. You are my public and I hope to convert you", Hopkins to Bridges, 1877
  • "[b]lank verse has been the metre of genius, that it is only used successfully by indubitable poets", Symonds, "The Blank Verse of Milton", 1880.
  • "Saintsbury wanted it both ways. On the one hand, he wanted to popularize the foot-based system as natural for those with an English ear, and on the other hand wanted all Englishmen to possess an ear precisely like his own, despite his bitter awareness that they did not", p.99

No comments:

Post a Comment