The Rise and Fall of Meter

Poetry and English National Culture, 1860--1930

Meredith Martin

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Beschreibung

Why do we often teach English poetic meter by the Greek terms iamb and trochee? How is our understanding of English meter influenced by the history of England's sense of itself in the nineteenth century? Not an old-fashioned approach to poetry, but a dynamic, contested, and inherently nontraditional field, "English meter" concerned issues of personal and national identity, class, education, patriotism, militarism, and the development of English literature as a discipline. The Rise and Fall of Meter tells the unknown story of English meter from the late eighteenth century until just after World War I. Uncovering a vast and unexplored archive in the history of poetics, Meredith Martin shows that the history of prosody is tied to the ways Victorian England argued about its national identity. Gerard Manley Hopkins, Coventry Patmore, and Robert Bridges used meter to negotiate their relationship to England and the English language; George Saintsbury, Matthew Arnold, and Henry Newbolt worried about the rise of one metrical model among multiple competitors. The pressure to conform to a stable model, however, produced reactionary misunderstandings of English meter and the culture it stood for. This unstable relationship to poetic form influenced the prose and poems of Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, W. B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, and Alice Meynell. A significant intervention in literary history, this book argues that our contemporary understanding of the rise of modernist poetic form was crucially bound to narratives of English national culture.

Meredith Martin is associate professor of English at Princeton University.

Winner of the 2013 Warren-Brooks Award for Outstanding Literary Criticism, Robert Penn Warren Center and Western Kentucky University "[T]hrough her skillful close readings, Martin reveals a generation of war poets much more finely tuned to nationalist discourses of metre and their changing relationship to them than had been previously acknowledged."--Elizabeth Micakovic, Literature & History "Martin's great accomplishment, done with impressive detail, panache, and style, is to reveal the ideological presuppositions, political desires, and personal needs of metrical practitioners and theorists in the culture and period that she examines."--Richard Cureton, Review of English Studies

Produktdetails

Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 288
Erscheinungsdatum 06.05.2012
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-691-15512-8
Verlag Princeton University Press
Maße (L/B/H) 23.4/15.6/1.7 cm
Gewicht 468 g

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  • Acknowledgments ix Introduction: The Failure of Meter 1 Modern Instability 1 Metrical Communities 5 Meter as Culture 10 A Note on Historical Prosody 14 Chapter 1: The History of Meter 16 A Metrical History of England 16 A Grammatical History of England 33 Grammatical Instability 39 Metrical Instability 42 Chapter 2: The Stigma of Meter 48 Metrical Irrelevance 48 The British Empire of Letters 52 Marking Instress 54 Acute Stress in --The Wreck of the Deutschland-- 61 Mistrusting the Ear 67 Chapter 3: The Institution of Meter 79 Metrical Mastery 79 Inventing the Britannic 87 Dynamic Reading 91 Mastery for the Masses 94 The English Ear 99 A Prosodic Entity 102 Chapter 4: The Discipline of Meter 109 Patriotic Pedagogy 109 Matthew Arnold's Metrical Intimacy 112 Henry Newbolt's Cultural Metrics 122 Private Meters, Public Rhythms 130 The Sound of the Drum 139 Chapter 5: The Trauma of Meter 145 Wartime, Poetics 145 Sad Death for a Poet! 150 Therapeutic Measures 158 Bent-Double 171 The Kindred Points of Heaven and Home 176 Chapter 6: The Before- and Afterlife of Meter 181 Metrical Modernism 181 Make It Old: Robert Bridges and Obsolescence 187 Alice Meynell's "English Metres" 198 Toward a Critical Prosody 203 Notes 207 Works Cited 241 Index 261