The Passion of Meter: A Study of Wordsworth's Metrical Art by Brennan O'Donnell

By Brennan O'Donnell

The eagerness of Meter is the 1st prolonged serious research of Wordsworth's metrical thought and his perform within the artwork of versification. in the past, rather little cognizance has been paid to the connection among Wordsworth's try and comprise into his poetry the language of "common lifestyles" and the hugely advanced and decidedly traditional metrical types within which he offers this language. O'Donnell offers a close remedy of what Wordsworth calls the "innumerable trivia" that the artwork of the poet will depend on and of the wider imaginative and prescient to which these trivia give a contribution. starting with a reassessment of Wordsworth's usually misrepresented prose reviews approximately meter, O'Donnell argues that those comments-considered in mild of Wordsworth's perform and inside of their 18th-century context are extra unorthodox and tough than formerly suggestion. In emphasizing the actual physique of the poem because the website of a dynamic stress among conflicting passions - "the ardour of feel" and "the ardour of meter." Wordsworth areas problems with metrical shape and versification within the foreground of his thought of poetry. The center of this publication is devoted to an in depth exam of the weather of Wordsworth's craft. It units forth intimately the principles and conventions that govern the poet's behavior of metrical composition, selecting the idiosyncrasies that distinguish his perform from these of his predecessors and contemporaries. It additionally bargains a detailed studying of a considerable physique of Wordsworth's poetry, with cautious awareness paid to advanced relationships among the trivialities of its sensuous kinds (metrical shape, rhythm, rhyme, assonance, alliteration) and bigger thematic, aesthetic, and sophic issues. As a departure from a lot modern feedback that has a tendency to regard poetry exclusively as textual content, the fervour of Meter demonstrates the advantages of learning the main points of versecraft. O'Donnell sizes the significance of listening to Wordsworth's poems as sonic performances in time in addition to seeing them at the web page.

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Wordsworth recognizes and values the power of meter to regularize, elevate, or otherwise distance the language of a poem from the language of everyday life, while at the same time he refuses to adopt an already codified and distanced language, because such language would be insufficiently powerful to mingle with and move what he calls the "blood & vital juices of our minds" ("Essay on Morals," Prose 1:103). Most important, the use in the Preface of the participle "fitting" and the strict limitation of the goals of the poetic experiment implied in the phrase "how far" also imply that Wordsworth saw a poem as a meeting ground for such opposition.

It invites rereading, Wordsworth contends, because the act of reading verse is an inherently and complexly pleasurable activity. Wordsworth's attempt to identify the source of the pleasure arising from composition in meter leads him to the central statement of his metrical theory: < previous page page_21 next page > < previous page page_22 next page > Page 22 Among the chief . . causes [upon which the pleasure received from metrical language depends] is to be reckoned a principle which must be well known to those who have made any of the Arts the object of accurate reflection; I mean the pleasure which the mind derives from the perception of similitude in dissimilitude.

All must depend upon < previous page page_26 next page > < previous page page_27 next page > Page 27 the sense, the sentiment, and the feeling. . I know of no such distinction as a verse mouth and a prose mouth: I want only a distinct, a sonorous, an articulative mouth. (xv-xvi) In responding, Wordsworth says that he is in broad agreement with Thelwall's "general rule" that "the art of verse should not compell you to read in . . e. not to give them an intonation- of one kind or an other, or to follow them with a pause, not called out for by the passion of the subject, but by the passion of metre merely.

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