The Ghost of Meter: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse

Overview

The Ghost of Meter: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse provides a new strategy for interpreting the ways in which metrical patterns contribute to the meaning of poems. Annie Finch puts forth the theory of "the metrical code," a way of tracing the changing cultural connotations of metered verse, especially iambic pentameter. By applying the code to specific poems, the author is able to analyze a writer's relation to literary history and to trace the evolution of modern and contemporary poetries from the ...
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Overview

The Ghost of Meter: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse provides a new strategy for interpreting the ways in which metrical patterns contribute to the meaning of poems. Annie Finch puts forth the theory of "the metrical code," a way of tracing the changing cultural connotations of metered verse, especially iambic pentameter. By applying the code to specific poems, the author is able to analyze a writer's relation to literary history and to trace the evolution of modern and contemporary poetries from the forms that preceded them. The introduction offers a thorough survey of ideas about meter and meaning from the ancient Greeks to the present, tracing the changing role of meter in poetic theory. Subsequent chapters treat the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Stephen Crane, and T. S. Eliot, who wrote during a crucial period in American poetry, the transition from nineteenth- to twentieth-century poetics. A final chapter illustrates developments in the metrical code during the contemporary period, with readings of poems by Audre Lorde, Anne Sexton, and Charles Wright. The author's theory is informed by the work of Roland Barthes, the Russian Formalists, and feminist literary theory. Her account of nineteenth- and twentieth-century poetics relies on extensive primary research in prosodic theory and analyzes many of these texts for the first time. Annie Finch is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and Prosody, University of Northern Iowa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780472087099
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press
  • Publication date: 12/21/2000
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Meter, Meaning, and the Metrical Code 3
2 Dickinson and Patriarchal Meter: A Theory of the Metrical Code 13
3 Iambic and Dactylic Associations in Leaves of Grass 31
4 Stephen Crane and the Rhythms of the 1890s 57
5 T. S. Eliot and the Metrical Crisis of the Early Twentieth Century 81
6 Contemporary Free Verse: A Postscript 129
Notes 141
Bibliography of Works Cited 155
Index 169
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