An eminent scholar's guide to hearing poets' work When we listen to the words of a poet in the theater, or read them silently on the page, what is it that we hear? How do such crafty writers as Shakespeare or Donne, Wyatt or Yeats, Wordsworth or Lowell arrange their rhythms to make their poetry more expressive? A gathering of perceptive essays written over twenty-five yearAn eminent scholar's guide to hearing poets' workWhen we listen to the words of a poet in the theater, or read them silently on the page, what is it that we hear? How do such crafty writers as Shakespeare or Donne, Wyatt or Yeats, Wordsworth or Lowell arrange their rhythms to make their poetry more expressive? A gathering of perceptive essays written over twenty-five years, this book by a distinguished scholar and poet helps us hear the measures poets use to conjure up strangeness, urgency, distance, surprise, the immediacy of speech, or the sounding of silence....
|Title||:||Hearing The Measures: Shakespearean And Other Inflections|
|Number of Pages||:||344 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Hearing The Measures: Shakespearean And Other Inflections Reviews
I searched out this book with some enthusiasm after enjoying Wright’s wonderful Shakespeare’s Metrical Art. (See my review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show....) This collection of essays, though, was not as interesting.Wright’s book on Shakespeare was full of eye-opening revelations about the Bard’s work, but also poetry and iambic pentameter in general. The focus(es) of this book is much narrower. “Hendiady in Hamlet” is one of the more interesting essays, offering insight into this rarely used figure of speech. I’m not completely sold on Wright’s use of this to interpret or highlight the doubleness in the play. (What Shakespearean character does not show doubleness – or multiple sides?)There are some revelations on Thomas Wyatt’s form (if that interests anyone), as well as some mildly interesting comments on Donne, Yeats and, of course, Shakespeare. The longest essay, Hearing the Measures, gets into the weeds explaining the different nuances between several schools of prosody. (Naively, I didn’t know there was more than one.) The most interesting essay to me was “An Almost Oral Art.” Here Wright talks about the difference between the written text and the performance in the context of Shakespeare’s development. His argument is basically that throughout Shakespeare’s career, his blank verse became looser and more daring – venturing ever closer to prose in the ears of listeners. (I recommend scanning the first scene of Othello.) After Shakespeare, the form continued to loosen until it lost all of its oral powers (i.e., listeners couldn’t distinguish poetry from prose) and poetry started living (almost exclusively?) on the written page. Wright argues – rather oddly to me – that poetry is/was traditionally a mnemonic device in which ancient societies remembered important and vital information/documents. (Prose was the province of the everyday, unrecorded speech.) With the rise in writing – and its record on paper – prose rose to dominance as the recorder of key information. I find it odd that Wright – a prosodist – takes this approach and ignores rhythm. He fails to notice that ancient societies also memorized prose. You need not look farther than the Hebrew Bible. That oddity aside, I think Wright offers a very interesting opinion about the effect of the printed document on poetry. As poetry began to appear in the printed form, it gained the ability (power?) to move ever farther from its recognizable (more formal, song-like) rhythmic features to an ever looser, more daring form (eventually, you could argue, leading to free verse). The written form gave Shakespeare (and others) the license to test the limits of the form, while also keeping it recognizable on the printed page. (Though harder to recognize aurally by his audience.)Overall, Hearing the Measures is moderately interesting. But it is for prosodists only – those who like to argue about primary and secondary stresses. There are several nuggets that may be interesting to the avid reader of poetry, but not enough to warrant full immersion in the book.