Blank Verse: A Guide to Its History and Use by Robert B. Shaw

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By Robert B. Shaw

Clean verse—unrhymed iambic pentameter—is regularly occurring to many because the kind of Shakespeare’s performs and Milton’s Paradise misplaced. considering its first use in English within the 16th century, it has supplied poets with a strong and flexible metrical line, permitting the construction of a few of the main memorable poems of Wordsworth, Keats, Tennyson, Frost, Stevens, Wilbur, Nemerov, Hecht, and a number of others. A protean meter, clean verse lends itself to lyric, dramatic, narrative, and meditative modes; to epigram in addition to to epic. clean Verse is the 1st ebook considering that 1895 to provide an in depth learn of the meter’s technical positive aspects and its heritage, in addition to its many makes use of. Robert B. Shaw offers abundant area and emphasis to the achievements of contemporary and postmodern poets operating within the shape, a space overlooked before through scholarship.

With its compact yet inclusive survey of greater than 4 centuries of poetry, clean Verse is stuffed with useful recommendation for poets of our personal day who may need to try the shape or improve their mastery of it. Enriched with quite a few examples, Shaw’s discussions of verse approach are full of life and obtainable, inviting not just to apprentice poets yet to all readers of poetry.

Shaw’s procedure may still reassure those that locate prosody intimidating, whereas encouraging experts to imagine extra generally approximately how conventional poetic varieties will be taught, realized, practiced, and favored within the twenty-first century. along with filling a conspicuous hole in literary historical past, clean Verse issues the way in which forward for poets drawn to exploring clean verse and its multitude of makes use of.

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Extra resources for Blank Verse: A Guide to Its History and Use

Sample text

This kind of catalogue structure could be numbing; but here the richness of language and the variation in length of individual phrases works against the threatening beads-on-a-string effect. Still, compared with the passages from Hamlet and Othello, this one is stiffer both in movement and in overall conception: what it shows is that Shakespeare early on was working at the problem he eventually solved so brilliantly for himself and for his followers. We have concentrated thus far on the endings of Shakespeare’s lines.

Juliet’s nurse rambles on in recalling how old Juliet is: Even or odd, of all days in the year, Come Lammas Eve at night shall she be fourteen. ) Were of an age. Well, Susan is with God; She was too good for me. 16–20) These passages in the conversational style illustrate just a few of the possibilities for dramatic uses of blank verse. Frost and Shakespeare each delineate a single character by means of a voice. In the Nemerov passage the narrator’s offhand, satirically edged tone alternates easily with the voices of his characters.

These all are vital for creating the sort of flexibility and dynamism required to knit together the sorts of intricate patterns we find in passages extending over many lines. It might be thought that such devices are elements of a grand style, given the lofty air of the example. ) In fact, as we shall see, these and ancillary features are part of the mechanics of blank verse regardless of its qualities of diction and syntax. Here is the opening of Andrew Hudgins’s high school–era memory, “Oh, Say, Can You See”: “Granddaddy owned half of Marengo County,” she said.

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