Essays in Romanticism

Fascinating Rhythm

Essays in Romanticism (2018), 25, (1), 31–45.

Abstract

This essay focuses on one of the lesser blank-verse meditations in the Lyrical Ballads, “Lines Left Upon a Seat in a Yew-Tree,” to argue that the poem’s thematization of barrenness allegorizes blank verse as the supreme—because barely-there—poetic form. The achievement of blank verse is its conversion of meter into a “virtual” property, a point elaborated with reference to contemporary media theory as well as eighteenth-century poetics. In readings of Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight” and Wordsworth’s “Boy of Winander,” the essay concludes that blank verse is “heard,” paradoxically, in the pauses of deep silence that momentarily interrupt what Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick calls the “hammering iteration of rhythm.”

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Details

Author details

Russett, Margaret