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Victorian Poetry and the Culture of the Heart$
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Kirstie Blair

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199273942

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199273942.001.0001

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Shocks and Spasms: Rhythm and the Pulse of Verse

Shocks and Spasms: Rhythm and the Pulse of Verse

(p.63) 2 Shocks and Spasms: Rhythm and the Pulse of Verse
Victorian Poetry and the Culture of the Heart

Kirstie Blair (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter broadly considers connections between metre and the pulse. Victorian medical explanations of the heartbeat often turned to musical or rhythmic comparisons, while writers on prosody and music, from the eighteenth century onwards, turned to metaphors of pulsation to explain the affective powers of rhythm. Accounts of metre by E. S. Dallas, Coventry Patmore, and others turn towards a more organic view of prosody, as opposed to accounts which perceive it as mechanical. The chapter also analyses the function of rhythm in heart-centred poems by Barrett, Poe, and Hopkins, and includes a detailed discussion of the ‘spasmodic’ poets of the 1850s.

Keywords:   metre, prosody, pulse, rhythm, spasmodic, affect

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