20 ene. 2007

... "prosody... 'the science of versification; that part of the study of language which deals with the forms of metrical composition,' to cite the OED's definition--has largely disappeared from English-language poetry."

Wouldn't that be like saying that herpetology has disappeared from snakes? I speak a language, but I am not a linguist. Would it make sense to say that linguistics has largely disappeared from my speech? Prosody is the branch of linguistics which deals with rhythm and intonation and the like, and also with the specific applications of phonology in literature: poetic meter and rhythm, for example. Most poets have never been theoretical linguists. It is possible that they have held mistaken theories of prosody but still produced excellent verse. I am really scratching my head to figure out what the assertion that "prosody ... has disappeared from poetry" might possibly mean.

He then goes on to make specific comments about the prosody of recent poetry, arguing that there is a prevalence of rhythm over meter. In other words, he is talking about something that, according to his initial premise, does not exist in the first place! isn't the relation between meter and rhythm in poetry a matter for prosodists to discuss?

6 comentarios:

Andrew Shields dijo...

This is not a comment on your whole post but just on one sentence: "I speak a language, but am not a linguist."

One thing I learned from talking to lots of British people is that in Britain, the common meaning of "linguist" is not what one understands in the U.S. (someone who works in the field of linguistics) but "a person who speaks several languages fluently."

So of course in that sense I assume you are a linguist, since you know English and Spanish!

Nothing to do with Timothy Steele, of course. Brian Campbell posted a discussion of one of Steele's poems recently:


John Gallaher dijo...

I've never much cared for Timothy Steele's work, and this bit now shows me I won't much care for what he has to say about poetry either.

Henry Gould dijo...

I assume Steele is referring here to the praxis - the applied science (or knowledge) - of prosody; in which case (whether you agree with it or not) the statement is not as ridiculous or meaningless as you suggest.

Jonathan dijo...

Well, no. If he were referring to "applied prosody" he wouldn't have used the classic high-school crutch of quoting the dictionary definition of the word! What is idiotic is not noticing that this definition is incongruent with the claim he wants to make.

Plus, if he means "meter has disappeared from poetry," as I think he does, that is almost as dishonest. The last two Nobel prize winners writing in English-language poetry both use a lot of meter. "Poetry" publishes a lot of things written in meter too.

Even Creeley rhymes, for God's sake. I don't know whether it's mostly stupid or mostly just dishonest.

Henry Gould dijo...

Well, it's a minor quibble, Jonathan. But I can easily read "science of versification" as referring to one of the practical sciences, the practical knowledge once applied by practitioners.

Jonathan dijo...

What is it with this post, getting page view after page view? Where are all you people coming from?