Letter on Sound

Susan Stewart

in Close Listening

Published in print July 1998 | ISBN: 9780195109924
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855261 | DOI:
Letter on Sound

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  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


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This chapter focuses on lyric poetry and its features such as counterpoint, harmony, syncopation, stress, duration, and timbre. It also presents the number of complex conditions under which that “sound” is and is not an aspect of lyric. The complexity of the relation between lyric and musicality is that the dynamic tension between sound and semantic can at once both extend and diminish meaning. This chapter also describes features of sound manipulation in poetry such as counterpoising, tagging, echo effects, diagramming, and the “ornamental” devices of rubrication and embellishment that can make the relation between sound and meaning particularly textured and complex. As a figure of spoken sound, the poem produces effects of transformation in sound and it does not fix or reify the terms of utterance.

Keywords: lyric poetry; counterpoint; syncopation; stress; duration; timbre; lyric and musicality; tagging; echo effects; diagramming

Chapter.  12657 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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