Michael D. Hurley

in The Oxford Handbook of Victorian Poetry

Published in print October 2013 | ISBN: 9780199576463
Published online December 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature


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Late nineteenth-century verse is marked by an intense, restless and self-conscious preoccupation with rhythm. To a degree unprecedented in English literary history, Victorian poets seek to reclaim archaic prosodies, to refresh the familiar stock, and to innovate brand new patternings and textures. What’s most salient about the period’s verse form is, however, not so much its multiformity as its ‘fleshliness’: its appeal to our mouths over our minds; or rather, its appeal to our minds through our mouths. This article explores that embodied quality of Victorian poetry by teasing out a difference of opinion on the elusive question of what constitutes a ‘real understanding of rhythm’, as articulated by two of the period’s most celebrated verse stylists, Algernon Charles Swinburne and Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Keywords: Gerard Manley Hopkins; Algernon Charles Swinburne; Alfred; Lord Tennyson; Victorian poetry; rhythmic style

Article.  8922 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (19th Century)

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