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The Rise and Fall of MeterPoetry and English National Culture, 1860--1930$
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Meredith Martin

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691152738

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691152738.001.0001

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The Stigma of Meter

The Stigma of Meter

(p.48) 2 The Stigma of Meter
The Rise and Fall of Meter

Meredith Martin

Princeton University Press

This chapter resituates Gerard Manley Hopkins, whose name has become synonymous with metrical experiment, within the prosodic, philological, and theological debates of his time. His commitment to defining accent and stress in English was a critical turning point in his thinking about his identity as a Catholic and as an Englishman. It argues that his attempt to create a new English meter was a particularly Victorian engagement with poetic form, national identity, and the English language. Broader movements in comparative philology (particularly those associated with scholars such as Max Müller and Richard Chevenix Trench) influenced Hopkins's attempts to reconcile the history of English and the materiality of meter with his Catholic beliefs. Hopkins is used to prove that even the most obscure and alienated-seeming poet must be read as part of the broader debate about what meter can do for the quickly changing nation. Hopkins's successes and failures, anticipate later attempts to examine the constituent parts of meter and the English language.

Keywords:   English meter, Gerard Manley Hopkins, poetic form, national identity, English language, Victorian meter

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