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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 Trauma of Meter

The Trauma of Meter

(p.145) 5 The Trauma of Meter
The Rise and Fall of Meter

Meredith Martin

Princeton University Press

This chapter shows how metrical poetry was used as an allegory for order, and examines in particular the metrical cultures of the Craiglockhart War Hospital. Reading early psychological and sociological theories by W. H. R. Rivers and Arthur Brock, it relates how treatments for shell shock included writing metrical poetry. Poems written in or inspired by time in the hospital, as well as the letters and articles published in the hospital magazine The Hydra, show how soldiers turned to writing as therapy. The chapter illustrate how poets reconfigured metrical form as an artificial yet necessary order, one to which their identities as English soldiers and subjects were bound. It recontextualizes First World War poets as the products of Edwardian and Georgian metrical culture and as sites for reinterpreting the nuances of meter's narrative in the early twentieth century. The fact that these poems occupy a middle ground between the aesthetic and the political, bridging the divide that the school system helped foster between “poetry” and “verse,” complicates the stability of each category.

Keywords:   English meter, metrical poetry, metrical culture, Craiglockhart War Hospital, English soldiers, poetry, W. H. R. Rivers, Arthur Brock, poetry writing

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