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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 Before- and Afterlife of Meter

The Before- and Afterlife of Meter

(p.181) 6 The Before- and Afterlife of Meter
The Rise and Fall of Meter

Meredith Martin

Princeton University Press

This chapter turns once more to Robert Bridges, whose death in 1930 marks the end of the book. He did not believe that English meter could be adequately represented by only one system, nor did he believe that the four systems he mastered exhausted its possibilities. He struggled with the pedagogic necessities of his time, founding the Society for Pure English, participating as poet laureate in the national metrical project during the First World War by writing for the war office, and editing the popular anthology of verse, The Spirit of Man. His late career poem “Poor Poll” engages with the modernist polyglossia and the rise of free verse by presenting an English prosody accessible to both high and popular audiences. It was Pound's eventual dismissal of Bridges that guaranteed his obsolescence. Pound's changing reactions to Bridges over the course of Pound's career betray an anxiety about meter's role in poetic mastery, as well as an attempt to control the narrative of English meter.

Keywords:   English meter, Robert Bridges, Society for Pure English, Ezra Pound, English prosody

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