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Prose PoetryAn Introduction$
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Paul Hetherington and Cassandra Atherton

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691180656

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691180656.001.0001

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Prose Poetry, Rhythm, and the City

Prose Poetry, Rhythm, and the City

(p.51) Chapter 3 Prose Poetry, Rhythm, and the City
Prose Poetry

Paul Hetherington

Cassandra Atherton

Princeton University Press

The chapter examines the rhythms of prose poetry, which are different from those found in metered verse, and vary, too, from the rhythms of free verse. The main differences relate to what has sometimes been understood as a deficiency in prose poetry — namely, that prose poets do not have meter or the poetic line when they try to achieve effects of cadence or musicality. But because of the English language's grammatical flexibility, these resources allow for an almost infinite rhythmic variety in prose poems. Such variety is a crucial part of the prose poetry tradition, notwithstanding the deliberately fractured rhythms or flat tonality of some works. William Wordsworth wrote lineated poetry, but in expressing a view that prose and poetry ought to be written in the same kind of language, and in repudiating what he understood to be “poetic diction,” Wordsworth opened the way for English-language poets to explicitly recognize the connections between poetry and prose. In other words, he helped to lay the ground not only for English-language free verse but for English-language prose poetry, too.

Keywords:   rhythms, prose poetry, free verse, prose poets, English language, prose poems, William Wordsworth, poetic diction, metered verse, musicality

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