Rhythms, Poetic and Political: The Case of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Rhythms, Poetic and Political: The Case of Elizabeth Barrett Browning CaRolinE lEvinE ow should one go about addressing the politics of prosody? in recent years scholars of victorian poetry have tended to choose among three alternatives. The first is what we might call the "reflective" model. in this school of thought, poetic meter points us to the temporal patterns of social life, mirroring or enacting a historically specific shaping of experiential time. Herbert F. Tucker, for example, reads the meter of Barrett Browning's "Cry of the Children" as revealing the uncomfortable disjuncture between the embodied time of human life and the jolting experience of factory labor. "nauseatingly ill-proportioned to human measure," Barrett Browning's "stop-and-start versification mimics the strain and clatter of steam-driven machinery."1 Similarly, ivan Kreilkamp suggests that victorian poetry could be read in a newly "super-charged realm of electricity, speed, heat, and light," offering up metrical experiences of social "shock . . . mobility, acceleration, discontinuity, the transitory, the elusive and the ephemeral."2 one of Kreilkamp's most vivid examples comes from Aurora Leigh, a passage when aurora flees "southward in the roar of steam" (vii.396). Barrett Browning emerges here as ambivalent, torn between excitement at the "velocity and eroticized power" of the train and horror at its http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Victorian Poetry West Virginia University Press

Rhythms, Poetic and Political: The Case of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Victorian Poetry, Volume 49 (2) – Jun 9, 2011

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Publisher
West Virginia University Press
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Copyright © West Virginia University Press
ISSN
1530-7190
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Abstract

CaRolinE lEvinE ow should one go about addressing the politics of prosody? in recent years scholars of victorian poetry have tended to choose among three alternatives. The first is what we might call the "reflective" model. in this school of thought, poetic meter points us to the temporal patterns of social life, mirroring or enacting a historically specific shaping of experiential time. Herbert F. Tucker, for example, reads the meter of Barrett Browning's "Cry of the Children" as revealing the uncomfortable disjuncture between the embodied time of human life and the jolting experience of factory labor. "nauseatingly ill-proportioned to human measure," Barrett Browning's "stop-and-start versification mimics the strain and clatter of steam-driven machinery."1 Similarly, ivan Kreilkamp suggests that victorian poetry could be read in a newly "super-charged realm of electricity, speed, heat, and light," offering up metrical experiences of social "shock . . . mobility, acceleration, discontinuity, the transitory, the elusive and the ephemeral."2 one of Kreilkamp's most vivid examples comes from Aurora Leigh, a passage when aurora flees "southward in the roar of steam" (vii.396). Barrett Browning emerges here as ambivalent, torn between excitement at the "velocity and eroticized power" of the train and horror at its

Journal

Victorian PoetryWest Virginia University Press

Published: Jun 9, 2011

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