Meter Matters
Verse Cultures of the Long Nineteenth Century

Edited by Jason David Hall

“Hall’s edited collection is…alive to the latest scholarship, and full of excitingly experimental research.”

Cambridge Quarterly

“This outstanding collection traces the heated debates over the meaning and practice of metrical forms in 19th-century England (and to a lesser extent in the US).... The essays are uniformly excellent.... The book requires too much expertise for undergraduates, but will be required reading for poetry specialists. Summing Up: Highly recommended.”


“These ambitious and richly varied essays bring a new and vital energy to Victorian poetry studies and literary study more generally. Arguing, on the one hand, for a thoroughly historicized poetics and, on the other, for fresh theoretical attention to prosodic effects, the volume makes a convincing case: meter does indeed matter.”

Catherine Robson, New York University

Across the nineteenth century, meter mattered—in more ways and to more people than we might well appreciate today. For the period’s poets, metrical matters were a source of inspiration and often vehement debate. And the many readers, teachers, and pupils encountered meter and related topics in both institutional and popular forms.

The ten essays in Meter Matters showcase the range of metrical practice of poets from Wordsworth and Byron to Hopkins, Swinburne, and Tennyson; at the same time, the contributors bring into focus some of the metrical theorizing that shaped poetic thinking and responses to it throughout the nineteenth century. Paying close attention to the historical contours of Romantic and Victorian meters, as well as to the minute workings of the verse line, Meter Matters presents a fresh perspective on a subject that figured significantly in the century’s literature, and in its culture.

Jason David Hall is a senior lecturer in English at the University of Exeter, UK. He is the author of Seamus Heaney’s Rhythmic Contract and editor, with Ashby Bland Crowder, of Seamus Heaney: Poet, Critic, Translator.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
    A Great Multiplication of Meters
    Jason David Hall
  • One: Meter and Meaning
    Isobel Armstrong
  • Two: Romantic Measures
    Stressing the Sound of Sound
    Susan J. Wolfson
  • Three: Byron’s Feet
    Matthew Bevis
  • Four: “Break, Break, Break” into Song
    Yopie Prins
  • Five: Material Patmore
    Jason R. Rudy
  • Six: “For the Inscape ’s Sake”
    Sounding the Self in the Meters of Gerard Manley Hopkins
    Summer J. Star
  • Seven: “But the Law Must Itself Be Poetic”
    Swinburne, Omond, and the New Prosody
    Yisrael Levin
  • Eight: Popular Ballads
    Rhythmic Remediations in the Nineteenth Century
    Michael Cohen
  • Nine: Blank Verse and the Expansion of England
    The Meter of Tennyson’s Demeter
    Cornelia Pearsall
  • Ten: Prosody Wars
    Meredith Martin
  • Select Bibliography
  • Notes
  • Contributors
  • Index

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Related Subjects

Poetry · Victorian Studies · Literary Studies · Literary Criticism, UK · Literary Criticism



Retail price: $59.95, S.
Release date: Nov. 2011
300 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights: World


Release date: Nov. 2011
Rights: World