From Stress to Stress: An Autobiography of English Prosody

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Archon Books, 1992 - 185 pages
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Burton Baffel demonstrates an absolutely unique, absolutely foolproof, completely accurate and thoroughly comprehensive method of understanding prosody in English. Instead of deriving an irrelevant terminology from Greek or Latin, instead of manufacturing a theory, instead of presenting mere verbiage, he offers hundreds of examples from the years 800 to 1990, of how poets actually use prosody, and the patterns of stress, in their work. What poets in fact do is what the prosody of poetry written in English in fact is: understanding what the poems tell us is not only the crucial but in a sense the only task. So English prosody may best tell its own story, by its own practice. Mr. Raffel has entirely refrained from offering elaborate conclusions, or imposing any theoretical frame work. It is his implicit thesis that "theories of prosody" are an unnecessary evil, and an unnecessary befuddlement that, as often as not, make poetry seem unappealing and boring to those who want to understand it. Mr. Baffel helps guide his reader by calling attention to the actual practice of real poets (both famous and not-so-famous), and he does so in his usual acute and often rather pointed way. Selections of what poets themselves say about prosody are included, as is modern linguistic explanation and commentary.

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From stress to stress: an autobiography of English prosody

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Raffel's book is not--and is not meant to be--a "standard'' like Paul Fussell Jr.'s Poetic Meter and Poetic Form (1965). It is, rather, a single-minded theoretical history of English scansion ... Read full review


The general dominance of language
The particular dominance of the English language
Old English AngloSaxon prosody

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