The metres of 'Dover Beach'

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Abstract

'Dover Beach' is an iambic text which has four different lengths of line. I apply the Bracketed Grid theory of metrical form to the text and show that the four lengths of line can all be generated by a variant form of the iambic pentameter rules, and thus are all related at a more abstract level. I then show that the text is organized in a way which, in relevance theoretic terms, implicates that it is iambic pentameter in the conventional sense, and that this implicated form partially competes with the determinate metrical form generated by the metrical rules. I conclude that the possibility of competition between two distinct kinds of literary form, as illustrated by 'Dover Beach', can be a characteristic source of complexity in a literary text.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-117
Number of pages18
JournalLanguage and Literature
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Keywords

  • bracketed grid theory
  • generative metrics
  • iambic pentameter
  • implicature
  • english studies

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