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Meter in English


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In 1993, the poet Robert Wallace sent editor Baker and others an essay (included here) called "Meter in English," which seeks to clarify its subject through a series of propositions, the main being that there are only iambic meters in English. Baker, the author of four books of poetry himself (most recently, After the Reunion, Univ. of Arkansas Pr., 1994), circulated the essay to 14 distinguished formal poets, including Eavan Boland, Dana Gioia, Rachel Hadas, Robert Haas, and Richard Wilbur, each of whom has written a response. These rejoinders range from nodding agreement to vigorous challenge; Annie Finch, for example, sticks up for anapests and dactyls with a devotee's zeal. In the final essay, Robert Wallace returns to meditate on the points raised by the others. There may be more to say on the subject of English prosody in the future, but anyone who tries will have to begin with this exhaustive consideration of the topic. Highly recommended.‘David Kirby, Florida State Univ., Tallahassee

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