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date: 14 December 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Many of Wordsworth’s early readers refused to describe his writing as poetry. Although they read with different expectations, they united in objecting to his versification, particularly in his blank verse. This chapter demonstrates that such objections arose from a reading practice that Wordsworth’s verse resisted, of deriving an account of a poem’s versification from a confident sense of the usual pronunciation of that poem’s words. In Wordsworth’s verse, the high proportion of words so common that they can be read aloud in several ways made any such confidence impossible: his versification was and is hard to describe with certainty. The chapter elucidates the effects and significance of this through Wordsworth’s accounts of metre and ‘The Brothers’ itself, dwelling on the separation between metre and language that he insisted on, the differences between metre and versification that his writing suggests, and the effects upon pronunciation and meaning that this entails.

Keywords: Wordsworth, versification, blank verse, verse, pronunciation, reading aloud, metre, language

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