Friday, January 24, 2020
Applications of a Connectionist Model of Poetic Meter to Problems in Generative Metrics :: Poem Poetry Poet Meter Metrics Essays
Applications of a Connectionist Model of Poetic Meter to Problems in Generative Metrics Meter is one of the most distinctive formal features of English verse. Yet theoretical approaches to metrical analysis have proved problematical for a number of reasons. Traditional metrics, based upon scansion systems derived from Latin forms, is strong and flexible in its ability to describe individual units of a line, but fails to describe well the dynamics of the line as a whole and the lexical and syntactic structures which underlie that line. Moreover, traditional metrics does not address the general issue of metricality: most lines of poetry show some variation from metrical norms through the substitution of irregular units (such as a trochee opening an iambic line). When do such variations, which are permissible in individual units, render the line as a whole unmetrical? Generative metrics does address these issues by analyzing underlying lexical and syntactic structures and formulating rules to describe allowable and unallowable metrical transgressions. In this way, th e theory defines metricality, distinguishing between lines which are metrical and those which are not. This approach has had some success, and yet counter-examples, lines which are unmetrical by its analysis but are found to be used by poets, have proved somewhat intractable. Generative metrics is not, moreover, well adapted to describing verse in its actual performance. While generative metrics does account for some of the factors that affect the metrical rhythm of a line of poetry, such as lexical stress and the syntactic structure of a textual unit, it does not have a place for other features which may impact on the amount of stress that a syllable receives in performance, such as rhyme, alliteration, repetition, and the reader's interpretation of the significance of the word in the poem. Any or all of these features may affect the speaker's decision to give a certain prominence to the word, a prominence which will be realized in performance by stress. Moreover, since stress is measured in comparison to adjacent units, the amount of stress given to one unit will affect other units in its immediate environment. One reader of Keats's line, 'My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains' may stress 'heart', rather than 'aches'; this will aff ect the amount of stress given to 'aches'.