BACCHIUS, also bacchiac. In *classical prosody, the metrical sequence – –, most frequently encountered in Gr. lyric (*monody) and drama as a *clausula to a run of iambs. It may be an instance of *syncopation, i.e., the iambic *metron x – – with suppression of the third syllable. Bacchii (with *cretics) are among the most common meters in Plautine cantica (see CANTICUM AND appearing mostly as four-foot units or in systems. The Romans felt the bacchius to be esp. suitable for a serious or solemn style. The reverse of a bacchius, i.e., a foot composed of two long syllables and one short one, is known as a palimbacchius (Gr. “back”) or antibacchius.
W. M. Lindsay, Early Latin Verse (1922); G. E. Duckworth, The Nature of Roman Comedy (1952); Koster; Crusius; Dale; Halporn et al.
BALADA. Occitan dance song with *refrain, akin to the but differing from it in having, besides repetition of the full refrain after each stanza, the first line of the refrain repeated after the first and (usually) second line of each stanza. It is a relatively infrequent form.
BALAGTASAN. Named after the 18th-c. poet Francisco Baltazar (Balagtas), the Balagtasan is the Philippines’s primary debate form, distinctive in its exclusive use of verse. It has served as popular entertainment since its origination in 1924 and lives on today in school contests and town festivals. While intentionally devised by a number of poets, its form is inspired by the an indigenous court drama in verse most often performed at funeral wakes. Traditionally, two poet-debaters compose rhyming and metered passages on opposing sides of a topic, and perform the debate extemporaneously with a moderator. A panel of judges declares the winner. Topics vary widely, from questions of value such as gold versus steel, to domestic issues such as the superiority of a jealous versus a docile husband, to pressing political concerns such as violent versus peaceful revolution during the Am. occupation. On the whole, there is greater emphasis on enduring rather than topical questions. It is more common currently for multiple teams to present scripted debates and for judges to decide a winning team rather than a winner between two competing debaters. Topics continue to reflect Philippine concerns, such as debates between pure and creolized lang. or between traditional and foreign values.
See PHILIPPINES, POETRY OF POETIC
C. G. Quan, “Language Play and Rhetorical Structure in the Tagalog Duplo and Balagtasan,” diss., Univ. of Texas, Austin (1990); L. Mercado, The Filipino Mind (1994); V. S. Almario, “Art and Politics in the Balagtasan” (2003),
V. S. Almario, Balagtasismo versus Modernismo (1984); P. Libiran, Balagtasan: Noon at Ngayon (1985); G. S. Zafra, Balagtasan: Kasaysayan at Antolohiya (1999).
I. Regional and Linguistic Variation
II. Oral and Written Ballads
III. Scholarship and Influence in Literary History
In scholarly discourse since the 18th c., across the disciplines of lang. and lit., musicology, and folklore, a ballad is a narrative song set to a rounded—i.e., stanzaic—tune or a literary poem modeled on such songs. This stanzaic structure distinguishes the ballad from the sung traditional *epic (a longer narrative set to a chantlike, nonstanzaic tune). Ballads present a series of actions involving protagonists and are thus distinguished from *lyric and other nonnarrative songs or verse. Typically, ballads focus on a single episode where the plot involves a small cast of characters and is directed toward a catastrophe. In all Eur. langs. since the Middle Ages, popular narrative song and *oral poetry have displayed recognizable links and parallels across regions. Moreover, many of the lang. trads. possess cognate forms of particular ballads. With origins in popular idioms, the ballad form represents a collective cultural sensibility, and anonymous popular ballads persist to the present day as folk songs found in diverse variants.
In common parlance, the term ballad has been variously employed from the 16th-c. beginnings of its usage in Eng., when the word appeared in connection with danced songs, and considerable ambiguity can still cloud the term. In the 17th and 18th cs., a ballad meant any popular song, and Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary (1755) applies the term vaguely to any “trifling verse.” In the context of jazz or popular music today, the term designates any song in a slow tempo with a sentimental text.
Ballads exist in both polite and popular culture as oral-performance works as well as literary ones, across a range of social registers. Literary ballads are items of individually authored verse that imitate the structure and style of popular ballads. The latter are typically created, performed, learned, and disseminated as songs. These anonymous ballads are best understood as a species of oral poetry that has for centuries intersected with, influenced, and been influenced by writing, while still maintaining widespread oral circulation in the traditional channels documented by folklorists. The interaction of oral forms with written culture has been pervasive, despite scholarly theories that defined the two expressive realms as entirely in contradistinction to each other. The ballad has commanded literary and scholarly interest across Europe and its colonies, especially beginning in the 18th c. when the form drew attention first as a mode for satire and later as part of a fascination with subaltern expression and sensibility during *romanticism. In Eng., the ballad took on renewed importance in 20th-c. modernist poetry (see and the poetics of *New Criticism.
I. Regional and Linguistic Variation. Ballads are found throughout Europe and in Africa, the Americas, and Australia. Analogous popular narrative songs are found as well in Asia and Oceania. Despite nearly global pervasiveness, regional ballad forms and trads. show as many differences as commonalities. Even among Eur. trads., metrical distinctions are obvious. For example, Eng. and other northern Eur. ballads are stanzaic and set to strophic tunes, the words rendered in *accentual-syllabic verse as quatrains of alternating tetrameter and trimeter lines or, less commonly, as four tetrameter lines (if in *accentual verse, as alternating four- and three-stress lines or as four-stress lines, respectively). Many southern and eastern Eur. ballads are, by contrast, stichic with varying verse structures. Sp. ballads, termed are for the most part conceived of as octosyllabic with assonant rhyme in the even-numbered lines. However, to underscore their presumed devel. from the earlier epic, these are sometimes typographically rendered in 12 to 16 syllables in *hemistichs linked by rhyme or assonance, as are ballads of Portugal, France, Catalonia, and northern Italy. An octosyllabic line is considered typical of Bulgarian and much Ger. balladry. Romanian ballads, normally in trochaic trimeter or tetrameter, have considerable variation in length as do the Rus. ballads, termed
In all trads., the shaping function of the music is crucial to understanding the rhythmic textual patterns. Seeming prosodic irregularities seen in print almost inevitably disappear in oral performance. Indeed, ballad prosody should be understood as a recognizable yet elastic mode governed by the predilections for shaping songs within the collective song-making trad. of a region. Scholars of ballad style typically study the structures, formulas, and conventional patterns of regional and lang. forms as distinct entities, e.g., Eng. and Scottish ballads, Sp. and Rus.
II. Oral and Written Ballads. Popular ballads in Eur. trads. fall into two categories determined by origins, hist., and narrative techniques: (1) the older “traditional” or cl. ballad, usually on a tragic theme, that represents a med. oral poetry reflective of a premod. world; (2) the journalistic or *broadside ballad developed with the advent of popular, commercial printing in urban centers in the late 16th c., often chronicling a newsworthy event such as a sensational crime, natural disaster, military conflict, or love scandal. All Eur. lang. groups with print markets display this division between older, oral ballads and more journalistic ballads shaped by writing and print. However, individual ballads of both types have circulated orally as anonymous songs among singers, and many continue to be learned, sung, and reshaped over time through processes of oral trad. While both types of narratives conform to the ballad genre and relate similar kinds of events, each displays distinct stylistic conventions.
A. Oral-Ballad Traditions and The older “traditional” or cl. ballads from premod. oral trads. have generated greater literary appreciation and imitation than the later broadside ballads, on the one hand because of their mysterious and almost indefinable artistry and on the other because of their med. archaism. These songs concentrate on two or three characters and develop dramatically and economically through dialogue and action. The plot usually begins in medias res with little attention to settings or circumstantial detail. Cl. ballads present stark and formulaic characters, actions, objects, and scenes. Events are shown with brevity, and *dialogue prevails as protagonists speak to each other, usually without ascription. Individual ballads unfold as a series of gapped paratactic images that Hodgart has likened to the cinematic technique of montage, whereby the narrative develops almost as a series of tableaux. Gummere described this plotting of the traditional ballad style as an abrupt “leaping and lingering” from scene to scene, and Vargyas as a poetry of conventionalized gestures.
In the cl. ballads, repetitive verbal patterns and tight, balancing scenes create a tone of striking objectivity. Repetition and formulaic expression, both marks of oral artistry, are key to traditional ballad style. Commonplace descriptors serve as formulas for what characterization occurs and for construction of the narrative. In Eng. ballads, protagonists typically mount “milk-white steeds” and write “braid letters signed with their hands”; maidens are “taken by their lily-white hands”; characters enter a scene asking “what news, what news”; and so on. Redundancy shapes individual ballads and marks as well the shared nature of the patterned idiom from song to song across a lang. trad. *Incremental repetition is a common strategy in ballad narrative technique, whereby a song unfolds in sequences of repeating lines or stanzas that, with each occurrence, introduce a change of word or phrase that furthers the plot. Thus, “Lord Randall,” known across various Eur. langs., unfolds as a question-and-answer dialogue between a mother and son in which details added to each stanza disclose the dying son’s report of being poisoned by his lover. The repetition and formulaic structure of the disclosure create the understatement, dramatic irony, and suspense characteristic of oral style.
In all lang. trads., the oral origin and style of cl. ballads is thought to predate the writing-based mode of the broadside ballad, though few individual examples of the oral style are reported before the late 16th and 17th cs. Cl. ballads represent a late-med. world and sensibility. They place their characters in a rural world of feudal objects and settings, med. social roles and practices, and premod. beliefs and mores (castles, knights and ladies, hawks and hounds, herbal potions, supernatural visitants, etc.). Thus, in a typical variant, the eponymous protagonist of the Scottish ballad “Tam Lin” escapes thralldom to the underworld by shape-shifting in the arms of his beloved, who embraces him through a magical rescue as he transforms from one archaic state of being to another: “an esk and adder,” “a lion bold,” “a burning gleed,” and finally, “a naked knight.” This counterspell frees him from fairy captivity.
The study of such ballads as representative of oral poetry and of a retrospectively imagined med. past began in the 18th c. with commentary by scholars such as Thomas Percy (1729–1811), the Eng. ed. of Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765), and the Ger. writer and philosopher J. G. Herder (1744–1803), both influential in Eur. romanticism. For them, ballads posed a collective mythopoetic inheritance for forging a prized national unity. By the 19th c., scholars of the “traditional” ballad—typified by collectors such as the Scottish Walter Scott (1771–1832) and William Motherwell (1795–1835) or the Danish Svend Grundtvig (1824–83)—garnered versions found in mss. and oral variants that they considered purer and more “ancient” for being free from print and commercial associations. The defining collection and cataloging of some 300 narrative songs of this type in Eng. by the Am. medievalist F. J. Child (1825–96) codified the anglophone trad. of these narratives to the extent that scholars refer to them as “Child ballads.”
B. Broadside-Ballad Traditions and Originating with print production for a popular readership, the broadside or journalistic ballad is a song reproduced on a single sheet of paper (a broadside) and sold on urban streets, in bookshops, and at such gathering places as docks and fairs. From the late 16th c., such marketing of ballads remained a fixture of popular culture in Europe and its colonies for several hundred years. Typically, a woodcut print included the text of one or more ballads, several images and decorative borders, and sometimes the title of a recommended tune. Musical notation almost never appeared. By the 18th c., broadside-ballad presses operated in provincial centers in Europe and its colonies. Frequent literary attacks on the vulgarity of the form and the large numbers of ballad prints from the 16th through the 19th cs. that remain in archives to this day attest to the popularity of broadside ballads.
As a product of urban journalism, the narrative style of the broadside ballad discloses a contrasting world-view to that of the orally based cl. ballad. The broadside ballad narrates in a straightforwardly linear and expository manner, with little repetition, and offers a journalistic rendering of each story with specifically named and particularized places, people, and events. A realistic and moralizing narrative voice portrays a world of more mod. institutions and commerce. As an example, the paratextual heading of the London broadside ballad of “The Children in the Wood” (1595) gives details of place and persons as well as the causal outlines of its moralizing plot: “The Norfolk Gentleman, his Will and Testament, and howe he committed the keeping of his children to his own brother whoe delte most wickedly with them, and how god plagued him for it.” Not uncommonly, broadside ballads relate first-person stories, identifying precise urban locations, detailed actions, and historical identities. In The Beggar’s Daughter of Bednall from another Eng. print, the “blind beggar” narrator sings at his daughter’s wedding and at the end reveals his true identity as the heir of the rebel earl of Leicester: “And here, noble lordes, is ended the songe / Of one, that once to your owne ranke did belong.” These characteristics contrast to the impersonal, third-person narration of orally rooted traditional ballads. Across Eur. and Eur.-colonized regions, song makers and publishers rendered ballad accounts of historical events. Ballads in Eng. from North America exemplify the journalistic specificities of the style: “The Constitution and the Guerrière,” an account of an 1812 U.S. sea victory over an Eng. frigate; “Lost Jimmie Whalen,” the lamenting story of the death of a 19th-c. lumberman; and murder ballads such as “Charles Guiteau,” which tells of the assassination of Pres. James Garfield in 1881, and “Poor Omie,” which recounts the 1808 drowning of a North Carolina girl by her former lover.
Many ballads originating in broadsides continued to circulate in oral trads. Typically recomposed through the strategies of repetition and gapped narrative characteristic of oral recall and preservation, some ballads that originated as printed compositions have continued to be passed on for generations—as is the case with the Am. ballads mentioned. Shortened in the process, such orally reformed ballads focus on the central, most patterned, and most emotionally charged points of the story, taking on characteristics of performative orality (repetition, parallel structure, and formulaic expression) not found in the initial broadside version. Conversely, some ballads of the older oral type—“Barbara Allen” and “Lord Beichan” are examples from the Eng. trad.—were sold in printed broadside versions and were refashioned with more details and plot linearity in keeping with the journalistic mode.
Scholars of the printed street ballad amassed collections of ballad broadsides (single-sheet prints) produced by printers from the 16th c. on, a preservation effort that takes on renewed life today with collections made available online. In the 19th c., antiquarian enthusiasm for both traditional and broadside ballads spurred collections of orally disseminated folk songs from live singers, an effort that peaked in the mid-20th c. and amassed an enormous body of ballads and other songs from Europe and Eur.-influenced cultures.
Significant devels. in ballad style have emerged as a result of regional adaptations. Scholars identify in the U.S. the “blues ballad,” a narrative song type influenced by Af. Am. oral performance and composition style. With a focus on murder, death, and tragedy typical of all ballads, the blues ballad renders historical events from a contemp. view as did the printed broadside ballads (see However, characteristics of the blues ballad also include the call-and-response techniques of Af. Am. arts, a predilection for antiheroes and -heroines, a prominent influence of orality in the ballad’s creation and dissemination, and a voice more poetic and celebratory than reportorial. In contrast to the linear, broadside style, such ballads as “John Henry,” “Casey Jones,” “The Titanic,” “Frankie and Albert” (“Frankie and Johnny”), and “Stagolee” tell their stories with an oblique, gapped, and sometimes radial rendering of the narrative and an improvisatory style characterized by repetition, parallelism, and a stock of commonplace images (“rubber-tire hearses,” guns that are “38s” and “44s,” girls “dressed in blue” followed by those “dressed in red”). Ballads in this mode typically celebrate their transgressing protagonists, who emerge from a world of crime. The narrative song trads. brought with the Sp. conquest display a similar devel. in the Americas, with narrative corridos emerging, like the blues ballads, from oral trads., even as journalistic corridos in reportorial style were sold on broadsides. In Mexico and the southwestern U.S., corridos from the 20th and early 21st cs. often feature antihero bandidos and stories of narcotics trafficking.
In Germany from the 17th to the 20th c., sellers of the broadside ballad—termed Bänkelsang or elaborate pictorial representations of the typically sensational and sentimental narratives. Conventionally, the Bänkelsanger sang from a platform and displayed scenes from the story on a large poster as passersby purchased the song sheets. Nineteenth-c. authors adapted the form to literary ballads and satire, especially after 1848. In the 20th c., such ballads featured in Ger. cabaret culture; the best-known adaptation is Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s “Die Moritat von Mackie Messer” from Driegroschenoper (1928), a reworking of the Eng. Beggar’s Opera (1728) by John Gay.
III. Scholarship and Influence in Literary Early 20th-c. scholarship divided between theories of the origin of popular ballads in individual or in communal creation, eventually reaching consensus that a particular ballad originates with an individual song maker; subsequently, continuing performance across communities recreates the ballad in numerous variants. Scholars applied this model of dynamic creation and re-creation in their study of individual traditional artistry in both the making and the performance of ballads (Porter and Gower). Theoretical concern about the reliability of ethnographic records has spurred attention to documenting occasions, modes, and contexts for song performance; the social function and reception of songs; and the interpretive framings of oral hist. (Ives 1978). Studies of contexts reveal in ballads an index for diachronic analysis of sociopolitical hist. and paradigms of gender, class, socioeconomics, power dynamics, etc. (Dugaw 1989, Symonds). Individual ballads afford sites for synchronically examining particular historical moments and events (Ives 1997, C. Brown, Long-Wilgus). The broadside ballad has received renewed scholarly attention both with analytic studies of prints from different eras and regions (Würzbach, Cheesman) and with the availability of online databases (English Broadside Ballad Archive, Roud). Analyses of textual form attend to the aesthetic effects of ballads and to their formulaic and performative mechanisms as examples of oral artistry (McCarthy, Andersen, Renwick).
The importance of the ballad to Eng.-lang. lit. hist. has received renewed investigation with regard to the 18th-c. literary interest in and emulation of the form and its engendering of a new ethnographic sensibility that gave rise to *ethnopoetics and verse-making beyond the traditional borders of belles lettres (Groom, Newman). Scholars have examined the ballad in connection with the art of particular writers such as John Gay and John Clare (Dugaw 2001, Deacon) as well as the tenets of literary movements such as romanticism (McLane), and in examinations of the historiographical significance of individual ballad scholars (M. E. Brown).
Ballads of every type have influenced lit. in all the lang. trads. E.g., literary poets of early mod. Sp. such as Félix Lope de Vega and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz wrote romances modeled on popular narratives in earlier collections (see The prevalence of poets who wrote ballad-inflected poems in Eng. mirrors the importance of the form in lits. elsewhere. Political satire of the late 17th and early 18th cs. enlisted the ballad form in miscellanies such as The Covent Garden Drollery and Poems on Affairs of Gay’s Beggar’s Opera introduced ballad opera as a burlesque in which pointed songs set to popular ballad tunes forwarded the mood and action of spoken drama. The decades-long popularity of this and imitative ballad operas reflected and enhanced interest in ballads. Such antiquarian collections as Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry influenced lit. at all levels, shaping the poetics of Eng. and continental romanticism. Wordsworth (“Lucy Gray,” “Seven Sisters”) and S. T. Coleridge Rime of the Ancient “The Three Graves”) wrote verse imitative of ballads. The Preface to the 2d ed. of the Lyrical Ballads (1800) articulates a theoretical justification for echoing plebeian forms in order to make poetic expression “real lang.” without the obfuscations of literary artifice. Ballad-like poems modeled on both oraltraditional and broadside ballads in Britain are among the works of Gay (“Sweet William’s Farewell”), Thomas Tickell (“Lucy and Colin”), Robert Burns (“The Five Carlins,” “Kellyburn Braes”), William Blake (“Mary,” “Long John Brown and Little Mary Bell”), John Keats (“La Belle Dame sans Merci”), Christina Rossetti (“Maude Clare,” “Lord Thomas and Fair Margaret”), A. C. Swinburne (“The Bloody Son,” “May Janet”), Thomas Hardy (“The Second Night,” “No Bell-Ringing”), Oscar Wilde (“The Ballad of Reading Gaol”), and others.
The interplay, through collection and study, between the street, workplace, or fireside realm of ballads and that of belles lettres is evident in British trads. and throughout Europe. Literary writers—John Clare, e.g., himself a fiddler—participated as well in collecting ballads. In Scotland, 18th-c. ballad collecting by Allan Ramsay and Burns was followed in the 19th c. by James Hogg, in addition to Scott and Motherwell. Ger. poetry through the 19th c. was shaped by Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn (1805–8), a collection prompted by Herder’s philosophic championing of popular song.
In the 20th c., the ballad continued as a literary model. In Ireland, modernist writers such as James Joyce, J. M. Synge, and W. B. Yeats identified their work with an Ir. cultural sensibility both ancient and contemp. Yeats collaborated on song and tale collections in Ir. and Eng. with Lady Augusta Gregory and others and also penned ballad-influenced works (“Down by the Salley Gardens,” “Moll Magee”). In the U.S., Cleanth Brooks and R. P. Warren formulated a modernist poetics of New Criticism that identified the ballad as a model for an aesthetics of accessibility and collective *voice, echoed in the work of Elizabeth Bishop and others. For Af. Am. modernism and subsequent movements, the blues ballad supplied a model for such poets as Langston Hughes (“Sylvester’s Dying Bed,” “Ballad of the Landlord”) and Gwendolyn Brooks (“of De Witt Williams on his way to Lincoln Cemetery,” “The Ballad of Late Annie”). To the present, literary writers from numerous national and ethnic trads. collect and engage ballads in a continuing testimony to the mutually influencing dynamic between literary artistry and the oral and collective realm of popular trads.
Descriptive Catalogs and Research G. M. Laws, American Balladry from British Broadsides (1957), and Native American Balladry (1964); T. P. Coffin, The British Traditional Ballad in North 2d ed. (1977); B. R. Jonsson et al., The Types of the Scandinavian Medieval Ballad (1978); D. Catalán et al., Catálogo general del 3 v. (1984); E. Richmond, Ballad Scholarship (1989); L. Syndergaard, English Translations of the Scandinavian Medieval Ballads (1995).
Historical A. Paredes, “With His Pistol in His Hand” (1958); D. Dugaw, Warrior Women and Popular Balladry (1989); M. Herrera-Sobek, The Mexican Corrido (1990)—feminist crit.; N. Würzbach, The Rise of the English Street Ballad trans. G. Walls (1990); E. Ives, The Bonny Earl of Murray (1997); D. Symonds, Weep Not for Me (1997)—ballads in early mod. Scotland; J. McDowell, Poetry and Violence (2000)—Mexico’s Costa Chica; C. Brown, Stagolee Shot Billy (2003); E. Long-Wilgus, Naomi Wise (2003).
History of D. K. Wilgus, Anglo-American Folksong Scholarship since 1898 (1959); The Anglo-American ed. D. Dugaw (1995); N. Groom, The Making of Percy’s “Reliques” (1999); M. E. Brown, William Motherwell’s Cultural Politics (2001); Singing the Nations: Herder’s ed. D. Bula and S. Rieuwerts (2008).
Literary M. R. Katz, The Literary Ballad in Early 19th-Century Russian Literature (1976); D. Dugaw, “Deep Gay and the Invention of Modernity (2001); G. Deacon, John Clare and the Folk Tradition (2004); S. Newman, Ballad Collection, Lyric, and the Canon (2007); M. McLane, Balladeering, Minstrelsy, and the Making of British Romantic Poetry (2008).
Origins and F. B. Gummere, The Popular Ballad (1907); H. Rollins, “Black-Letter Broadside Ballad,” PMLA 35 (1919); W. Entwistle, European Ballad (1939); G. Gerould, The Ballad of Tradition (1939); M.J.C. Hodgart, The Ballads (1962); D. Foster, The Early Spanish Ballad (1971); E. Ives, Joe Scott (1978); O. Holzapfel, Det fortællemåden i den ældre episke folkevise (1980); C. Slater, Stories on a String: The Brazilian Literatura de Cordel (1982); F. Andersen, Commonplace and Creativity (1985); D. K. Wilgus and E. Long, “The Blues Ballad and the Genesis of Style,” Narrative ed. C. Edwards and K. Manley (1985); W. McCarthy, The Ballad Matrix (1990); C. Harvey, Contemporary Irish Traditional Narrative (1992); T. Cheesman, The Shocking Ballad Picture Show (1994); J. Porter and H. Gower, Jeannie Robertson (1995); R. deV. Renwick, Recentering Anglo/American Folksong (2001); D. Atkinson, The English Traditional Ballad (2002); V. Gammon, Desire, Drink and Death in English Folk and Vernacular Song (2008).
Ballad and Tune S. Grundtvig et al., Danmarks gamle 12 v. (1853–76); F. J. Child, The English and Scottish Popular 10 v. (1882–98); G. Doncieux and J. Tiersot, Le Romancéro populaire de la France (1904); R. Menéndez Pidal, Poesía popular y poesía tradicional (1922); Deutsche Volkslieder mit ihren Melodien: ed. J. Meier et al., 8 v. (1935–88); Traditional Tunes of the Child ed. B. Bronson, 4 v. (1959–72); E. Janda and F. Nützhold, Die Moritat vom Bänkelsang oder Lied von der Strasse (1959); H. Fromm, ed., Deutsche 4th ed. (1965); C. Simpson, The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music (1966); L. Vargyas, Hungarian Ballads and the European Ballad trans. I. Gombos 2 v., (1983); J. Jiménez, Cancionero completo (2002); Ballads on Affairs of ed. A. McShane (2009)—17th c. England.
Web English Broadside Ballad Archive, University of California, Santa Barbara: Roud Folk Song Index: Roud Broadside Index:
BALLADE. The most important of the OF formes fixes (fixed forms) and the dominant verse form of OF poetry in the 14th and 15th cs. (Formes fixes are usually three in number: the ballade, the *rondeau, and the *virelai.) The most common type of ballade comprises 28 lines of octosyllables, i.e., three eight-line stanzas rhyming ababbcbC and a four-line *envoi rhyming As the capital letter indicates, the last line of the first stanza serves as the *refrain, repeated as the last line of each stanza and the envoi. In the complexity of its *rhyme scheme, restriction of its rhyme sounds, and use of the refrain, the ballade is perhaps the most exacting of the fixed forms. Some variants of the standard ballade employ ten- or (less often) twelve-line stanzas with, respectively, five- and six-line envois. The envoi, which frequently begins with the address “Prince,” derived from the med. *poetic contest at which the presiding judge was so addressed, forms the climatic summation of the poem.
Although the ballade may have developed from an Occitan form, it was standardized in northern Fr. poetry in the 14th c. by Guillaume de Machaut, Eustache Deschamps, and Jean Froissart. It was carried to perfection in the 15th c. by Christine de Pisan, Charles d’Orléans, and, most of all, François Villon, who made the ballade the vehicle for the greatest of early Fr. poetry. Such works as his “Ballade des pendus” and his “Ballade des dames du temps jadis” achieved an unequaled intensity in their use of refrain and envoi. The ballade continued in favor up to the time of Clément Marot (early 16th c.), but the poets of the followed by their neoclassical successors in the 17th c.—with the exception of Jean de La Fontaine—had little use for the form and regarded it as barbaric. Both Molière and Nicolas Boileau made contemptuous allusions to the ballade.
The ballade of the vintage Fr. period was imitated in England by Chaucer and John Gower, though now in *decasyllables. Chaucer uses it for several of his early complaints and takes the single *octave from it for the *monk’s tale stanza. Beyond their practice, it never established itself firmly. In the later 19th c., the so-called Eng. Parnassians (Edmund Gosse, Austin Dobson, Andrew Lang; see and poets of the 1890s (W. E. Henley, Richard Le Gallienne, Arthur Symons) revived the form with enthusiasm, inspired by the example of Théodore de Banville Ballades joyeuses à la manière de 1873), who gave a new impetus to the ballade equally among fellow Parnassian and decadent poets in France (François Coppée, Paul Verlaine, Jean Richepin, Maurice Rollinat; see But the mod. ballade, with the possible exception of a few pieces by A. C. Swinburne and Ezra Pound’s Villonesque adaptations (“Villonaud for this Yule” and the freely constructed “A Villonaud: Ballad of the Gibbet”), has not aimed at the grandeur and scope of Villon: it has been essentially a vehicle for *light verse, e.g., G. K. Chesterton, Hillaire Belloc, and, more recently, Wendy Cope.
The double ballade is composed of six eight- or ten-line stanzas; the refrain is maintained, but the envoi is optional (e.g., Villon’s “Pour ce, amez tant que vouldrez”; Banville’s “Pour les bonnes gens” and “Des sottises de Paris”; Swinburne’s “A Double Ballad of August” and “A Double Ballad of Good Counsel”). The “ballade à double refrain,” which has Marot’s “Frère Lubin” as its model, introduces a second refrain at the fourth line of each stanza and again at the second line of the envoi, producing, most characteristically, a rhyme scheme of abaBbcbC for the stanzas and bBcC for the envoi; Dobson, Lang, and Henley number among the later 19th-c. practitioners of this variant.
See FRANCE, POETRY
G. White, Ballades and Rondeaus (1887); G. M. Hecq, La Ballade et ses derivées (1891); Kastner; H. L. Cohen, The Ballade (1915), and Lyric Forms from France (1922); P. Champion, Histoire poétique du XVe 2 v. (1923); G. Reaney, “Concerning the Origins of the Rondeau, Virelai, and Ballade,” Musica Disciplina 6 (1952); A. B. Friedman, “The Late Medieval Ballade and the Origin of Broadside Balladry,” Medium Aevum 27 (1958); J. Fox, The Poetry of Villon (1962); G. Reaney, “The Development of the Rondeau, Virelai, and Ballade,” Festschrift Karl Fellerer (1962); Christine de Pizan and Medieval French ed. E. J. Richards (1998)—esp. B. K. Altmann, “Last Words: Reflections on a and the Poetics of Lyric Sequences,” C. McWebb, “Lyric Conventions and the Creation of Female Subjectivity in Christine de Pizan’s Cent ballades d’Amant et de and W. D. Paden, “Christine de Pizan and the Transformation of Late Medieval Lyrical Genres”; Morier; C. Page, “Tradition and Innovation in BN fr. 146: The Background to the Ballades,” Fauvel Studies: Allegory, Chronicle, Music and Image in ed. M. Bent and A. Wathey (1998).
A. T.V.F. C.
BALLAD METER, HYMN METER. In Eng. poetry, ballad as it is sometimes termed, ballad to the meter of the traditional ballad, a popular narrative song form since the late Middle Ages, and the written literary adaptation of this oral form. Ambiguities abound with regard to the application of the term, which gained importance in literary parlance only with the 18th-c. rise of interest in plebeian poetic forms. Commonly, ballad meter designates quatrains that alternate iambic tetrameter with iambic trimeter and rhyme at the second and fourth lines. For reasons discussed below, the form corresponds to “hymn meter” or “common meter,” whose quatrains, however, can rhyme as in the well-known instance of Isaac Watts’s setting of Psalm 90: “O God, our help in ages past, / Our hope for years to come, / Our shelter from the stormy blast, / And our eternal home.” The use of this iambic tetrameter-trimeter form in the two familiar arenas of popular secular ballads and widely sung hymnody is significant, as this structure and its effects over time draw from and represent collectively widespread and recognizable sung utterance. Moreover, in practice, the distinction between the two, ballad meter and hymn meter, is not made consistently, so that a poem in quatrains with either rhyme scheme, whose iambic lines alternate four stresses and three stresses, may be identified as a ballad. Nor is the requirement of the iambic stress pattern rigidly or universally followed in the application of the term. Thus, literary poets may title a work a “ballad” that varies from the quatrain form, the meter, or other aspects of the usual definition. Oscar Wilde’s “Ballad of Reading Gaol,” e.g., alternates between unrhymed tetrameters and rhymed trimeters but features stanzas of six rather than four lines.
Collective ongoing oral practice, for hundreds of years, constructs a context for understanding the vitality of the ballad meter form, from its origins in sung verse from popular trads. to the uses both hymnodists and literary poets made of it. Both the meter and the quatrain organization derive from the association of the verse with conventional melodic structures and rhythms: Eng. tunes typically follow patterns of four musical phrases. The popular and orally circulating ballads of the anglophone trad.—e.g., such ballads as are found in F. J. Child’s English and Scottish Popular though not inevitably, follow the accentual 4-3-4-3 pattern of ballad meter, but the words hew less rigorously to metrical form than do the ballads of consciously literary poets such as William Wordsworth, who adhere to metric strategies of poetic formulation. The shaping function of the music allows for greater flexibility in the verbal patterns of orally circulating folk ballads; sung performance inevitably enlivens and smoothes seeming prosodic irregularities in a text.
The origin, devel., and exact nature of ballad meter have prompted considerable scholarly discussion. One point of dispute concerns whether ballad meter is *accentual verse, i.e., isochronous and counting only stresses (see or *accentual-syllabic, regulating syllable count and not timed. The irregularities of the anonymous popular sung ballads and the importance of *caesura and *dipodism in their isochronic lines have suggested to metrists the application of the concept of accentual meter used for OE verse to ballad meter. However, ballads do not show evidence of such consciously wrought complexities of OE prosody as formulaic hemistichs, structural alliteration, and clear stichic structure. Nineteenth-c. metrists considered ballad meter to be derived from the med. Lat. a line of seven stresses and 14 syllables, and proposed that such long couplets, often with internal rhyme, were formulated into quatrains, perhaps because of exigencies of space on a given codex page. However, no plausible or demonstrable link between Church Lat. hymn verse and the oral vernacular ballads has been found. In the Ren., rhyming iambic heptameter couplets—*fourteeners—function with a syntactic and conceptual coherence that corresponds to the quatrain stanzas of alternating tetrameters and trimeters of ballad meter. The more regular meters and not infrequent heptameter form found in early *broadside ballads suggest a link to this fashion for heptameter couplets; however, no direct lineage between the 16th-c. literary mode and the popular verse quatrains of ballad meter is discernible, and the term ballad meter appears only in the romantic period, long after the literary vogue of fourteeners had passed. Rather, the ballad and ballad meter’s influencing presence assist the occasional use of iambic-heptameter couplets in mod. poetry in connection with topics from the popular realm, as, e.g., in E. L. Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat,” whose composed heptameter couplets can be “heard” in recitation as ballad meter.
Another set of pertinent analytic terms attests to the significance of orality and singing traditions with regard to the develop. and study of ballad meter. With the 16th-c. emergence of Eng. Protestantism, such writers of *hymns in the vernacular as Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins brought Martin Luther’s Ger. practice into their hymnody and also made use of the conventional ballad meter and sometimes the actual tunes of Eng. popular ballads for settings of psalm and hymn texts. The widespread collective singing of religious song, thus, formed another context in which the metric predilections of ballad meter influenced the writing of poetry in such authors shaped by hymnody as George Herbert and Emily Dickinson. To this day, metrical designations remain a common feature in the indexes of Protestant hymnals with the following categories typically given (numbers denote the stresses per line): long meter (or measure; abbreviated LM): 4-4-4-4; common meter (or measure; CM): 4-3-4-3; short meter (SM): 3-3-4-3 (see and rarely, half meter (HM): 3-3-3-3. The most common pattern is CM, which conforms metrically to iambic ballad meter and reflects the overlap of the two collective trads. of popular sacred and secular song.
F. B. Gummere, Old English Ballads (1894); J. W. Hendren, A Study of Ballad Rhythm (1936); E. Routley, The Music of Christian Hymnody (1957); Saintsbury, G. W. Boswell, “Reciprocal Controls Exerted by Ballad Texts and Tunes,” JAF 80 (1967) and “Stanza Form and Music-Imposed Scansion,” Southern Folklore Quarterly 31 (1967); B. H. Bronson, The Ballad as Song (1969); Brogan; J. Hollander, Rhyme’s Reason (1981); R. Leaver, “Goostly psalms and spirituall songes” (1991)—Eng. and Dutch psalms, 16th c.; Attridge, Poetic Meter in ed. D. Baker (1996); J. R. Watson, The English Hymn (1997); T. Steele, All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing (1999); Carper and Attridge; L. Turco, The Book of 3d ed. (2000).
BARD. A term borrowed into Eng. from the native Celtic word for “poet,” its hist. goes back to Celtic Gaul, where the Gr. ethnographers Strabo and Diodorus Siculus, following Poseidonius, refer to Celtic βάρδoι (pl.). Diodorus says that βάρδoι were poets who sang eulogies and satires accompanied by stringed instruments. The word continued into historical times in the Celtic countries, in Ireland as in Gaelic Scotland as bard / in Wales as in Middle Cornish as and in Middle Breton as In the same passage, Diodorus mentions δρυίδαι, druids who were philosophers and theologians; and µάντεις, diviners or seers; Strabo calls these latter oυάτεις. These three constituted a privileged, professional class of men who enjoyed high status in early Celtic society. The function of the bard was to support the social order by preserving versified genealogies that affirmed the rights of certain figures to govern, hists. of battles, and other lore; and to create fame for the leaders of that society through eulogy and elegy.
In Ir., in addition to bard (pl. the word (pl. was used to signify a poet who also had the power of divination; the word comes from a root that means “see.” The word druid survived in Ir. as well, but the status of the fili was higher, and he seems to have taken over those magical properties that were associated with the druid in Celtic Gaul. The bard too lost some of his status at the expense of the fili. Like his counterpart on the continent, he continued to be a singer of praise, but his honor-price (a measure of status) was considerably less than that of the fili. The training of the fili was long and included instruction in the various meters, some of which, apparently, were common to the bard as well, but the fili was also trained in divination and the magical arts. In the wake of the Norman invasion, the fili no longer enjoyed his earlier status; rather, he became, like the bard, a singer of praise, and the meters he used were those of the bard. In Wales, bardd (pl. retained the meaning of singer of praise, among other functions such as genealogist, historian, or custodian of lore. Both in Ireland and Wales, the poets were graded according to their training and achievement: the highest grade in Ireland was called ollamh (master; professor); in Wales, it was the pencerdd (chief of the craft of poetry).
Hence, the trad. of learned craft and proven skill behind the term is far removed from the emotionalism connected with it by the 18th-c. Eng. poets who revived it, such as Thomas Gray and James Beattie. The Eng. romantics were fascinated by the antiquity of the Celtic poets or bards and endowed them with their own ideas concerning “true” poetry, ironically attributing to them the qualities that they least prized, spontaneity and unbridled emotion. That emotionalism is essentially preserved in the mod. Eng. sense of the term, which denotes any poet but often connotes rhapsodic transcendence and is sometimes used as a pejorative; “bardolatry” is the critical term for the idolization of Shakespeare.
See CELTIC WELSH
J. Vendryes, Lexique Étymologique de L’Irlandais fasc. B, ed. E. Bachellery and P.-Y. Lambert (1981); Uraicecht na Ríar: The Poetic Grades in Early Irish ed. Liam Breatnach (1987); Williams and Ford; Dafydd Jenkins, Teulu and The Welsh King and His ed. T. M. Charles-Edwards et al. (2000).
J.E.C. T.V.F. P. K.
I. History of the Term and Concept
II. Comparative Perspectives
III. National Perspectives
Baroque describes a literary style and poetics that flourished in Europe and the Americas between roughly 1575 and 1690, or from Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata to Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s Primero Prizing wit and difficulty, while variously promoting spectacle and meditation, skepticism and belief, baroque lit. gives expression as well to the causes and effects of sundry epistemological, political, and religious crises riddling early modernity. The baroque thus also designates a period concept and worldview associated with the waning of high Ren. humanist practices and values, the rise of the empirical sciences, Counter-Reformation theology, and political absolutism. Baroque aesthetic practices circulate from Western Europe to Eastern Europe and follow imperial routes to the Americas, where they combine with indigenous forms. Moreover, the mid-20th c. emergence of *neobaroque aesthetics and discourse in which hybridity, recursivity, perspectivism, and often *parody are paramount, suggests at once the vitality of the baroque style and period concept and that the baroque should continue to play a crucial role in the critique of modernity.
I. History of the Term and The Eng. word baroque comes, by way of 19th-c. Fr., from a 13th-c. Port. term for a misshapen, inexpensive pearl, which is ultimately derived from the Lat. verruca (“a wart”; “an excrescence on precious stones”; “a slight failing”). A rival, if less plausible etymology, championed esp. by Croce, points to the med. Lat. mnemonic for a logically dubious syllogism. And while the extent to which these two etymologies have contaminated each other over time in various vernaculars is still contested, such confluence neatly emblemizes not only the penchant for semantic ambiguity and wordplay often ascribed to baroque writing, but how the concept is an a posteriori one.
In mid-18th c. France, the term baroque was used to decry the perceived excesses and “bizarre” tastes of 17th-c. architecture. Analogously, Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his Dictionnaire de Musique (1767) writes: “Une Musique Baroque est celle dont l’Harmonie est confuse, chargée de Modulations & Dissonances....” In the 1860s, Charles Baudelaire was the first to give baroque a positive connotation, when, in Pauvre describing Belgian church architecture, he lauds its “style varié, fin, subtil, baroque.” In Menschliches, Allzumenschliches (1878), Friedrich Nietzsche views the baroque as an inevitable, overly “rhetorical and dramatical” style that recurs throughout hist. and in all the arts whenever dialectical subtlety is lost.
Wölfflin’s Renaissance und Barock and Kunstgeschichtliche Grundbegriffe first gives the baroque its current meaning designating both a style and a period concept. Wölfflin ascribes three principal “effects” to baroque architecture and visual arts: painterliness, massivity, and mobility. As for mobility, “the baroque never offers us perfection and fulfilment, or the static calm of ‘being,’ only the unrest of change and the tension of transience” (1888). Michelangelo’s funeral sculptures, Caravaggio’s swirling angel in Saint Matthew with the Diego Velázquez’s The and Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s unrealized plans for the Louvre exemplify this dynamism. Wölfflin is also the first to transfer criteria from the visual arts to lit. when he briefly compares the splendor and “solemnity” of Michelangelo’s art and the world-weariness of Tasso to Ariosto’s “cheerful playfulness.”
In subsequent decades, literary scholars generally concentrate on delineating rhetorical and literary-historical criteria to evaluate the baroque. Still, by the mid-20th c., the term baroque acquires so many, often contradictory meanings that it risks losing all methodological and conceptual value. Furthermore, the question of whether and how to delineate a mannerist style or period concept that would precede or be encompassed by the baroque becomes an enormous, often fruitless distraction. While many scholars understandably prefer to dissect late Ren. lit. into mannerist, metaphysical, euphuist, and Marinist styles, even so they generally recognize an overarching baroque style and Wellek (in a 1946 essay that was reprinted with a “Postscript” in 1963), however, helps to clarify the term and save its viability by arguing that the baroque should be interpreted as a period concept containing both stylistic and ideological elements. Wellek contends that the baroque broaches larger issues concerning periodization, the value of historical versus formalist approaches, and the usefulness of stylistic criteria to evaluate lit. “Whatever the defects of the term baroque,” he concludes, “it is a term which prepares for synthesis, draws our minds away from the mere accumulation of observations and facts, and paves the way for a future history of literature as a fine art.” Accomplishing exactly such a synthesis and spurning the dictates of Rousset’s influential La littérature de l’âge baroque en France adduces formal qualities from Bernini’s works to establish a multifaceted literary baroque in France and elsewhere. Alternately, in “La curiosidad barroca,” Lezama Lima proposes a Lat. Am. baroque exemplified by the neo-Gongorist poetry of Sor Juana in Mexico, but also by Lat. Am. church architecture and the 18th-c. sculptures of the Brazilian O Aleijadinho, with their fusion of indigenous and Eur. elements. Dubbing the Lat. Am. baroque the art of the “contraconquista,” Lezama subverts the commonplace of the baroque as the art of the Counter-Reformation.
More recent scholarship on the baroque has sought to deepen and expand analytic, historical, and comparatist perspectives. Genette (1966, 1969), Beverley, and Hampton variously read the baroque as helping to reveal the dynamics of literary imitation. Mining the baroque for its philosophical lessons, Deleuze, (a rediscovered) Benjamin, Buci-Glucksmann, and Lacan (who defines the baroque as “la régulation de l’âme par la scopie corporelle”), find immanence, *aporia, and transcendence in baroque rhetorical and conceptual excesses. Meanwhile, the emergence of a New World baroque or Lat. Am. baroque as a field of crit. (e.g., Carpentier and Lezama), as well as that of neobaroque crit. (e.g., Sarduy, Calabrese, Buci-Glucksmann, and Moser), have ensured that the baroque remains a vital subject for research and reflection. And if the neobaroque is frequently associated with postcolonialism, Bal and Ndalianis demonstrate that it may also herald, respectively, a broader aesthetics of quotation and spectacle. Recent studies by Zamora (2006) and Davidson confirm just how fruitful the decision can be to view the literary baroque (and New World baroque) through categories borrowed from the visual arts—although in less skilled hands, this panoptic approach sometimes confuses expressive means.
II. Comparative Baroque literary style is generally marked by rhetorical sophistication, excess, and play. Self-consciously remaking and thus critiquing the rhet. and poetics of the Petrarchan, pastoral, Senecan, and epic trads., baroque writers challenge conventional notions of *decorum by using and abusing such tropes and figures as *metaphor, *hyperbole, paradox, *anaphora, *hyperbaton, *hypotaxis and parataxis, *paronomasia, and *oxymoron. Producing copia and variety is valued, as is the cultivation of concordia discors and *antithesis—strategies often culminating in *allegory or the *conceit. The tendency to amplify greatly a single image or idea is another hallmark. Baroque style typically courts admiration as much as assent or pleasure. Writers like Giambattista Marino, Luis de Góngora, Andreas Gryphius, John Donne, and Robert Burton thus trouble the traditional distinction between *invention and *style
Baroque poetics largely continues Ren. debates on how to balance nature and art and how to please, move, and teach audiences and readers. Read directly, or filtered through numerous Neo-Lat. and vernacular poetics, Cicero, Horace, Quintilian, and Aristotle and still dominate most prescriptive treatises. Eloquence remains the poet’s cardinal virtue. Some paratexts and *panegyrics, e.g., Thomas Carew’s “An Elegie upon the death...of John Donne” (1633) do, however, acclaim baroque innovations in verse. Carew writes, “The Muses garden with Pedantique weedes / O’rspred, was purg’d by thee; The lazie seeds / Of servile imitation throwne away; / And fresh invention planted...” A more significant devel. is the handful of encyclopedic treatises on the art and faculty of *wit Reacting, respectively, to the stylistic revolutions of Góngora and Marino, Baltasar Gracián’s Agudeza y arte de ingenio (1648) and Emanuele Tesauro’s Il cannocchiale aristotelico (1654) offer comprehensive accounts of why wit should be the writer’s highest aim and the conceit with its heavy hermeneutic demands and surprising aesthetic, cognitive, and spiritual rewards, poetry and prose’s loftiest achievement. By stressing ingenuity in their accounts of invention, Gracián and Tesauro effectively make the imagination a rival to reason, a move that in retrospect nicely epitomizes the baroque.
In baroque lyric, the concision of the *sonnet, *epigram, and *emblem is everywhere cultivated. But Sp. poets also prize the expanded freedom of the while John Milton, picking up where Christopher Marlowe and George Chapman leave off, perfects an unrhymed iambic pentameter enabling “things unattempted yet in prose and rhyme.” Meanwhile, Gracián and George Herbert refine more direct if still elliptical styles. The myriad genres of baroque prose range from Madame de Sévigné’s piquant, sentimental letters to Athanasius Kircher’s encyclopedic syncreticism. Baroque novelistic forms—as exemplified by Don and be read, as Lukács suggests, as representing a “degraded” world where God no longer guarantees order. Baroque tragedy and comedy can be distinguished by their willingness to violate Aristotelian “unities,” production of spectacle and *affect, and role in promoting absolutism and allegorizing hist. In his influential interpretation of Ger. baroque Benjamin finds their allegorical representations of tyranny and ruin artistically inferior to the tragedies of Shakespeare and Pedro Calderón de la Barca but more amenable to a “philosophy of art.” In Arte nuevo de hacer comedias Art of Writing 1609) Félix Lope de Vega underscores the need to satisfy the audience’s gusto (*taste) and thus of skirting Aristotelian rules forbidding the mixture of genres. His plays may be “monstrous” to the erudite, but their “variety delights.” Similarly, concluding that his principal task is “to please” Jean Racine in the preface to Bérénice (1670) promotes “simplicité” of plot over any adherence to “régles.”
Still, baroque poetics generally cultivates an aesthetics of *difficulty valuing erudition, ingenuity, and rhetorical excess. Rousset (1954) observes that baroque poetics is fueled by “the refusal to simplify by eliminating [and] the accumulation of imagery born from the need to multiply points of view because no one point of view is capable by itself of seizing a fluctuating and fleeting reality.” Such perspectivism takes many forms: Jean de Sponde’s surprising Milton’s epic similes, and Calderón’s signature technique of recolección (recapitulation). Expressing the horrors of the Thirty Years’ War, Gryphius’s “Menschliches Elende” (1637) exemplifies baroque paratactic style and preoccupation with transience: “Was sind wir Menschen doch? ein Wohnhaus grimmer Schmerzen, / Ein Ball des falschen Glücks, ein Irrlicht dieser Zeit, / Ein Schauplatz herber Angst, besetzt mit scharfem Leid, / Ein bald verschmelzter Schnee und abgebrannte Kerzen.” (But what are we humans? a home of fierce pain, / A ball of false joy, a will-o’-wisp of these times, / A scene of bitter fear, filled with sharp woe, / a quickly melted snowfall and a burned down candle.) By contrast, in his Polifemo (1612) and Soledades (1612), Góngora creates allusive *pastoral worlds whose greatest violence is that done to conventional poetics.
The motives for the baroque invention and style are quite diverse. From Donne’s Anniversaries to Calderón’s poets and their patrons proved eager to outdo predecessors and rivals. In Counter-Reformation Spain, Mexico, Italy, and France, in Protestant England and Holland, to say nothing of war-torn, confessionally divided Germany and Bohemia, the consequences of religious strife were as severe as they were heterogeneous. Many writers were tasked with *epideictic or apologetic duties, while others responded with extreme forms of skepticism or mysticism. Baroque documents and monuments typically make more subjective claims than their Ren. predecessors, partly because they are less tied to strictures, respectively, of cl. decorum and linear perspective but also, arguably, because the individual is perceived as increasingly autonomous or monadic, as G. W. Leibniz would have it. Thus, besides their ornamental and ideological functions, the resources of baroque style may serve as the heuristic means for representing a world or self that no longer can be credibly represented based on the Ren. system of microcosmic-macrocosmic analogies or other humanist models. such as life as dream (Calderón), world as labyrinth (Jan Amos Comenius), world upside-down (Andrew Marvell), vanitas mundi (Quirinus Kuhlmann), and theatrum mundi (Gracián) devalorize the world of appearances and point to skeptical or transcendental solutions. Baroque tragedy typically shows how characters’ extreme passions are incommensurable with unyielding contingency. This creates astonishment, confusion, and enormous affectus and often results in spectacular depictions of death. As with painterly chiaroscuro, thematic and formal ambiguities are produced by devices such as the play within the play or, in lyric, by sonnets about writing sonnets. These mises-en-abîmes speak to the more general baroque concern with incommensurable qualities and quantities, whether these refer to the cosmological infinite as championed by Giordano Bruno and decried by Blaise Pascal or express the more palpable mutability and insufficiency of worldly things and pretensions.
While the philosophies of René Descartes and Francis Bacon try to limit the imagination’s role, many baroque writers—because of the dynamics of literary imitation, the needs of court, empire, the Church, or, in Protestant countries, in response to iconoclasm—avidly cultivate the marvelous and pathetic in their imagery. “The efficacy...in awakening and moving the affections,” Maravall affirms, “was the great motive of the baroque.” Typical baroque imagery involves alabaster, jewels, bubbles, ruins, corpses, skeletons, flames, tears, dewdrops, mirrors, clouds, rainbows, and fountains. Besides focusing on what pleases or disgusts the senses, baroque writing frequently makes metamorphosis, mutability, disillusionment, melancholy, inexpressibility, and infinity central themes. Mining less “cl.” aspects of lit. hist., baroque imitatio often turns to early imperial Lat. lit. for models. Francisco de Quevedo borrows directly from Seneca, Juvenal, and Propertius in his devout sequence of poems Heraclito Cristiano and his satiric Marino composes his digressive, 41,000-line epic L’Adone on an Ovidian theme, while a sonnet such as “La bella schiava” fashions compact meraviglie (wonders) recalling Martial. Echoing Seneca and Plutarch, Donne hyperbolically anatomizes the world’s decline in the even as he glimpses its Christian redemption. Imitating Lucan, Théodore-Agrippa d’Aubigné laments the slaughter of his fellow Protestants in Les Tragiques but revels in his discovery of the rhetorical means to amplify such violence.
In sum, Spitzer’s description of Sp. baroque lit. as riddled by the conflict between Weltsucht and Weltflucht retains broad explanatory appeal. Baroque play with opposites commonly yields paradoxical imagery, generic instability, tenuous allegories, and irreconcilable spiritual tensions. Bruno’s Candelaio (1582) and Calderón’s El mágico prodigioso (1637) try to stage physical and abstract coincidentia The ironic sensuality of Marino’s amorous verse complements Angelus Silesius’s audacious mystical straining. Donne’s Holy Sonnets fuse the sensual and spiritual in adapting the meditative trad. of Ignatius Loyola for Eng. readers.
III. National Baroque lit. is best viewed from a comparatist perspective. Imitation of the same models occurs throughout Europe and the New World, while a vibrant respublica litteraria diffuses new stylistic and thematic trends across national boundaries and oceans. Nevertheless, much of the best crit. on the baroque has concentrated first on local occurrences and contexts. Further, just as the literary baroque occurs at different historical moments in different countries, scholarly judgments about the literary baroque have often been shaped by shifting national perspectives. The following adumbrates historical and critical devels. in various vernacular trads.:
A. The Ger. baroque ranges from Martin Optiz’s prescriptive Buch von der Deutschen Poeterey (1624) to the death of Philipp von Zesen (1689). It includes Gryphius’s poetry and drama, Hans Jakob Christoph von Grimmelshausen’s picaresques, and Daniel Caspar von Lohenstein’s as well as the lyric poetry of Friedrich Spee, Paul Fleming, Christian Hofmanswaldau, Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg, Silesius, and Kuhlmann. The most sophisticated instance of Ger. baroque poetics is Georg Philipp Harsdörffer’s Poetischer Trichter (1648–53). As a period concept and name for a literary style, the baroque is first and most fervently embraced by Ger. critics such as Cysarz and Benjamin. This is partly due to the similarities they find between the baroque and Ger. *expressionism, as well as to Wölfflin’s vast influence, but also because there was no viable competing term for the baroque to usurp. More recently, while Adorno warns against the misuse of the term Barner, Jaumann, Garber, Althaus, and Kemper (1988, 2006) have greatly deepened the understanding of Ger. baroque rhet., lyric, drama, epigram, and the baroque’s reception hist.
B. Spain and Latin Baroque writing may be said to commence with Fernando de Herrera’s Anotaciones (1578) and Juan Huarte de San Juan’s treatise on wit, Examen de ingenios (1575); reach full bloom with Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote (1605, 1615) and Lope de Vega’s dramas, the lyrics of Góngora, Quevedo, and Pedro Espinosa; and then have its magnificent autumn with Calderón’s dramas, Gracián’s prose, and the poetry of Sor Juana (1648–95). Besides Sor Juana, whose life and work has been the subject of much recent scholarship, other leading Mexican baroque poets include Miguel de Guevara and Luis Sandoval y Zapata. In Brazil, emerging from Luís de Camões’s shadow, Gregório de Matos is the most celebrated baroque poet, while António Vieira’s ingenious, audacious sermons exemplify baroque prose. As for crit., the untenable duality of the terms conceptismo and culteranismo has been largely replaced by the rubric which now is also generally favored over the more traditional siglo de esp. when describing 17th-c. lit. Maravall’s interpretation of the baroque as a period of “general crisis” and its art as serving “conservative” ends continues to spur new thinking. Following the crit. of Dámaso Alonso and Américo Castro, Orozco Díaz methodically maps the contours of the literary baroque, culminating in his Introducción al Barroco (1988). González Echevarría’s Celestina’s Brood (1993) embodies recent efforts to expand the baroque beyond its peninsular, Golden Age confines.
C. Some critics have found the baroque already in Michelangelo’s poetry and in Tasso’s Gerusalemme and his treatise on poetics, the but most prefer a later start, approximately from Marino’s Rime (1602) and the varied works of Giambattista Basile (d. 1632) to the last edition of Il cannocchiale aristotelico (1670) pub. in Tesauro’s lifetime. While Croce equated barroco with bad taste and aesthetic failure, other scholars gradually adopted the term and gave it more positive connotations. It now competes with the narrower notion of Marinismo and the more widely used Raimondi and Getto make perhaps the strongest case for the It. baroque. By focusing mainly on thematic questions, Battistini’s Il barroco offers a welcome corrective to the tendency to conflate the baroque with Counter-Reformation art, culture, and ideology.
D. The leading Fr. baroque poets are considered to be Agrippa d’Aubigné, Sponde, Marc-Antoine Girard de Saint-Amant, Théophile de Viau, and Jean de La Ceppède. Drama by Molière, Jean Rotrou, Racine, and Pierre Corneille have been convincingly read as baroque; for even when their style heeds François Malherbe’s classicizing dicta, often their motifs, metaphors, extreme theatricality, and cultivation of spectacle do not. Nicolas Boileau rings the death-knell for the Fr. baroque with his 1672 L’Art “Evitons ces excès: laissons à l’Italie / De tous ces faux brillans l’eclatante folie...Fuyez de ces auteurs l’abondance stérile, / Et ne vous charger point d’un detail inutile” (Let us avoid this excess and leave to Italy, / With all its fake jewels, glittering folly.../ Flee those authors of sterile abundance, / And do not burden yourself with useless detail). In the 20th c., the pioneering studies of Raymond, Tapié, Buffum, Mourgues, and esp. Rousset, together with more recent scholarship by Lestringant and Mathieu-Castellani, have largely vanquished Fr. reluctance to recognize a period style between the and Buci-Glucksmann’s studies of baroque and neobaroque aesthetics in light of Benjamin, Baudelaire, Lacan, and feminist theory have given new life and theoretical weight to typological readings of the baroque. But introducing a 1980 edition of Tapié’s Baroque et classicisme (1957), Fumaroli decries the concept of the baroque as a Ger. import and a “délicieux accouplement entre discipline universitaire et imagination romanesque, entre philolettres et rêveries, école des Annales et tourisme sentimental.”
E. England and North Baroque stylistic features and themes characterize verse by Donne, Michael Drayton, Marvell, and Milton; the prose of Donne, Burton, Thomas Browne, and Margaret Cavendish, as well as Shakespeare’s poetry and drama (from the grotesquerie of the perspectivism and wordplay of the to the theatrum mundi of The The baroque effectively ends in England with John Dryden’s Essay of Dramatic Poesy (1668) and his bowdlerization of purple passages in Shakespeare’s plays to prepare them for a neoclassical stage. In New England, Jonathan Edwards’s sermons and the verse of Edward Taylor, Michael Wigglesworth, and Anne Bradstreet have been read as representing what Warren (1941) calls a “colonial baroque.” More generally, though, Anglo-Am. crit.’s attachment to the stylistic terms metaphysical and and the period terms and as well as the more recent predilection to lump all 16th- and 17th-c. lit. under the rubric “early modern,” has forestalled the acceptance of an Eng. baroque. Notable exceptions include Warren (1939) on Crashaw; studies by Daniells, Roston, and Parry on Milton; Croll’s reading of Browne’s prose; and Kermode pondering the metaphysical poets. T. S. Eliot avoids the word but apprehends the concept: “Seventeenth-century poetry is much like a crucifix ornamented with pearls, except that we are able with some difficulty to perceive the pearls.” And while critics writing outside Anglo-Am. circles, esp. Praz (1925, 1958) and Hatzfeld, are less hesitant to apply the term to Eng. lit., within them Bush’s 1962 verdict still epitomizes the prevalent attitude: “German exponents of Geistesgeschichte have pursued the ramifications of ‘Barock’ as Browne pursued the quincunx, with a heavier foot and with equally specious and elliptical logic, but for us the simplest definition is ‘poetry like Crashaw’s.’” Even so, Nelson’s (1954, 1961) and Warnke’s (1961, 1972) contention that, from a comparatist perspective, the baroque is an ineluctable term to describe the period’s style and Weltanschauung in England has yet to be been gainsaid.
F. P. C. Hooft’s meditative lyrics and Constanijn Huygens’s more worldly verse display numerous baroque qualities. Analogies between Dutch lit. and the painterly techniques of Rembrandt and Peter Paul Rubens are also compelling. Yet beginning with Haerten’s study (1934) of Joost van den Vondel’s dramas, the notion of a Dutch baroque has only been ambivalently embraced. Grootes and Schenkeveld label Daniel Heinsius’s Neo-Lat. poetry baroque but are reluctant to apply the term to vernacular lit.
G. Eastern As Segel observes, baroque poetry flourishes later here than in Western Europe. A strong Marinist influence is felt in Croatia, where Ivan Gundulić’s psalms and unfinished epic Osman (1638) are representative. In Hungary, the lyrics of Miklós Zrínyi stand out, as does his epic The Siege of Szigetvár (1651), with its numerous echoes of Tasso. In Poland, where the baroque style waxes around 1700, Jan Andrzej Morsztyn and Daniel Naborowski ingeniously rearrange the ruins of the Petrarchan legacy. Born in Bohemia, Comenius becomes one of the most celebrated baroque polymaths. In Russia, the baroque may be said to commence with Simeon Polotsky and Avvakum Petrov, and extend into the 18th c. with Vasily Trediakovsky’s poetry and theory, Gavrila Derzhavin’s odes, and Mikhail Lomonosov’s lyrics. Tschižewskij (1971, 1973) views the “slavic Baroque” as a “synthesis of the Renaissance and the middle ages.” Embraced enthusiastically in the 1920s, most recent crit. of Rus. lit. has tended to avoid the period term preferring instead to limit it to descriptions of style. However, Joseph Brodsky’s “Great Elegy to John Donne” (1963) makes an extremely compelling, if implicit, case for the centrality of the baroque in the Rus. literary trad.
More generally, imitations like Brodsky’s and the emergence of neobaroque critical discourse indicate how the continuing viability of the baroque as a period concept ultimately lies in its heuristic value or how it serves contemp. creative, critical, and theoretical tasks. As Deleuze (1992) observes, “Irregular pearls exist, but the Baroque has no reason to exist without a concept that forms this reason itself. It’s easy to render the Baroque non-existent; one only has to stop proposing its concept.” Less paradoxically, Zamora (2009) asserts, “The real strength of the neobaroque resides in its engagement of specific historical and cultural contexts.” In this respect, Lezama Lima’s 1966 novel Paradiso is exemplary for its syncretism or plutonismo by which the rich textures of contemp. Cuban culture are fused with historical, literary, and metaphysical traits that Lezama elsewhere ascribes to a mythical “señor barroco.” Or as Greene more soberly affirms, “The Neobaroque embodies the obligation of early modernists to attend to their period not as a closed episode, like antiquity, but as an uncompleted script for the present.”
See METAPHYSICAL RENAISSANCE RENAISSANCE
H. Wölfflin, Renaissance und Barock (1888), and Kunstgeschichtliche Grundbegriffe (1915); M. Praz, Secentismo e marinismo in Inghilterra (1925); H. Haerten, Vondel und der deutsche Barock (1934); E. D’Ors, Du baroque (1935); O. de Mourgues, Metaphysical, Baroque and Précieux Poetry (1953); L. Nelson Jr., “Góngora and Milton: Toward a Definition of the Baroque,” CL 6 (1954); M. Praz, The Flaming Heart (1958); L. Nelson Jr., Baroque Lyric Poetry (1961); European Metaphysical ed. F. Warnke (1961); J. M. Cohen, The Baroque Lyric (1963); R. Wellek, “The Concept of Baroque in Literary Scholarship,” Concepts in Criticism (1963); M. W. Croll, “The Baroque Style in Prose,” Style, Rhetoric, and ed. J. M. Patrick and R. O. Evans (1966); G. Lukács, The Theory of the trans. A. Bostock (1971); H. B. Segel, The Baroque Poem (1974); J. Lacan, “Du baroque,” Encore, le séminaire XX (1975); F. Warnke, Versions of Baroque (1975); La Mé tamorphose dans la poésie baroque française et ed. G. Mathieu-Castellani (1980); V.-L. Tapié, Baroque et ed. M. Fumaroli (1980); G. Mathieu-Castellani, Mythes de l’eros baroque (1981); J. Beverley, “Going Baroque?” boundary 2 15 (1988); Baroque ed. T. Hampton (1991); M. Blanco, Les rhétoriques de la pointe (1992); O. Calabrese, trans. C. Lambert (1992); G. Deleuze, The Fold: Leibniz and the trans. T. Conley (1992); G. Mathieu-Castellani, “Baroque et maniérisme,” Dictionnaire universel des littératures (1994); É. Glissant, “Concerning a Baroque Abroad in the World,” Poetics of Relation (1997); W. Moser, “Barock,” Ästhetische v. 1 (2000); M. Bal, Quoting Caravaggio (2001); Résurgences ed. W. Moser and N. Goyer (2001); C. Buci-Glucksmann, La Folie du voir (2002); A. Ndalianis, Neo-Baroque Aesthetics and Contemporary Entertainment (2004); P. Davidson, The Universal Baroque (2008); G. Lambert, On the (New) Baroque (2008); R. Greene, “Baroque and Neobaroque: Making Thistory,” PMLA 124.1 (2009); C. Johnson, Hyperboles (2010).
H. Cysarz, Deutsche Barockdichtung (1924); W. Benjamin, Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (1928); T. W. Adorno, “Der mißbrauchte Barock,” Ohne Leitbild (1967); W. Barner, Barockrhetorik (1970); R. Browning, German Baroque Poetry, 1618–1723 (1971); H. Jaumann, Die deutsche Barockliteratur (1975); H.-G. Kemper, Barock–Mystik (1988); Europäische ed. K. Garber, 2 v. (1991)—includes important articles on the Slavic, Dutch, and Scandinavian baroque; T. Althaus, Epigrammatische Barock (1996); H.-G. Kemper, Barock Humanismus: Krisen–Dichtung and Barock Humanismus: Liebeslyrik (both 2006).
Spanish and Latin J. Lezama Lima, La expresión americana (1957); H. Hatzfeld, Estudios sobre el barroco (1964); S. Sarduy, Barroco (1974), and “The Baroque and the Neobaroque,” Latin America and Its ed. C. Fernández Moreno (1980); J. A. Maravall, Culture of the trans. T. Cochran (1986); E. Orozco Díaz, Introducción al barroco (1988); L. Spitzer, “The Spanish Baroque,” Representative ed. A. K. Forcione, H. Lindenberger, and M. Sutherland (1988); R. González Echevarría, Celestina’s Brood (1993); A. Carpentier, “The Baroque and the Marvelous Real,” Magic ed. L. P. Zamora and W. Faris (1995); L. P. Zamora, The Inordinate Eye: New World Baroque and Latin American Fiction (2006), and “New World Baroque, Neobaroque, Brut Barroco: Latin American Postcolonialisms,” PMLA 124.1 (2009).
B. Croce, Storia dell’ età barocca in Italia (1929); J. V. Mirollo, The Poet of the Marvelous: Giambattista Marino (1963); E. Raimondi, Letteratura barocca (1982); L. Anceschi, L’idea del barocco (1984); The Sense of ed. F. Guardiani (1994); A. Battistini, Il barroco (2000); G. Getto, Il barocco letterario in Italia (2000); A. M. Pedullà, Il romanzo barocco e altri scritti (2001).
I. Buffum, Agrippa d’Aubigné’s “Les tragiques” (1951); J. Rousset, La littérature de l’âge baroque en France (1954); M. Raymond, Baroque et Renaissance poétique (1955); I. Buffum, Studies in the Baroque from Montaigne to Rotrou (1957); L. Spitzer, “The ‘Récit de Théramène,’” Linguistics and Literary History (1962); G. Genette, “Hyperboles,” Figures I (1966); J. Rousset, “Adieu au baroque?” L’intérieur et l’extérieur (1968); G. Genette, “D’un récit baroque,” Figures II (1969); F. Hallyn, Formes metaphoriques dans la poésie lyrique de l’age baroque en France (1975); F. Lestringant, La cause des martyrs dans “Les tragiques” d’Agrippa d’Aubigné (1991); M. Blanchot, “The Baroque Poets of the Seventeenth Century,” Faux trans. C. Mandell (2001).
English and North A. Warren, Richard Crashaw (1939), and “Edward Taylor’s Poetry: Colonial Baroque,” KR 3 (1941); D. Bush, English Literature in the Early Seventeenth Century (1962); R. Daniells, Milton, Mannerism and Baroque (1963); F. Kermode, The Metaphysical Poets (1969); M. Roston, Milton and the Baroque (1980); T. S. Eliot, The Varieties of Metaphysical ed. R. Schuchard (1993); G. Parry, “Literary Baroque and Literary Classicism,” A Companion to ed. T. Corns (2003).
Other National or Area D. Tschižewskij, History of Russian Literature from the Eleventh Century to End of the Baroque (1960); A. Angyal, Die slawische Barockwelt (1961); D. Tschižewskij, Comparative History of Slavic trans. R. Porter (1971); J. Bucsela, “The Problems of Baroque in Russian Literature,” Russian Review 31 (1972); D. Tschižewskij, Slavische Barockliteratur I (1973); Slavische Barockliteratur ed. R. Lachmann (1983); E. K. Grootes and M. A. Schenkeveld, “The Dutch Revolt and the Golden Age, 1560–1700,” A Literary History of the Low ed. T. Hermans (2009).
BARZELLETTA. See FROTTOLA AND
BASQUE COUNTRY, POETRY OF THE. Basque lit. bloomed late because of various sociohistorical circumstances that hindered its devel. and are tightly bound to the ups and downs suffered by Basque, or Euskara, a lang. of pre-IE origin spoken today by some 700,000 people who live on both sides of the Pyrenees, in France and in Spain. The political border that today divides the Basque Country (Euskal Herria) separates two different legislative regions. After the Sp. constitution of 1978 was approved, the Basque lang. was accepted as an official lang., together with Castilian (Sp.), in the provinces in the Sp. Basque region; however, the same is not the case in the Fr. Basque Country, where Basque does not hold the status of an official lang. The consequences of this imbalance are easy to predict: factors such as the establishment of bilingual models of teaching and the existence of grants for publications in the Basque lang. have made the literary system in the Sp. Basque Country much stronger and more dynamic than that on the French side. Within Basque lit., poetry has always been a crucial genre. The first book of any sort published in Basque was a volume of poems by Bernard Etxepare (1493?–1545); moreover, poetry has also held a position of considerable importance in Basque oral lit. Long-established genres such as improvised Basque verse singing, or are still very popular today.
Linguae Vasconum Primitiae (Origins of the Basque Language, 1545) by Etxepare was the first step from an oral to a written lit. It consists of 15 poems dealing with themes such as love and religion; Etxepare expresses his joy at the possibilities created by the invention of the printing press and his hope that it will help disseminate Basque lit. Etxepare had read Erasmus, and his book reveals this influence. Another foundational vol., Arnaut Oihenart’s Atsotitzak eta neurtitzak (Proverbs and Verses, 1657), is a book not only of proverbs and refrains but of love poems that follow the trad. of *Petrarchism. The dominance of religious texts in this era was almost absolute; Oihenart (1592–1667) was one of the few laic Basque writers of his time.
The last decade of the 19th c. saw the emergence of a new spirit that would transform Basque lit. The dominance of devotional and didactic works began to wane, and the spectrum of literary genres widened. Indalezio Bizkarrondo or “Blintx” (1831–76) and the satiric Pierre Topet or “Etxahun” (1786–1862), e.g., were considered romantic poets.
After the Second Carlist War in 1876, the revocation of foral rights—which had ensured regional autonomy by empowering assemblies of local inhabitants—unleashed a cultural revival, Pizkundea (the Basque Renaissance, 1876–1936), the Basque equivalent of the Galician Rexurdimento or the Catalan in which patriotic renewal would stem from recognition of the Basque lang. The foralist movement gave way to the nationalism of Sabino Arana and from this point on, the fundamental purpose of writing in Basque would be to contribute to the creation of the Basque nation. Nationalism was to influence all Basque lit. of the first third of the 20th c. Poetry was promoted by *poetic contests known as lorejokoak (floral games), by Basque festivals, and by the publication of *songbooks containing popular folk songs. During the time of the floral games, the work of Felipe Arrese-Beitia, among others, showed anguish in the face of the potential death of the lang. In the 1930s, two poets, Xabier Lizardi and Esteban Urkiaga (Lauaxeta), explored the expressive possibilities of Basque through postsymbolist poetics. Both nationalists, they participated actively in the Pizkundea that took place during the years of the Sp. Second Republic, a time at which nationalist political and cultural activism went hand in hand. Another influential poet and translator of that time was Nicolas Ormaetxea (Orixe), whose love of cl. lit. and knowledge of Scholasticism greatly influenced his writing. Bide Barrijak (1931) by Lauaxeta, Biotz begietan (1932) by Lizardi, and Barne muinetan (1934) by Orixe are considered the premier poetic vols. of the pre–Sp. Civil War period.
The repression and censorship that followed the Sp. Civil War (1936–39) made it impossible to publish in Basque until 1949, when the first mod. book of poetry appeared, but it was not until the 1950s that the dialogue with modernity became more developed through the voices of two poets, Jon Mirande (1925–72) and Gabriel Aresti (1933–75). Mirande, heterodox and nihilist, was the first to transgress the religious spirit latent in Basque poetry. Echoes of his many and varied philosophical and literary readings (such as the Stoics, Friedrich Nietzsche, Oswald Spengler, E. A. Poe, and Charles Baudelaire) abound in his prose and poetry. Aresti wrote short stories and drama as well as poetry and translated such authors as Giovanni Boccaccio, T. S. Eliot, and Nazim Hikmet. His first collection of poetry was Maldan behera (Downhill, 1960), influenced by symbolist poetry and an Eliotian modernism. However, with Harri eta herri (Stone and Country, 1964), a landmark in the history of Basque lit., he moved toward a more sociopolitical poetry. Critics praised the book’s modernity and innovative spirit, together with its left-wing humanism. It was followed by Euskal harria (Basque Stone, 1967) and Harrizko herri hau (This Country of Stone, 1971).
In the 1960s, political and cultural activism against the regime of Francisco Franco were closely linked, with the consequence that sociopolitical poetry found its best ally in modern Basque song, esp. in the group Ez dok which was formed by singers like Mikel Laboa (1934–2008) and poets like Xabier Lete (b. 1944), Joxean Arze (b. 1939), and Joxe Anjel Irigarai (b. 1942). Linked to this movement of social commitment, female poets emerged, such as Amaia Lasa (b. 1949) and Arantxa Urretabizkaia (b. 1947). Other authors took a postsymbolist stand, intending for Basque poetry to evolve toward a more concise and synthetic style (e.g., Juan Mari Lekuona, 1927–2005) or to move toward a deeper degree of introspection (e.g., Bittoriano Gandiaga, 1928–2001).
However, things changed radically after Franco’s death in 1975; from then on and for the first time in hist., the Basque literary system was supported by a legal framework that allowed the establishment of bilingual education and funding for the publication of books in Basque. In 2005, a total of 1,648 books were published, 247 of which were literary works, including 37 books of poetry. In the 1970s and early 1980s, because of a proliferation of literary magazines, Basque poetry experienced its most avant-garde period. While Joseba Sarrionandia (b. 1958) reminded us that all lit. is metalit., Koldo Izagirre (b. 1953) dabbled in surrealist aesthetics. But the book that truly shook the poetry scene of the time was Etiopia (Ethiopia, 1978), by Bernardo Atxaga (b. 1951), the most internationally renowned Basque author. In Atxaga addresses the tedium brought about by the end of modernity and declares the impossibility of addressing poetic lang. itself. Freed from the baroque and far removed from the dramatics of his previous work, in Poemas & Híbridos (Poems & Hybrids, 1990) Atxaga tries to recover poetry’s essence. For this purpose, he tears up the non-neutral, topical lang. that is traditionally used in the modernist poetry and mixes it with Dadaist strategies (see with the primitive and the infantile, and with humor.
Contemp. Basque poetry can best be described as eclectic. Its primary characteristics include a wide diversity of poetics, the use of various narrative styles, a preference for nonaesthetic poetics rooted in the quotidian, and the emergence of women poets who reclaim other codes based on the female body. Poets such as Felipe Juaristi (b. 1957), Rikardo Arregi (b. 1958), Miren Agur Meabe (b. 1962), and Kirmen Uribe (b. 1970) seem to be influenced by the *Beat poets and gritty realism. Audiences often enjoy poetic performances that combine poetry with music or other arts. What happened to the other literary genres has also happened to poetry: it has absorbed the characteristics literary critics describe as *postmodern—a denial of transcendental meaning, an assertion that all lit. is metalit. in the end; a nonelitist attitude toward literary creation; the use of *pastiche; a mistrust of lang.; and a hybridization of genres. That is, Basque poetry displays a tendency toward aesthetic populism and a democratizing attitude to the figure of the poet.
Antología de la poesía ed. I. Aldekoa (1993); ed. and trans. M. Drobnic and M. Prelesnik Drozg (2006); Montañas en la ed. J. Kortazar (2006); Six Basque ed. M. J. Olaziregi (2007); Cien años de coord. J. Sabadell-Nieto (2007).
History and Criticism: L. Michelena, Historia de la literatura vasca (1960); I. Aldekoa, Historia de la literatura vasca (2004); History of Basque ed. M. J. Olaziregi (2010).
BATHOS (Gr., “depth”). Now generally used as an equivalent to the descriptive term *anticlimax, bathos entered literary use with Longinus’s treatise Peri hypsous the where it was a synonym for the sublime, and meant either high or deep. To ridicule his poetic contemporaries, however, Alexander Pope wrote the satirical Peri Bathous: or, Martinus Scriblerus His Treatise of the Art of Sinking in Poetry (1727), parodying Longinus by converting praise of the sublime into mock-praise of the profound. Pope presents bathos as an attempt at elevated expression that misfires, creating a sudden transition from the sublime to the ridiculous. Pope was responding to Nicolas Boileau’s Treatise of the Sublime (1674), itself a trans. of Longinus. Peri Bathous drew attention to the many deficiencies of the poetry of Pope’s rivals: affectation, pertness, needless complexity, confusion, and obfuscation. Since Pope, bathos has been used to suggest an unfortunate or unintended “sinking” or deflation to create a humorously awkward juxtaposition. William Hogarth alluded to Pope with his 1764 engraving The Bathos: or, the Manner of Sinking in Sublime The similarity to the Gr. *pathos inflects bathos with the sense of sad or pitiable. Bathos is a common technique in *parody, burlesque, and absurdist writing. Pope gives the example, “Ye Gods! Annihilate both Space and Time, / And make two Lovers happy.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning produces bathos with “Our Euripides, the human—/ With his droppings of warm tears” (“Wine of Cyprus,” 89–90) and Alfred, Lord Tennyson with “He suddenly dropt dead of heart-disease” (“Sea Dreams,” 64).
A. Pope, The Art of Sinking in Poetry: Martinus Scriblerus’ Peri ed. E. Leake Steeves (1952); ‘Longinus’ On the ed. D. A. Russell (1964); C. Gerrard, “Pope, Peri and the Whig Sublime,” Cultures of ed. D. Womersley (2005).
BEAST EPIC. Comprising a vast range of global trads., incl. origin myths, wisdom lit., *comedy, and *satire, the term beast epic generally designates more or less structurally unified narratives featuring animals as characters rather than as types. A fellow traveler of cosmological and totemic trads. such as the “dreamtime” narratives of aboriginal tribes of Australia or the tales collected by the Roman poet Ovid into the the beast epic is clearly also related to single-episode forms such as the *fable. Thus, the carefully interwoven structure of the influential Sanskrit Panchatantra (The Five Principles), possibly composed in the 3d c. BCE and later translated into Persian and Ar., shows it to be more than a collection of short moral tales. Although the diversity of beast-epic trads. is remarkable, important common points remain, not least how such material maps and describes the contours of human experience, not only charting the world beyond the village but, through the mimicry of human activity and traits imputed to speaking animals, exploring our relations with those strangest of creatures, our human neighbors. In this respect, such sophisticated and subversive materials chart the edges and limits of humankind in their interrogations of social or gender conventions, as well as of the ambition of lang. to describe and tame nature.
This war between weasel words and horse sense is notably reflected in the Eur. trads. of Reynard the Fox, the first surviving tales composed in the mid- to late 12th c. in France, the centerpiece being the fox’s rape of the she-wolf and the subsequent trial. These adventures illuminate social, religious, political, and legal institutions and changes, with further episodes as well as trans. and adaptations into Ger., Dutch, and Eng. following over the next three centuries. That the fox did not entirely rule med. Europe’s cock-and-bull roost is clear from works featuring God’s natural comedian, the ass. Following in the wake of cl. antecedents such as Apuleius’s salaciously satirical Golden Ass (2d c. med. examples include the Speculum stultorum (The Mirror for Fools, ca. 1180) by the Canterbury monk Nigel of Longchamps, and the quasi-apocalyptic Fr. satire Le Roman de Fauvel (ca. 1312) by Gervais de Bus, mss. of the latter often lavishly illuminated and featuring musical settings, striking testimony to the prestige accorded this material. There is also a rich trad. of “bird-debate” poems, examples being The Owl and the Nightingale (ca. 1190) and Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls (ca. 1382). While some trads. feature more or less ontologically stable creatures, such as foxes, wolves, monkeys, and spiders, in others the creature is either less defined in form or capable of transformation (examples here are the Chinese novel Journey to the West [ca. 1590] recounting the adventures of Monkey and his companions, the African Ananse stories, or the Japanese tales of magical foxes known as Accordingly, North Am. Winnebago trickster stories center on a figure proteanly inchoate in form and character, occupying a temporality simultaneously prior to and coextensive with human hist. Thus, although a creator figure who gives rise to the first vegetables, the trickster struggles to integrate into an existing human life-world, sending his genitals to marry the daughter of a chief of a neighboring tribe. Lastly, although separate trads. can be identified, beast epics often reflect complex confluences and interactions, stories from Uncle Remus and Br’er Rabbit reflecting the influences of African Ananse stories as well as of native Am. trads. Taken together, this vast diversity of trads. reflects how humans have harnessed imagined animals as tools for narratives as varied and problematic as the exploitation and commoditization of actual creatures.
See INDIGENOUS AMERICAS, POETRY OF
Criticism and C. Lévi-Strauss, trans. R. Needham (1963); K. Varty, Reynard the A Study of the Fox in Medieval English Art (1967); P. Radin, K. Kerényi, C. G. Jung, The Trickster: A Study in American Indian Mythology (1972); D. J. Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (1991); M. Green, Animals in Celtic Life and Myth (1992); J. Ziolkowski, Talking Animals: Medieval Latin Beast Poetry, 750–1150 (1993); A. Plaks, “Journey to the West,” Masterworks of Asian Literature in Comparative ed. B. S. Miller (1994); J. E. Salisbury, The Beast Within: Animals in the Middle Ages (1994); J. R. Simpson, Animal Body, Literary Corpus: The Old French “Roman de (1996); K. Varty, Reynard, Renart, Reinœrt and Other Foxes in Medieval England: The Iconographic Evidence (1999); L. E. Robbins, Elephant Slaves and Pampered Parrots: Exotic Animals in Eighteenth-Century Paris (2002); B. Sax, Crow (2003); M. Bathgate, The Fox’s Craft in Japanese Religion and Folklore: Shapeshifters, Transformations and Duplicities (2004); M. Wallen, Fox (2006); J. Mann, From Aesop to Reynard: Beast Literature in Medieval Britain (2009); S. Carnell, Hare (2010); K. Michalska and S. Michalski, Spider (2010).
BEAT. The recurring pulse in a regular *rhythm. Derived from the motion of the conductor’s hand or baton indicating the rhythmic pulse in music, in the analysis of verse it refers to the salient elements of a poetic *meter as experienced by the reader or listener. It is generally agreed that spoken lang. is normally too varied to allow for the emergence of beats (but see Couper-Kuhlen for a different view); metered verse, however, arranges words and sentences in controlled ways that produce a regular movement characterized by the alternation of stronger and weaker beats (or “offbeats”). When beats and offbeats are organized into the patterns enshrined in verse trad., the rhythm created is particularly strong; and once sequences of beats are perceived, the expectation is that they will continue. *Free verse and, more rarely, prose can fall into a sequence of alternating beats and offbeats, but without creating metrical patterns. The equivalent term for the beat in cl. prosody is *ictus.
Analysis of poetry in terms of beats and offbeats—“beat prosody”—emphasizes the relation of verse to music, without attempting to apply musical notation to the rhythms of lang. Both regular verse and cl. Western music are regarded as building on simple, familiar rhythmic forms, the most ubiquitous of which is the four-beat unit (which is produced by doubling a beat, then doubling it again). In the Eng. trad., the four-beat rhythm is the staple of popular verse and song, children’s rhymes, advertising *jingles, and *hymns. It is also common in art verse, where, in its most straightforward realization, it becomes *iambic or *trochaic tetrameter. Most commonly, it is found in larger units also created by doubling: four-beat *couplets or, more usually, four groups of four beats. In *dipodic verse, beats alternate between stronger and weaker (an alternation that arises from the hierarchic nature of all regular rhythm).
Once a four-beat rhythm is established, the mind can perceive a beat in certain limited positions even when there is no syllable to manifest it; thus, the common *ballad meter omits the last beat of the second and fourth groups. This perceived but not actual beat is termed an “implied beat,” a “virtual beat,” or an “empty beat.” Most line lengths in the Eng. verse trad. are based on the four-beat group or its variants, the two-beat group or the group of three beats plus an implied beat. A significant exception is the five-beat line, which does not fit easily into the four-beat rhythm, a fact that explains many of its special characteristics: it is rare in popular verse and song, it is often unrhymed, and it almost always takes the form of a strict accentual-syllabic or syllable-stress meter, the *iambic pentameter. It is thus clearly distinct from the trad. of song and closer to the rhythms of the spoken lang. (Some prosodists have argued that five-beat lines have a sixth implied beat, but this is not generally accepted.)
The strong pulse of the four-beat rhythm makes it possible to vary the number of offbeats that occur between the beats. Eng. accentual or stress verse has the greatest freedom in this respect, allowing one or two offbeats and, less frequently, three or none at all. Accentual-syllabic verse, by contrast, controls the number of syllables in the line, and hence the character of the offbeats: before or after a double offbeat, there will usually be a missing offbeat, and vice versa. Offbeats at the beginning and end of the line are less strictly controlled; four-beat verse may begin consistently with a beat or with an offbeat, or it may vary between these, as in these lines from John Milton’s “L’Allegro” (where b indicates the syllables that take a beat):
Verse in a triple or ternary rhythm (almost always in four-beat groups) has more double offbeats than single, but it can begin and end with two, one, or no offbeats. When a duple or binary meter begins regularly with an offbeat, it may be labeled “iambic”; when it begins regularly with a beat and ends with an offbeat, it may be labeled “trochaic.” When it begins and ends with a beat, it may be termed both “catalectic trochaic” (see and *“acephalous” or “headless iambic”; more simply, it is four-beat verse without initial or final offbeats.
Beats are realized by the most prominent rhythmic feature of the lang.—in Eng., by stress. However, not every stressed syllable is perceived as a beat and not every unstressed syllable as an offbeat. Under certain conditions, such as its occurrence between two stresses carrying beats, a stressed syllable can be felt as the rhythmic equivalent of an offbeat. Conversely, an unstressed syllable can, under certain conditions, such as its occurrence between two unstressed syllables functioning as offbeats, be experienced as rhythmically doing duty for a beat. These processes, *demotion and *promotion, are common in Eng. verse and derive from similar rhythmic processes in spoken Eng. They enable the poet to vary the speed and weight of the verse, the former producing a slower rhythm (since the demoted stress is still given emphasis) and the latter a quicker rhythm (since the promoted nonstress is still uttered lightly).
*Scansion of accentual-syllabic verse in terms of beats and offbeats differs from scansion in terms of cl. feet in that it does not assume the verse line to be divided into units determined by the meter. This difference is particularly evident in their accounts of the patterns / / x x and x x / /, which are frequent in Eng. iambic verse. In foot prosody, the former involves the substitution of a trochaic foot for an iambic foot (| x / | / x | x / | x / |), and the latter the substitution of a *pyrrhic and a *spondee for two iambs (| x / | x x | / / | x / |). In beat prosody, by contrast, the two successive stressed syllables are understood as two beats, and the two unstressed syllables as realizing a double offbeat. By showing the position of the beats, and the composition of the offbeats in the intervals between beats and at the beginning and end of the line, beat scansion indicates the rhythm as perceived by the reader or listener—who may have no training in cl. prosody.
W. B. Ker, Form and Style in Poetry (1928); G. R. Stewart, The Technique of English Verse (1930); J. Malof, “The Native Rhythm of English Meters,” TSLL 5 (1964); R. Burling, Man’s Many Voices (1970); G. D. Allen, “The Location of Rhythmic Stress Beats in English,” L&S 15 (1972); G. Knowles, “The Rhythm of English Syllables,” Lingua 34 (1974); Attridge, E. Couper-Kuhlen, English Speech Rhythm (1993); Attridge, Poetic Brendan O’Donnell, The Passion of Meter (1995)—Wordsworth’s use of rhythm; Carper and Attridge; John Creaser, “ ‘Service Is Perfect Freedom’: Paradox and Prosodic Style in Paradise RES 58 (2007).
BEAT POETRY refers to the work of a group of Am. writers from the late 1940s through the mid-1960s. It rejected as claustrophobic and ethically untenable the formalism of the then-dominant *New Criticism, Southern Agrarians, and other movements that stressed the *autonomy of the work of art; its compressed, intricate, and depersonalized nature; and the “dramatic irony” that arose from its internal and strictly textual contradictions. Beat writing strove to achieve a more romantic, though mod., “marriage of Heaven and Hell” through yoking abject subject matter, often of an autobiographical and socially transgressive nature (homosexuality or other nonnormative relationships, illicit drug use, extreme states of mind, the grittiness of everyday street life, rootlessness, urban squalor, and disillusionment), with exalted spiritual aspiration and insight; the term beat invokes both beatitude and despair or destitution, being “beat down to [one’s] socks,” in the words of Herbert Huncke, the petty criminal, drug addict, and gifted raconteur who befriended some of the writers. (Huncke and some of the other Beat writers, members of the Times Square demimonde, participated as subjects in the Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Male .) The term beat also refers to Af. Am. expressive culture, esp. bebop jazz, whose argot and “way-out” sound were central to the Beat lexicon and aesthetic, though the movement comprised primarily working-class “white ethnics”—first-generation Italian-, Jewish- and other Americans—whose embrace of what they perceived to be an alternative aesthetic and way of life set them apart from the upwardly mobile, conformist culture of the postwar U.S. After U.S. leftism imploded in the 1950s, the Beats embodied a cultural rather than political revolution, though their work drew on politically informed antecedents such as Am. (esp. Walt Whitman) and Br. (esp. William Blake and P. B. Shelley) *romanticism, *surrealism, and *Dadaism—with an added emphasis on Eastern and Western mysticism, the Eur. maudit tradition, and French existentialism. Contemporaneous and geographically proximate movements that shared a poetics of open, “organic” form, spontaneity, and personal directness include the *New York and *Black Mountain schools on the East Coast, and the *San Francisco Renaissance poets on the West. Although the poetics of the Beats is best known for phrases like “first thought, best thought,” “spontaneous bebop prosody,” the invention of the cut-up *collage technique, and obscenity trials (most notably that of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems ), in later years Ginsberg, who had earlier characterized the Beat generation as a “boy-gang,” was careful to counter the widespread impression that the Beats were literary barbarians, naming T. S. Eliot, Marcel Proust, and Herman Melville as additional influences. Recent years have also seen a recuperation of women Beats, notably Joanne Kyger, Bonnie Bremser/Brenda Frazer, Helen Adam, and Hettie Jones.
Key writers and texts include Ginsberg, Howl (1956); Jack Kerouac, On the Road (1957) and Mexico City Blues (1959); Gregory Corso, Gasoline (1958); John Wieners, The Hotel Wentley Poems (1958); William Burroughs, Naked Lunch (1959); Ted Joans, The Hipsters (1961); LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, Preface to a Twenty-Volume Suicide Note (1961), Dutchman (1964), and The System of Dante’s Hell (1965); Bob Kaufman, Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness (1965); Lawrence Ferlinghetti, A Coney Island of the Mind (1968); Bremser, Troia (1969); Gary Snyder, Riprap (1969); Diane di Prima, Dinners and Nightmares (1974); Kyger, Joanne (1974); Lew Welsh, Ring of Bone (1973); also Ray Bremser, Lucien Carr, John Clellon Holmes, Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, David Meltzer, Alexander Trocchi, ruth weiss, and Philip Whalen. Important jours. included The Floating City Lights Big Table/Chicago Evergreen and presses included Olympia, Totem, Grove Press, City Lights, Black Sparrow, and New Directions. Institutions with Beat foundations include Naropa University’s writing program (The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics) in Boulder, CO; and the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, New York City.
L. Lipton, Holy Barbarians (1959); F. Rigney and D. L. Smith, The Real Bohemia (1961); M. McClure, Scratching the Beat Surface (1982); M. Davidson, The San Francisco Renaissance (1989); J. A. Maynard, Venice West (1991); Beat Culture and the New America: ed. L. Philips (1995); D. Cándida-Smith, Utopia and Dissent (1996); H. Jones, How I Became Hettie Jones (1996); S. Clay and R. Phillips, A Secret Location on the Lower East Side (1998); D. Belgrad, The Culture of Spontaneity (1999); Breaking the Rule of ed. R. Johnson and N. G. Campbell (2004); P. Whaley, Blows Like a Horn (2004); Norman Mailer, “Hipsters,” Advertisements for Myself (2005).
BELARUS, POETRY OF. See RUSSIA, POETRY
BELGIUM, POETRY OF
I. Dutch. See LOW COUNTRIES, POETRY OF
II. French. Med. Belgian lyric poetry underwent important devels.—as much in religious as in *epic, mystical, or courtly genres—in the feudal principalities that were the foundation of the country. Likewise, during the 16th and 17th cs. under the Burgundian dynasty, Chambers of Rhetoric prospered whose trads. of formal *invention and *irony are undoubtedly similar to certain aspects of mod. poetry in Belgium. The production of original poetry, in Fr. as well as in Dutch, declined when the Netherlands, while retaining its constitution, found itself subservient to Madrid or Vienna (1585–1795).
This section concerns the production of poetry in Fr. that began after the Battle of Waterloo (1815) in the territories of the Catholic Netherlands and the Principality of Liège. The contours of a new Europe were being drawn, a Europe in which nationalist revolutions would break out, incl. the Belgian Revolution of 1830. In this setting, the concept of national lit. was affirmed, and the problem of francophone lits. was worked out; in this, the Belgian literary field was not merely a laboratory but the first great incubator, even if those interested in such questions take into account what was happening at the same time in Haiti and Switzerland. In the romantic period, freed from their imposed union with Holland, Belgian poets such as Théodore Weustenraad (1805–49), André van Hasselt (1806–74), and A.C.G. Mathieu (1804–76) used diverse forms of Fr. verse to celebrate the various industrial realizations of its modernity. As early as the 1820s, poets began to take liberties with dominant Fr. literary models, but it was not until the 1880s and 1890s that a distinctive Belgian Fr. poetry emerged, although one related to larger trends in Europe at the end of the century.
Some of these, in the Fr.-speaking world, arose in a country that hist., through its various means, had better prepared than others to break from the cl. Fr. *canon. This condition brought the generation called the Jeunes Belgique (Young Belgium) to take over the mysteries of *symbolism, the stylistic audacity of Arthur Rimbaud and the Comte de Lautréamont (both of them published in Belgium), as well as Stéphane Mallarmé’s encouragement. They thus asserted a specific literary identity recognized very quickly—and first of all in other countries—without claiming it as a national possession.
Émile Verhaeren (1855–1916) with Les Campagnes hallucinées (The Hallucinated Countryside, 1893) and Les Villes tentaculaires (The Tentacular Cities, 1895); Georges Rodenbach (1855–98) with Le Règne du silence (The Reign of Silence, 1891); Charles van Lerberghe (1861–1907) with La Chanson d’Ève (The Song of Eve, 1904); Max Elskamp (1862–1931) with Dominical (Sunday Prayer, 1892); and the Nobel laureate Maurice Maeterlinck (1862–1949) with Serres chaudes 1899) gave to francophone as well as to world lit. works of note and influence. E.g., Antonin Artaud claimed the six Hot Houses in verse as an inspiration (see the It. Crepuscolari (Twilight Poets; see ITALY, POETRY would be incomprehensible without Rodenbach’s stimulus, as Ger. *expressionism would be without Verhaeren’s poetic upheaval.
These innovators distanced themselves from their peers such as Albert Giraud (1860–1929), Iwan Gilkin (1858–1924), and Valère Gille (1867–1950) who wanted to remain faithful to *Parnassianism and to the Fr. trad. These divisions, which persisted a long time, reached to the very heart of the francophone world. The ruptures of World War I and the Rus. Revolution only served to deepen them.
The flourishing of the avant-garde and a new set of exchanges with Paris followed on these beginnings. *Dadaism found a special radicalism in Clément Pansaers (1885–1922), author of Le Pan-Pan au cul du nu nègre (Pan-Pan at the Negro Nude’s Ass, 1920), who called very early for the end of the movement by its own logic. In Brussels, a surrealist movement appeared around Paul Nougé (1895–1967) as early as 1924—one that has been both compared to and differentiated from the one led by André Breton in Paris at the same time. The group’s mistrust of the literary world, the clear distinction between the rules of political activity and those of writing or painting, and the very Belgian refusal to believe the evidence of lang. engendered production fundamental to the hist. of surrealism.
Of a rare quality and impertinence, as well as an exceptional rigor, this aesthetic and ethical endeavor is inscribed in the titles of the two Nougian summas collected by Marcel Mariën de ne pas rire (A Story of Not Laughing, 1956) and L’Expérience continue (The Continuous Experience or The Experience Continues, 1966)—and in this precept: “exégètes, pour y voir clair, rayez le mot surréalisme” (exegetes, to see clearly, scratch out the word Invented and shared by Marcel Lecomte (1900–66), Louis Scutenaire (1905–87), Camille Goemans (1900–60), André Souris (1899–1970), Paul Colinet (1898–1957), Irène Hamoir (1906–94), Édouard Léon Théodore Mesens (1903–71), and René Magritte (1898–1967), this movement unfolded outside any literary milieu, in a sort of inscribed parenthesis and in a filiation or reinvention between Ger. romanticism and revolution. Entirely coherent, this strand is fundamental to those artistic approaches that exhausted all the methods of the time, incl. advertising.
This inclusivity distinguishes Belgian surrealism from the lyricism that characterizes the work of Achille Chavée (1906–69), of Hainaut, who was faithful to the precepts of Fr. surrealism, and of his follower, Fernand Dumont (1906–45), the post-Nervalian surrealist who wrote La Région du cœur (The Region of the Heart, 1939) and La Dialectique du hasard au service du désir (Dialectic of Chance in the Service of Desire, 1979). There was lyricism, too, in the work of Charles Plisnier (1896–1952), who was also actively engaged on the Left and who found the means of expressing this engagement—which the followers of Nougé rejected—in the form of the spoken *choruses, such as Odes pour retrouver les hommes (Odes to Rediscover Men, 1935) and Sel de la terre (Salt of the Earth, 1936).
Close to the modernists whose postulates the surrealists violently contested (among these, Pierre Bourgeois [1898–1976], editor of the Journal des Géo Norge (1898–1990), for his part, aims to plunge to the carnal heart of a Langue verte (green language) that he celebrates and puts to work with relish in Les Oignons (The Onions, 1953) and Le Vin profond (The Deep Wine, 1968).
This trust in the Fr. lang. and trad. likewise declined, though with entirely different connotations, in the works of Marcel Thiry (1897–1977), such as Toi qui pâlis au nom de Vancouver (You Who Pale at the Name 1924). Thiry expressed this lack of faith in Le Poème et la langue (The Poem and the Language, 1967) by opposing his vision to that of Henri Michaux (1899–1984), whose plunges into words and traits sought the instinctual, the irrational, and the irregular—in works such as La Nuit remue (Darkness Moves, 1935), L’Infini turbulent (Infinite Turbulence, 1957), and Face à ce qui se dérobe (Facing the Evasive, 1976). Michaux, whose first works were close to those of Goemans, nevertheless held himself at a distance from the surrealists, even if he did dedicate to Magritte one text strongly expressive of the surrealists’ mode of being and of doing: En Rêvant à partir de peintures énigmatiques (Dreaming from Enigmatic Paintings, 1972). Furthermore, as early as 1924 in the Transatlantic he explained how his poetics aimed to differ from that of his Belgian forefathers.
If Thiry led his reader out of the rural world, notably into the various colonies and trading posts of the planet and into industry, it was to this old harmonized world that Maurice Carême (1899–1978), whose texts such as Mère (Mother, 1935) and Petites Légendes (Little Legends, 1949) are everywhere in primary schools, preferred to return. The tormented universes of Jean de Boschère (1878–1953) are completely different in Job le pauvre (Job the Poor, 1923) and Derniers poèmes de l’obscur (Last Poems from the Darkness, 1948), whose wild lyricism is that of the aesthete and the as such is equally the case of René Verboom (1891–1955) in La Courbe ardente (The Burning Curve, 1922) and of Paul Desmeth (1883–1970), whose dandyism is distilled into a book much rewritten, Simplifications (1932).
The period after 1945 yielded a poetic scene even more divided than what had preceded it, but it broadened the already excellent diversity of the interwar years. Under the rubric of La Belgique one could find the various modulations of the avant-garde, groups such as Les Lèvres nues (The Naked Lips), Phantòmas, Daily-Bul, Temps Mêlés (Mixed Times), and Le Vocatif (The Vocative). Internationally, the most prominent such venture was CoBrA (named for Copenhagen–Brussels–Amsterdam), led by Christian Dotremont (1922–79), who transformed an old house in Brussels into a center for collective innovation in both poetry and sculpture. Dedicated to finding the origin of the corporeal, this team (incl. Asger Jorn [1914–73], Karel Appel [1921–2006], and the painters known as Constant [1920–2005] and Corneille [1922–2010]), which stayed together for three years, took a break from relations with the Communist Party and displaced some key objectives of surrealism.
Next Dotremont became involved in the adventure that would lead him, via his travels to Laponia, to the invention in 1962 of logograms. On a blank sheet of paper of variable dimensions, a dancing line of China ink was traced, in the manner of the most personal of writings, which the writer-sculptor next transcribed to the underside of the page, in small penciled letters. This is how the sensory and cognitive simultaneity that haunts a major segment of Belgian poetry was attained and how the author of De loin aussi d’ici (From Afar as from Here, 1973) completed his research.
The years after the war also witnessed the devel. of the work of another writer-artist active from the 1920s, Michel Seuphor (1901–99), whom the publisher Rougerie strove to keep in print even as the artist’s word paintings proliferated.
Other works, exceptions to the norm, appeared at the edges of the avant-garde. So it was with François Jacqmin (1929–92), an adolescent whom the hazards of the war took from Fr. to Eng., then from Eng. to Fr. In Les Saisons (The Seasons, 1979) and Le Livre de la neige Book of the 1990), his lucid lang. creates a relationship (to the natural world as to the self) of dissolution and absorption; he emphasizes the conjunction of mistrust and ineluctability inherent in the literary work. Jacqmin’s mix of distance and sensibility is not that of Max Loreau (1928–90), the acute commentator of Dotremont and of Michaux and the highflying philosopher of La Genèse du phénomène (The Origin of Phenomena, 1989), whose radical modernity tries to break lang. in order to reintroduce a lyrical celebration of the world: Cri (Scream, 1973), Chants de perpétuelle venue (Songs of Perpetual Arrival, 1977), Florence portée aux nues (Florence on a Pedestal, 1986).
In the next generation, the Belgian members of the Fr. group TXT, Éric Clemens (b. 1945) and Jean Pierre Verheggen (b. 1942), continued this experimentation with lang. Verheggen—author of Le Degré zorro de l’écriture (The Zorro Degree of Writing, 1978), Divan le terrible (Divan the Terrible, 1979), and Sodome et Grammaire (Sodom and Grammar, 2008)—infused his work with a great Rabelaisian character not unfamiliar to the emblem of Belgian letters in the 19th c., Tyl Eulenspiegel. Finally, in the surrealist circle of influence, Tom Gutt (1941–2002) produced some of the most beautiful love poems in Belgian lit.
Still, the desire to conform to Fr. models had not disappeared. It dominated Belgian poetry institutionally in the years after the war. But if this tendency—exemplified by Serge Vandercam (1924–2005), Robert Vivier (1894–1989), Jean Mogin (1921–86), Charles Bertin (1919–2003), Jean Tordeur (1920–2010), and Arthur Haulot (1913–2005)—wanted to combine the internalization of Fr. ideology (and its universality) with the celebration of humanist values destined to conjure up the ghosts of Nazi abjectness, it also led to works that opened a worldwide dialogue. Thus are the cases of Roger Bodart (1910–73) in Le Nègre de Chicago (The Negro from Chicago, 1958) and Fernand Verhesen (1913–2009), the smuggler of Latin Am. lits. There was also some beautiful reshuffling of trad.: Philippe Jones’s (b. 1924) filtered restitution of sensory evidence; Liliane Wouters’s (b. 1930) fusion with the Flemish trad.; and Henry Bauchau’s (b. 1913) return to the very old rhythms of lang. in poetic works that constitute the matrix and the tension point of fiction. A unique and admirable work of this generation was Roger Goossens’s (1903–54) Magie familière (Familiar Magic, 1956).
Likewise, but in a very different way, for the next generation: Sophie Podolski’s (1953–74) Le pays où tout est permis (The Country Where Everything Is Allowed, 1974) was charred by the universe of repression. During this period, Claire Lejeune (1926–2008), who plunged next into the essay, destined to facilitate the social birth of the poetic, wrote Mémoire de rien (Memory of Nothing, 1972), a masterpiece—along with Françoise Delcarte’s (1936–95) Sables (Sands, 1969)—of postwar women’s poetry, haunted by modernity. This moment also saw William Cliff (b. 1940) charge onto the literary scene with a return to cl. verse in a narrative sequence of the blessings and misfortunes of a homosexual lifestyle 1973); and Eugène Savitzkaya (b. 1955) in L’Empire (1976) and Mongolie plaine sale (Mongolia, Dirty Plain, 1976), who pulverizes Fr. phrases to let loose verbal hordes.
Off the beaten paths of the avant-garde and strict classicism but trusting in the strengths of poetry, various strands that evolved in the 1970s nevertheless refer to Heideggerian dogma. In Promenoir magique (Magical Promenade, 2009), Jean-Claude Pirotte (b. 1939) made concise Fr. the site of his renewal; in Werner Lambersy’s (b. 1941) Maîtres et maisons de thé (Masters and Tea Houses, 1979) is a response to Asian culture. In Jacques Izoard (1936–2008), we find baroque sensuality surrounded by harsh metrics. In Christian Hubin’s (b. 1941) La Parole sans lieu (The Word without Place, 1975), there is the dread of the rift and the threshold, while in Frans De Haes’s (b. 1948) Terrasses et Tableaux (Terraces and Paintings, 2007), we find the pregnancy of the Bible and Quel ling. work. Finally, there is the constant interrogation of the absence of the Other in Yves Namur’s (b. 1952) Le Livre des Sept Portes (The Book of Seven Doors, 1994).
Rooted in the Walloon soil, certain poets produced works that further escaped the effects of the Franco-centric literary world. In Les Prodiges ordinaires (The Ordinary Prodigies, 1991), André Schmitz (b. 1929) worked though contraction and attained the density of a carnal tragedy tamed, while Claude Bauwens (b. 1939) follows his white dream of return to the forgetting of oneself in L’Avant-Mère (The Pre-Mother, 1975) and Paul André (1941–2008) returns to the magic of a natural being-in-the-world in C’est (It is, 1995). Those who, like Guy Goffette (b. 1947) in Éloge pour une cuisine de province (Praise for a Provincial Kitchen, 1988) or Lucien Noullez (b. 1957) in Comme un pommier (Like an Apple Tree, 1997), left these rural shores far away from centers of cultural recognition, played, all the same, from a different score, a score that their childhoods continued to nourish deeply. This offers them a foundation that distances them from exaggerated *modernism and *postmodernism.
François Muir (1955–97), in La Tentation du visage (The Temptation of the Face, 1998), did not find these types of relative balance. Essentially published posthumously and completely iridescent, his life’s work is—with Schmitz’s—the most enigmatic, most consistent, and most intriguing of the last decades.
Poètes français de Belgique de Verhaeren au ed. R. Guiette (1948); Lyra trans. C. and F. Stillman, 2 v. (1950–51); Anthologie du surréalisme en ed. C. Bussy (1972); Panorama de la poésie française de ed. L. Wouters and J. Antoine (1976); La poésie francophone de ed. L. Wouters and A. Bosquet, 4 v. (1985–).
Criticism and G. Charlier and J. Hanse, Histoire illustrée des lettres françaises de Belgique (1958); R. Frickx and R. Burniaux, La littérature belge d’expression française (1980); M. Quaghebeur, Alphabet des lettres belges de langue française (1982); R. Frickx and R. Trousson, Lettres françaises de Belgique, Dictionnaire des v. 2: La Poésie (1988); A.-M. Beckers, Lire les écrivains 3 v. (1985–); C. Berg and P. Halen, Littératures belges de langue française (2000); J. P. Bertrand et al., Histoire de la littérature belge (2003).
BELIEF AND POETRY
I. Classical to Early Modern
II. Early Modern to the Present
I. Classical to Early The question of belief and poetry was posed as such only in the mod. period, but since virtually every narrative or discursive utterance claims some kind of assent, these claims naturally have received critical attention since cl. antiquity. *Classical poetics, beginning from rhetorical principles, characteristically took conventional beliefs and common sense as normative and sought to avoid conflict with them. Since audiences cannot be instructed or delighted by a poem whose premises or claims they actively reject, the poet must secure their acquiescence as efficiently as possible; to this end, Horace gives the advice to “follow convention, or at least be consistent” Even Aristotle, who trenchantly distinguished poetry from rhet., took the world of common apprehension to be the object of poetic imitation. Conventional beliefs thus stood as the measure not only of incident but of style, design, and character through Gr. and Roman antiquity.
But as Aristotle recognized, implied in even the most straightforwardly rhetorical address were two claims with a longer reach. First, the very aim of rhetorical persuasion supposes that artful speech can shape and alter those conventional beliefs. Cicero’s and Quintilian’s insistence that eloquence can turn destructive if wisdom does not steer it affirms its power over the mind; in Longinus, this power becomes an aesthetic value apart from any persuasive end it might serve. Second, rhet.’s status as a form of systematic knowledge supposes that there is something systematic, something enduring and natural, about what sways audiences; conventions may thus disclose the intelligible structures of the real. Aristotle treats the “probable” as the proper object of imitative composition not merely because audiences accept it but because their acceptance reveals it as the locus of poetry’s distinctive truth-claims. By its skillful presentation, poetry could precipitate the universal from its dispersal into particulars and present it to view.
In defending poetry as a kind of knowledge, Aristotle answered the powerful crit. of eloquence and *imitation voiced by Plato, who agreed with the rhetoricians that their enterprise was mortgaged to popular judgment and deplored the fact. Plato’s Republic says that the artist, bound to flatter his audience’s judgment, is like a trainer who has become slave to his animals’ whims. He famously argued that imitative art is illusory art, really distancing and coarsening what it seems to present closely and in detail. Poems conspire with popular error to obscure truth; philosophy must work against both, to clarify truth and reform belief. He thus cast both conventional perception and its artistic representation as forms of what later would be called ideology and cast philosophy as its critique. Plato did not explicitly entertain the possibility that imitative art might itself conduct such critique.
Christianity did. Requiring belief in a truth exigent but nonevident and seeking coherent exposition of that truth in the apparent incoherence of the Bible, it devised an account of literary form and *figuration that found in them resources for conducting the critique Plato sought from philosophy and so for reforming belief. The crucial figure is St. Augustine. From Plato, via Plotinus, he borrowed the thought that the empirical world is a “region of dissimilitude” holding the real at bay; from the exegetical principles exemplified by St. Paul (Gal 4:22–31) and developed by Origen and St. Ambrose, he developed an account of figurative expression as *allegory meant to overcome dissimilitude. His De doctrina christiana Christian describes how the abrupt and enigmatic expressive surface of the biblical text, refusing to supply what the mind finds comfortable, forces it to adapt to meanings more vexing and consequential. In the Middle Ages, these techniques of *interpretation became codified as academic procedure (with its most succinct and profound account in Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica 1q.1a.10) and as a didactic and homiletic device, offering *medieval poetry a means to make both serious and subversive claims to belief. The letter to Can Grande della Scala, controversially attributed to Dante, illustrates how med. thinkers could treat formal biblical exegesis as a model for composition.
II. Early Modern to the The med. emphasis on *hermeneutics and the apprehension of difficult truths in poetry were typically rejected by Ren. humanists, who emphasized instead the persuasive power of poetic fictions. That power was modeled on the force of divine inspiration, but it was attributed to the ability of poetry to move the reader through imaginative constructs rather than appealing to the transcendent ground of belief. Defending poetry against the charge of telling lies, Philip Sidney noted that the poet was not constrained to the “bare was” of the historian but nonetheless was incapable of lying because he never claimed to be telling the truth: “what child is there, coming to a play, and seeing Thebes written in great letters upon an old door, doth believe that it is Thebes?” of 1595); instead, as J. C. Scaliger put it succinctly, the poet “imitates the truth by fiction” libri septem [Seven Books of Poetics], 1561).
The Augustinian emphasis on the revelatory power of metaphorical lang. was countered in the Reformation by an interest in the literal or historical meaning of biblical narrative that characterized much Protestant hermeneutics. This historicism at times challenged Scholastic claims about the ultimate clarity and significance of mystical signs, esp. as those claims depended on belief or revelation rather than historical corroboration and a close reading of the scriptural text. Literary consequences of the Reformers’ interest in hist. and referential lang. were mixed. It clearly reinforced the nascent realism underlying develop. of the early novel, but it also led to the Puritans’ iconoclastic rejection of metaphorical signs and imaginative expression of all forms.
Ambivalence about the role of belief in reading and interpretation persisted into the neoclassical era, where it often led to increasingly tenuous and contradictory claims about the centrality of belief to the impact of poetry and drama on their readers and audience. Fr. neoclassicists, e.g., often insisted on strict verisimilitude in drama because they feared audiences would not respond to representations of actions on stage if they could not believe those actions were real, at least temporarily and provisionally. Samuel Johnson, on the other hand, defended Shakespeare against Fr. charges that his work was not credible because it lacked such close correspondence to the world. Shakespeare’s work is, in fact, a “mirror of life,” Johnson claimed, but qualified that assertion by adding ironically that “it is credited with all the credit due to a drama” (“Preface to Shakespeare,” 1765).
Johnson’s deliberately paradoxical claim underscores the obvious logical problems of trying to defend lit. on the basis of credibility or belief. At the end of the 18th c., Immanuel Kant avoided those problems by significantly shifting the grounds of the argument. He insisted on the purely subjective basis of aesthetic experience, turning attention from mimetic connections between the work and the world to the effect of the work on the audience. Kant claimed that aesthetic judgments of beauty derived from a purely disinterested sense of pleasure and harmony within the mind of the viewer or reader. Effects of belief associated with those experiences were merely projections of subjective feelings “as if” they were properties of objects in the world or direct manifestations of a transcendent or “supersensible” substratum or spirit or reason, which could only be vaguely intuited in our present condition der Urteilskraft of 1790).
The epistemological skepticism that characterized Kant’s aesthetics was quickly abandoned by the Ger. idealists, who replaced Kant’s “as if” with a metaphysics of presence that treated poetry as a direct manifestation of spirit in matter. The influence of Ger. idealism on Eng. poetics was felt most directly through the work of S. T. Coleridge and his attribution of “organic form” to poetry, but Coleridge still insisted on the importance of an active, vital *imagination that “struggles to idealize and unify” elements of the poetic symbol in the act of perception. Thus, despite his insistence on the metaphysical union of idea and image, or subject and object, in poetry, Coleridge’s emphasis on the role of the imagination in reading recalled the paradoxical claims of Sidney and Johnson. Coleridge argued that, to accomplish its ends, poetry must induce in the reader a “willing suspension of disbelief,” a state that inspired the emotive power of belief without a corollary degree of conviction about the truth or credibility of the work of art as a manifestation or imitation of some transcendent truth 1817).
Karl Marx rejected the claims of Ger. idealism and *romanticism, along with the whole realm of the spirit, as ideological illusions masking the material grounds of lived experience, but the idea of a uniquely poetic form of belief persisted in Anglo-Am. poetics. Matthew Arnold defended poetry as offering the emotional satisfaction of belief without the insistence on a specific doctrine or faith as required by religion and without competing with science for rational commitment and empirical verification (“The Study of Poetry,” 1880; “Literature and Science,” 1882). Such satisfaction was possible, Richards later claimed, because of differences between poetic and ordinary lang. Although statements made by the poem resemble the truth-claims of science and religion, they are, in fact, *“pseudo-statements” that function as part of the “emotive” discourse of poetry, as opposed to the “referential” discourse of science. Richards distinguished between “intellectual belief” and “emotional belief” (1929), and he said that, rather than asking us to suspend disbelief, a successful poem will evoke emotional beliefs that will be held in balance with other emotional beliefs in terms of the poem rather than tested and resolved in the external world.
Similarly, although T. S. Eliot embraced a much more orthodox notion of belief in his later poetry and religious faith, he claimed that poetry is less about the content of the beliefs than about how it feels for one to hold them. Beliefs are merely the raw material of poetry, Eliot said; the poet is more properly concerned with their “emotional equivalents” as expressed in the poem through their *objective correlatives. Together, Eliot and Richards turned poetics away from the question of belief as doctrine or a state of mind and toward the formalist concerns that occupied Am. crit. in the decades following World War II. New Critics such as Brooks, viewing the poem as an autonomous object, argued that poetic statements of belief existed only as dramatic utterances that functioned solely in the context of the poem. As Brooks argued in “Irony as a Principle of Structure” (1949), a poem should so accurately dramatize a situation that “it is no longer a question of our beliefs, but of our participation in the poetic experience” (see NEW
In the 1970s, *poststructuralism extended this paradoxical, self-referential, highly qualified status of belief in poetry into a sweeping critique of metaphysical foundations in all forms of discourse. Derrida attributed the claims of belief in philosophy and religion, e.g., to the same self-cancelling properties of lang. traditionally associated with poetic tropes. Foucault and new varieties of Marxian analysis (e.g., Jameson and Louis Althusser) similarly portrayed belief along with more general categories of truth and meaning as mere effects of power produced by the discursive regulation of society. In de Certeau’s terms, belief was thus “exhausted” of its content and could best be characterized by the subject’s investment in the propositional “act” of making a statement and considering it as true. The result, de Certeau says, is an extension of the constitutive power of narrative beyond the traditional self-referential boundaries of literary fiction to create a société a society of stories in which belief is constituted through an endless citation and recitation of fictional propositions that create a simulacrum of the real. For Bourdieu, one of the most important stories told by society is that of art itself; he argued that the author, the work, and their critics and supporters were inextricably implicated in a field of cultural production that creates and sustains a “circle of belief” in the value and significance of art in society.
Critics of poststructuralism often condemned this rejection of any transcendent content for belief as antihumanist nihilism, but even among the poststructuralists, many theorists remained profoundly interested in the subjective experience of belief as a product of the individual’s engagement with lang. and lit. in particular. Derrida argued that, prior to any specific philosophical content, “poetry and literature provide or facilitate ‘phenomenological’ access to what makes of a thesis a thesis as such a nonthetic experience of the thesis, of belief.” In his later work, Derrida often focused on a nonfoundational form of “spectral” belief derived from theology and metaphysics but closely resembling the self-conscious illusions of traditional poetics. Similarly, Vattimo (1985) described the experience of belief as what Martin Heidegger called the Zeigen or “showing” of poetic lang., an entirely provisional event in time contrary to the constraints and finality of metaphysical certainty. This interest in belief as a dimension of the reader’s interaction with lang. could also be found in the reader-oriented analysis of Rezeptionstheorie in the work of Iser and Jauss, with its debt to the hermeneutic theory of Friedrich Schleiermacher and other Ger. theologians. It also reflects the more general renewal of religious themes in contemp. phenomenology, esp. in conjunction with lang. as in the work of Ricoeur.
In the latter half of the 20th c., there was a renewed interest (by Abrams, Fraser, and Scott) in poets for whom belief was a central theme. A wide range of theorists revived the traditional poetical question of whether the relation between the poetic work and the world beyond it can best be described as “epiphanic” (Taylor) or “iconic” (Marion). Alternately, Bloom redefined belief in psychoanalytical terms as an agonistic struggle for creative autonomy in which the poet is willing to “ruin the sacred truths to fable and old song,” to disbelieve in those truths and so make possible a belief in himself as “a sect of one” (see The result would be a form of subjectivity that transcends poststructuralist nihilism and confounds distinctions between literary meaning and religious belief. Arguing that there can be no reasoning or belief without words, the neopragmatist Rorty generalized Bloom’s definition of the strong poet as a creator of new langs. to argue that reading poetry makes us more fully human by enriching vocabularies and lang. as a tool for coping with reality. Rorty’s claim, in turn, led Poirier to argue that neopragmatism is “essentially a poetic theory” about how belief is contingent upon poetics.
This attention to the experience of belief among Rorty, Poirier, and other neopragmatists such as West and Mailloux is only one part of the so-called religious or theological turn in critical theory at the beginning of the 21st c. Renewed interest in the efficacy and significance of belief and religion extended well beyond the concerns of traditional poetics and encompassed many different theoretical and philosophical movements. In response to what Vattimo called pensiero debole (weak thought) or the general “thinning out” of belief in contemp. society, MacIntyre, Hauerwas, Milbank, and other so-called New Traditionalists attempted to defend traditional beliefs—particularly those of the Aristotelian-Thomistic trad.—against secular liberalism (cf. Stout). According to the New Traditionalists, mod. liberal democracies undermine traditional beliefs and narratives and, as a result, make it impossible to sustain the virtues necessary to confront any major ethical-moral challenge. Conversely, in a book-length debate on belief between the neo-Marxist, Lacanian atheist Slavoj Žižek and the Anglo-Catholic theologian Milbank, Žižek insisted that Milbank’s beliefs are illusions; but, following Badiou, Žižek argued that illusions can be useful for militant revolutionary politics if the revolutionaries believe in them. This emphasis on the pragmatic efficacy of belief apart from any transcendent or doctrinal content thus returned the political and philosophical dispute to its literary origins and the “willing suspension of disbelief” that grants tremendous power to poetry but protects literary illusions from the specious certainty of metaphysical delusion.
See NEOCLASSICAL PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION AND RENAISSANCE RHETORIC AND ROMANTIC AND POSTROMANTIC POETRY AND
I. A. Richards, “Poetry and Beliefs,” Science and Poetry (1926); and Practical Criticism (1929); T. S. Eliot, The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (1933); H.-I. Marrou, Saint Augustin et la fin de la culture antique (1939); Brooks, “The Heresy of Paraphrase,” “The Problem of Belief and the Problem of Cognition,” “The Well Wrought Urn” (1947); W. J. Rooney, The Problem of Poetry and Belief in Contemporary Criticism (1949); Eliot, “Dante”; M. Heidegger, “Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes” (1935), v. 5 (1950); M. C. Brooks, “Irony as a Principle of Structure,” Literary Opinion in ed. M. D. Zabel (1951); Wellek, v. 1: The Later Eighteenth Literature and ed. M. H. Abrams (1958); Heidegger, “Die Sprache” (1950), Unterwegs zur Sprache (1959); Weinberg; D. W. Robertson Jr., A Preface to Chaucer (1962); P. Courcelle, Les Confessions de Saint Augustin dans la tradition littéraire: antécédents et postérité (1963); E. Auerbach, Literary Language and Its Public in Late Antiquity and in the Middle trans. R. Manheim (1965); J. Derrida, La voix et le phénoméne (1967); M. Foucault, L’archéologie du savoir (1969); W. Iser, The Implied Reader (1974); P. Bourdieu, production de la croyance,” Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales 13 (1977); M. De Certeau, L’invention du quotidien (1980); F. Jameson, The Political Unconscious (1981); H. R. Jauss, Toward an Aesthetic of trans. T. Bahti (1982); R. Rorty, Consequences of Pragmatism (1982); A. MacIntyre, After Virtue (1984); H. Fraser, Beauty and Belief (1985); N. Scott, The Poetics of Belief (1985); G. Vattimo, La fine della modernità (1985); C. West, The American Evasion of Philosophy (1989); H. Bloom, Ruin the Sacred Truths (1989); S. Hauerwas and W. Willimon, Resident Aliens (1989); C. Taylor, Sources of the Self (1989); J. Milbank, Theology and Social Theory (1990); P. Ricoeur, “Expérience et langage dans le discours religieux,” Phénoménolgie et ed. J.-F. Courtine (1991); R. Poirier, Poetry and Pragmatism (1992); J. Derrida, “Foi et savoir: les deux sources de la ‘religion’ aux limites de la simple raison,” La ed. J. Derrida and G. Vattimo (1996); G. Vattimo, Credere di credere (1996); A. Badiou, Saint Paul (1997); J.-L. Marion, Etant donné (1997); Henri de Lubac, Medieval Exegesis: The Four Senses of trans. M. Sebanc, 4 v. (1998); S. Hauerwas, With the Grain of the Universe (2001); S. Žižek, On Belief (2001); J. Stout, Democracy and Tradition (2004); S. Mailloux, Disciplinary Identities (2006); S. Žižek and J. Milbank, The Monstrosity of Christ (2009).
M. S. TO M. P. T. K. TO
BENGALI POETRY. The Bengali lang., or Bangla, is a New Indo-Aryan speech of the northeastern part of the Indian subcontinent. The hist. of Bengali lang. and lit. closely links it to the neighboring Assamese, Oriya, and, to a lesser extent in the mod. period, to Maithili. Except for a few commentaries composed in Assam in the 16th c. prose was not used in Bengali lit. before the 18th c.
The first poems in proto-Bengali were preserved in the collection of the Caryā songs composed by Buddhist saints in the 11th c. Discovered in 1907 in Nepal, the Caryā songs were not known by later premod. Bengali authors.
Premod. Bengali poetry may be divided into short and long forms. Both forms contained lyrical aspects; performance was a central feature of their composition. The Bengali narrative verse par excellence from the 14th c. is the The payāra is a syllabic meter of 14 feet with a *caesura after the eighth that follows a plain rhyme scheme bb, Lyrical and descriptive passages are usually composed in a slightly more complex verse with two caesurae and an internal rhyme. Tripadīs are also arranged in *distichs with the same rhyming pattern as the payāra. Short forms usually use tripadī and other meters borrowed from Sanskrit.
The short forms, or heavily drew on the subject of the love between Kṛṣṇa, the incarnation of the Hindu god Viṣṇu, and the cowherd Rādhā. Each poem is a vignette treating one episode of their relationship. Thus, the poem belongs to a wider narrative frame from which it derives its meaning and character. The main themes are love in union and love in separation The models of this lit. lie in the Sanskrit Gītagovinda of Jayadeva (12th c.) and the Maithili poems of Vidyāpati Ṭhākura (14th c.). Caṇḍīdāsa, who composed the Śrīkṛṣ akīrtana (ca. 14th c.), is the first Bengali poet known to have used this theme. The love between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa illustrated both the mundane ideal of courtly love and the spiritual stages of the devotee. From the 16th c. onward, with the devel. of the sect founded by Caitanya (1486–1533), a rich lit. was composed on this theme. The love between Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa became the archetype of the amatory relationship in Bengali poetry; moreover, Muslim authors also composed poetry in this vein.
Long forms are mainly represented by the p cāli tradition. The term p cāli refers to a mode of performance combining the declamation of a narrative poem interspersed with more lyrical parts accompanied by music and dance. The first p cālis were adaptations from Sanskrit lit. The Rāmāya a of Kṛttivāsa (ca. 15th c.) or Mālādhara Vasu’s Śrīkṛṣ avijaya (The Victory of Lord Kṛṣṇa) were p cālis of this kind. Some typical texts of Bengal called ma (propitiatory poems) narrate how a goddess imposed her worship among humans in the region. The hagiographic work entitled Caitanyacaritāmṛta of Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja (ca. 1517–1615)—about the life and doctrine of Caitanya—pertained to some extent to the poetics of the p cāli. Muslim poets such as Saiyad Sultān (fl. 1584) adapted stories of the prophets of Islam from the Persian and Ar. using the same form. Similarly, other poets like Ālāol (fl. 1651–71) who lived in Arakan, in mod. Myanmar, translated and adapted Hindi and Persian Sufi romances into Bengali. Other important themes of p cāli poetry are the stories of mythic figures like Satyapīra who belong to both Hindu and Islamic cultures in Bengal.
While premod. poetical forms continue today, Bengali poetry underwent major changes during the 18th and early 19th cs. Bhāratacandra (1712–60) was a clerk and a court poet who integrated historical themes in the p cāli trad. In the early 19th c., Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824–73), a polyglot poet and dramatist familiar with both Indian and Western cl. langs. and lits., introduced *blank verse into Bengali as well as the *sonnet. He composed the Meghanādavadha kāvya (The Slaying of Meghanada, 1861), an *epic poem resorting to the poetics of Gr. tragedy but based on an episode of the Sanskrit Rāmāya
The versatile author of thousands of poems and songs Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941), known as the “universal poet” is a landmark of mod. Bengali poetry. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913 for an Eng. version of his Bengali Gitanjali (Song Offerings, 1910). Tagore reshaped traditional topoi through his distinctive genius, thus illustrating the larger dynamics at work in the Bengali literary trad. between the end of the 19th and the first decades of the 20th cs. The Indian and Bangladeshi national *anthems are songs composed by Tagore.
Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899–1976), the “rebel poet” was also a prolific songwriter. The themes of his poetry are variegated. He translated Persian poems of Ḥāfiẓ (1315–89) and composed devotional works dedicated to several Hindu gods and goddesses, as well as powerful nationalist poems. As opposed to that of Tagore, Nazrul’s poetry maintains a poetics of chaos and confusion from which a certain creative energy ensues.
Jibananda Das (1899–1954) is the third landmark in the hist. of mod. Bengali poetry. His poems reveal a “complexity” in the poet’s relation to the world. His conception of poetry as utterly shaped by individual subjectivity—a kind of hermeticism—opposed him to Tagore’s universalism and prompted crit. by the followers of an ideologically committed poetry.
In the 1930s, various progressive writers shifted from Tagore’s model and engaged in poetic dialogues with his oeuvre. Chief among them is Buddhadeva Bose (1908–74), who devoted several works to the interrogation of Tagore’s poetry and composed poems inverting his images. Other poets such as Amiya Chakrabarti (1901–86), Sudhindranath Dutta (1901–60), and Bishnu Dey (1909–82), who did not form a homogenous group, represent different modernist attitudes of the period surrounding World War II.
The independence of India and Pakistan in 1947 marked an important turn in the hist. of Bengali poetry. Dhaka, the capital of East Pakistan, became an alternative to Calcutta as an intellectual center.
Poets of East Bengal expressed a need for a proper identity. During “the language movement” in 1952 up to the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, Bengali poetry became the privileged medium of the nationalist claims of the people of East Pakistan. A variety of voices reflecting the multiple options for the building of a Bangladeshi national identity appear in the poetry of that period. Among them, Shamsur Rahman (1929–2006) was the most influential figure. In his hymn-like poems, his voice melds with the song of freedom and independence of the people of Bangladesh. Jibananda Das’s approach to poetry also had a strong influence on the prominent Bangladeshi poet Al-Mahmud (b. 1936). In West Bengal, poetry took a strong ideological turn with the growth of Marxism and the Naxalite movement. Among the noticeable poets of West Bengal of the 1970s and contemp. period are Sunil Gangopadhyay (b. 1934) and Jay Goswami (b. 1954).
A Tagore ed. A. Chakrabarti (1961); The Thief of trans. E. C. Dimock (1963)—Bengali tales; S. Sen, History of Bengali Literature (1979); A. K. Banerjee, History of Modern Bengali Literature (1986); C. B. Seely, A Poet Apart (1990)—on Jibananda Das; R. Tagore, Selected trans. W. Radice, rev. ed. (1994); “Bengali,” Medieval Indian ed. K. A. Paniker, v. 1 (1997); Voices from trans. and ed. M. Bandyopadhyay et al. (1997); Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja, The Caitanya ed. T. K. Stewart, trans. E. C. Dimock, (1999); Fabulous Women and Peerless trans. T. K. Stewart (2004); M. M. Dutt, The Slaying of trans. C. B. Seely (2004); P. K. Mitra, The Dissent of Nazrul Islam (2007).
BESTIARY. The bestiary or book of beasts is a med. collection of animal stories, written in both Lat. and in the principal vernacular langs. of Western Europe and normally but not always decorated with illustrations. The oldest surviving examples date from the early 10th c., but most of the extant versions were produced in the late 12th and 13th cs. The bestiary is derived from Lat. trans. of the Gr. named after its supposed compiler (the Naturalist), and written sometime between the 2d and 4th cs. possibly in Alexandria. Like the bestiary, the Physiologus exists in a number of different versions. Purportedly drawn from observation but actually derived from works of natural hist., as well as myth, legend, and fable, the Physiologus describes the characteristics of animals, birds, serpents, and insects that are then moralized and used as a vehicle for revealing Christian truths. The bestiary is similar in form to the Physiologus but greatly expands the number of both real and imaginary animals that are included and interpolates material from other sources, most notably the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville and the Hexameron of St. Ambrose. Like the the bestiary assumes that the natural world can be read as a divinely inscribed book and that the characteristics of animals provide a set of lessons for the edification of humanity. Thus, the lion symbolizes the resurrection because it revives its cubs (which are born dead) by blowing into their faces three days after their birth, while the beaver acts as an exhortation to clean living by biting off its own testicles (which are prized for their medicinal qualities) when pursued by a hunter.
Bestiaries provide some of the finest examples of med. ms. illustration, with the most luxurious and expensively produced copies created in England in the early 13th c. While the bestiary reached its apogee at that time, Ren. writers continued to use it as a rich source of images and metaphors (e.g., King Lear condemns his “pelican daughters,” a metaphor drawn from the bestiary pelican that brings its young back to life by feeding them with its blood). The bestiary survives in such traditional and proverbial lore as “to lick into shape” (derived from the bear that was said to give form to her cubs by licking them after they are born as shapeless lumps of flesh) and the phoenix that rises from the ashes.
The ed. M. R. James (1928); F. McCulloch, Medieval Latin and French rev. ed. (1962); B. Rowland, Animals with Human Faces (1974); trans. M. J. Curley (1979); X. Muratova, I manoscritti miniati del bestiario medievale (1985); Birds and Beasts of the Middle ed. W. B. Clark and M. T. McMunn (1989); D. Hassig, Medieval Bestiaries: Text, Image, Ideology (1995).
BHAKTI POETRY. See INDIA, POETRY
BIBLICAL POETRY. See HEBREW POETRY; HEBREW PROSODY AND POETICS; HYMN;
BIEDERMEIER. A term first used around 1855 to refer ironically to the smug, philistine, and petty-bourgeois mentality and writing style frequently encountered in South Germany and Austria in the period 1815–48. Soon after 1900, Biedermeier began to be used descriptively as a period term referring to the style of furniture and fashions of dress prevalent in Central Europe and Scandinavia during the first half of the 19th c.; the painting of Carl Spitzweg and Ferdinand Waldmüller was considered typical of this stylistic mode, as well as the poetic realism and idyllic nostalgia of Ger.-lang. writers such as Eduard Mörike, Adalbert Stifter, Ferdinand Raimund, Johann Nestroy, Franz Grillparzer, and Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (see GERMAN
Historical observation shows that features such as resignation and contentedness, idyllic intimacy and domestic peace, conservatism, morality and lack of passion, innocent drollery, and a mixture of dreamy idealism and realistic devotion to detail characterize many writers of the Biedermeier period. However, this poetry is also placed in multiple and complex dialectical relationships with that of writers who emphasized the dynamics of political and social progress, irony, and revolution. Together and in contrast, Mörike and Heinrich Heine express and define a common sociocultural situation. Additionally, the Biedermeier surface of coziness and satisfaction often overlays doubt, oneiric demonism, uncertainty, and ambiguity, which also have to be considered integral parts of Biedermeier writing. Ultimately *romanticism, the Fr. Revolution, and the social upheavals of the Napoleonic age, along with the period of compromise and constriction that succeeded them, created a state of affairs in which a sense of loss, a search for security, individualism, an ironic or tragicomic worldview, and national, political, and social reform could emerge and interact. These features referred back to a common absent center—the idealized heroic age of romanticism and revolution—with the result that Biedermeier writers feel marked by the problematic and the epigonal, a situation to which they respond in a variety of ways, from realistic action to amused or melancholy contemplation.
Ultimately, the background of the cultural events in these decades is not political or economic but informational. The overwhelming increase of available scientific data on the universe, on nature and the human world (in astronomy, in the life sciences, in geography and history, in physics and chemistry, in sociology and psychology), and the multitude of new philosophical and ideological theories obliged writers to devise images, theories, and patterns that would provide synthetic, restful, tranquilizing, and aesthetic solutions for the normality of existence.
The Biedermeier itself as a cultural phenomenon is perhaps limited to Central Europe, but its complex intermeshing with a given intellectual, cultural, and historical situation finds close analogues in the France of Victor Hugo, Alfred de Musset, Alphonse de Lamartine, and Alfred Vigny; and in the Eastern Europe of Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki, and Alexander Pushkin. More than echoes of Biedermeier mentality can be found in the writings of Walter Scott and Jane Austen, of Leigh Hunt and Charles Lamb, and in the ideology of William Cobbett, as well as across the Atlantic in the amiable prose of Washington Irving.
Biedermeier provides a useful if somewhat vague explanatory framework for discussions of poetry in the early 19th c. At the same time, it relates in an interesting way to romanticism, as *rococo does to *baroque or *postmodernism does to *modernism.
M. Greiner, Zwischen Biedermeier und Bourgeoisie (1953); G. Böhmer, Die Welt des Biedermeier (1968); Zur Literatur der ed. J. Hermand and M. Windfuhl (1970); F. Sengle, 3 v. (1971–80); Begriffsbestimmung des literarischen ed. E. Neubuhr (1974); V. Nemoianu, The Taming of Romanticism (1984); G. Schildt, Aufbruch aus der Behaglichkeit: Deutschland im Biedermeier 1815–1847 (1989); C. Herin, “Biedermeier,” Geschichte der deutschen ed. W. Hinderer, 2d ed. (2001); Zwischen Goethezeit und Realismus: Wandel und Spezifik in der Phase des ed. M. Titzmann (2002); Biedermeier: Die Erfindung der ed. H. Ottomeyer et al. (2006); V. Nemoianu, The Triumph of Imperfection (2006).
BINARY AND TERNARY. The mod. terms for what used to be called, with considerable inconsistency of usage, “duple” (or “double”) and “triple” meter(s). Binary meters have two members per *foot, as in *iambic and *trochaic (also *pyrrhic and spondaic if one recognizes these as admissible meters), while ternary meters have three, as in anapestic and dactylic (or amphibrachic or *cretic). The distinction between two-membered feet and three- is ancient, despite the facts that the basis of cl. Gr. metrics (*quantity) is different from that of the mod. langs. (stress; see and that, despite the retention of cl. names for mod. feet, the generic registers of binary and ternary meters from ancient times to mod. have almost exactly reversed: in Gr., anapestic meter was used for serious and lofty subjects (the *epic), and the iambic for lighter subjects; but in the mod. meters, the opposite is true: iambic is the meter of *heroic verse.
In the quantitative theory of *classical prosody, the members of the intralinear metrical units (feet) have definite durational relations to each other (see a long is by convention equivalent to two shorts. Similarly, in mod. “musical” theories of *meter (Sidney Lanier, Morris Croll, J. W. Hendren; see Brogan), stresses are claimed to be double the temporal value of their opposites, and intervals are made isochronous; hence, the iambic foot has three “times” (equal to three shorts) and so is said to be in “triple time,” and triple meters are in “duple time” (their three members adding up to four “times,” a compound of two). Omond, however, for whom time is the basis of meter but speech syllables are too variable to have definite durations as in music, holds that iambic and trochaic are “duple meters” and in “duple time,” i.e., the time required for two average syllables (he lets pauses fill gaps) and that ternary feet are “triple meters” in “triple time.” But this contrariety of terms between musical and nonmusical temporal theories of meter seems pointless to those mod. metrists who are not timers: for them, it is only the number of members (syllables) in the foot that matters.
The usefulness if not the necessity of the distinction between binary and ternary arises from the widely acknowledged fact that the distribution of the one class of meters differs from that of the other, even beyond the fact that the former is far more prevalent than the latter: ternary meters are often said to have a different felt cadence, or *rhythm, from binary, hence to be suitable for a different range of subjects—often lighthearted, humorous, rollicking, satirical. What this means is that, in mod. verse, generic constraints are differentially assigned in part by metrical class, hence that this distinction is one valid plane of cleavage in metrical theory.
Further, it is disputed whether the meters within each class are, in fact, distinct meters: iambic and trochaic are said by some to be interchangeable or at least interrelated via rhythms established by word shapes: particularly interesting is the case of iambo-trochaic tetrameters known as 8s and 7s (see RISING AND FALLING In Eng., though binary meters appear in early ME, definite ternary meters appear only in the Ren., and even then only sporadically—Ker relates them to *tumbling verse, as in works by Thomas Tusser, and remarks that they are “almost always” the product of a musical tune—effectively, they are not common at all until the later 18th c. (Thomas Gray’s “Amatory Lines,” John Gay, Oliver Goldsmith) and by far the majority of examples are from the 19th c. (Lord Byron’s “Destruction of Sennacherib”; Walter Scott; Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Maud and “Charge of the Light Brigade”; Robert Browning’s “Saul”; A. C. Swinburne). And ternary meters are notoriously difficult to differentiate in running series, esp. when line ends are irregular and unpredictable: the sequence x / xx / xx / xx / may be felt as anapestic tetrameter with a missing first syllable, but it can also be amphibrachic with a missing final syllable. Schipper indicates the syllabic ambiguities in ternary meters by treating them as “iambic-trochaic” and “trochaic-dactylic,” remarking that “the rising and falling rhythms are not strictly separated but frequently intermingle and even supplement one another.” Finally, it appears that there may be intermediate stages between these classes, via the admission of extra (unelidable) syllables into binary meters. But this question, which entails the concept of *accentual verse, is too complex to be undertaken here (see Weismiller).
Schipper, v. 2, sects. 224–41; T. S. Omond, A Study of Metre (1903), esp. 49, 52; Schipper, ch. 14; W. P. Ker, Form and Style in Poetry (1928); K. Taranovski, Ruski dvodelni ritmovi (1953); G. Saintsbury, v. 3, App. 3; A. T. Breen, “A Survey of the Development of Poetry Written in Trisyllabic Metres to 1830,” diss., Nat. Univ. of Ireland (1965); E. R. Weismiller, “Studies of Verse Form in the Minor English Poems,” A Variorum Commentary on the Poems of John ed. M. Y. Hughes, v. 2 (1972); D. L. Hascall, “Triple Meters in English Verse,” Poetics 12 (1974); M. L. Gasparov, Sovremennyj russkij stix (1974); Brogan; M. L. Gasparov, Ocerk istorii russskogo stixa (1984); Scherr; M. G. Tarlinskaja, “Meter and Language: Binary and Ternary Meters in English and Russian,” Style 21 (1987); and “Triple Threats to Duple Meter,” Rhythm and ed. P. Kiparsky and G. Youmans (1989); Morier, “Binaire.”
BIOGRAPHY AND POETRY
II. Value to Readers and Interpreters
I. History. Biographies of poets have been written in all major cultures, and literary trads. of detailed lives of poets, located in a specific place, society, and historical moment, emerged independently in Europe, China, and, some centuries later, the Islamic world. In Europe, probably the earliest known biographies of any poet are the imaginative reconstructions of the life of Homer, written in ancient Greece. These were followed by further biographies of poets who wrote in Gr. and Lat., and, in the med. period, in the Romance langs. After around the 17th c., biographies of poets were written in most major Eur. langs.
A. Non-European Ancient Jewish trad. made no effort to write biographies of the authors of the poetry in the Heb. Bible, instead attributing those poems to figures famous for their political and military acts; thus, Solomon was identified as the author of the Song of Songs and David as author of the Psalms. Biographies exist of ancient Chinese and Japanese poets, but the earliest of these biographies tend to focus on the poets’ careers as soldiers or courtiers, treating their writings almost incidentally (see CHINA, POETRY JAPAN, POETRY On the Indian subcontinent, ancient trads. often describe as the work of one poet (who may or may not have had a historical existence) a large body of poems that may have been written over many centuries by many anonymous poets but that shared a recognizable set of stylistic and philosophical tendencies (see SANSKRIT
In Islamic lit., lives of poets, often in the form of collections, began to be written (usually in verse) around the 10th c. Samarqandi (12th c.) seems to be one of the earliest biographers; having failed to win distinction as a poet, he wrote lives, apparently based on oral trad., of poets he admired. Other Islamic authors wrote collections of saints’ lives that included poets who were revered as much for their religious as for their literary merits, e.g., the poet Rūmī. Lives of Islamic poets were sometimes prepared by a later ed. of their poems, e.g., the life of the Persian national poet Firdawsī (10th c.), written perhaps four centuries after his death (see PERSIAN
B. European Traditions through the Eighteenth Ancient biographies of Homer, notably the Life of falsely attributed to Herodotus, seem to be entirely fanciful. The incidents they describe were evidently invented to explain Homer’s knowledge of places and events in the Homeric epics or to explain the origin of some verse fragments formerly attributed to Homer. Other biographies of poets in the cl. era tend to be historical or thematic accounts of their work. A life of Virgil, attributed to Suetonius and written perhaps a century after the poet’s death, lists and describes Virgil’s work, incl. epigrams not otherwise attributed to him, but says little or nothing about his motives for writing them.
In Christian Europe until around the 13th c., an author was understood to be (at least in part) a vessel for divine inspiration. A poet’s life, when written about at all, tended to be seen in the same conventionalized terms as med. saints’ lives. A more individualizing approach emerged in the and that appeared in some late 13th- and early 14th-c. or collections of poems by *troubadours; and by the mid-14th c., the character of a poet was often understood to shape his work, whether that work was devoted to sacred or amatory themes (see Giovanni Boccaccio’s Trattatello in laude di Dante of 1351) includes, among a general account of poetry in its relation to cl. mythology and the Bible, an account of Dante’s character that emphasizes his unique combination of qualities, incl. his haughtiness, political passions, and lustfulness. When Boccaccio considers alternate interpretations of Dante’s Divina he justifies his preferred readings by citing personal characteristics of Dante that tend to confirm those readings. Extending and deepening the interpretative techniques of the razos, this is among the earliest cases in which a critic uses biographical information to interpret the meaning of a vernacular poem, not merely as an explanation of the events that prompted it to be written.
During the next centuries, some national lits. produced far more biographies of poets than others. At two extremes were Spain, which produced almost no poets’ biographies until the 19th c., and England, which developed a lively biographical trad. as early as the 17th c. Izaak Walton’s The Lives of Dr. John Donne, Sir Henry Wotton, Mr. Richard Hooker [and] Mr. George Herbert (1670) contains lengthy accounts of these writers’ hists. and characters; their poems are described as incidents in their public lives rather than, as in later trads., the product of their inner thoughts and impulses.
The first systematic set of biographies of a nation’s poets was Samuel Johnson’s four volumes of Prefaces, Biographical and Critical, to the Works of the English Poets (1779–81), which included 52 biographies varying widely in length and depth. These essays were written not as biographies but as prefaces to selections of the poets’ works; however, they were marketed as biographies in an early reprint ed., The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets (1781). In telling the life of a poet, Johnson typically described the initial impulses and influences that led the poet to begin writing poems, then described the hist. of the poet’s works and his relations with patrons and publishers, and followed this with a critical account of the poet’s work. He generally did not attempt to integrate biography and crit. and, except in a few paragraphs in his long life of Milton, seldom explored the inner impulses that prompted a poet to write discrete works.
C. Romantic and Modern Writers in the romantic era and after focused their attention on the inner life of poets in a new way. William Wordsworth, in his posthumously pub. autobiographical work The Prelude: The Growth of a Poet’s Mind (1805, pub. 1850), recounted, among much else, the devel. of his moral and literary attitudes and their relation to his emotional experiences in childhood and youth. During the romantic period, biographies were written about poets from all earlier periods, ranging far beyond the century and a half covered by Johnson; e.g., in 1822, the Ger. poet and scholar Ludwig Uhland published Walther von der perhaps the first biographical account of a med. poet.
Until the romantic period, eds. and collections of shorter poems by individual poets were generally arranged according to form or genre or in a sequence arranged for aesthetic effect, with the best-known poems placed first or last; rarely, if ever, were such eds. arranged in chronological order of composition. During the 19th c., poets began to encourage biographical readings of their poems by arranging them in chronological sequence. Wordsworth evidently considered but rejected a chronological sequence for his two collected eds., Poems, in Two Volumes (1807) and Poems (1815); but the 1815 ed. included a chronological listing of his poems that encouraged a biographical understanding of his career. When Mary Shelley edited the first posthumous collection of P. B. Shelley’s poems (1839), she arranged many of the poems by year of composition. Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s retrospective collection, Poems (1842), is divided into two volumes of mostly early and mostly later work, but the contents of each are not arranged in a careful chronological sequence. A more or less strictly chronological arrangement of collected volumes became more common later in the century, although it was by no means a universal practice. Walt Whitman’s Leaves of although explicitly autobiographical in content, was not arranged in chronological sequence.
In the 20th c., poets typically published their work in ways that emphasized the larger patterns of their career rather than a closely detailed chronological sequence. Poets tended to arrange their individual volumes of recent poems (written in perhaps the previous half-dozen years) in sequences chosen for aesthetic effect or according to forms or themes; in contrast, the collected eds. chosen by the same poets typically encouraged biographical readings by dividing the ed. into sections each of which corresponded to one of the earlier, smaller volumes, presented in order of publication; a typical example is The Collected Poems of Robert Frost (1930).
The many collected eds. prepared by W. B. Yeats are arranged in sequences that represent his earlier volumes, but with the chronology and contents altered for aesthetic effect; e.g., Yeats replaced the contents of his earlier books with newly organized sequences with different titles and contents. In a comparable but less revisionary way, Wallace Stevens organized the final section of his Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (1955) as if it were a book titled “The Rock,” which, in fact, had never appeared as a separate volume. When W. H. Auden first collected his poems, for The Collected Poetry of W. H. Auden (1945), he arranged the contents by alphabetical order of first lines in the hope of discouraging biographical readings; but in his next collection, Collected Shorter Poems 1927–1957 (1966), he chose a chronological arrangement, noting in a foreword that he had no objection to his work’s being read from a historical perspective.
Many biographies of poets from the romantic period to the present treat poets’ inner lives as heroic battles against such enemies as bodily illness, critical philistinism, and public indifference. Examples of such biographies include Richard Monckton Milnes’s Life, Letters and Literary Remains of John Keats (1848) and G. H. Lewes’s The Life of Goethe (1855). A countertrad. of reductive, skeptical biographies began in the 20th c., prompted by Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians (1918). In this trad., the poet’s life is typically presented as the product of either neurosis or careerism rather than genius; such books can illuminate aspects of a poet’s life and work that are invisible in more idealizing biographies and can add to the understanding of readers who admire the poet more than the biographer does. Examples of such books include Lawrance Thompson’s Robert Frost (1966–76); Lyndall Gordon’s Eliot’s Early Years (1977) and Eliot’s New Life (1988); and Humphrey Carpenter’s A Serious Character: The Life of Ezra Pound (1988). Some esp. illuminating biographies combine idealizing and skeptical approaches, presenting the poet as heroically pursuing a vocation through sometimes unscrupulous means; a notable example is R. F. Foster’s W. B. Yeats: A Life (1997–2003).
A few 20th-c. poets, notably T. S. Eliot and Auden, actively discouraged biographies, either in last wills and testaments or in comments to friends. They wished that their poems might be read for their literary merits, not explained away as the product of personal or public motives. Such concerns continue to challenge literary biography to expand rather than diminish the pleasure and understanding of critics, historians, and readers.
II. Value to Readers and Interpreters. The value of biographical information about poets has been the subject of intense dispute since the mid-20th c. Proponents of critical schools that emphasize the aesthetic or structural aspects of a work of art (e.g., *New Criticism, *structuralism, deconstruction) or that emphasize the public role or public reception of a poem (e.g., *cultural studies, reception hist.) tend to deny that biographical information is relevant in interpreting a poem. In the views held by these critical schools, a poem is the product of inner imaginative acts that are inaccessible to biographers and perhaps unknown even to the poet, generic and aesthetic forces that act independently of a poet’s conscious or unconscious intentions, or impersonal cultural forces for which the poet is primarily a medium. Another view holds that the meaning of the poem is created by its readers’ interpretations of it, not by any of the personal or impersonal forces that caused it to be written. Among the most influential arguments against biographical reading is “The Intentional Fallacy” (1946) by W. K. Wimsatt and M. C. Beardsley (see INTENTIONAL Earlier arguments against such readings include The Personal Heresy (1939) by C. S. Lewis and E.M.W. Tillyard; later ones are implicit or explicit throughout structuralist and poststructuralist crit.
No biography can explain why a poet wrote one poem instead of another in response to the same circumstances and experiences. Biography can, however, offer valid cues to interpretation that would not otherwise be available and can illuminate patterns of implication in a poem that might not otherwise be accessible to readers and critics. These cues, like any other cues to interpretation, may in turn help a reader to find a poem more aesthetically satisfying, intellectually stimulating, and emotionally moving than it would be otherwise.
A. Biography and Among those readers for whom biographical information is distracting or irrelevant are those who regard individual poems as autonomous objects or as statements of universal themes; a *lyric poem, in such a view, might be one poet’s exploration of such universal concerns as love or death. In contrast, readers for whom biographical information can be helpful in interpretation tend to regard poems as responses to unique events in a poet’s personal hist., which the reader understands as being analogous to unique events in the reader’s own experience; a lyric poem, in such a view, was provoked by one particular love or one particular death, but the reader understands the poem through the analogy of the poet’s unique experience with the reader’s unique experiences of one particular love or one particular death. To such a reader, the kind of knowledge that is worth having is sympathetic, not objective; the poem is not an object to be understood with the kind of knowledge that gives power over that object but as a subject that is best understood through the kind of knowledge that enables sympathy rather than power.
Readers who benefit from biographical information, thus, tend to regard poems as analogous to individual persons. To such readers, a poem, like a person, is the product of unique circumstances, and its existence was affected and provoked by historical events; it speaks with its own irreplaceable voice, with its own special variations on the grammar and syntax that it shares with other poems written in the same lang. and the same culture. It can enter into a dialogue with the reader and, if the poem is worth reading at all, says different things to the same reader at different stages in the reader’s life. In this view, a poem, like a person, can say things that a reader does not wish to hear. Although it is a member of one or more classes or categories of poems (e.g., sonnets, visionary poems, mod. poems), the fact of its membership in a class is less interesting than the ways in which it differs from other members of that class.
This view of poems and other works of art as analogues to expressive, individual persons developed in Western culture in the later 18th c. and became pervasive during the 19th. Its philosophical basis was established by the aesthetic theories of J. G. Herder and Friedrich Schleiermacher, both of whom systematized, but did not originate, similar views already emerging among artists and writers (see ROMANTIC AND POSTROMANTIC POETRY AND
B. Readings Made Possible by Biographical A biography may suggest the extent to which a poem is deliberately artificial or conventional—and, therefore, a response to other poems—and the extent to which it is, in contrast, an expression of a personal passion or belief. Biographies of Yeats, notably Foster’s, indicate that his love poems to Maud Gonne were less the expression of passionate feeling than products of his conviction that a romantic poet must suffer from an unhappy and unfulfilled love that provides him with the themes of his poetry and that Yeats consciously elaborated and intensified his feelings for Gonne in something of the same way that he elaborated and intensified his poems from their flat-sounding first drafts to their rhythmic and rhetorical final versions. An alert reader could guess some of these things by reading Yeats’s poems without reading a biography, but biography, more than any other mode of crit., makes it possible to detect the depth and pervasiveness of Yeats’s artificiality that half-pretends to be passion.
In a similar way, Foster’s biography indicates that many of the extreme-sounding attitudes about racial and national matters that Yeats expressed in his later work were deliberately chosen to create controversy and thus generate sales for the pamphlets of his work that were published by his sisters’ Cuala Press. Some theoretical arguments against biographical interpretation claim that biography simplifies a poem into a mere statement of personal feeling; but in this and similar instances, biography deepens a poem by pointing toward its complex interplay of performance and authenticity and its complex relation between personal statement and theatrical role-playing.
Biography performs a similar function by identifying experiences that are not explicitly named in a poem but that affect its mood, form, and vocabulary and that may be detected in the poem only by readers who are familiar with the biographical background. Gordon’s biography of Eliot points to the erotic renunciations that were part of the experience that prompted the writing of “Burnt Norton”; the religious attitudes expressed in the poem, thus, involve not only an aspiration toward something higher than earthly life but a deliberate refusal of actual earthly and erotic satisfactions that are present in the poem only in the form of apparently nonspecific metaphors. In a similar way, biography can clarify the private experiences through which a poet writes about public events. Poems in which a poet writes about, e.g., the Irish Civil Wars or the outbreak of World War II, can be more deeply understood if a reader learns from a biography the specific personal and emotional concerns that affected the poet at the same time and that influenced the imagery, vocabulary, and poetic forms that the poet used when describing public events.
Biography can also clarify the ways in which the meaning of one poem is affected by the meaning of an earlier or later one by the same poet. Edward Mendelson’s Early Auden (1981) describes a sequence of inner psychological events when Auden explored and then rejected a fantasy of himself as a leader figure in the 1930s. This account makes clear that some poems that appear to express simple nationalistic feelings are also statements of personal ambition and that later poems that appear to make general statements about human limitation are also specific renunciations of earlier personal hopes.
The value to readers of any biography varies according to the degree to which the biographer perceives large-scale continuities and trajectories in the poet’s life. Carpenter’s detailed lives of W. H. Auden and Ezra Pound, e.g., treat these poets’ lives as a series of disconnected episodes, so that individual poems are portrayed as more or less immediate responses to recent events, not as events in a life shaped by past events and directed to future ones. Foster’s equally detailed life of Yeats, in contrast, treats Yeats’s life as a narrative in which memories and intentions are inseparable from daily events, with the effect that Yeats’s works are understood both as having value in themselves and as part of a constantly changing but coherent larger whole. As in all other matters in which biographers and critics differ in their approaches, the method that seems most valid to a reader will be the one that more closely corresponds to the reader’s own understanding of the nature of a poet’s career; but sympathetic and well-informed biographical approaches can expand and intensify the experience of reading in ways that are unavailable through other approaches.
L. Lipking, The Life of the Poet: Beginning and Ending Poetic Careers (1981); W. Empson, Using Biography (1984); S. Fix, “Distant Genius: Johnson and the Art of Milton’s Life,” MP 81 (1984); D. Bromwich, “Some Uses of Biography,” A Choice of Inheritance (1989); S. Boym, Death in Quotation Marks: Culural Myths of the Modern Poet (1991); D. Levertov, “Biography and the Poet,” Ohio Review 48 (1992); C. Ricks, “Victorian Lives,” Essays in Appreciation (1996); Romantic ed. A. Bradley and A. Rawes (2002).
BLACK ARTS MOVEMENT. BAM is a shorthand term coined by the poet, playwright, critic, and political activist Larry Neal for the outpouring of politically engaged Af. Am. art from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s that was closely joined with the Black Power movement. BAM encompassed a wide range of ideological and aesthetic stances. Nonetheless, like the Black Power movement, all strains of BAM were generally united by a belief in the need for Af. Ams. to determine their own political and cultural destiny within the international struggle against colonialism, neocolonialism, and racism.
BAM largely emerged out of overlapping circuits of old-left radicalism, artistic bohemianism, and black nationalism. Its early participants were inspired by the revolutions and independence movements of Africa, Asia, and Latin America as well as the civil-rights movement, esp. the student movement that grew out of the Southern sit-ins in 1960 and after. While proto-Black Arts institutions, such as and Negro Digest magazines and the Free Southern Theater, were established throughout the early 1960s, it was the murder of Malcolm X and the Watts uprising in 1965 that catalyzed these disparate initiatives into the beginning of a movement. Malcolm X’s death pushed Amiri Baraka and other artists living in the downtown bohemia of New York City to join with Harlem activists to form the Black Arts Repertory Theatre and School (BARTS)—an event that many took to signal the arrival of a new movement rooted in black neighborhoods. The spread and increasing frequency of black, urban uprisings and the mass circulation of radical nationalist ideas in the Af. Am. community paradoxically authorized both the repression of black revolutionary organizations and the availability of federal, state, and local public funds to support often radical cultural work and institutions, aiding in the growth of a BAM infrastructure.
BAM poetry had a bifurcated character. Many BAM poets oriented their work toward *performance in public venues from community centers to bars to political rallies. Often these performances were multimedia, multigeneric affairs that mixed spoken word, dance, theater, and music. Even when performing alone, poets like Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, and Haki Madhubuti sang, drummed on microphones or podiums, and employed a range of nonverbal vocalizations to approximate collaborations with musicians. BAM poets also often attempted to represent on the page the rhythms, musical lines, and chordal experimentations of the new jazz, particularly the work of John Coltrane. In this, of course, they were engaging not only the work of Langston Hughes and Sterling A. Brown but the New American Poetry literary counterculture such as Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Jack Kerouac’s Mexico City where notions of lineation and breath were in part based on the model of bebop soloing.
While there was a tendency to privilege the process of sound performance over textual product, BAM poetry still reached its audience primarily through printed texts. Such journals as Black World (originally Negro and The Journal of Black Poetry and black-run publishers, such as Third World Press and Broadside Press, were the vehicles that made this poetry available to an audience beyond the poets’ immediate communities. One might argue that BAM was the most successful U.S. small-press and little-magazine literary movement. From 1965 to 1975, Detroit’s Broadside Press issued dozens of titles and sold many times the number of books by black poets issued by general publishers in the previous decade; Chicago’s still-extant Third World Press published numerous titles and thousands of copies. BAM poets, then, had to think deeply about the textual, the verbal, and the visual on the page as well as the performative.
The end of the movement is hard to date precisely. Certainly by the middle of the 1970s, internal ideological struggles between Marxists and anti-Marxist nationalists took a toll on many Black Power and BAM organizations and institutions. As programs supporting the arts were cut or became increasingly hostile to radical community-arts projects with the presidential election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, BAM largely came to an end.
Black Arts fundamentally changed Am. attitudes toward the arts, demonstrating that “high” art can be popular in form and content while popular culture can be socially and artistically serious. This legacy can be seen perhaps most clearly in hip-hop, where politically conscious artists have long invoked and even worked in collaboration with leading Black Arts activists. At the same time, the Black Arts practice of a socially engaged, formally radical mixture of poetry, theater, music, dance, and visual arts performed for a genuinely popular audience also transformed the cultural field for poetry.
See AFRICAN AMERICAN HIP-HOP JAZZ PROTEST
E. Redmond, Drumvoices (1976); K. W. Benston, Performing Blackness (2000); L. Thomas, Extraordinary Measures (2000)—Afrocentric modernism; C. Clarke, “After Mecca” (2005)—women poets and BAM; J. Smethurst, The Black Arts Movement (2005); New Thoughts on the Black Arts ed. L. G. Collins and M. Crawford (2006).
BLACK MOUNTAIN SCHOOL. The term Black Mountain school refers to the nexus of poets associated, directly or indirectly, with Black Mountain College (1933–57), a tiny experimental college in North Carolina that centered its curriculum on the arts. Like many terms for poetic movements, Black Mountain is simultaneously social and aesthetic in its reference. Socially, it encompasses poets who attended or taught at Black Mountain between about 1948 and 1956 and extends to associated poets who shared the same networks of correspondence and publication. These personal and poetic connections had so diversified by the late 1960s that the term has little relevance beyond that date.
The movement acquired its name from its poets being grouped together in Donald Allen’s germinal anthol. The New American Poetry As Allen introduces them, the Black Mountain poets include Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Ed Dorn, Denise Levertov (the poets most consistently associated with the label), Paul Carroll, Joel Oppenheimer, Larry Eigner, Paul Blackburn, and Jonathan Williams. Some would add John Wieners and the long-neglected Hilda Morley to that group. As with many poetic avant-gardes, a shared geographical location helped spark a self-conscious sense of oppositional community associated with resistance to established conventions in the arts—in this case, to the formally traditional mainstream poetics of the period, which were often derided as “academic.” Shared publishing outlets in the form of little magazines (Cid Corman’s Creeley’s Black Mountain and small and independent presses (Creeley’s Divers Press, Williams’s Jargon Society) were also crucial to the coherence of the Black Mountain school (a “coherence” that some of the participants themselves denied). Through their appearance in these venues, poets like Levertov, Blackburn, and Eigner came to be associated with the Black Mountain school without ever attending the college. The writers were further connected by a common sense of their important poetic predecessors: Ezra Pound, W. C. Williams, the objectivists (see Gertrude Stein, and H.D.
While appearing differently in the work of the various poets, the central features of Black Mountain poetics reflect the principles of Olson’s essay *“Projective Verse” (1950), the movement’s unofficial ars *composition by field (the poem as a process of exploration or discovery, historical, spiritual, or emotional); a breath-and speech-based line shaped by the poem’s developing content and the poet’s physiology, rather than by traditional prosody; the value-laden distinction between experimental “open” forms and “closed” forms inherited from the poetic trad. The Black Mountain poets share a commitment to an organic form that emerges in the writing process—a position articulated in such statements as Levertov’s “Notes on Organic Form” (1965), Duncan’s “Ideas of the Meaning of Form” (1961) and “Towards an Open Universe” (1964), and Creeley’s many short essays and reviews. *Line, *syntax, and page space are taken as key sites of poetic experiment.
Their openness to theorizing their poetics differentiated the Black Mountain poets from contemporaneous movements with which they otherwise had much in common—the *Beats, the *San Francisco Renaissance, the *New York school—and attracted some crit. from proponents of these movements. However, the Black Mountain poets’ construction of a literary community via mutual support, correspondence, statements of poetics, publication, and the exchange of sometimes conflicting ideas about the arts became one model for the later practices of the *Language poets, where that construction takes a more politically engaged form.
The New American Poetry ed. D. Allen (1960); C. Olson, Selected Writings (1966)—“Projective Verse”; M. Duberman, Black Mountain (1972); The Poetics of the New American ed. D. Allen and W. Tallman (1973); S. Paul, Olson’s Push (1978); P. Christensen, “Olson and the Black Mountain Poets,” Charles Olson (1979); S. Paul, The Lost America of Love (1981); M. E. Harris, The Arts at Black Mountain College (1987); E. H. Foster, Understanding the Black Mountain Poets (1995); A. Golding, “Little Magazines and Alternative Canons,” From Outlaw to Classic (1995); A. D. Dewey, Beyond Maximus (2007).
III. Spanish and Portuguese
I. Blank verse is a term for unrhymed lines of poetry, always in lines of a length considered appropriate to serious topics and often in the most elevated, canonical meter in a given national *prosody. The phenomenon first appeared in It. poetry of the 13th c. with “Il Mare Amoroso” (The Sea of Love), an anonymous poem composed of 334 unrhymed endecasillabo verses (see ITALIAN In the Ren., this form was transplanted to England as the unrhymed decasyllable or iambic *pentameter. Though these lines are thought to have derived metrically from the cl. iambic *trimeter, they were designed to produce, in the vernaculars, equivalents in tone and weight of the cl. “heroic” line, the *hexameter. The unrhymed endecasillabo, while popular and important for certain writers (e.g., Ugo Foscolo, Giacomo Leopardi, and many 20th-c. poets), did not become a major meter in It. as the unrhymed iambic pentameter did in Eng. Fr. poet-critics noted the work of the It. poets and made experiments of their own, but these never took hold in a lang. where word *accent was weak; hence, Fr. poetry never developed a significant blank-verse trad. The Iberian, Ger., Scandinavian, and Slavic trads. are discussed below.
Luigi Alamanni’s Rime toscane (1532) and other famous It. works in sciolti (i.e., versi sciolti da verse freed from rhyme), such as Giangiorgio Trissino’s tragedy Sophonisba (1524) and *epic L’Italia liberata dai Goti (1547), were important models for other national poetries such as the Eng.; the first poet to write blank verse in Eng., Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey (1517–47), surely knew of Alamanni, as well as Niccolò Liburnio’s 1534 trans. of Virgil or the 1539 trans. by the de’ Medici circle.
II. Blank verse in England was invented by the Earl of Surrey, who sometime between 1539 and 1546 translated two books of the Aeneid (2 and 4) into this “straunge meter.” It remains to be shown precisely how the rhythms in Surrey’s lines derived from the It. endecasillabo. Rather than the 11 syllables of his It. model, Surrey’s lines have 10, in an alternating (*iambic) rhythm, and his more easily identifiable precursors are Eng. writers of rhymed decasyllabic verse such as Thomas Wyatt and (more remotely) Chaucer. Gavin Douglas’s Scottish trans. of Virgil’s epic (written ca. 1513, pub. 1553), from which Surrey took 40% of his diction, is in rhymed *heroic couplets. Like other pre-Shakespearean blank verse, Surrey’s is relatively stiff in rhythm, impeded by end-stops. Dignified in style, it exhibits an extensive network of sound patterning, perhaps to offset absent *rhyme.
As blank verse developed in Eng., generic considerations became important. In Eng., blank as used of verse suggests a mere absence of rhyme, not that liberation from a restrictive requirement implied in the It. term. Nevertheless, Eng. defenders of blank verse repeatedly asserted that rhyme acts on poets as a “constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse than else they would have exprest them” (John Milton). That rhyme has its virtues and beauties needs no argument here. Rhyme does, however, tend to delimit—even to define—metrical structures; it has its clearest effect when the syllables it connects occur at the ends also of syntactic structures, so that *meter and syntax reinforce one another. One associates rhyme with symmetries and closures. Omission of rhyme, by contrast, encourages the use of syntactic structures greater and more various than could be contained strictly within the line and so makes possible an amplitude of discourse, a natural-seeming multiformity, not easily available to rhymed verse. In light of these characteristics, Eng. writers found blank verse a fitting vehicle for long works (for its lack of imposed repetition), drama (for its natural word order), and epic (for its inversion, suspension, and related stylistic devices).
Though blank verse appeared in Eng. first in (trans.) epic, attempts at Eng. *heroic verse after Surrey use, as Hardison remarks, “almost every form but blank verse.” The form achieved its first great flowering in drama. After Surrey, the dramatic and nondramatic varieties have significantly different hists., suggesting that they differ in nature more than critics once thought (see WRIGHT, In nondramatic verse, the influence of *Petrarchism, manifested in the vogue for the *sonnet sequence, ensured that rhyme held sway in Eng. nondramatic verse up to Milton. The heavy editorial regularization by the editor of Tottel’s Miscellany (1557) set the trend up to Philip Sidney, who showed that metrical correctness and natural expressiveness were not mutually exclusive (see Thompson), a demonstration extended even further by John Donne—but again, in rhyme.
The first Eng. dramatic blank verse, Thomas Norton’s in the first three acts of Gorboduc (1571), is smooth but more heavily *end-stopped than Surrey’s, giving the impression of contrivance, of a diction shaped—and often padded out—to fit the meter. Thomas Sackville’s verse in the last two acts of the play is more alive. But the artificial regularity of Norton’s verse came to characterize Eng. *dramatic poetry until Christopher Marlowe came fully into his powers. Marlowe showed what rhetorical and tonal effects blank verse was capable of; his early play Dido echoes lines from Surrey’s and Shakespeare’s early works show what he learned from Marlowe.
A. Shakespeare’s blank verse, the major verse form of his plays throughout his career, is marked by several features, some of them shared with or derived from earlier Eng. poets (e.g. John Lydgate, Sidney, and Marlowe) but developed with unprecedented coherence. (1) Blank verse is always mixed with other metrical modes (e.g., rhymed verse, songs) and (except for Richard II and King with prose; two plays offer more rhymed verse than blank Labour’s Lost and A Midsummer Night’s and seven plays (two hists. and five middle-period comedies) are largely or predominantly written in prose. Shifts within a scene from one mode to another are often subtle, gradual, and hard to hear; different metrical registers for different social classes, however, can be heard, and identify sets of characters—as in (2) Resourceful use of common Elizabethan conventions of metrical patterning and esp. of metrical variation gives many individual lines great flexibility, variety, melody, and speech-like force. (3) Frequent use of lines deviant in length or pattern (short, long, headless, broken-backed, and epic-caesural) extends the potentialities of expressive variation beyond what was commonly available to Ren. writers of stanzaic verse. (4) Shrewdly deployed syllabic ambiguity, esp. by devices of compression (see makes many lines seem packed. (5) Lines become increasingly enjambed: sentences run from midline to midline, and even a speech or a scene may end in midline (see Conversely, metrically regular lines may comprise several short phrases or sentences and may be shared by characters (*split lines). In the theater, consistently enjambed blank verse, unlike Marlowe’s end-stopped “mighty” line, sounds more like speech but also tests the audience’s awareness of the meter. Esp. in Shakespeare’s later plays, the audience, like the characters it is scrutinizing, follows an uncertain path between comprehension and bafflement. Besides carrying the characters’ emotional utterances and conveying (with appropriate intensity) their complex states of mind, Shakespeare’s blank verse may figure, through its rich dialectic of pattern and departure-from-pattern, a continuing tension between authority and event, model and story, the measured structures of cosmic order and the wayward motions of erratic individual characters.
B. After and esp. after Donne’s (rhymed) the dramatic blank-verse line grew looser in form. Feminine endings (see MASCULINE AND infrequent in all early blank verse, became common; in John Fletcher, they often carry verbal stress. Later, true feminine endings become common even in nondramatic rhymed verse. Milton uses feminine endings in Paradise Lost and Paradise Regain’d only with great restraint. They occur rather seldom in the early books of Paradise but much more frequently after Eve and Adam’s fall and are thereby appropriated to the speech of fallen mortals.
In dramatic blank verse, extrametrical syllables begin to appear within the line—first, nearly always following a strong stress and at the end of a phrase or clause at the *caesura; later, elsewhere within the line. In some late Jacobean and Caroline dramas (e.g., those of John Webster) the line has become so flexible that at times the five points of stress seem to become phrase centers, each capable of carrying with it unstressed syllables required by the sense rather than by the metrical count of syllables. But such “Websterian” lines were to call down the wrath of later critics; and the closing of the theaters in 1642 saw the end of a brilliant—if almost too daring—period of experimentation with the structure of the dramatic blank-verse line. When verse drama was written again, after the Restoration and under the impetus of the newly popular Fr. model, the line was once again a strict pentameter but now, and for the next century, rhymed. In any event, after the closing of the theaters, blank verse was never to be of major importance in the drama again. The attempt to renew verse drama (incl. blank verse) in the 20th c. never won either popular or critical acclaim.
C. Milton returned blank verse to its earliest use as a vehicle of epic and to strict, though complex, metrical order; his influence was so powerful that the form bore his impress up to the 20th c. He did, of course, write blank-verse and Samson the first much influenced by Shakespeare. In both, blank verse, though it is unquestionably the central form, is intermingled with other forms—lyric in choric in Samson such effect that we think of both works as being in mixed meters. In Samson Milton is trying to produce the effect of Gr. tragedy (though with a biblical subject); but the blank verse is similar enough to Milton’s nondramatic blank verse that discussion of the two may be merged.
Milton was profoundly familiar with the Aeneid in Lat., perhaps in It. trans., and in some Eng. versions; he was equally familiar with It. epic and romance. As a theorist of form, he wanted to make blank verse in Eng. the instrument that the humanist poets had been attempting to forge since Trissino. For his subject in Paradise he needed a dense, packed line, as various as possible in movement within the limits set by broadly understood but absolute metricality; at the same time, he needed a syntax complex and elaborate enough to overflow line form, to subordinate it to larger forms of thought, appropriately varied in the scope of their articulation—“the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another.” The idea was not new, yet no one had managed enjambment in Eng. as skillfully as Milton learned to manage it. Before him—except in Shakespeare’s later plays—the congruence of syntax with line form had been too nearly predictable.
Even more than Shakespeare’s, Milton’s blank-verse line differs from his rhymed pentameter in management of rhythm and through constant variation of the placement of pause within the line. In the course of enjambing lines, Milton writes long periodic sentences, making liberal use of inversion, parenthesis, and other delaying and complicating devices. At times, he uses Italianate stress sequences that disturb the double rhythm and in some instances all but break the meter. Also important, given his refusal of rhyme, is a more extensive (if irregular) deployment of the varied resources of sound patterning. Numerous forms of *internal rhyme occur, as well as final *assonance and half rhyme; and whole passages are woven together by patterns of *alliteration, assonance, and half rhyme.
D. After Milton’s influence on subsequent nondramatic blank verse in Eng. was, as Havens showed, enormous. Yet, all blank verse after Milton became essentially a romantic form—no longer epic and (the dramatic *monologue excepted) no longer dramatic, but the vehicle of rumination and recollection. The line of descent leads through William Wordsworth (“Michael”; The The to Alfred, Lord Tennyson (“Ulysses”; “Tithonus”; Idylls of the and Robert Browning Ring and the By the mid-18th c., the forces of metrical regularity had begun to weaken; for the first time, extra syllables that cannot be removed by elision begin to appear in the nondramatic line, producing triple rhythm. The Eng. pentameter, both dramatic and nondramatic, between 1540 and 1780 all but disallowed triple rhythms; strict count of syllables was deemed central to line structure. Real, irreducible triple rhythms before 1780 were associated with music; they occur fairly commonly in song lyrics and *ballads but not in *accentual-syllabic verse. After 1780, however, triple rhythms gradually invade poems in double rhythm, in part because the romantics were devoted to the work of their 16th- and 17th-c. predecessors and often used the diction of Edmund Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton, though without entirely understanding earlier metrical conventions. There was also a revival of interest in the ballads, which varied the basic double rhythms with irreducible triple rhythms, a practice soon evident in William Blake’s Songs and even occasionally in Wordsworth. As the 19th c. wore on, rhythmic handling might be restrained (Tennyson) or flamboyant (Browning), but the prevailing stylistic tendency was toward effects of speech (a devel. forecast by S. T. Coleridge’s term
In the early 20th c., such speech qualities were exploited by E. A. Robinson and esp. Robert Frost in his North of Boston (1914). The rise of experimental *modernism severely challenged the form; T. S. Eliot deprecated “the inevitable iambic pentameter.” Although with scant critical attention and with diminished prestige, much blank verse continued to be written. The impressive works of the post–World War II generation (e.g., Howard Nemerov, Richard Wilbur, Anthony Hecht, James Merrill) followed in the wake of earlier achievements such as W. B. Yeats’s “The Second Coming” and Wallace Stevens’s “Sunday Morning.” In the later 20th c., some poets, evidently with an eye to *free verse, wrote looser versions of the line with added syllables and with stresses erratically clumped or spaced, so that the standard meter seems a distant paradigm rather than an active presence. More traditionally inclined poets—first the Stanford formalists and later the New Formalists (see NEW a stricter adherence to the meter. In the 21st c., blank verse continues in wide use among poets attracted to its generic versatility and its expressive pliancy and power.
III. Spanish and In his foundational Gramática de la lengua castellana (Grammar of the Castilian Language, 1492), Antonio de Nebrija deplores the use of rhyme for three reasons: the lack of freedom to express the feelings of the poet, the wearisome similarity of sound, and the way the sound distracts from understanding the sense. But the rise of blank verse occurs after Juan Boscán (ca. 1490–1542) wrote a preface to his poems (1543) where he waxed ironic about the readers who felt “nostalgic for the multitude of rhymes” current in traditional courtly poetry. His generation opened the way toward a new Iberian idiom, based on a kind of studied spontaneity, in which rhyme became secondary or nonexistent. Lyric Port. and Sp. rhymed hendecasyllabic poems by Francisco Sá de Miranda (1481–1558) suggest a rhythmical flexibility like that of prose. Boscán himself wrote a narrative poem of over 2,700 unrhymed lines, and his friend Garcilaso de la Vega (1503–36) composed an epistle in the form. In spite of detractors such as Fernando de Herrera (“Notes on the Poetry of Garcilaso,” 1580), blank verse appeared in important *lyric, narrative, and dramatic poetry of the later 16th c. António Ferreira (1528–69) composed the supreme masterwork of 16th-c. Iberian tragedy, Castro (first written ca. 1554, pub. 1587, definitive ed. 1598), mostly in blank verse, and expressed elsewhere the same reluctance about rhyme as Nebrija. The first epic poem finished in Port., Segundo Cerco de Diu (Second Siege of Diu, ms. ca. 1568, pub. 1574) by Jerónimo Corte-Real (d. 1588), is entirely in unrhymed verse. The Spaniard Francisco de Aldana (1537–75) wrote the mythological Fábula de Faetonte and three long epistles in blank *hendecasyllables (pub. 1589–91). There were influential blank verse Sp. trans. of Homer’s Odyssey in 1550, Virgil’s Aeneid in 1555, Ovid’s Metamorphoses in 1580, and of a mod. poem like Corte-Real’s in 1597. Corte-Real himself published two other epics mostly in blank verse that received considerable renown, Victoria de Lepanto in Sp. (1578) and Sepúlveda in Port. (1594, post.), with intertextual links back to Boscán’s Leandro and not without influence in authors as canonical as Miguel de Cervantes and Milton. In the 17th c., perhaps the only remarkable poem in blank verse was Félix Lope de Vega’s El arte nuevo de hacer comedias Art of Writing 1609), and this only for its value as theory of drama (though ironically 17th-c. Sp. drama rejected blank verse). But unrhymed hendecasyllabic verse returned to full effect in some of the best lit. of the 18th c., such as the Brazilian nativist epic O Uraguai by Basílio da Gama, the *mock-heroic masterpiece O Hissope (The Aspergill) by Antonio Dinis da Cruz e Silva, Leandro Fernández de Moratín’s great and moving Elegía a las Musas (Elegy to the Muses), and the truculent defense of poetry Carta a Brito (Epistle to Brito) by Filinto Elísio. Blank verse was also chosen for the first great work of Port. *romanticism, Almeida Garrett’s Camões (1825), as well as for mod. long poems by major Iberian figures of the time such as Eugénio de Castro 1900), Teixeira de Pascoaes ao 1912) and Miguel de Unamuno Cristo de 1920).
IV. The earliest attempt at writing iambic pentameter blank verse in Ger. dates to the beginning of the 17th c., when Johannes Rhenanus wrote a version of Thomas Tomkis’s university comedy In 1682, Rhenanus was followed by E. G. von Berge with a trans. of Milton’s Paradise While these attempts were of no further consequence, interest in blank verse was rekindled around the middle of the 18th c., when various writers, incl. J. E. Schlegel and his brother J. H. Schlegel, published trans. of Eng. blank-verse lit. (e.g., James Thomson’s Seasons and some of his tragedies, William Congreve’s The Mourning or wrote their own dramas (J. W. von Brawe, C. F. Weisse, Atreus und F. G. Klopstock, G. A. Bürger applied blank verse to the epic genre in his trans. of passages from Homer’s as did C. M. Wieland in his Erzählungen (Tales). The first Ger. blank-verse drama to be performed was Wieland’s Lady Johanna staged in Switzerland in 1758. As a translator of Shakespeare’s dramatic works into prose, Wieland chose MND for a blank-verse trans. (1762). However, it was not until G. E. Lessing’s Nathan der Weise (1779) that blank verse replaced the *alexandrine as the dominant meter in Ger. cl. and postclassical drama. This change was promoted by K. P. Moritz’s handbook on prosody, Versuch einer deutschen Prosodie (1786), which J. W. Goethe consulted in rewriting earlier prose versions of his Iphigenie auf Tauris (1787) and Torquato Tasso (1790). Likewise, Friedrich Schiller rewrote Don Karlos (1787) and the second and third parts of his Wallenstein trilogy, Die Piccolomini and Wallensteins Tod (the first part, Wallensteins being in free Between 1800 and 1804, Schiller wrote Maria Die Jungfrau von Die Braut von and Wilhelm all (apart from the choruses in Die Braut von in blank verse.
A. W. Schlegel’s trans. of Shakespeare’s plays (14 plays between 1797 and 1810) helped further establish blank verse as the standard meter of Ger. verse drama. His work was later complemented by Ludwig Tieck, his daughter Dorothea Tieck, and Wolf Graf Baudissin, who even took the liberty of translating Molière’s alexandrines into blank verse (1865) because he argued that it had the same dominant position in Ger. drama as the alexandrine had in Fr. Thus, most major and minor dramatists of the 19th c. used blank verse exclusively (as is the case with Heinrich von Kleist, although there are some prose passages in Das Käthchen von extensively (as did Franz Grillparzer, C. D. Grabbe, and C. F. Hebbel), or at least occasionally (Karl Immermann, Karl Gutzkow, and Paul Heyse).
While the earliest attempts at blank verse in Ger. clearly reflected the Eng. models on which they were based (e.g., by the avoidance of feminine endings like Thomson or by construing long periodic sentences over many verse lines like Milton), Lessing, Goethe, and Schiller developed their own metrical styles. Lessing almost disregarded the verse line as a metrical unit by using strong enjambments, by frequently splitting the line into short phrases, often uttered by different speakers, and by splitting lines between speakers 70% of the time (see SPLIT Thus, Lessing made his verse sound “natural” in the sense of sounding like speech or prose. Goethe went to the other extreme and made his blank verse clearly distinct from speech or prose. His lines are mostly end-stopped, and a change of speakers coincides generally (more than 90%) with the end of a line, at a dramatic climax even in the form of *stichomythia. His syntax is complex but well built, rhythmically balanced, and, stylistic devices such as sententia or genitivus at times highly artificial. Schiller’s style lies somewhere between Lessing and Goethe, although he moved toward Goethe in his later plays. However, Goethe’s verse always has a smooth, lyrical “ring,” whereas Schiller adapts his verse to the dramatic function by, e.g., making Mortimer 3.6) utter wildly unmetrical lines in order to convey to the listener or reader that he is out of his mind.
Ger. blank-verse dramas like those of Shakespeare often contain lines that are shorter or longer than the standard ten syllables. Kleist, esp. in his comedies, was less strict than Goethe, but both occasionally loaded an ultrashort or an extra-long line with extra meaning. Insertions of a different meter in Goethe’s Iphigenie or in Schiller’s Braut von Messina always have a dramatic function.
Even in late 19th- and 20th-c. drama, blank verse was not entirely abandoned (Ernst von Wildenbruch, Gerhart Hauptmann, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, J. R. Becher, and Walter Hasenclever). After 1945, blank verse experienced a kind of renaissance in the works of some East Ger. dramatists (Heiner Müller, Hartmut Lange, Erwin Strittmatter, and Peter Hacks), who introduced more metrical complexity in their verse dramas by frequently—and even verse-internally—placing trochaic words in weak-strong sequences as in Eng. blank verse.
In Ger. poetry, iambic pentameter verse occurred mostly in its rhymed version. However, after Schiller’s early specimen Das verschleierte Bild zu Sais (1795), early mod. poets like C. F. Meyer, Stefan George, von Hofmannsthal, and R. M. Rilke (in two of his Duineser used blank verse for some of their best poetry. Despite the predilection among contemp. poets for free verse, blank verse can still be found, be it in the form of entire poems in blank verse (by Arnfrid Astel and Thomas Rosenlöcher in Jahrbuch der Lyrik or intermingled with shorter lines (Günter Grass) or “hidden” in scattered passages (sometimes incongruent with the printed lines) of free-verse poems (Volker Braun, Norbert Hummelt).
Blank verse in Ger. has at times been criticized as being rhythmically monotonous. Compared to Eng., Ger. blank verse is more “regular” because Ger. lexical words tend to have an unstressed syllable that naturally falls on a weak position, while the lexically stressed syllable falls just as naturally on the strong position (*ictus). However, this view overlooks the rhythmic potential of blank verse in the hands of a poet with a fine ear (such as Goethe or Lessing) and ignores the subtleties of meaning created by an interplay between meter and rhythm.
V. In Scandinavia, blank verse was introduced as an effect of romanticism at the end of the 18th c. It soon replaced the alexandrine in the narrative, philosophical, and dramatic genres. Originally, the Eng. and Ger. varieties were adopted, and trans. of Shakespeare’s plays enhanced the reputation of the new meter. The assimilation of blank verse in Scandinavia can be attributed to two factors: the lack of end rhyme in blank verse suited the Scandinavian langs., with their scarcity of rhyme words; and the habit of realizing just four out of five prominence positions brought blank verse close to the med. four-beat line. As it grew in use, the Scandinavian variant of blank verse became distinguished by its alternation between lines of 10 and 11 syllables.
In Denmark, Johannes Ewald initially attempted blank verse in 1768. His music drama Balders Død (1773) introduced hendecasyllabic blank verse in Denmark, probably of It. extraction. A. G. Oehlenschläger’s first play in blank verse was the comedy Aladdin (1805). He used the decasyllable with masculine endings, following the Eng. and the Ger. styles.
The earliest instances of Norwegian blank verse are some farces by Henrik Wergeland, whose versification was probably inspired by Shakespeare. Blank verse in the style of the Danish forerunners dominated Norwegian drama from the middle of the 19th c. Henrik Ibsen tested blank verse in his first play Catilina (1850), and Bjønstjerne Bjørnson composed excellent blank verse in his saga dramas Halte-Hulda (1858) and Kong Sverre (1861).
In Sweden, blank verse was introduced with J. H. Kellgren’s narrative fragment Sigvarth och Hilma (1788), which was inspired by Ewald’s works. The poet F. M. Franzén, influenced by Shakespeare, elaborated blank verse in the 1790s. Since then, blank verse has been a popular Swedish measure in the narrative and philosophical genres, with contributions by poets such as E. J. Stagnelius, Birger Sjöberg, and Gunnar Ekelöf. Most of the space opera Aniara (1956) by Harry Martinson is written in blank verse. The versification of Göran Palm’s Sverige—en vintersaga (1984–2005) is a mod. blank verse that comes close to the rhythm of spoken lang.
VI. Rus. blank verse emerged in 18th-c. imitations of antiquity, e.g., Vasily Trediakovsky’s syllabic blank-verse version of François Fénelon’s Aventures de Télémaque (1699) and A. D. Kantemir’s renderings of Horace. In the 19th c., under the influence of Vasily Zhukovsky’s trans. (1817–21) of Schiller’s Die Jungfrau von Orleans and Alexander Pushkin’s Boris Godunov (1825), iambic pentameter blank verse became widely associated with drama. Simultaneously, Rus. blank verse appeared in folk stylizations, e.g., Pushkin’s “Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish” (1833) and “Songs of the Western Slavs” (1835), inspired by the Serbo-Croatian epic decasyllable, and Mikhail Lermontov’s “Song of the Merchant Kalashnikov” (1837), as well as in lyric monologues such as Pushkin’s “Again I visited” (1835), where it acquired a semantic aura later echoed by such 20th-c. poets as Alexander Blok, Vladislav Khodasevich, and Joseph Brodsky.
In Poland, dactylic-hexameter blank verse was employed by Ren. poets writing in Lat. Hendecasyllabic blank verse in Polish-lang. poetry had It. roots; Jan Kochanowski used it in his tragedy The Dismissal of Greek Envoys (1578). Polish trans. from antiquity and from Eng., Ger., and It. featured blank verse; however, rhymed verse was the standard for Polish drama. Blank verse plays include Jozef Korzeniowski’s The Monk (1830) and Gypsies (1857), J. C. Słowacki’s Lilla Weneda (1840, partially rhymed), and Cyprian Norwid’s 1880 comedy Pure Love at a Seaside
S. Johnson, nos. 86–96 (1751); Schipper; J. A. Symonds, Blank Verse (1895); J. B. Mayor, Chapters on English 2d ed. (1901); E. Gosse, “Blank Verse,” Encyclopedia 11th ed. (1910–11); Bridges; R. D. Havens, The Influence of Milton on English Poetry (1922); A. Oras, Blank Verse and Chronology in Milton (1966); R. Beum, “So Much Gravity and Ease,” Language and Style in ed. R. D. Emma and J. T. Shawcross (1967); R. Fowler, “Three Blank Verse Textures,” The Languages of Literature (1971); E. R. Weismiller, “Blank Verse,” “Versification,” and J. T. Shawcross, “Controversy over Blank Verse,” A Milton ed. W. B. Hunter Jr., 8 v. (1978–80); Brogan, 356 ff.; H. Suhamy, Le Vers de Shakespeare (1984); M. Tarlinskaja, Shakespeare’s Verse (1987); G. T. Wright, Shakespeare’s Metrical Art (1988); J. Thompson, The Founding of English 2d ed. (1989); O. B. Hardison Jr., Prosody and Purpose in the English Renaissance (1989); A. Hecht, “Blank Verse,” Finch and Varnes; R. B. Shaw, Blank Verse (2007).
Spanish and I. Navarrete, Orphans of Petrarch (1994); Historia y Crítica de la Literatura ed. F. Rico, 7 v. (1991–95); Juán Boscán, Obra ed. C. Clavería (1999); António Ferreira, Poemas ed. T. F. Earle (2000); Fernando de Herrera, Anotaciones a la poesía de ed. I. Pepe and J. M. Reyes (2001); H.J.S. Alves, “Milton after Corte-Real,” MP 106 (2009).
J. G. Herder, Ueber die neuere deutsche Literatur. 2d ed. (1768); F. Zarncke, Über den fünffüssigen Jambus mit besonderer Rücksicht auf seine Behandlung durch Lessing, Schiller und Goethe (1865); A. Sauer, Ueber den fünffüssigen Iambus vor Lessing’s “Nathan” (1878); E. Zitelmann, Der Rhythmus des fünffüßigen Jambus (1907); W. Rube, Der fünffüssige Jambus bei Hebbel (1910); L. Hettich, Der fünffüssige Jambus in den Dramen Goethes (1913); R. Haller, “Studie über den deutschen Blankvers,” Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift für Literaturwissenschaft und Geistesgeschichte 31 (1957); R. Bräuer, Tonbewegung und Erscheinungsformen des sprachlichen Rhythmus (1964); L. Schädle, Der frühe deutsche Blankvers unter besonderer Berücksichtigung seiner Verwendung durch Chr. M. Wieland (1972); B. Bjorklund, A Study in Comparative Prosody (1978); D. Chisholm, “Prosodische Aspekte des Blankversdramas,” Literaturwissenschaft und empirische ed. H. Kreuzer and R. Viehoff (1981); C. Küper, Sprache und Metrum (1988), and “Blankvers,” Reallexikon v. 1 (1997).
O. Sylwan, Den svenska versen från 1600-talets v. 1–3 (1925–34); O. Sylwan, Svensk verskonst. Från Wivallius till Karlfeldt (1934); H. Lie, Norsk verslære (1967); J. Fafner, Dansk v. 1–3 (1994–2000); E. Lilja, Svensk metrik (2006).
K. Estreicher, Bibliografia v. 1 (1870); R. Jakobson, “Slavic Epic Verse,” v. 4 (1966); M. Gasparov, Ocherk istori russkogo stikha (1984); Terras; M. Wachtel, Development of Russian Verse (1999); L. Pszolowska, “Dve literatury i dve modeli stikha,” Slavianskii ed. M. Gasparov et al. (2001); S. Zurawski, “Wiersz biały,” Literatura polska. Encyklopedia PWN (2007).
E. R. T.V.F. R. B. E. R. G. T. H.J.S. AND C. E. N.
BLASON. A descriptive poem in praise or blame of a single object (Thomas Sébillet, L’art 1548). It gained popularity in mid-16th c. France after Clément Marot’s “Blason du beau tétin” (1536) gave rise to the vogue of the blason However, the term is first used in the late 15th c. with the loose definition of propos (“speech”) or even “dialogue” in works such as Guillaume Alexis’ Blason des Faulces Amours (1486) or Guillaume Coquillart’s Blason des armes et des dames (1484).
The blason received its stricter early mod. definition after Marot’s poem, written while in exile in Ferrara and probably influenced by Olimpo da Sassoferrato’s love poetry. In response to the poetic competition launched by Marot, dozens of poems celebrating some part of the female body were composed in France and collected in an illustrated anthol., first pub. as a short annex to Leon Battista Alberti’s Hecatomphilia (1536, 1537, 1539), then as an independent volume, the Blasons anatomiques du corps femenin: Ensemble les Contreblasons (1543, 1550, 1554, 1568). In spite of Marot’s injunction to avoid offending words or body parts, many blasons from that collection fall under the category of the obscene, in the satirical trad. of the paradoxical eulogy. The genre of the also initiated by Marot, turns the genre upside down, either by deriding ugly objects or by criticizing the very enterprise of praising the human body (Charles de La Hueterie, Le Contreblason de la beaulté des membres du corps 1537).
The poetics of the blason has been connected to its heraldic origin (a description of a coat of arms); to the *emblem, where woodcut, poetic description, and interpretation are similarly linked; to *mannerism (Saunders, Vickers 1997, Giordano); and to and epideixis (see EPIDEICTIC Frequently used devices include *anaphora, and *hyperbole. According to Sébillet, a good blason should be brief, set in octo- or decasyllabic verses, in couplets, and have an epigrammatic conclusion. However, blasons have from the start been of various lengths: they are less defined by a specific format than by their descriptive and epideictic mode. The expanded the genre with sonnets-blasons and Paul Éluard, René Étiemble, and Régine Detambel revived it in prose and *free verse in the 20th c.
In studies of early mod. Eur. poetry, the blason has been discussed in the 1980s and 1990s as an instance of appropriation and control. From the perspective of feminist poetics, the blazon is a male inventory of the female body; from that of postcolonial studies, a way of mapping and taking control of the Other.
See DESCRIPTIVE FEMINIST APPROACHES TO
J. Vianey, Le Pétrarquisme en France au siècle (1909); R. E. Pike, “The Blasons in French Literature of the 16th Century,” RR 27 (1936); K. Kazimierz, “Des Recherches sur l’évolution du blason au siècle,” Zagadnienia Rodzajow Literarick (1967); D. B. Wilson, Descriptive Poetry in France from Blason to Baroque (1967); A. Tomarken and E. Tomarken, “The Rise and Fall of the Sixteenth-century French Symposium 29 (1975); N. J. Vickers, “Diana Described: Scattered Woman and Scattered Rhyme,” CritI 8 (1981); A. Saunders, The Sixteenth-century Blason Poétique (1982); N. J. Vickers, “ ‘The Blazon of Sweet Beauty’s Best’: Shakespeare’s Shakespeare and the Question of ed. P. Parker and G. Hartman (1985); P. Parker, “Rhetorics of Property: Exploration, Inventory, Blazon,” Literary Fat Ladies (1987); N. J. Vickers, “Members Only: Marot’s Anatomical Blazons,” The Body in ed. D. Hillman and C. Mazzio (1997); M. J. Giordano, “The Blason anatomique and Related Fields: Emblematics, Nominalism, Mannerism, and Descriptive Anatomy as Illustrated by M. Scève’s Blason de la An Interregnum of the ed. D. Graham (2001).
I. T.V.F. C.
BLUES. Originating in Af. Am. folk culture, the blues has developed into a central inspiration for a great deal of Am. poetry. The music is distinguished thematically and philosophically by its posture of direct confrontation with the melancholy psychological state also called blues that is produced by unfortunate circumstances of lost love or unjust circumstances of racism and poverty. Ralph Ellison describes this motivation behind the music: “The blues is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one’s aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism.” In other words, the blues transcends the pain by keeping it alive in the music itself.
This lyricism took many forms, though it has come to be associated most directly with the 12-bar blues. This form consists of three lines with an aab rhyme scheme, with the first line repeated in the second, often with slight variation in syntax or intonation, and with the third providing either ironic commentary or some resolution or both, as in the following lines from “The Backwater Blues”: “Backwater blues done call me to pack my things and go / Backwater blues done call me to pack my things and go. / ’Cause my house fell down and I can’t live there no more.” These lines also convey the typical sense of loss and isolation that permeates the blues and that is reinforced by the repetition, as well as the understatement and ironic humor with which the singer confronts that loss, since her house “fell down” in the third line not of its own volition but because of the dramatic and destructive Mississippi flood of 1927. Indeed, clichés about the blues are sometimes true, as many songs mourn lost loves, castigate two-timing lovers, lament loneliness, and confess melancholy, though occasionally with a similarly understated tongue in cheek, leading Langston Hughes famously to characterize the blues as sometimes laughing to keep from crying. This tone of sadness is also expressed by what is sometimes called the “blue note,” notes in the music scale distinctively flattened to melancholic effect. Simultaneously, a call-and-response interaction between voice and instrument, and between singer and audience, expresses at least the hope for unity and sympathy in the isolation. Through this complex leavening of melancholy with ironic humor, the blues exemplifies a defining tragic-comic humor and subtle emotional affirmation of Af. Am. folk culture.
Its own kind of verse, the blues inspired a great number of Af. Am. poets with this formal enactment of its psychological state, its stoic sensibility, and its existential philosophy, allowing the poet to extend into verse the central ideas and practices of black oral trads. First, the blues derives from spirituals, slave work songs and field hollers, cultural forms of communal unity, spiritual renewal, and, at times, political resistance developed by enslaved Afs. and by Af. Ams. enduring segregation. Second, blues singers often adapt folk ballads, using such folk heroes as John Henry, High John the Conqueror, and Stagolee as subjects and even as personae. Also, like those *ballads, blues songs use *rhyme and *repetition to create possibilities for humor, irony, and *lament that would be familiar to the almost exclusively black original audiences for the music. In addition, blues musicians often sing personalized versions of the same songs—called standards—and improvise on several standard *tropes, incl. the train and its whistle as symbols of mobility, moments of decision on the crossroads, and the flood of 1927, as well as the well-known themes of lost or cheating loves. Improvisation itself—the ability to “riff” on common themes and to change songs in every performance—was part of this stoic assertion of self by offering personal versions of common problems. In these ways, the blues fosters the creation of a distinctive Af. Am. communal culture as a bulwark against social oppression and existential angst.
From these common themes and cultural roots emerged varied modes of song that, in their various ways, would come to characterize blues poetry. There is the so-called classic blues like “Backwater Blues” sung in recordings by such well-known artists as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, women who complicated the music’s traditionally masculine themes with their female perspectives and who helped to establish the 12-bar blues as the music’s most identifiable form. There are also several regional subgenres, including the originating, acoustic Mississippi delta blues, which produced Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, among others; the urban, electric guitar-based Chicago blues; and the later, jazz-influenced Kansas City blues. New Orleans boasts Dr. John, while Eric Clapton is celebrated for his mod. versions of the music.
Langston Hughes initiated the now-prevalent practice of adapting this empowering existential self-assertion of the blues and its variegated musical forms and trads. to literary poetry. In one of his best-known poems, “The Weary Blues,” Hughes describes a blues musician whose singing was inspiring and who eased his own pain so that he could sleep. Hughes also included lyrics from an actual song called “The Weary Blues.” Moreover, in many other poems, Hughes translated the 12-bar blues into six-line stanzas, both by adapting actual lyrics of the urban blues he heard in Harlem and by creating his own. His contemporary in the 1920s, Sterling A. Brown, likewise adapted rural blues songs from his folklore research into poetry. This turn to folk culture for poetic sources was characteristic of the *Harlem Renaissance, the cultural flourishing of Af. Ams. in and around Harlem in the 1920s in which Hughes and Brown participated. Since then, Gwendolyn Brooks, Melvin B. Tolson, Robert Hayden, Honoree Fannonne Jeffers, and Kevin Young are among the many poets who found in the wit, sarcasm, and existentialism of the music an approach amenable to portraying black people realistically and complexly, eliciting call-and-response relations between poet and poem analogous to that of blues musician and audience. The posture of self-affirmation in the face of a rigid society also appealed to Beat poets (see BEAT
Indeed, the blues has come to be understood not only as one of the defining practices and sensibilities of Af. Am. popular and literary culture but as a distinctive Af. Am. contribution to Am. culture, literary and otherwise. E.g., Houston A. Baker suggested that the critic of Af. Am. lit. was much like a blues musician sitting at the crossroads whose imagination constitutes what Baker called a “blues matrix.” Tony Bolden went further, implying that even such cultural forms as the *spiritual were actually blues-inflected. Moreover, most scholars of music in poetry acknowledge that jazz not only emerged from the blues but constitutes a musical and thematic continuum from the saddest, most stoic blues to a joyful, improvisational jazz celebration (see JAZZ As scholars such as Sascha Feinstein, Meta DuEwa Jones, T. J. Anderson, and Kimberly Benston have pointed out, there is a jazz-blues aesthetic in Am. poetry, ranging from Jack Kerouac to Yusef Komunyakaa. There are also now folk festivals dedicated to the blues and many of its figures—Robert Johnson, B.B. King, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey—have become cultural icons, clarifying the powerful influence of the blues.
See MUSIC AND
P. Oliver, The Meaning of the Blues (1963); R. Ellison, Shadow and Act (1965); A. Murray, Stomping the Blues (1976); H. A. Baker Jr., Blues, Ideology and Afro-American Literature (1984); S. Tracy, Langston Hughes and the Blues (1988); The Jazz Poetry ed. S. Feinstein and Y. Komunyakaa (1996); T. Gioia, The History of Jazz (1997); A. Davis, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday (1998); K. Benston, Performing Blackness: Enactments of African American Modernism (2000); M. Jones, “Jazz Prosodies: Orality and Texuality,” Callaloo 25 (2002); T. J. Anderson, Notes to Make the Sound Come Right: Four Innovations of Jazz Poetry (2004); T. Bolden, Afro-Blue: Improvisations in African American Poetry and Culture (2004).
BOB AND WHEEL. A set of *heterometric poetic lines coming at the end of an *isometric stanza. The connecting line, the “bob,” is shorter than the others; the following lines, the “wheel,” rhyme with themselves and the bob. Both bobs and wheels occur independently of one another in med. poetry as well as together. Sir Gawain and the Green the most celebrated example of the two used together, culminates a series of instances from the 12th c. onward in ME, according to Guest. Following Borroff, both Cable and Duncan emphasize the number of syllables per line over metrical stress, Borroff calling ME rhymed verse “a compromise between native and continental metrical principles” (145). Other examples include the ME poems “Somer Sunday” and “Sir Tristrem,” several of the Towneley mystery plays, incl. The Second Shepherd’s and Chaucer’s “Tale of Sir Thopas.”
E. Guest, History of English Rhythms (1838); M. Borroff, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”: A Stylistic and Metrical Study (1962); E. G. Stanley, “The Use of Bob-Lines in Sir NM 73 (1972); T. Turville-Petre, “ ‘Summer Sunday,’ ‘De Tribus Regibus Mortuis,’ and ‘The Awntyrs off Arthure’: Three Poems in the Thirteen-Line Stanza,” RES 25 (1974), and The Alliterative Revival (1977); T. Cable, The English Alliterative Tradition (1991); A Companion to the Middle English ed. T. G. Duncan (2005).
BOLIVIA, POETRY OF. Hists. of Bolivian poetry have regularly struggled to incorporate the poetry created in all the langs. spoken in the nation. Besides Sp., the official lang. and lingua franca, at least three langs. are widely spoken in Bolivia: Aymara, Quechua, and Guaraní. Lit. hists. have been able to describe poetry written in Sp. since the colonial period and have sought to include the poetry written in the indigenous langs., but with limited success. The major impediment is that poetry in native langs. usually is part of an oral trad. (i.e., none of these cultures had developed advanced writing systems; see ORAL Thus, hists. of Bolivian poetry usually start with those texts written in Sp. after the arrival of Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro and the conquest of the Incas (1531–33). Because the major part of the territory of what today is Bolivia (then called Kollasuyo) was part of the Inca Empire, this moment in hist. is considered an origin for the production of Bolivian lit. The present article will follow this conventional route (see also INDIGENOUS AMERICAS, POETRY OF
Bolivian scholars agree that, for the colonial period (1531–1825), the criteria for defining authorship should rely on location more than place of birth for attributing a text to Bolivian lit. hist. Thus Bolivian poetry of the colonial period includes both the poems written by men and women born in the region and those written by colonists of the territory of the Royal Audience of Charcas (1599), an appellate court with jurisdiction over the region that would become Bolivia. Coplas a la muerte de Don Diego de Almagro (Songs on the Death of Diego de Almagro, ca. 1540) is recognized as the first poem written in Bolivian territory by an anonymous Sp. poet. Not very skillfully written, this is an epic romance of the execution of Almagro perpetrated by the Pizarro family in 1538. The most important writer of the 16th c. is Diego Dávalos y Figueroa (1552–1608), an Andalusian who lived and died in the city of La Paz. Dávalos wrote a text in prose, the Miscelánea Austral (Austral Miscellany), and a book of poems, the Defensa de damas (Defense of Ladies), that were published together in Lima in 1602 and received with great admiration by the intellectuals of the Viceroyalty of Peru. Dávalos’s writings are considered the best example of *Petrarchism in the Sp. colonies. The life and work of Dávalos are tightly related to the intellectual life of his wife, Francisca de Briviesca y Arellano (ca. 1547–1616). She was a learned woman whose participation in her husband’s production seems to have been very significant. In the Defensa de she may be the poetess to which the poems refer, as well as the Cilena who signs one of the laudatory poems at the beginning of the book. This exquisite sonnet is the first poem pub. by a woman in the Viceroyalty of Peru. Moreover, the Defensa de damas is the first feminist poem in Bolivian—and Latin Am.—lit.
During the 16th and 17th cs., the wealth of the imperial city of Potosí, based in the exploitation of the silver in its famous mountain, attracted adventurers from the New and Old Worlds looking for quick prosperity. Potosí became an exuberant and opulent city typical of the Am. *baroque, drawing numerous writers in the 17th c.
The Port. poet Henrique Garcés (ca. 1522–95), who had an important role in adapting Petrarch’s poetry throughout the Viceroyalty of Peru, may have lived in Potosí while he tried to implement a process to separate silver by the use of mercury. His trans. of Petrarch’s Canzoniere (1591) and his own poetry were so well known that Miguel de Cervantes mentioned him in a poem. The most important poet of the 17th c. to have dwelled in Potosí is Luis de Ribera (ca. 1555–1623). Born in Seville, he lived in Potosí as well as in La Plata from at least 1621 to 1623. His only book is a collection of religious poetry, Sagradas poesías (Sacred Poems), published in Seville in 1612. Ribera worked in a sophisticated baroque style, and despite the devotional orientation, an intense eroticism pervades many of his poems. He had a preference for biblical themes that allowed him to display erotic topics, such as the drunkenness of Lot raped by his daughters or the nakedness of Bathsheba. His poetry is considered not only one of the peaks of Bolivian and Latin Am. colonial production, but among the best of the Sp. Golden Age. Diego Mexía de Fernengil (ca. 1555–after 1617), another important figure born in Seville, resided in Potosí from 1609 to 1617. He was a friend of Ribera, with whom he shared strong religious beliefs. Mexía was a reputed translator of Ovid. In 1608, he published the first part of his Parnaso Antártico (Antarctic Parnassus), a trans. of Ovid’s While in Potosí, he probably wrote the second part of the Parnaso a collection of sonnets, some of them inspired by illustrations of the life of Christ made by the Jesuit Jerónimo Nadal.
José de Antequera (1689–1731) was perhaps the finest poet of the 18th c. He was a judge of the Audience of Charcas, but he rebelled against the Sp. Crown. Sentenced to death in 1731, he wrote several sonnets while in prison, lamenting his fate and the passing of time. The “Testamento de Potosí” (Potosí’s Testament, 1800), by an anonymous poet, may well be the closing text of the colonial period. This is a book of satirical poetry that anticipates the character of much 19th-c. poetry.
Bolivia began its independence movement in 1810 and became a nation in 1825. These were long years of war, and few literary texts were produced or survived the armed struggle. In the first decades of the republic, the social and political situation was not much better. Political turmoil engulfed many of the promising writers of this period. *Romanticism, the dominant literary style in Sp. America, did not have large numbers of Bolivian cultivators. However, there were a few poets whose works are recognized as valuable. The outstanding poet of this period is Ricardo José Bustamante (1821–84). He studied in Paris, where he became familiar with Eur. lit.; his best-known poem is “Preludio al Mamoré” (Prelude to the Mamoré). Another important romantic poet is the blind María Josefa Mujía (1812–88), who is considered the first woman writer of the newly independent nation. Her poetry draws on her blindness to convey a dark and tragic perception of life. It is worth mentioning Manuel José Tovar (1831–69), whose poem “La creación” (The Creation), based in the biblical Genesis, is one of the jewels of Bolivian romantic poetry.
The transition to mod. poetry of the 20th c. followed two roads: one opened by the poetry of Adela Zamudio (1854–1928), inclined toward social issues; the other by Ricardo Jaimes Freyre (1866–1933), focused on the renovation of poetic lang., a phenomenon fueled by Sp. Am. Zamudio’s poetry is in some measure romantic, but a profound consciousness of her social situation as a woman generates a radical crit. of the hypocrisy of Bolivian patriarchal society. She is considered the most important feminist writer in Bolivian lit. In her life and works, she was a defender of childhood and women as well as a critic of Bolivian education, in the hands of the Catholic Church at the time. Her best known poem is “Nacer hombre” (To Be Born a Man), a strong crit. of men’s privileges. Jaimes Freyre is considered, with Rubén Darío and Leopoldo Lugones, one of the founders of modernismo. He and Darío wrote a *manifesto in 1894 that is considered the beginning of this literary movement. In 1905, Freyre wrote Leyes de la versificación castellana (Laws of Castilian Versification), an innovative treatise about the laws of versification in the Sp. lang. His most famous book of poetry is Castalia bárbara (Barbarous Castalia), a poetic recreation of some themes of Scandinavian mythology.
It has been argued that the dominant intellect of the first half of the 20th c. in Bolivia was Franz Tamayo (1879–1956). His poetry was fed by the modernist style; however, he took that style to phonetic extremes even as he used cl. Greco-Roman lit. as the foundation of his poetry. He developed a voice so distinctive that it made him the preeminent poet of Bolivia. His erudition allowed him to write poetry heavy with references to antiquity, esp. the cl. trad., as these titles may indicate: Epigramas griegos (Greek Epigrams), and his best-known book, La Prometheida (The Promethiad, 1917), a meditation on the Prometheus myth.
The avant-garde movements of the first decades of the 20th c. had some late followers in Bolivia. It is worth mentioning Guillermo Viscarra Fabre (1900–80) and Julio de la Vega (b. 1924). But perhaps the most original poet with avant-garde affinities is Edmundo Camargo (1936–64). These three poets made profuse use of visual images and surrealist topics common in the period’s avant-garde movements. Yolanda Bedregal (1916–99), named “Yolanda of Bolivia,” was considered an official symbol of Bolivian poetry in the second half of the 20th c. The main topics of her poetry are women as the foundation of the family and God. Although love is central to her writings, it is not always viewed as an easy or pure emotion. Love in her poetry is constantly faced with emotional challenges such as hatred or abuse.
If the first half of the 20th c. was dominated by Tamayo, the second part saw two poets, both his admirers, as the major figures of Bolivian poetry: Oscar Cerruto (1912–81) and Jaime Saenz (1921–86). Cerruto’s poetry continues to employ a cl. lang., but without Tamayo’s considerable erudition. Impelled by a search for the “precise word” and by his admiration for Sp. Golden Age poetry, Cerruto developed an extremely unadorned poetry to express a disenchanted view of Bolivian society. Among his books, Patria de sal cautiva (Fatherland, Captive of Salt, 1958) and Estrella segregada (Outcast Star, 1975) are considered masterpieces. Saenz’s alcoholism and troubling obsession with death became the source of his philosophical and poetic view of life. He experienced his life as a path to transcendental meaning, always bordering on self-destruction. His poetry is born out of this search as a mystical and demonic quest. By the use of nonsense, paradox, and oxymoron, his poetry forces lang. to the limits of signification. Books such as Aniversario de una visión (Anniversary of a Vision, 1960), Recorrer esta distancia (To Cross this Distance, 1973), and La noche (The Night, 1984) are extraordinary examples of a deeply eccentric Bolivian (and Latin Am.) poetics.
The end of the 20th c. and the beginning of the 21st saw at least three important poets: Eduardo Mitre (b. 1943), Humberto Quino (b. 1950), and Blanca Wiethüchter (1947–2004). Mitre writes a celebratory poetry in a highly crafted lang. where words and objects can trade places in the seamless space of the erotic. Quino has produced a no less precise poetry but of an opposite character, by looking at himself with irony, sarcasm, and self-contempt. Wiethüchter wrote a poetry of permanent self-searching that speaks of her womanhood in terms of desire and intellectual aptitude. Her feminism can be seen in the poems of Itaca (Ithaca, 2000), where she uses Penelope’s voice to recognize how little she needs and wants the return of Odysseus.
See COLONIAL GUARANÍ SPAIN, POETRY SPANISH AMERICA, POETRY
A. Cáceres Romero, Nueva historia de la literatura 3 v. (1987–95); Cambridge History of Latin American ed. R. González Echevarría and E. Pupo-Walker, 3 v. (1996); Diccionario histórico de ed. J. M. Barnadas, G. Calvo, and J. Ticlla, 2 v. (2002); Hacia una historia crítica de la literatura en ed. B. Wiethüchter and A. M. Paz-Soldán (2002).
I. Medieval and Early Modern
II. Modern, Postmodern, and Postbook
I. Medieval and Early Book is an inclusive term. Applied to cuneiform tablets, papyrus rolls, bound objects, and electronic devices, it refers both to historically specific literary technologies and to writing in general. This combination drives the book’s paradoxical relationship to poetic form and lit. hist. On one hand, books are simply material objects, vehicles for the ostensibly more primary artistic and intellectual works they contain. On the other, their format implies a poetic dimension, a *trope for writing, a shaping force, and a silent collaborator in reading. Similarly, books are at once marked by the time of their construction and transcendent of that time, able to project the human imagination across centuries. The poetics of the book derives from its ability to span these contradictions, to figure paradox as unity and thus to sustain the fragmentary, fissured nature of representation as a coherent whole. In this, the technology of the book asserts a poetic and temporal form at a literary level beneath authorial intention. Book is an inclusive term, then, not only because it encompasses multiple technologies of inscription but because it is a jointly material and discursive object of figural representation.
For the med. and early mod. periods, the dominant form of the book is the codex. Derived from the Lat. for “the trunk of a tree,” the codex originated as a writing tablet, a wooden board with a carved depression in its center filled with red or black wax and written on with a hard stylus. Homer describes Proteus as using a “folded tablet” in the Iliad (6.168), suggesting that, by the 8th or 9th c. the codex had developed from a slate to two pieces of wood fastened together, a hinged object that protected its internal message. Early examples of the codex feature additional internal leaves of wood, papyrus (a writing surface made from Egyptian reeds), or parchment (animal skin). Throughout the Gr. and Roman world, such codices were used for notational writing—drafts, lessons, calculations, and lists—and were, thus, secondary to the roll. Books are known as a permanent record, yet they originate as a technology for ephemera; and so the hist. of the book, an object that symbolizes depth of learning but is effectively defined by its covers, is cross-cut by contradiction.
This contradictory quality is first articulated by the epigrammist Martial (pseud. of Marcus Valerius Martialis, ca. 40–103), who reflects on the codex in the second poem of his revised Epigrams (ca. 103):
Qui tecum cupis esse meos ubicumque libellos et comites longae quaeris habere viae, hos eme, quos artat brevibus membrana tabellis: scrinia da magnis, me manus una capit. ne tamen ignores ubi sim venalis et erres urbe vagus tota, me duce certus eris; libertum docti Lucensis quaere Secundum limina post Pacis Palladiaeque forum. (1.2)
[You who want to have my books with you wherever you go, and who are looking to have them as companions on a long journey, buy these, which the parchment confines within small covers: give cylinders to the great, one hand can hold me. That you should not be ignorant of where I am on sale and wander aimlessly over the whole city, with me as your guide you will be certain: look for Secundus, the freedman of learned Lucensis, beyond the threshold of the Temple of Peace and the Forum of Minerva.] (Fitzgerald)
In its emphasis on buying and selling, on carrying, covers, and great cylinders, the poem is chiefly about the form of the book. It is also about self-fashioning, about Martial’s formulation of his *persona as an urban poet-about-town. Martial highlights a tension between these two forms, book and author, through a metonymic change of name (“I am on sale,” “with me as your guide”). This tension is contained in the very word he uses for the codex, which (as Fitzgerald remarks) means both a single petition and a complete book of poems. Martial’s is a book of petitions twice over: once in that it is a series of fragmentary short poems integrated as a collection by the genre of *epigram and once again in that it is a series of individual sheets constructed into a unity by the codex’s binding. Implicitly, Martial asks which is the operative genre that structures his poetry and his poetic self, epigram or codex? From the very start of literary commentary on the book, Martial recognizes that the book-as-codex involves both surface and depth, physical and discursive genres for poetic representation.
Shortly after Martial’s observation, the early Christian communities at Antioch and Jerusalem developed the codex from a secondary writing aid to a major textual form. By the 4th c., the codex rivaled the roll, so much so that the term biblios became common in Antioch for school texts or Christian books; by the 5th c., 89% of all remaining Gr. books are in the form of the codex. In a quantifiable way, the representative potential inherent in the codex found an audience in Christian readers and writers, and this energized its technological devel. The early Christians’ predilection for the codex has no clear explanation beyond the jointly physical and discursive capacities suggested by Martial: codices imply a unified canon even if the actual texts they contain are only fragmentary. In each case—material surface and intellectual depth (substitution), change of name (object for author), and part for whole (a selection of texts representing a total collection)—the codex operates through a singular tropological principle, *metonymy: i.e., technology always includes a figural as well as a material sense. For the book, these two elements coalesce in metonymy. Thus, as much as the book is a material form, it is also a poetic one.
Throughout the Middle Ages, book producers experimented with ways of making the mise-en-page (scene of the page) more expressive of this unity. For example, decorative elements such as historiated initials (an introductory capital letter containing a picture, portrait, or scene within it), miniatures (pictures related to the contents), and illuminations (gold or silver decorations that create a sense of light from within the book) transformed the page from a textual to a visual space. Across the 12th and 13th cs., fraternal religious organizations and the Parisian academic book trade developed a visual system to represent the text’s internal rhetorical organization, its which included numerals, paragraph marks, underlinings, rubrics (the practice of writing titles or marginal glosses in a contrasting color such as red), and tables of contents, all designed to guide the reader’s experience. These readers added their own marks to the page. Indeed, the making of books blurs the roles of reader and writer, and this was recognized, in the 13th c. esp., in the compiler, whose task was to reassemble—combine, rearrange, and order by chapter and section—authoritative texts according to a new organizational scheme. Each of these cases—decoration, ordination, and compilation—describes a process by which book makers augmented the texts they copied with design elements unique to the format of the book and in so doing created an increasingly sophisticated and unified object.
Thus, the codex emerges as a powerful trope across the med. and early mod. periods. From Augustine’s reading of Paul in his personal Bible in the to Petrarch’s reading of Augustine in his portable copy of the Confessions on Mont Ventoux, the intellectual markers of both the med. and the mod. recur on the object of the book. For Eng. poetics, the act of poetic making and book making become almost inseparable. E.g., in the conclusion to book 5 of Troilus and Chaucer (ca. 1345–1400) writes:
Go, litel bok, go, litel myn tragedye,
Ther God thi makere yet, er that he dye,
So sende myght to make in som comedye!
But litel book, no making thow n’envie,
But subgit be to alle poesye;
And kis the steppes where as thow seest pace
Virgile, Ovide, Omer, Lucan, and Stace.
Here, as in Martial, is the notion of book as proxy for the author. Yet Chaucer’s book is not simply a metonymic stand-in; possessing its own emotions and engaging in its own activities, it constitutes a metaleptic function in which the book-as-metonym appears within a larger figure of lit. hist. as a pantheon of named authors. This is true for the ms. hist. of Troilus and Criseyde as well, for there exists no authorial version of this important text. The remaining mss. of the poem were copied in the 15th c., after Chaucer’s death, and not one presents the poem in an authorial form. Rather, most of these versions were created from small booklets or quires, circulated by London lending shops and each possessing variations. The scribes who borrowed these texts were freelance craftsmen, loosely organized by stationers who subcontracted the work, apparently at times out of a tenement that operated as physical hive for the division of labor. Just as Chaucer’s “litel bok” appears in a lit. hist. of named authors as a semiautonomous representation, Troilus and Criseyde emerges from Eng. literary book culture as an independent construction. The book is a metonymic machine: assembled from parts, it unifies rhetorical and material fragments in the face of contradiction, creating a physical embodiment of a literary imagination that perhaps never existed.
Print technology significantly expands the volume of book production, but it does not revolutionize the fundamental assembly process. Again, the hist. of Troilus and Criseyde is instructive. First printed by William Caxton in 1483, it appeared in a series of seemingly separate publications, culminating in William Thynne’s famous 1532 ed. of Chaucer’s collected works. Thynne’s ed. was reprinted and expanded throughout the 16th and 17th cs., finding definitive expression in Francis Thynne’s 1602 version. In this progression, the literary *canon appears to develop as a break with the med. past into a mod. sense of authorship and print culture. Troilus and Criseyde was complied into exactly such canonical collections from the start, and a number of early books bind together single-ed. handwritten and printed versions of Chaucer’s poetry into composite collections. Ms. producers were, in fact, experimenting with mass-production techniques and woodblock printing from the beginning of the 15th c. Johannes Gutenberg combined these techniques—the division of labor, line assembly, the wooden screw-type press, binding—with moveable metal type and so created a system of textual reproduction that remained essentially unchanged through the 19th c. Yet the format of the codex as a bound object was established by Homer’s time, and the inventive plan Gutenberg deployed—the combination of preexisting parts into a new whole—belongs not to mod. print culture but to the governing logic of the book, one that continually figures invention through metonymy.
A book not only creates, as Martial observed, a figure of the self but, as Chaucer suggests, projects this figure across time through a process of assembly both derivative and atemporal: derivative, because it relies on the technologies of the past and hence is always invested in a return, always troping on a preexisting format; atemporal, because it stands outside chronology, able to communicate an imaginative truth in whatever present it is read. Thus, the book not only operates as a poetic form but presents a formal relationship to hist. The process of lit. hist. often appears a species of naturalism, the settling of literary accounts according to a yearly plan; the book suggests time according to the poetics of the page, one that is fragmentary but nevertheless recoverable, imaginative but still tangible.
II. Modern, Postmodern, and As the foregoing section argues, the formal and historical character of the book is indivisible. No exception to this statement, the 17th c. in Europe marks a period in which printing and book technology became entwined with the intellectual culture of the day. In Britain, this period opened with the appearance of three books that went on to long lives in different relations to printing: first, in 1611, one of the most often-printed books in Eng., the King James Bible; in 1616, Ben Jonson’s the first self-edited collection of a living poet’s production and a model for every later collected works; and then, in 1623, a book whose contents have been among the most often reprinted in different ways, the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays. The period then closed with the struggle for freedom of the press and against the legal requirement that all books be approved by an official censor before publication (a struggle evidenced by John Milton’s address to Parliament in 1643, pub. in 1644 as For poetry, these two devels. clearly—and for the first time—opened the possibility of the book as a technology of writing not only widely available but adaptable to modification, appropriation, and even “hacking” in many ways to bring format into different alignments with content. Writers in all disciplines became more involved in book technology, sometimes even writing directly to the new adaptability of the medium. By 1669, the Dutch scientist and mathematician Christian Huygens had invented a process to print handwriting and geometrical figures; in the same year, the physician William Petty had developed a method for printing as many copies of a book as the public demanded. Chappell and Bringhurst’s A Short History of the Printed Word and Finkelstein and McCleery’s An Introduction to Book History offer a fuller and more nuanced account of the early hist. of the book; but for the purposes of this entry, this authorial involvement with form (the form of the book as much as the material, mechanical limits, and possibilities of the printing press itself), content, medium, and message acted as a catalyst for ever more experiments on the book as a poetic object—very often a poetic object that was as much “content” as the words appearing between the covers. This approach would ultimately give rise to the idea of the artist’s book that came to fruition in the latter part of the 20th c.
Insofar as the 17th c. prepared for a new integration of book form and intellectual and artistic content, William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and The Book of Thel are the most obvious 18th-c. outcomes. In 1788, Blake printed There Is No Natural the first instance of illuminated printing. Echoing his concern for how—in opposition to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s notion of natural ideas held by all human beings—each poet and reader had his or her own worldview and system of values, Blake’s new method of printing meant that “the metal plates with which he was familiar as an engraver could be etched sufficiently to be printed in relief....[W]hen finished, the etched plate could be used to pull prints as they were needed or ordered, thus allowing him to work with an unlimited edition produced on demand” (Drucker, Visible The following year, Blake published his monumental Songs of a work of painting and poetry; thereafter, he published numerous other works in which the page—a basic unit of composition of the book—is transformed from a neutral, even transparent, surface to a canvas on which margin, border, illustration, and text form a unified whole. With illuminated printing, Blake not only combined the visual arts with the literary but moved away from the expensive process of using a letterpress and thus took back control of the means of production.
If Blake’s commitment to expressing independence through the book is one turning point in Brit. letters, then William Morris and his work with the Kelmscott Press—as a counter to rapid industrialization and a demonstration of his growing commitment to socialism—is another. Morris expounded an ethos of craft, function, and respect for materials that made him a pioneer of modern design. While it appears that Morris’s notions about book design were rooted in 15th-c. printing practices, his unique innovation was that he extended, not simply imitated, these earlier practices, creating works that were not merely decorative at the level of the page or even at the level of the units of construction on the page but carefully designed wholes. Not surprisingly, then, his highest achievement is generally acknowledged to be his Works of Geoffrey which represents his most concerted effort to create “the ideal book,” by which he means “a book not limited by commercial exigencies of price: we can do what we like with it, according to what its nature, as a book, demands of Art” (Morris).
However, it was precisely Morris’s dedication to a clean, legible, and harmonious aesthetic of the book, the page, as well as *typography—a dedication he hoped would express a medievalism that took the reader or viewer outside the ugly reality of Victorian England and reflected certain ideas about art, beauty, and the inherent goodness in craftsmanship and simplicity—that led to the early 20th-c. avant-garde embrace of a disruptive, nonlinear, even explosive approach to page design, typography, and the construction of the book. While undoubtedly Stéphane Mallarmé’s Un coup de dés Throw of the in the magazine Cosmopolis in 1897 but not in book form until after his death in 1914—had a tremendous influence on 20th-c. explorations into words themselves as visual carriers of meaning. Experiments in typography and book-making by futurists, Dadaists, and surrealists (see were so far-reaching that their influence is still felt today in online experiments with kinetic typography, animated digital poems, and other digital deconstructions of the page. For instance, in 1913, the It. futurist F. T. Marinetti first proposed the idea of parole in libertà (words in freedom) as a call for a typographical revolution that would consist of “Condensed metaphors. Telegraphic images. Maximum vibrations. Nodes of thought. Closed or open fans of movement. Compressed analogies. Color Balances. Dimensions, weights, measures, and the speed of sensations.” In an attempt to realize his vision of words-in-freedom, Marinetti published Zang Tumb Tuuum (1914)—a typographic tour de force with foldout pages that further unsettled the harmony of the page and the book.
While there are many other instances of influential early 20th-c. experiments on the book and its various units of construction (incl. binding, margin, page, typography, and cover), there seems to be a connection between Marinetti’s attempts to turn the space of the page into a nonlinear, painterly canvas on which to explore the shape, dimension, and volume of letters and words and later, even more radical experiments such as Steve McCaffery’s monumental typescape Carnival (1969–75). A concrete poem (see CONCRETE that was originally packaged as a book containing 16 sheets of paper, Carnival offered its readers the following instructions: “In order to destroy this book please tear each page carefully along the perforation. The panel is assembled by laying out pages in a square of four.” Clearly, the paradox of this work is that to read the book the reader first has to destroy it.
Less obviously related to Marinetti, though no less invested in systematically breaking down conventions of meaning-making and literariness that were tied to the idea of the book, poets and/or artists such as Robert Grenier (in his 1978 and Carolee Schneemann (in her 1977 took the binding off the book and instead published decks of cards, which utterly undercut any notion of unity as well as clear authorial intent. The Brit. artist Tom Phillips deconstructed the book by constructing five different eds., beginning in 1970, of A Humument by “treating” or painting and writing over a copy found by both rule and chance (i.e., the first book Phillips found for three-pence) of the novel A Human Document by the Victorian novelist W. H. Mallock. There are countless other examples of 20th-c. artists’ books and ostensible books of poetry that have broken down or defamiliarized every conceivable aspect of the book. E.g., the painter Larry Rivers and the poet Frank O’Hara collaborated to create Stones (1958)—twelve lithographs made by Douglass Morse Howell by pulling from stones written and drawn on by Rivers and O’Hara; Elisabetta Gut’s 1983 Libro-seme uses the shell of a seed as the cover of a book inside of which are sheets of music on rice paper that have been cut in the shape of the shells; and Frances L. Swetlund’s 1989 The Messenger appropriates a Victorian photo album inside of which is a dead bird, a map, bones, shells, and other found objects on which letters and numbers have been stamped (see ALEATORY
Thus, having encountered books as everything from decks of cards, fans, accordions, postcards, sculptural objects, and objects made out of cloth to edible works made out of chewing gum, in a sense 21st-c. poets have no choice but to extend this systematic deconstruction (a “hacking” that was anticipated in the early mod. hist. of the medium) to an utter dematerialization of the book through its trans. into the digital. While it is true that certain animated digital poems such as Brian Kim Stefans’s “Dreamlife of Letters,” as well as his “Suicide in an Airplane,” seem to continue, in the digital realm, Marinetti’s attempts to bring a sense of dynamism to the page, by and large digital poets are prepared to carry on postbook experiments in both the sense of looking back on and in the historical sense of coming after). Stephanie Strickland’s V (2002) and Zone: Zero (2008) are postbook works in which poems in book-bound form comment on the same poems in digital form and vice versa, the result of which is a distributed poem such as “slippingglimpse” whose stable text in a two-column form on the page undergoes a radical trans. online where it turns into a ten-part Flash poem that combines the original text with videos of ocean patterns; as Strickland puts it, “In a round robin of reading, the water ‘reads’ the poem text...the poem text ‘reads’ image/capture technologies...and the image-capture video ‘reads’ the water,” thereby utterly destabilizing both the original book-bound text and the conventional notion of what it means to read. Further, a substantial number of digital poems are less about semantic meaning than about a self-reflexive consideration of the materiality of letters and words, as well as about investigating the material limits and possibilities of the computer as a medium for writing. John Cayley’s “Translation” exemplifies such poems in that it is often unreadable either because it is constantly algorithmically shifting between Eng., Fr., and Ger. or because the words are, as Cayley puts it, always either “surfacing, floating, or sinking.” It is also likely a matter of time before poets attempt to hack e-readers at least in part to draw attention to how these devices both imitate and undermine the idea and the material reality of the book.
See ELECTRONIC LANGUAGE TECHNOLOGY AND VISUAL
Medieval and Early Curtius; M. B. Parkes, “The Influence of the Concepts of Ordinatio and Compilatio on the Development of the Book,” Medieval Learning and ed. J.J.G. Alexander and M. T. Gibson (1976); E. L. Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (1979); P. Needham, The Printer and the Pardoner (1986); C. H. Roberts and T. C. Skeat, The Birth of the Codex (1987); Book Production and Publishing in Britain, ed. J. Griffiths and D. Pearsall (1989); D. C. Greetham, Textual Scholarship (1994); P. Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (1995); R. Hanna III, Pursuing History (1996); C. De Hamel, A History of Illuminated Manuscripts (1997); A. Manguel, A History of Reading (1997); F. G. Kilgour, The Evolution of the Book (1998); The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Vol. III, ed. L. Hellinga and J. B. Trapp (1999); The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Vol. IV, ed. J. Barnard, D. F. McKenzie, and M. Bell (2002); A. Murphy, Shakespeare in Print (2003); S. Füssel, Gutenberg and the Impact of trans. D. Martin (2005); W. Fitzgerald, Martial (2007).
Modern, Postmodern, and F. T. Marinetti, Zang Tumb Tuuum (1914), D. McMurtrie, The Book (1973); S. McCaffery, Carnival (1969–75), R. Grenier, Sentences (1978), S. McCaffery and bpNichol, Rational Geomancy: The Kids of the Book-Machine: The Collected Research Reports of the Toronto Research Group, 1973–82 (1992); J. J. McGann, Black Riders: The Visible Language of Modernism (1993); W. Morris, The Ideal ed. W. S. Peterson (1982); J. Drucker, The Century of Artists’ Books and The Visible Word: Experimental Typography and Modern Art, 1909–1923 (both 1994); D. Higgins and C. Alexander, Talking the Boundless Book (1996); J. Rothenberg and S. Clay, A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing, 1960–1980 (1998); W. Chappell and R. Bringhurst, A Short History of the Printed Word (1999); J. Rothenberg, A Book of the Book (2000); B. Bright, No Longer Innocent: Book Art in America (2005); D. Finkelstein and A. McCleery, An Introduction to Book History (2005); T. Phillips, A Humument (1970–2005), P. Shillingsburg, From Gutenberg to Google (2006); S. Strickland, “Slipping-glimpse,” intro. (2008), K. Wasserman, The Book as Art (2006); A Companion to the History of the ed. S. Eliot and J. Rose (2009).
BOSNIAN POETRY. The influence of folk genres, in particular *ballad and lyric *songs, is characteristic of both recent and older Bosnian poetry. Traditional Bosnian poetry should be considered part of the broader South Slavic corpus, owing to a shared body of stylistic and thematic features. The first systematic study of folk poetry from this region was undertaken by Milman Parry and Albert Lord in the period 1933–35 (see ORAL-FORMULAIC and resulted in Lord’s seminal study The Singer of Tales (1960). Parry and Lord devoted most of their efforts to long epics, but they also collected over 11,000 women’s ballads and lyric songs. It is the shorter folk songs that have left the deepest trace on the lit. of Bosnia-Herzegovina, regardless of the author’s ethnic or religious background.
Alongside a lyrical component stemming from traditional lore, in the poetry of Bosnian Muslim authors there is an esoteric-mystical dimension reflecting Islamic spirituality and drawing on poetry that reached Bosnia through the extended presence of the Ottomans in the Balkans. The older generation of authors, such as Safet-beg Bašagić (1870–1934), Musa Ćazim Ćatić (1878–1915), and Ahmed Muradbegović (1898–1972), relied heavily on patterns of folk love poetry but also introduced the refinement and sensibility of a complex multicultural environment.
The next generation of poets introduced elements of the avant-garde, which meant a departure from more traditional forms and the inclusion of the irrational, as well as a more openly erotic dimension saturated with Eastern mysticism and opulent imagery. These characteristics are particularly visible in the poetry of Hamza Humo (1895–1970). Following in this vein is the somewhat younger Skender Kulenović (1910–78), for whom poetry is both an esoteric experience and a voice of social conscience.
Several Serbian poets were active in Herzegovina for all or part of their careers, incl. the symbolist Jovan Dučić (1871–1943) and Aleksa Šantić (1868–1924), who modeled many of his works on traditional love poems. One of the greatest Croatian expressionist poets, Antun Branko Šimić (1898–1925), also spent his youth in Herzegovina before relocating to Zagreb.
Although it draws on a specifically Bosnian heritage, the poetry of Mak (Mehmedalija) Dizdar (1917–71) is stylistically highly accomplished and transcultural. His groundbreaking poem Plivačica (The Swimmer, 1954) is a strong statement of individuality, vitality, and formal innovation that reflects elements of surrealism but is also an overt departure from the rigid norms of social realism then prevalent. In his collection Kameni spavač (Stone Sleeper, 1966), he takes as his inspiration inscriptions from the stećak monuments (med. Bogomil tombstones) and through an ancestral poetic perspective speaks of Bosnia as a country of sorrow and resilience.
The poetry of Abdulah Sidran (b. 1944) is imbued with a sadness resulting from his perception of disharmony in the world. His poems are dialogic and often give the impression of settling accounts with life. Representatives of the younger generation, most notably Semezdin Mehmedinović (b. 1960) and Saša Skenderija (b. 1968), were deeply influenced by the wars of 1990s and often address questions of politics, identity, and everyday life in their poetry, while at the same time experimenting with hybrid genres. Among Bosnian-Herzegovinian women poets, Bisera Alikadić (b. 1939), Mubera Pašić (b. 1945), Josefina Dautbegović (1948–2008), and Ferida Duraković (b. 1957) all have written predominantly introspective, intimate poetry, while the latter two have provided memorable verses on the theme of war.
B. Bartók and A. Lord, Serbo-Croatian Folk Songs (1951); Serbocroatian Heroic ed. and trans. A. Lord et al. (1953–80); Antologija bošnjačke poezije XX ed. E. Duraković (1995); Scar on the Stone: Contemporary Poetry from ed. C. Agee (1998); Antologija bošnjačkih usmenih lirskonarativnih ed. Ð. Buturović and L. Buturović (2002).
Criticism and M. P. Coote, “Serbocroatian Heroic Songs,” Heroic Epic and ed. F. J. Oinas (1978); Lord; C. Hawkesworth, Voices in the Shadows: Women and Verbal Art in Serbia and Bosnia (2000); A. Buturović, Stone Speaker: Medieval Tombs, Landscape, and Bosnian Identity in the Poetry of Mak Dizdar (2002); E. Duraković, i bosanske knjiẑevne neminovnosti (2003); A. Vidan, Embroidered with Gold, Strung with Pearls: The Traditional Ballads of Bosnian Women (2003).
BOUSTROPHEDON (Gr., “in the manner of an ox’s turning”). A text in which alternate lines or columns are designed to be read in opposite directions is said to be written The term alludes to the alternating direction of the furrows in a ploughed field. Though properly an adverb, it is often used as an adjective or noun. Boustrophedon is a graphic format, not a literary form. Any text that can be written in two or more lines using discrete letter-forms or symbols can be written boustrophedon; a text thus written should not be confused with a *palindrome. The boustrophedon format is found sporadically in the ancient Near East and in Etruscan, early Lat., and runic inscriptions. The best-known examples, however, are in Gr. inscriptions of the 7th and 6th cs. These include short verse texts as well as law codes, religious dedications, and calendars, inscribed on stone, pottery, or metal. In the Gr. examples, the shapes of the letters, as well as their order, are typically reversed in alternate lines (as if reflected in a mirror); in other cases, alternate lines are not reversed but inverted. Boustrophedon coexisted at this early period with the now-familiar left-to-right format as well as texts with all lines written right to left (probably reflecting the Gr. alphabet’s Phoenician roots). It seems to have fallen out of use by the 5th c. Boustrophedon has been revived on an ad hoc basis by various contemp. writers under the influence of *concrete poetry and *Oulipo. In mod. poems, the retrograde element may involve mirror writing (as in Rosanne Wasserman’s “Boustrophedon”), reversal of letters, or reverse ordering of words in alternate lines; the poem’s content usually reflects or alludes to the format in some way. Other poets (e.g., John Kinsella) have invoked the term’s metaphorical associations (retrograde movement, nonlinear progression, writing-as-ploughing) without using the actual format.
L. Jeffery, The Local Scripts of Archaic Greece (1961); A. G. Woodhead, The Study of Greek Inscriptions (1981).
BOUTS-RIMÉS. A sequence of words rhyming in accordance with a predetermined *rhyme scheme (often that of the *sonnet) and used as the basis of a verse-making game; also (by *metonymy) the game itself. The object of the game, which is said to have been invented by Gilles Ménage (1613–92) and was popular in précieux circles of 17th-c. Paris, is to write a poem incorporating the given rhyme words so as to achieve effects as witty as they are seemingly uncontrived. Accordingly, the sequence of rhymes is made as bizarre and incongruous as possible. From the first, bouts-rimés tried the ingenuity of even the most considerable poets (Pierre Corneille, Nicolas Boileau), and the diversion spread to England and Scotland and survived as a source of 19th-c. vers de But any school of poets that regards rhyme as the generative principle of verse composition will favor a method of working essentially by bouts-rimés, as did *Parnassianism, e.g., guided by Théodore de Banville’s axiom that “an imaginative gift for rhyme is, of all qualities, the one which makes the poet.” Stéphane Mallarmé’s enigmatic “ptyx” nonce-sonnet may count as bout-rimés. The rhyming dictionary itself will, when the combinations it offers are severely limited, act as a purveyor of bouts-rimés (see the octave of Charles Baudelaire’s “Sed non satiata”). In terms of the materiality of writing, bouts-rimés are the residue in presentia of a program that can be imagined by the reader only in while in view of a metaphysics of writing, bouts-rimés are like the cryptic fragments of an oracular utterance that only the priest-poet has the power to reconstitute or construe; the poet is the paleographer of the invisible.
Kastner; T. Augarde, Oxford Guide to Word 2d ed. (2003); E. Greber, “Metonymy in Improvisation: Pasternak, Mayakovsky, Jakobson, and Their 1919 Eternity’s ed. L. Fleishman (2006).
BRAZIL, POETRY OF. Colonial production of verse in Port. America included lyric, drama, and epic. Early composition comprised continuations of med. trads., popular lyrics, and courtly versions of *troubadour ballads. Jesuits used dramatic verse (in Sp., Port., Lat., and Tupi) in their efforts to convert the native population to Christianity. Father José de Anchieta (1534–97) even wrote a modest New World epic in Lat. (printed in Coimbra in 1563). All attempts to write *epic in Port. were penned in the shadow of Luís de Camões and Os Lusíadas 1572), his prodigious narrative of Portugal’s historical achievements. The first local imitation was Prosopopéia (1601) by Sp.-born Bento Teixeira (1561–1600), who fled to Brazil as a young man to avoid the Inquisition. His encomiastic heroic octaves exalted the leader of the settlement of the captaincy of Pernambuco. A *baroque phase begins in the mid-17th c. In the 18th c., the principal venues for poetry in large cities were academies where associates met to share work. The outstanding poet of the period was Gregório de Matos (1636–96), nicknamed Boca do Inferno (Mouth from Hell) for his biting satires that prompted authorities in Salvador, Bahia, to exile him to Angola. In a serious vein, he made devotional and amatory poetry. In his sonnets and other poems (all known through codices), Matos practiced the dominant Iberian modes of the day, characterized by conceits, formal dexterity, and imitation, both of Greco-Roman models and of the contemporaneous Sp. masters Luís de Góngora, Francisco de Quevedo, and Baltasar Gracián. While agile in the application of and Matos also touched on the mixed nature of Brazilian society, occasionally incorporating indigenous and even Af. elements.
A Brazilian version of arcadianism emerged in the late 18th c. in the gold-rich state of Minas Gerais. Colonial lit. had appeared with little coherence or continuity; now came forth an organized group with shared attitudes and nascent national awareness. Poets adopted pastoral pseuds. To write of bucolic ideals yet managed to constitute the beginnings of “Brazilian personal lyricism” (Coutinho). Their provincial adaptations of neoclassical poetics entailed turning away from perceived baroque excesses, a search for natural simplicity, and preference for graceful rhythmic schemes. While having studied in the Old World, they began to give voice to new feelings of belonging in the New World. As engaged citizens, they read Enlightenment authors, advocated political autonomy, and took part in the first conspiracy against the rule of Portugal (1789). The principal poets were Cláudio Manuel da Costa (1729–89), whose petrous imagery has been seen to reflect emotional attachment to the land; the Port.-born Tomás Antônio Gonzaga (1744–1810), author of the most popular collection of love poems in Port., Marília de Dirceu (1792); and Silva Alvarenga (1749–1814), noted for local landscapes. In Lisbon, Brazilian mulatto Domingos Caldas Barbosa (1738–1800) was elected president of the cultivated Nova Arcadia assembly but gained fame in the royal court performing his sometimes sensual songs, lyrics of which were published alongside pastoral poems. His occasional use of an Afro-Brazilian lexicon was a historical milestone.
National spirit was most evident in epic poems. Caramuru by José de Santa Rita Durão (1722–84) was composed of ten Camonian cantos about the Port. arrival in Bahia, and O Uraguai (1769) by Basílio da Gama (1741–95) narrated the Luso-Hispanic war against the Jesuit missions of southern Brazil. Efforts to relive poetry—continued in Brazil well into the next century. Domingos José Gonçalves de Magalhães (1811–82) with his A confederação dos tamoios (1856) celebrated liberty in a crushing military defeat of an Indian tribe, revealing limited sensitivity toward native peoples. The poet’s close ally, Manuel Araújo Porto Alegre (1806–79) tried his hand at epic in Colombo (1866), extolling Eur. expansionism in the figure of Columbus.
In the mid-1830s, these last two authors had formed a literary association in Paris that in essence launched Brazilian *romanticism, through lyric poetry and the expository essay. The entire period was naturally marked by independence from Portugal (1822), the evolution of the only monarchy (here called an empire) in the Western hemisphere, and the pursuit of Am. forms of identity. In general, the first generation of romantics believed in a historical mission to create lit. of a national character. Led by Antônio Gonçalves Dias (1823–64), they emphasized differences from Europe and autochthonous phenomena. The multigenre movement of Indianism celebrated native peoples, places, sources, and heroism. Among Dias’s “American Poems,” the most recognized composition was “I-Juca Pirama” (in Tupi, “he who must die”), a classic of Indianist poetry. In this work, Dias employed varied Port. verse forms but, while he assigned narrative voice to Indian personages in some passages, never recovered an indigenous poetics per se. Dias also left an unfinished epic based on a tribal story. Perhaps the most widely known Brazilian poem of all time is his “Canção do exílio” (Song of Exile, 1843), which he wrote while studying in Portugal, where he absorbed myriad romantic influences. The *strophes express the quintessential Lusitanian emotion of saudade (longing, homesickness) in relation to the New World homeland. With the former colony now irretrievably the focus of consciousness, the brief piece relates location—Brazil as place of desire—to the romantic emphasis on sentimentality, expressivity, and shared heritage. The poem’s importance as a symbol of the country has been compared to those of the flag and the national *anthem. In the second wave of romantic poetry, Manuel Antônio Álvares de Azevedo (1831–52)—a Brazilian parallel to Lord Byron, Alfred de Musset, and some Port. figures—explored intense subjectivity, bohemianism, and pessimistic introspection. In contrast, a third current during romanticism was social poetry, eminently the abolitionist works of Antônio de Castro Alves (1847–71). Influential titles were “Navio negreiro” (The Slave Ship) and “Vozes d’África” (Voice of Africa), impassioned rhetorical verse of ethical purpose known through periodical publication and public declamations. He crafted amatory, bucolic, and patriotic lyric as well. A sui generis figure of the romantic period was Joaquim de Sousa Andrade or Sousândrade (1833–1902), maker of adventurous lines that prefigure *modernism, markedly in the trans-Am. neoepic O Guesa (London, 1888), featuring an anthological interlude titled “The Inferno of Wall Street” in its editorial revival of the 1960s.
Following the lead of France, reaction against ultraromanticism and a vogue of “realist” poetry would lead to the devel. of *Parnassian poetry, a school and style based on restraint of feeling, reverence for form (particularly the *sonnet), and erudition. While in Portugal this practice was relatively modest, the Brazilian applications of Parnassianism were quite extensive in size, thematic variety (from cl. mythology to historical figures of Brazil), and longevity, enduring from 1880 until the 1920s. The depth and reach of the movement are seen in a canonical trinity. Alberto de Oliveira (1857–1937) was the most orthodox Parnassian, as seen in such titles as “Vaso grego” (Grecian urn) and his regular use of *alexandrines. The scrupulous versifier Raimundo Correia (1859–1911) displayed remarkable wealth of vocabulary and expressive variety, incl. pessimism and melancholy. Crowned the Prince of Brazilian Poets (in a 1907 contest sponsored by a leading magazine), Olavo Bilac (1865–1918) cultivated, in addition to amatory themes and art for art’s sake, patriotism, progress, and a work ethic. *Symbolism arrived around 1890 and brought forth a major trio of poets. João da Cruz e Sousa (1861–98), son of a slave, witnessed abolition (1888), a cause he supported in print and deed. He produced poetry of pain and suffering alongside typically symbolist verse marked by musicality and spiritual concerns. A mystical poet par excellence was Alphonsus de Guimaraens (1870–1921), preoccupied with death and Catholic faith. Augusto dos Anjos (1884–1914) produced an idiosyncratic verse employing laboratorial lexicon and material philosophical concepts. His single volume, Eu (I, 1912), continues to be reprinted regularly. The Parnassian-symbolist phase in Brazil corresponded to in Spanish America, where antiromantic refinement and exaltation of form were similar but New World subject matter was more prominent.
In Port. modernismo refers to the complex of antitraditional and avant-garde tendencies beginning around 1920. The Brazilian movement, officially launched with the Modern Art Week of 1922 (the centenary of independence), endeavored to shake the foundations of academic writing, still stilted and Lusitanian, and to liberate poetry from the lingering constraints of obsolete Parnassianism and symbolism. The two fundamental aspects of the new creed were technical renovation of lyric, *free verse above all, and attention to the national, in lang. itself (using the Brazilian vernacular) and themes (folklore, contemp. life). Rio-born Ronald de Carvalho (1893–1935) lived *futurism in Paris; coedited the cutting-edge jour. Orfeu (1915) in Lisbon with the multifarious master of mod. Port. poetry Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935); and transported their vanguard cause to Brazil. While having Eur. links, modernismo in Brazil was driven by nationalism. In Carvalho’s case such native fervor was tied, in Whitmanian fashion, to a pan-Am. spirit, evident in the neo-epic sequence Toda a América (All the Americas, 1926). Guilherme de Almeida (1890–1969) celebrated ethnic mixture (Euro-, Afro-, Indo-) in Raça (Race, 1926) and essays on “nationalist sentiment.” Having written in a panoply of styles, he was elected Prince of Brazilian Poets in 1958 in a poll conducted by a leading São Paulo daily. Mário de Andrade (1893–1945) exemplified an innovative approach attuned to national realities. His Paulicéia desvairada 1922) advanced a playful musical concept of verse and probed the multicultural cosmopolis of São Paulo, while later collections contemplated the breadth of the country, incl. remote jungles. Oswald de Andrade (1890–1954) incorporated primitivism, *cubism, and various conceptual currents (notably Sigmund Freud) into a clever poetic minimalism and manifestos that clamored, with abstract humor, for aggressive novelty and self-assertiveness. His title Poesia Pau-Brasil (1924) takes its name from brazilwood, the first natural resource for export. In a broad civilizational metaphor, the new product of poetry should aspire to reverse the unidirectional influence of the metropolis (Paris, Lisbon) over the (former) colonies. The “Manifesto antropófago” (“Cannibalist Manifesto,” 1928)—the declaration of *antropofagia—concerned poetry and intellectual discourse at large. Both *manifestos undermined sermo nobilis and sought to expand the restricted literary sense of poetry. A conservative nationalist group under the banner of verde-amarelismo (green-yellowism) opposed “alien” influence and favored the symbol of the anta (tapir), an animal imagined to embody the primeval power of the land. An enduring poet of this persuasion was Cassiano Ricardo (1895–1974). In Rio de Janeiro, poets attached to the jour. Festa were less concerned with brasilidade (Brazilianness) than with mod. consciousness and spirituality. Cecília Meirelles (1901–64) wrote neosymbolist collections and a lyrical epic about the capital city itself. Poets from all provinces of Brazil came to embrace their own physical and cultural geographies, natural lang., self-veneration, and differentiation from Europe.
Modernist purposes were wholly fulfilled in the work of Manuel Bandeira (1886–1968) and Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902–87). The former lived the transition from 19th-c. conventions to mod. flexibility, a change evident in such titles as O ritmo dissoluto (Dissolute rhythm, 1924) and Libertinagem (Libertineness, 1930). His manipulations of pointedly colloquial lang. and pursuit of popular wisdom endeared him to generations of readers. Drummond exhibited astounding range, over the decades producing modernista joke poems, existential reflections, social verse, philosophical meditations, gamesome ling. trials, and even erotic episodes. Among the many other modernist poets, Murilo Mendes (1901–75) composed distinguished surrealistic and metaphysical pieces, and Jorge de Lima (1895–1953) showed striking versatility, from the folk-inspired Poemas negros (1946) to the hermetic quasi-epic Invenção de Orfeu (Invention of Orpheus, 1952). The iconoclastic “heroic phase” of the modernist movement in Brazil is usually placed in the years 1922–30, while the “constructive” phase extends to at least 1945. The term modernismo also encompasses the later works of poets born before 1920.
Chronologically, João Cabral de Melo Neto (1920–99) coincided with the so-called Generation of ’45, a mid-century cluster of neo-Parnassian poets who objected to free verse and overtly native topics, instead proposing a return to circumspect versifying and removal from quotidian affairs. A representative name in this cohort was Ledo Ivo (b. 1924). Cabral shared with them an alert regard for formal rigor and discipline, but he opposed their focus on psychic states and insistence on elevated poetic lexicon—in sum, their elitism. Cabral was concerned with tangible reality and the materiality of words rather than romantic or philosophical inspiration. He was a leading exponent of a new objectivity in postwar Latin Am. poetry but commonly connected his lang. of objects to social facts and real-world settings, chiefly his native northeastern region. Cabral never made a concession to sentimental rhet. or confessionalism; his textual geometry and architecture always prevailed.
Brazil was a principal scene in the movement called *concrete poetry, an organized international avant-garde or neovanguard of the 1950s and 1960s. The Brazilian founders were the São Paulo poets Augusto de Campos (b. 1931), Haroldo de Campos (1929–2003), and Décio Pignatari (b. 1927), who formed the *Noigandres group. In the early 1950s, they produced audacious lyrical texts with vehement imagery, fragmentations, and other experimental effects. The spatial minimalism of poesia concreta evolved in three phases. In early years (1952–56), the prime procedures were visual—the presentation of words on the page, *typography (esp. the disposition of fonts and colors), the use of empty space—along with a corresponding attention to interrupting or undermining the sentimental dimension of the poem. “Classical” or “orthodox” material arose in a second phase (1956–61) that involved ultrarational principles of composition and extensive theorization, incl. the bilingual manifesto “pilot plan for concrete poetry,” built on universal and national planks, such as Stéphane Mallarmé, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, e.e. cummings, Oswald de Andrade, and Cabral. In a third stage of concretism (1962–67), open notions of *invention led to several different behaviors and products, from semantic variations to word *collages and abstract designs with lexical keys. Other groups theorized and practiced vanguardism, concerned with both textual innovation and sociopolitical relevance: neoconcretismo (ephemeral splinter of poesia 1959); Tendência (centered in Minas Gerais, 1957 and after), led by Affonso Ávila (b. 1928); Poesia Práxis (in São Paulo, 1962 and after), conceived by Mário Chamie (b. 1933); and poema processo (1967 and after), semaphoric *visual poetry.
After concrete poetry per se, the paths of its principal exponents diverged. From the 1970s to the 2000s, Augusto de Campos continually created forms of lyric that crossed the generic and media borders between literary, visual, and musical arts. In the mid-1980s, his poster-poem “pós-tudo” (“Post All”) ignited a landmark debate about *postmodernism. No poet born in the first half of the 20th c. anywhere has better adapted to the digital age than he. Haroldo de Campos proved to be one of the most significant names of Brazilian letters since 1950, inalterably broadening the horizons of textual crit. and theory. His prose-poetry project Galáxias (1984) was a paragon of the Latin Am. *neobaroque, and his rethinking of mod. poetry culminated in the notion of the “postutopian poem,” informed by the implications of historical transformations. A classically tinged long a última viagem (The last voyage, 1990)—brought the cl. Western trad. into the age of computers. A máquina do mundo repensada (Rethinking the machine of the world, 2000) exquisitely interrelated Dante, Camões, Drummond, and cosmological theories. The Noigandres group also influenced Brazilian poetry with its many trans. of canonical and experimental world poetry, everything from troubadours and haiku to *metaphysical poetry, Fr. symbolism, and Gertrude Stein.
In the final four decades of the 20th c. and the first decade of the 21st, Brazilian poetry was pluralistic, continually growing in diversity, thematic scope, and sociocultural reach. The poet-critic Mário Faustino (1930–62) was a skilled advocate of Poundian poetics. The widely recognized work of (José Ribamar) Ferreira Gullar (b. 1930) spanned experimentalism, committed poetry (he was the most prominent voice of the socialistic collective Violão de rua [Street guitar, 1962–63]), and late-modernist personal lyricism. Of recently active poets, engaging voices from different states and regions include Manoel de Barros (b. 1916), a late discovery who ponders nature and ecology; Thiago de Mello (b. 1926), a noted militant; Roberto Piva (1937–2010), transgressive, exuberant, interested in bodily mysticism; Francisco Alvim (b. 1938), known for brevity, irony, and informality; Carlos Nejar (b. 1939), with his legalistic and mythical tones; Armando Freitas Filho (b. 1940), ever sensitive to evolving modernity; Ruy Espinheira Filho (b. 1942), poet of love and memory; and Marcus Accioly (b. 1943), author of studied lyrical and epic works, incl. the vast Latinomérica (2001). Other long, (semi-)narrative titles of neoepic character are Gullar’s Poema sujo (Dirty poem, 1975), A grande fala do índio guarani (The great speech of the Guaraní Indian, 1978) by Affonso Romano de Sant’Anna (b. 1936), As marinhas (Seascapes/marines, 1984) by Neide Arcanjo (b. 1940), and Táxi ou poema de amor passageiro or Poem of Love in 1986) by Adriano Espínola (b. 1952).
In the late 1960s, 1970s, and, to a much more limited extent, beyond, a unique aspect of culture in Brazil has been the recognition of songwriters and lyricists as voices of poetry. The contemp. association of music and lit. was given impetus by Vinícius de Moraes (1913–80), salient modernist poet turned performer and foremost Bossa Nova lyricist. In the eclectic post-Bossa Nova urban popular music of the 1960s generation known as MPB Popular two names are regularly indicated as having “literary quality”: Caetano Veloso (b. 1942) and Chico Buarque (b. 1944), poet-musicians (both with complete lyrics in pub. volumes) who proved the artful complexity of song. Other poetically adept songwriters and numerous poets doubling as composers of song texts participated in this generational phenomenon. In the following decades, Arnaldo Antunes (b. 1960) rose to prominence as a rock singer and lyricist and achieved recognition as a singular visual and postconcrete poet.
In the 1970s, there was a small-press flourish of informal youth verse (dubbed poesia centered in Rio and São Paulo. This trend shared some traits but mostly contrasted with the rubric of “intersemiotic creation,” which comprehended measured verse and nondenominational mixtures of words and sonographic elements. So-called marginal poetry cared little for nationalism or intellectual decorum, preferring casual discursivity and sociability. The concurrent constructivist tendency sought to keep technological advances and literary interrelations in sight. Beginning in the 1980s, poets turned increasingly from spontaneity, on the one hand, and visual exhibitionism, on the other, seeking instead an expressive discourse keen to the rationales of rigor and broadly based creative awareness. Contemp. practice was synthesized in the work of Paulo Leminski (1944–89) for the intensity and variety of his ideas regarding lyric. Another prematurely departed voice of distinct originality was Waly Salomão (1943–2003), whose work spanned antinormative prose poetry, song, and cosmopolitan free verse. In the 1990s and into the new millennium, a reliable taxonomy of Brazilian poetry is hindered by the multiplicity of poets and the sheer diversity of their work. With individualism dominating, ever-expanding scenes have embraced diverse and resourceful stylings by poets born in different decades. Active accomplished poets such as Salgado Maranhão (b. 1953) have already published volumes of their collected work. After Mário de Andrade, Bandeira, Meirelles, Drummond and Cabral, notable mod. and contemp. poets who have been ably rendered into Eng. (in single-author volumes) include Renata Pallotini (b. 1931), Adélia Prado (b. 1935), Astrid Cabral (b. 1936), Paulo Henriques Brito (b. 1951), and Régis Bonvicino (b. 1954). Since 1990, there have been expanded efforts to connect realms of poetry in Brazil (both its hist. and its present-day activity) with international circuits, above all within the Americas and Iberia, notably by poet-professor Horácio Costa (b. 1954). Cooperation at colloquia, writers’ meetings, book fairs, and publishing houses has been complemented by articulations achieved through the boundless Internet, which has reinvigorated the past and provided previously unthinkable access to poets and readers of the present.
See INDIGENOUS AMERICAS, POETRY OF PORTUGAL, POETRY SPANISH AMERICA, POETRY
Antologia dos poetas brasileiros da fase 2d ed. (1940); Antologia dos poetas brasileiros da fase 2d ed. (1940); Panorama do movimento simbolista ed. A. Muricy, 3 v. (1951); Panorama da poesia 6 v. (1959), Poesia do modernismo brasileiro (1968), both ed. M. da Silva Brito; Poesia barroca (1967), Poesia moderna (1967), both ed. P. E. da Silva Ramos; An Anthology of Brazilian Modernist ed. G. Pontiero (1969)—texts in Port. with annotations; An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Brazilian ed. E. Bishop and E. Brasil (1972)—superb team of trans.; 26 poetas ed. H. Buarque (1976); Brazilian Poetry ed. E. Brasil and W. J. Smith (1983)—includes visual poetry; Nothing the Sun Could Not ed. N. Ascher et al. (1997)—late-century voices; Na virada do século, poesia de invenção no ed. C. Daniel and F. Barbosa (2002); Poets of trans. F. Williams (2004)—bilingual selection from 1500 on; Apresentação da poesia 4th ed. (2009), all ed. M. Bandeira.
Criticism and J. Nist, The Modernist Movement in Brazil (1967); M. Sarmiento Barata, Canto melhor (1969)—intro. and anthol. of social poetry; W. Martins, The Modernist Idea (1970); Poetas do ed. Leodegário A. Azevedo Filho, 6 v. (1972)—selections with crit. by specialists; G. Brotherston, Latin American Poetry (1975); A literatura no ed. A. Coutinho, 5 v. (1986)—sections by scholars on poetry; G. Mendonça Telles, Retórica do silêncio 2d ed. (1989); D. Treece and M. González, The Gathering of Voices (1992)—sociocultural analysis; A. Bosi, História concisa da literatura 2d ed. (1994)—sections on poetry and epochal styles; The Cambridge History of Latin American ed. R. González Echevarría and E. Pupo-Walker, v. 3 (1996)—chronological blocks since 1830s; C. Perrone, Seven Faces (1996); A. C. Secchin, Poesia e desordem (1996); A. Bueno, Uma história da poesia brasileira (2007)—primarily on premodernists; H. de Campos, ed. A. S. Bessa and O. Cisneros (2007); C. Perrone, Brazil, Lyric and the Americas (2010).
BRETON POETRY. The independent state of Brittany was formally annexed to France in 1532. Breton writers have produced much Fr. poetry (see FRANCE, POETRY and all educated Bretons since the med. period may be presumed to know Fr. The Breton lang., still spoken in the western half of the region belongs to the Brythonic or “P-Celtic” group of Celtic langs., like Welsh and Cornish. It is derived from the speech of settlers from southwest Britain who left their homeland from the 5th to the 7th c. as the Saxons were encroaching from the east. Early Breton poetry would have had much in common with early *Welsh poetry, about which more is known. Marie de France and others indicate that med. Breton poets or *bards sang of love, knightly adventures, and faery and that their compositions were the source of Marie’s own form, the but the earliest surviving Breton poetry dates from only the 14th c. It consists of fewer than 20 lines of popular verse in an indigenous metrical system whose main feature is obligatory line-internal rhyme similar to “An am / An an glas” (Her smile gladdened me, / The blue-eyed love). This native prosody was predominant until the 17th c., when it was superseded by the Fr. system of syllable counting and end rhyme. Traces of it can be found in later works, and some 20th-c. poets (Arzhig, Alan Botrel) have used it deliberately.
Most of the Breton verse from the 15th to the beginning of the 19th c. consists of works of religious edification, *hymns, *carols, a book of hours, and the long and dreary Mirouer de la mort (1519). One poem stands out: Buhez a powerful meditation on death printed in 1530 but probably written a century earlier. The prophetic Dialog etre Arzur Roe d’an Bretounet ha Guynglaff dates back to 1450. There are also numerous plays in verse. A few popular plays, such as the Pevar Mab are based on chivalric romances, but most derive from the Bible and saints’ lives. The influence of Fr. models is evident, with a few notable exceptions, mainly mystery plays that recount the lives of Celtic saints.
New stirrings begin with the two mock-epic poems of Al Lae (close of the 18th c.), but the real impetus comes with the rise of 19th-c. *romanticism. The great event is the appearance in 1839 of Théodore Hersart de la Villemarqué’s Barzaz Breiz (Poetry of Brittany), an anthol. of supposedly ancient oral poetry, which recent scholarship has shown to be more authentic than many 19th-c. critics believed. The effect was profound. A romantic vision of the Breton past was created that stirred the imagination of many and sparked new literary enthusiasm. At the same time, François-Marie Luzel and others undertook more “scientific” collecting of Breton folk poetry, of which there were two main kinds: which are essentially *ballads, and a broader designation that extends to more lyrical verse, incl. love songs and satires. *Broadside ballads in Breton also circulated. A few of the gwerzioù are demonstrably connected to med. Welsh poetry or to med. events in Brittany; some scholars claim that the gwerzioù are related to the putative Breton-lang. sources of the lais in OF. Songs are still an important form of Breton poetry. Mod. singer-songwriters include Glenmor, Youenn Gwernig, Gilles Servat, Jef Philippe, Louis Bodénès, Nolwenn Korbell, Denez Prigent (who composes gwerzioù of his own), and the internationally famous Alan Stivell.
After the Middle Breton literary standard lapsed in the 17th c., four main dialects emerged, associated with the regions of Léon, Trégor, Cornouaille, and Vannes. But following the lead of the grammarian Jean-François Le Gonidec (1775–1838), Breton writers again worked to establish a cultivated literary norm, largely based on the Léon dialect. The dialect of Vannes was used mostly by priests who found inspiration in their faith and in their love for their native land. Esp. popular were Msgr. Yann Vari Joubiouz’s Doue ha mem bro (1844) and Joakim Gwilhom’s imitation of Virgil’s Livr el labourer (1849). From the 1850s to the 1880s, only minor talents emerged. Living uprooted from the Breton countryside, these poets expressed in artificial diction their love of the simple life, of the homeland, and of their inheritance, which was no longer secure. This nostalgic trad. was maintained and reinvigorated in the 1890s by the rich lyricism of François Taldir-Jaffrennou and the more artistic Erwan Berthou, but the outstanding poet of their generation was Yann-Ber Kalloc’h, killed in action in 1917. His poems, written in Vannetais and published posthumously, express strong religious and patriotic convictions enhanced by rich and powerful imagery.
The 20th c. saw the vigorous growth of Breton literary periodicals, each with its coterie. Vannetais writers found expression in ed. by the poet-peasant Loeiz Herrieu. The Gwalarn group, founded in 1925 under the leadership of Roparz Hémon, proved by far the most talented and creative. Maodez Glanndour and Hémon stand out from the group, although nearly all were gifted poets. Gwalarn did not survive World War II, but patriotic young writers launched new publications. Most did not last. The single exception was Al under the guidance of Ronan Huon, it became the leading Breton literary jour. In their poetry, Huon and his contemporaries Youenn Olier, Per Denez, and Per Diolier, later joined by Youenn Gwernig (who also wrote in Fr. and Eng.) and Reun ar C’halan, respected the literary standards set by Gwalarn. Women have also played a significant role in the survival of Breton poetry, esp. Anjela Duval, Vefa de Bellaing, Benead, Naïg Rozmor, Tereza, and, more recently, Maï Jamin and Annaïg Renault. The jour. Brud (now Brud founded in 1957, counted one of the best contemp. poets, Per Jakez Hélias, among its first contributors. The 1960s witnessed a strong resurgence of Breton nationalism. The Union Démocratique created in 1964, attracted several young militant poets: Paol Keineg (better known for Fr. poetry), Yann-Ber Piriou, Erwan Evenou, and Sten Kidna. Other poets have since come to the fore: Abanna, Alan Botrel, Yann-Baol an Noalleg, Koulizh Kedez, Padrig an Habask, Gwendal and Herle Denez, Tudual Huon, Bernez Tangi, to name but a few. Many were pub. in Skrid (1974–89). New jours. that regularly publish Breton poetry include An Al and Spered
Among the special interests of the 20th and 21st-cs. poets are Breton identity; issues of human rights, cultural autonomy, and lang. survival in Brittany and worldwide; other minority cultures, particularly those of other Celtic lands, an interest sometimes verging on “pan-Celticism” (beginning with the Gwalarn group, many poems have been trans. into Breton); and creative manipulation of the Breton lang. itself. The biggest challenge now facing Breton poetry is to find and maintain a knowledgeable audience outside the ranks of its practitioners.
Anthologies: Barzaz ed. T. H. de la Villemarqué (1839); Gwerziou Breiz ed. F. M. Luzel, 2 vols. (1868–74); Soniou Breiz ed. F. M. Luzel and A. Le Braz, 2 vols. (1890); Les Bardes et poètes nationaux de la Bretagne ed. C. Le Mercier d’Erm (1918); Barzhaz: kant barzhoneg berr, ed. P. Denez (1953); Défense de cracher par terre et de parler ed. Y.-B. Piriou (1971); Le Livre d’Or de la ed. P. Durand (1975); Anthologie de la poésie bretonne, ed. C. Le Quintrec (1980); Du a ed. D. M. Jones and M. Madeg (1982); ed. Skrid (1986); Writing the Wind: A Celtic ed. T. R. Crowe (1997); Anthologie de la littérature bretonne au XXème siècle/Lennegezh ar Brezhoneg en XXvet ed. F. Favereau, 3 vols. (2002–08); The Turn of the ed. J. Gibson and G. Griffiths (2006).
Surveys: F. Gourvil, Langue et Littérature bretonnes (1952); Istor Lennegezh Vrezhonek an ed. Abeozen [Y.F.M. Eliès] (1957); Y. Olier, Istor hol lennegezh 2 vols. (1974–75); Y. Bouëssel du Bourg and Y. Brekilien, “La littérature bretonne,” La ed. Y. Brekilien (1982); J. Gohier and R. Huon, Dictionnaire des écrivains aujourd’hui en Bretagne (1984); Histoire littéraire et culturelle de la ed. J. Balcou and Y. Le Gallo, 3 vols. (1987); D. Laurent, Aux sources du Barzaz-Breiz (1989); F. Favereau, Littérature et écrivains bretonnants depuis 1945 (1991); M.-A. Constantine, Breton Ballads (1996); A. Botrel, “Les chemins de la poésie en langue bretonne,” HOPALA! 29 (2008).
E. Ernault, L’Ancien Vers Breton (1912); R. Hémon, Trois poèmes en moyen breton (1962); F. Kervella, Diazezoù ar sevel gwerzioù (1965).
D. M. R. M.
BRIDGE (Gr. In metrics, bridges are constraints on word end at certain locations within the line. In *classical prosody, the most important bridges in (1) the iambic *trimeter are the following: (a) Knox’s trochee bridge: in the iambographers (Archilochus, Semonides, Solon, Hipponax), a trochaic word shape may not end in third *anceps and is still somewhat constrained in *tragedy; (b) Porson’s bridge: after long third anceps outside *comedy, no full word boundary may occur; (c) There is also evidence for a general, if weak, *constraint on word end after short third anceps; (d) Knox’s iamb bridge: an iambic word shape may not end in fifth longum in the iambographers; (e) Wilamowitz’s bridge: a spondaic word shape may not end in fifth longum in the iambographers; (f) Word boundary should not split a *resolution or *substitution or divide them from the following syllable. Each of the foregoing bridges has its counterpart in the trochaic *tetrameter.
The most important bridges in (2) the dactylic *hexameter are the following: (a) Iterated trochaic division of the first and second feet before a feminine *caesura is avoided in all styles. A line beginning
– – –
autis epeita pedonde
is rare and probably more constrained when all three words are lexical; (b) Meyer’s bridge: trochaic division of the second *foot is not permitted before a masculine caesura in Callimachus unless either the word before the division or the word after it is nonlexical; (c) Hermann’s bridge: trochaic division of the fourth foot is strongly avoided; (d) Bulloch’s bridge: in Callimachus, if a word ends with the third foot, the verse must have a regular caesura and a bucolic *diaeresis, and the syntactic boundary at either or both of the latter positions must be of higher rank than the boundary at the end of the third foot. Callimachus would not permit a line such as
(e) *Spondee *zeugma: word end after contraction (– for ) is avoided in the fourth foot, rare in the second, and practically excluded in the fifth. In Callimachus, the zeugma is stricter.
There are also constraints on nonfinal heavy syllables in arsis that are clearly related to some bridges (see ARSIS AND E.g., type (1e) above cannot be subsumed along with (1d) under a generalized constraint on disyllables, so that the initial heavy syllable of spondee-shaped words is independently constrained. Furthermore, in the iambographers, words of the shape – – x are strongly avoided beginning in third anceps. In the hexameter, words of the shape – – x are strongly avoided beginning in the arsis of the fifth foot. These constraints unite with the bridges to form a finely structured hierarchy of strictness according to *genre and style.
The definition of a bridge as a point in the verse line where word end is forbidden is adequate for certain descriptive and philological purposes, like identifying corrupt lines; but in offering no explanation, it obscures more than it reveals. Some bridges, such as Knox’s (1a, 1d), are apparently simple constraints on patterned iteration of word end. Others, like Bulloch’s bridge (2d), are constraints against potential phrase boundary. A third group of bridges (incl. Porson’s [1b], which is often regarded as prototypical, and the constraints against “split” resolution [1f]) are not, properly speaking, sensitive to word end at all. What is constrained by these latter is how the syllables of the word are mapped onto arsis and thesis. Word end is simply the right edge of the domain within which syllables are rhythmically organized for speech. Apparent exceptions to bridge rules generally involve function words (e.g., articles, pronouns, prepositions), which coalesce with their head word into a single domain, or fixed phrases. Some styles of verse allow function words at bridges with great freedom, others much less so: this variation reflects the degree to which a verse style allows itself access to fluent speech.
R. Porson, Euripidis 2d ed. (1802); G. Hermann, Orphica (1805); J. Hilberg, Das Prinzip der Silbenwaegung und die daraus entspringenden Gesetze der Endsilben in der griechischen Poesie (1879); W. Meyer, “Zur Geschichte des griechischen und lateinischen Hexameters,” Sitzungsberichte der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (1884); L. Havet, Cours élémentaire de métrique grecque et latine (1896); Wilamowitz; A. D. Knox, “The Early Iambus,” Philologus 87 (1932); Maas; A. W. Bulloch, “A Callimachean Refinement of the Greek Hexameter,” CQ 20 (1970); Allen; A. M. Devine and L. D. Stephens, “Bridges in the Iambographers,” Greek, Roman, Byzantine Studies 22 (1981); and Language and Metre (1984); Snell; West.
A. M. L. D.
BROADSIDE BALLAD. A journalistic song printed on a single piece of paper (a broadside) often chronicling a newsworthy event. From the late 16th c., the marketing of broadside ballads was a fixture of popular culture in Europe and its colonies for several hundred years. All Eur. lang. groups with print markets display a division between an older, premod. layer of oral ballads and a more recent body of broadside ballads shaped by writing and print.
History: H. Rollins, “Black-Letter Broadside Ballad,” PMLA 35 (1919); G. M. Laws, American Balladry from British Broadsides (1957); E. Janda and F. Nützhold, Die Moritat vom Bänkelsang oder Lied von der Strasse (1959); C. Simpson, The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music (1966); C. Slater, Stories on a String: The Brazilian Literatura de Cordel (1982); N. Würzbach, The Rise of the English Street Ballad trans. G. Walls (1990).
Web Sites: English Broadside Ballad Archive, University of California, Santa Barbara: Roud Broadside Index:
BROKEN RHYME. Broken rhyme usually designates the division by hyphenation of a word at the end of a line in order to isolate the portion of that word that produces a rhyme with a word at the end of a subsequent line: e.g., “As prone to all ill, and of good as / ful, as proud, lustfull, and as much in (Alexander Pope), or “Winter and summer, night and / I languish at this table dark; / My office window has a / er looks into St. James’s Park” (William Thackeray). In Eng. poetry, poets from Shakespeare to Ogden Nash have used broken rhyme to comic and satiric effect. G. M. Hopkins uses it as a resource for serious poetry, e.g., in “The Windhover” and “To What Serves Mortal Beauty?,” going so far as to link the final portion of one line with an isolated phoneme in the next (“at the door / Drowned” rhymes with “reward”); this he called the rove over rhyme. Broken rhymes have also been used by John Donne 3 and 4) and e. e. cummings. Yet broken rhyme is more frequent still in non-Eng. trads.; it was developed extensively in Rus. poetry, particularly in the work of 20th-c. poets Vladimir Mayakovsky, Velimir Khlebnikov, and Joseph Brodsky.
Broken rhyme’s counterpart in unrhymed verse is *enjambment. Both rely on visual form: for all the “breaking,” the binding of the syllables within the broken word is, in fact, stronger than the line end, generating the tension that characterizes each technique.
In Lord Byron, some instances of broken rhyme also meet the criteria for *mosaic rhyme or split rhyme, in that the rhyme is achieved not by pairing two words but rather by pairing one word with multiple words: “Start not! Still chaster reader—she’ll be nice / Forward, and there is no great cause to quake; / This liberty is a poetic elsewhere in Don we see pure examples of mosaic rhyme, though this is also now referred to as broken rhyme by numerous sources: “But—Oh! ye lords and ladies intel / Inform us truly, have they not you
BUCOLIC (Gr. “care of cattle”). The semantic range of bucolic stretches from such concrete activities as feeding, grazing, and controlling animals, to tending children or attending to anything the mind can make an object for cognition. As “herdsmanlike,” though, bucolic commonly connotes “lazy,” “thievish,” or “distracted,” like the mythic herdsman Argos, panoptes (all-seeing) with a hundred eyes, said to have been lulled by music and killed by the god Hermes (archetypal trader and cattle rustler). Early and widely too, music and story (*myth) are said to “console” or “sway” with Orphic power, whether in pasture, nursery, school, or political assembly, but contrarily again to “feed” false hopes, so “mislead,” “beguile.” Thus documented as constitutive for a culture where cattle are the basic capital (McInerney), the encoded contradictions inform and animate the Gr. Bucolics by Theocritus (of Syracuse and Alexandria, 3d c. On the premise that “the herdsman was good to think with,” Theocritus first turned the bucolic “figure of analogy” into “the character of focus” (Gutzwiller) creating *idylls, “little scenes,” blending *mime with epos, which dramatized and thematized bucolic powers and limits to process the unruly force of love Two centuries later, Virgil redeployed bucolic epos to process the unruly force of revolution at Rome. His Bucolics (ten in number, also called proclaimed a returning Golden Age (Eclogue 4); transformed the tragic cowherd Daphnis dying of love (idyll 1) into a dead hero and new god (Julius Caesar; eclogue 5); and capped this sequel with a prequel, replacing Daphnis in Sicily (idyll 1) with Roman Gallus dying in Arcadia (eclogue 10). In the aftermath, bucolics, *pastorals, and eclogues get further redeployed from Roman, through Ren. and later moments, viable still for W. H. Auden (“Bucolics—Winds, Woods, Mountains, Lakes, Islands, Plains, Streams,” 1955), Sylvia Plath (“Bucolics,” 1956; bitter irony and tragic dream), and Maurice Manning 2008; 70 eclogues, mocking “Boss,” which recalls bossy [cow], echoing bous [Gr.], bos [Lat.], and gwou [IE]), also divers musical compositions or ensembles, not to mention commonplaces touting real estate as rural and serene.
See GREEK LATIN
D. Halperin, Before Pastoral: Theocritus and the Tradition of Ancient Bucolic Poetry (1983); R. Hunter, Theocritus: A Selection (1999)—important intro. and commentary; K. Gutzwiller, “The Bucolic Problem,” CP 101 (2006); and “The Herdsman in Greek Thought,” Brill’s Companion to Greek and Latin ed. M. Fantuzzi and T. Papanghelis (2006); New Versions of Pastoral: Post-Romantic, Modern, and Contemporary Responses to the ed. D. James and P. Tew (2009); J. McInerney, The Cattle of the Sun: Cows and Culture in the World of the Ancient Greeks (2010); J. Van Sickle, Virgil’s “Book of Bucolics”: The Ten Eclogues Translated into English Verse (2011).
BULGARIA, POETRY OF. Bulgarian poetry began with the adoption of an alphabet newly devised by two learned brothers of Thessaloniki, Cyril and Methodius, and with their trans. of several ecclesiastical books. The brothers devised not the Cyrillic alphabet, as is generally believed, but the Glagolitic alphabet in 855. Its complexity meant that it was quickly replaced by what we now call the Cyrillic alphabet. The Bulgarians converted to Eastern Orthodoxy in 865, under Boris I, who proclaimed it the state religion; this conversion was facilitated by the introduction of literacy in the vernacular.
The lit. in the early med. age was ecclesiastic: it focused on prayers, worship, and church rituals. Its main features fluctuate, but there is an invariant characteristic of poeticism in all eras. Cyril, Methodius, and their disciples translated a large corpus of canonical Christian texts and hymnological texts centered on the lives of the saints. These books contained mostly troparia (or and short poetical verses of two or three sentences to be sung between biblical psalmody and accepted as parts of vespers and matins. In 9th-c. Byzantium, the 12 volumes of the Menaion (Book of Months) were completed, containing proper offices for each day of the calendar year. From Bulgaria this ecclesiastical lit. spread to Serbia, Romania, and Russia, which helped to consolidate Slavdom in the 10th c. In accepting Christianity from Byzantium, along with its ecclesiastical and hymnological texts, Bulgaria accepted its ars poetica as well.
The earliest known poetic text of 9th-c. Bulgaria is the Proglas kâm Evangelieto (Foreword to the Tetraevangelion); it was most likely authored by Konstantine (Cyril) the Philosopher. It holds 110 verses of high artistic value, ecstatically glorifying the newly received gift the Slavs had received “from God,” i.e., literacy in the vernacular. Some scholars, however, believe that this is a slightly later work, meant as a foreword to another artistic piece, Azbouchna molitva (Alphabet Prayer) by Konstantin Preslavski, written in 893. This work contains 40 verses with a woven alphabetical *acrostic. Preslavski wrote another poetic pearl, Ouchitelno evangelie (Didactic Gospel), thus establishing the role of the capital city of Preslav as the birthplace of Bulgarian poetry.
Two of Cyril and Methodius’s followers, Kliment and Naum, established the town of Okhrid as a second cultural center. Mss. from Preslav were written in the Cyrillic alphabet, whereas those from Okhrid were mostly written in Glagolitic. Thanks to the work in both centers, early Slavic became the written lang. of the new culture then developing alongside Byzantium. In the 9th and 10th cs., Bulgaria reached its height as a political and cultural power.
Another cultural surge occurred in 1185, when the state regained its independence from Byzantium after more than a century of subjugation. The new capital, Turnovo, became the next important cultural center. The key figure here was Patriarch Evtimii (?1325–1401), who became famous for his orthographic reform of the Bulgarian literary lang., as well as his hagiographies and eulogies and pohvalni on Bulgarian saints. His name marked the emergence of the author from med. anonymity. He also contributed to the endorsement of the hesychastic norms introduced by another outstanding leader, Teodosiy Turnovski (1300–63). Other renowned figures from the literary school of Turnovo include Kiprian (1336–1406), Grigorii Tsamblak (1330–1406), and Konstantin Kostenechki (1380–1443).
Early in the 14th c., the monasteries of Mount Athos became incubators for saving and developing Slavic letters. Parchment was gradually replaced by paper, which facilitated the spread of lit. The holy mountain with its 20 main monasteries and numerous monastic cells became a natural fortress of Slav–Byzantine culture, which was preserved and transmitted through the following centuries under Ottoman rule (1396–1878).
During this period, Bulgarian lit. withdrew into churches and monasteries. The Ottomans destroyed many churches, and only a few of the remote monasteries survived to become hidden “barrels” where national awareness fermented. The civilization of the Bulgarian Middle Ages had to be conserved and saved within the framework of an alien Islamic doctrine, as the title of Runciman’s book suggests.
In the 17th c., the fashion of so-called damaskin lit. began to flourish. It represents adaptations of slova (eulogies) and apocrypha (branded as “heretical”) originally composed by the 16th-c. Gr. preacher Damaskin Studit. Folklore comprising all the oral genres—tales, songs, proverbs, didactic stories, rural beliefs, calendars, and so forth—continued to develop alongside the written trad. under foreign rule.
Secular lit. of modest artistic merit, based on Rus. and later on Fr. models, appeared in the middle of the 19th c. Educated Bulgarians turned first to Russia for secular literary forms. Poetry predominated through the work of writers like Neofit Rilski (1793–1881), Dobri Chintulov (1822–86), Naiden Gerov (1823–1900), and Georgi Rakovski (1821–67), who wrote the famous poem Gorski Putnik (A Forest Traveler) in 1857. With the introduction of the printing press in the Ottoman Empire after 1840, new genres emerged: ballads, diaries, travel notes, pamphlets, and short stories. Around 1850, poetic works were produced mainly by teachers, resulting in daskalska poezija (school poetry), characterized by patriotic and didactic tendencies.
Several prominent figures who were both poets and revolutionaries spearheaded the cultural resurgence of the 19th c. Vasil Levski (1837–73) was revered by all Bulgarians as the “saint of the revolution.” He was hanged by the Turks near Sofia. His life and death inspired other writers such as Hristo Botev (1848–76), who was killed in combat as he led his people against the Turks in the Balkan range. Botev composed his poems using folk motifs and colloquial idioms.
The invariant characteristic of the period’s poetry was monosemanticism, in which a limited number of synonyms stand for the poetic word as such. Poets sought a word that fully exhausts its semantic value, signifying a definite meaning. This corresponded to society’s sole ideal, national liberation from the Turks. For an example of monosemanticism, we might take the case of Levski; the most celebrated poem extolling his death was written by Ivan Vazov (1850–1921), who exclaimed, “Oh, heroic gallows!” Since then, this expression became a cliché for a heroic death, used to signify the death of a national hero, usually Levski.
The style of these works is most often called realistic, but the events described, witnessed by most of the authors, were so grim and shocking that it might be better termed naturalistic, even dramatic. Another stream of “quiet” poetry emerged at this time; it focused on refining the lang., finding new rhymes and inventing figures. These tales, love songs, and poems did not tell of suffering or pain.
Bulgaria was liberated in the Russo–Turkish War (1877–78). The newly emerging literary star of the time was Vazov, celebrated as the patriarch of modern Bulgarian literature. Vazov worked across the cultural spectrum, writing poems, short stories, lyrics, dramas, and criticism.
The realistic model of lit. slowly began to crumble at this time. Authors sought to reopen a multisemantic fan behind the poetic word (*polysemy as opposed to monosemanticism). Words were given an unusual set of references or paralleled by sudden rhymes that displaced their meaning: unexpected harmony was sought in distant dissonances. E.g., the word swan had a whole “fan of meanings,” such as the poet’s soul, his striving for beauty, his lover, and so forth. The leading figure in this process was Vazov’s lifelong rival Pencho Slaveikov (1866–1912), a humanitarian, poet, and philosopher educated in Germany. The playwright Petko Todorov (1879–1916), the poet Peyo Yavorov (1878–1914), the critic Krustyu Krustev (1866–1919), and Slaveikov formed an aesthetic circle around the literary jour. Misul (Thought, 1892–1907).
Slaveikov became the first modernist in Bulgarian lit. and the first poet directly connected with international movements. He went his own way, focusing more on great aesthetic questions than on contemp. literary life. A document in the Nobel Prize Committee archive states that Slaveikov was a Nobel Prize nominee in 1912. He died before the committee meeting, however. Slaveikov inherited a rich collection of folkloric work from his father, Petko Slaveikov, and masterfully saturated his own songs with folk motifs. In the epic poems and Kurvava pesen (Song of Blood), he tried to place specific folk sounds within a larger Eur. frame. Slaveikov’s attempt to infuse national motifs into foreign models was successfully continued by Todorov, whose refined Idiliy (Idylls, 1908) spoke of the deeply symbolic lang. of nature, eluding any fixed literary classifications.
The most cherished figure of the early 20th c. was Yavorov, commonly held as the greatest Bulgarian poet. Although he formally belonged to the so-called Misul Circle, his unique talent enabled him to create his own poetic trad. Yavorov reflected the dramatic split of his tormented soul. His personal life seemed to be performed onstage, constantly trailed by a spotlight. His suicide in 1914 seemed a logical finale to his dramatic life.
The high aesthetic criteria of the jour. Misul became a lyrical guidepost for many young authors from different movements. From Misul to the next important literary circles, Zlatorog (Golden Horn, 1920–43) and Hyperion (1922–31), the Bulgarian literary trad. remained rooted in an aesthetic *romanticism, which has not ceased. Even later, when poets like Teodor Trayanov (1882–1945), Nikolai Liliev (1885–1960), Dimcho Debelyanov (1887–1916), Emanuil Popdimitrov (1855–1943), and Dimitur Boyadzhiev (1880–1911) brought *symbolism into Bulgarian lit., it still occupied romantic grounds.
This is esp. true of Trayanov, who was considered Yavorov’s poetic rival. Trayanov spent 20 years (1901–21) in Vienna where he studied and took a diplomatic position. In this cultural atmosphere, he absorbed the ongoing romantic trad., which remained unbroken in Ger.-speaking countries. Mod. Bulgarian crit. is divided as to who opened the door to symbolism, Yavorov or Trayanov. As the most consistent of the symbolists, Trayanov is the most likely candidate, with his poem “Novijat den” (The New Day, 1905), also pub. in his first collection of 1909, Regina Although entirely lyrical, his work is also classically symmetrical, divided into cycles, themes, and books. The striving for wholeness that runs throughout Trayanov’s verse is typically romantic. His poems resonated deeply with the mood of national resignation during the interwar period, when he wrote his Bulgarski baladi (Bulgarian Ballads, 1922). Though Bulgaria had won its chief battles, it lost substantial territories through poor diplomacy and the betrayal of its allies. “The Secret of the Struma” and “Death in the Plains” are his great ballads of that period.
The poetry of Popdimitrov shows the closest relationship to Trayanov. Popdimitrov revived images from the Gothic Middle Ages. Many of his poems are titled with melodious women’s names (“Ema,” “Iren,” “Laura”). The verse of Debelyanov is romantic and elegiac but also warm and lively. It introduced new modes: drinking songs, bacchanalian songs, the confessional genre of short narrative pieces about fashionable bohemian life. Debelyanov was killed in World War I. Similar motifs were to be found in the poetry of Kiril Hristov (1875–1944), whose work is flavored with the unbridled eroticism that was his inspiration. Liliev is considered one of the finest Bulgarian lyricists. His short collections include Ptitsi v noshta (Birds at Night, 1918), Lunni petna (Moonspots, 1922), and Stihotvoreniya (Verse, 1931).
The Fr.-influenced symbolism of Yavorov and the Austrian symbolism of Trayanov clashed with the dominant sociorealistic tendency of Bulgarian lit. During the Communist regime, this tendency continued. But just as Trayanov is more a neoromantic than a symbolist, the “hard” realism of Bulgarian lit. is more a myth than a reality. The term realist became the pass, awarded by official critics, that enabled many Bulgarian literary celebrities to enter the rebuilt, low–roofed pantheon of socialist realist writing. Geo Milev (1895–1925) was an expressionist poet among the symbolists. Milev’s greatest poem, “Septemvri” (September, 1924), led eventually to his incarceration and death at the hands of the regime. His poetry resumes monosemanticism on a new scale; it demonstratively rejects polysemy for the sake of synonymity, piling up many similar words for one and the same meaning.
A new generation of poets made their debuts through opposing the now old-fashioned symbolism. In his collection Fragmenti (Fragments, 1967), Atanas Dalchev (1904–1978) achieved a paradoxical realism based on idiosyncratic imagery. Asen Raztsvetnikov (1897–1951) composed melodious ballads with resigned overtones. Nikola Fournadzhiev’s (1903–68) dark and depressive poetry in heavy rhythmic style marked a different pole. The verse of Nikola Rakitin (1886–1934) breathed a quiet and idyllic atmosphere. The poetry of Alexander Voutimski (1919–43) represented an early romantic protest against advancing totalitarianism.
The interwar period also marked the debuts of women poets who began their careers free of any dogmatism. Elisaveta Bagryana (1893–1991) is celebrated for her unrestrained personality and a worship of life, freedom, youth, and travel. Her collections include Vechnata i svyatata (The Eternal and the Sacred, 1927), the postwar Ot bryag do bryag (From Coast to Coast, 1963), Kontrapunkti (Counterpoints, 1972), and Na brega na vremeto (At the Shore of Time, 1983). Dora Gabe (1886–1983) imaginatively explored common household objects in bright, optimistic poetry. Her collections include Zemen put (Terrestrial Way, 1928), Pochakai slunce (Wait Sun, 1967), and Sgustena tishina (Condensed Quietude, 1973). Early in the Communist era, an attempt was made to revive a “hard” realistic method. Poets like Nikola Vaptsarov (1909–42), who was shot as a terrorist before the Communist coup, and Penyo Penev (1930–59) were used for this purpose. But resistance won in the long-term conflict. Penev lost his illusions and committed suicide. Many writers were sent to labor camps. The discord between Soviet-style socialist realism and the inventions of contemp. lit. grew rapidly. New trends, masked as experiments, permeated Bulgarian lit. Gifted writers such as Ivan Peichev (1916–76), Andrei Germanov (1932–81), Alexander Gerov (1919–97), Ivan Teofilov (b. 1931), Stefan Tsanev (b. 1936), Nikolai Kunchev (1936–2007), Boris Hristov (b. 1945), and Ivan Tsanev (b. 1941) took advantage of this relative freedom and sent a countermessage to the era’s stale ideals. In the late 20th c., the poets Radoi Ralin (1923–2004), Blaga Dimitrova (1922–2003), Konstantin Pavlov (1933–2008), and Vladimir Levchev (b. 1957) became open dissidents.
Even before Communism’s collapse in 1989, fresh trends of delicacy and concision could be seen in the poetry of Miriana Basheva (b. 1947), Fedya Filkova (b. 1950), and Georgi Rupchev (1957–2001). Petya Dubarova, born in 1962, was widely recognized as the most gifted younger voice; her suicide in 1979 was believed to be a tragic reaction to the brutality of society. The poetry of Ani Ilkov (b. 1957), Miglena Nikolchina (b. 1955), and Edvin Sougarev (b. 1953) can be described by terms such as *expressionism, *imagism, and *constructivism, as long as post- appears before them.
Among a new wave of extremely promising authors, poets such as Georgi Gospodinov (b. 1968), Verginiya Zaharieva (b. 1959), Kristin Dimitrova (b. 1963), Elin Rahnev (b. 1968), and Mirela Ivanova (b. 1962) seek to present the complications and contradictions of the postmod. consciousness in a time of chaos, marked by destructive political events and a radical upheaval of the world picture. Their brilliantly rendered insights and linguistic games have helped to build a warmer and more generous cultural philosophy. Their books of poems have largely appeared either in Eng. or as bilingual editions. Recent names, such as Nadejda Radulova (b. 1975), Dimiter Kenarov (b. 1981), and Kamelia Spasova (b. 1982), mark new experiments, such as living in virtual reality, writing Internet poetry, reflecting on a new femininity, and more.
S. Runciman, The Great Church in Captivity (1968); Anthology of Bulgarian trans. P. Tempest (1975); J. Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology (1987); Clay and Star: Contemporary Bulgarian trans. and ed. L. Sapinkopf and G. Belev (1992); An Anthology of Bulgarian ed. I. Mladenov and H. R. Cooper Jr. (2007); Istoria na bulgarskata srednovekovna comp. and ed. A. Miltenova (2008).
BURDEN, burthen (OE OHG confused with bourdon, from Fr. Sp. is little or no separation of the two words from the earliest citations in the (a) In the Eng. Bible (cf. onus in the Vulgate), trans. from Heb. a raising of the voice, utterance, oracle; (b) the bass or undersong, accompaniment (the same as “For burden-wise I’ll hum on Tarquin still”—William Shakespeare, 1133—cf. Chaucer’s obscene pun about the summoner, “General Prologue,” 673; (c) the chief theme, the leading sentiment or matter of a song or poem: “The burden or leading idea of every couplet was the same”—Leigh Hunt, Men, Women, & Books 1.11.199; (d) the refrain or chorus of a song: “Foot it featly here and there; And, sweet sprites, the burden bear. Hark, hark! Burden Bow-wow.”—Shakespeare, Tempest 1.2.381; in particular, the refrain line in the *carol.
R. H. Robbins, “The Burden in Carols,” MLN 57 (1942); R. L. Greene, The Early English 2d ed. (1977).
T.V.F. R. O.
BURLESQUE. See CONTRAFACTUM; PARODY;
BURNS STANZA (also called “Scottish stanza,” “standard Habbie”). One variety of *tail rhyme, the Burns stanza is a six-line stanza rhyming the being tetrameter and the dimeter. Although named for the 18th-c. Scottish poet Robert Burns, the Burns stanza and its close variants are first found in med. *troubadour poetry; the earliest example is found in a poem by William of Poitiers. Examples in Scots poetry date from the 16th c.; a well-known 17th-c. ballad by Robert Sempill the Younger, “The Life and Death of Habbie Simpson,” gave rise to the name “standard Habbie.” By the 18th c., Allan Ramsay and Robert Fergusson frequently used it, which influenced Burns; around this point, Scottish writers began to see the form as a distinctively national one. Each stanza typically contains a single sentence; occasionally, two sentences are used. Despite its complexity, the form is an effective one. Following the crescendo of the initial tercet, the short lines lend themselves well to effects of pointing, irony, and closure:
Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
Detested, shunn’d by saunt an’ sinner,
How daur ye set your fit upon her,
Sae fine a lady!
Gae somewhere else, and seek your dinner
On some poor body.
(“To a Louse”)
The meter was also used by William Wordsworth, appropriately, for his “At the Grave of Burns.”
A. H. MacLaine, “New Light on the Genesis of the Burns Stanza,” N&Q 198 (1953); H. Damico, “Sources of Stanza Forms Used by Burns,” Studies in Scottish Literature 12 (1975); R. Crawford, Robert Burns and Cultural Authority (1997); The Canongate ed. A. Noble and P. S. Hogg (2003).
A. T.V.F. C.
BYLINA (pl. Scholars use the word bylina for the Rus. oral *epic (see ORAL but singers employ starina terms indicating songs about past events. Byliny originated among the princes’ retinues in Kyivan Rus’ and were produced between the 10th and 15th cs. Ordinarily byliny contain 300–500 lines, are without stanzas or rhyme, are built around typical epic subjects, and employ special ling. and poetic devices. They are performed by a single singer without the accompaniment of a musical instrument. The earliest pub. collection appeared in 1804 and is attributed to Kirsha Danilov, who took down songs in the Ural region in the mid-18th c. Thought extinct by the mid-19th c., byliny were discovered to be a living trad. in the region around Lake Onega by P. N. Rybnikov in 1860. A collecting effort concentrated largely around Lake Onega and the White Sea ensued and continued until about 1950 when the trad. died out.
Scholars divide byliny into three cycles: magical (sometimes “mythological”), Kyivan, and Novgorod. The magical heroes are the earliest. They include the shape-shifter Volkh Vseslavyevich, the villager’s son Mikula, and the giant Svyatogor. Kyivan byliny constitute the largest group, and their heroes serve Prince Vladimir, who has been compared to King Arthur. These byliny reflect the struggle of Kyiv with nomadic steppe groups, though after the Mongol conquest, the adversaries appear as Tatars. The low-born Ilya Muromets, who even when snubbed by Vladimir stands up for Rus, the Christian faith, and the downtrodden, is its central hero. Other important heroes include the courteous diplomat Dobrynya Nikitich and the cunning priest’s son Alyosha Popovich. The third cycle is connected to the northern city of Novgorod. Its heroes are the rich merchant and gusli player Sadko and the rabble-rouser Vasily Buslayev.
A. P. Skaftymov, Poetika i genezis bylin (1924); N. Chadwick, Russian Heroic Poetry (1932); A. M. Astakhova, Russkii bylinnyi epos na Severe (1948), and Il’ia Muromets (1958); V. Ia. Propp, Russkii georicheskii epos (1958); ed. A. M. Astkhova (1966); F. J. Oinas, “Russian Byliny,” Heroic Epic and Saga (1978); B. N. Putilov, Epicheskoe stazitel’stvo (1997); An Anthology of Russian Folk ed. J. Bailey and T. Ivanova (1998).
J. O. L.
III. Declamatory Poetry
V. Religious Poetry
VI. Satirical Poetry
VII. Verse Romances and Chronicles
VIII. Didactic Poetry
The Byzantine millennium is usually divided into three periods: early Byzantine or late antique (330–ca. 600), middle Byzantine (ca. 600–1204), and late Byzantine (1204–1453). Constantinople officially became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire (now called the Byzantine Empire) in the year 330; around 600, urban civilization and traditional power structures began to collapse, leading to the “dark age” crisis of the 7th and 8th cs. In 1204, Constantinople was conquered by the knights of the Fourth Crusade, and although it was reconquered in 1261, the Byzantine Empire had been reduced to a few territories that were gradually taken by the Ottoman Turks until the city itself fell in 1453. Although the Byzantine Empire was multilingual and produced lit. in Gr., Lat., Coptic, Syriac, Heb., Armenian, and Slavonic, the term Byzantine literature stands for med. Gr. lit. Byzantine Gr. is a literary lang. harking back to the ancients (Homeric and Atticistic Gr.) and/or the Bible and the earliest Christian texts (koiné); the first experiments in the vernacular date from the 12th c. Because Byzantine lit. is imitative, it has had a bad press; but *originality is a romantic concept, unknown to the Middle Ages. There are two kinds of Byzantine poetry: poetry set to music, such as *hymns, acclamations, satirical songs, and folk songs; and all other forms of poetry, intended either to be declaimed in public or to be read in private. As most poetry belonging to the first category has come down to us without scores or in later musical adaptations, we are uncertain how Byzantine music, esp. in its early stages, may have sounded. As for meter, all poetry set to music and many of the unsung poems are based on rhythmical patterns regulated by the position of stress accents. Poems in prosodic meters, such as the *iamb, the *hexameter, or the *anacreontic also survive, but these, too, obey certain rhythmical rules.
I. Hymnography. Byzantine liturgical poetry falls into three periods: the first (4th–5th c.) characterized by short hymns, the troparia and the second (5th–7th c.) by long and elaborate metrical sermons, the kontakia (clearly influenced by certain forms of Syriac hymnography); and the third (7th–9th c. and afterward) by a form of hymn-cycle called consisting of eight or nine odes, each set to its own music The second is the great period of Byzantine hymnography. The celebrated Akathistos hymn, sometimes referred to as the Byzantine Te dates from the 5th c. In the 6th c. lived Romanos, Byzantium’s greatest religious poet. Some 85 of his kontakia have been preserved, all metrical sermons for various feasts of the Orthodox Church. Romanos, a conscientious Christian, treated his subject matter exactly as a preacher would. Occasionally, however, he gives rein to his fancy and at such times becomes grandiloquent in the style of epideictic oratorical poetry. His lang. on the whole is pure; he is rich in *metaphor and *imagery and often interweaves in his narrative whole passages from Holy Scripture. Andrew of Crete (around 700), initiates the third period of Byzantine liturgical poetry with his Great a huge composition, in which elaboration of form results in a magnificent celebration of the Divine. Other representatives are John of Damascus, Kosmas of Maiouma, and Joseph the Hymnographer (8th–9th cs.). Though new hymns continued to be written, by the end of the 9th c., the liturgical calendar had filled up, and only few additions were made, such as a set of hymns written for the feast of the Three Hierarchs by John Mauropous (11th c.).
II. Songs. Byzantine chronicles preserve snippets of popular songs, such as the song making fun of Emperor Maurice’s sexual prowess. The Book of Ceremonies (shortly after 963) contains the lyrics of many acclamations sung by the circus factions, unfortunately, without musical annotation. Some of the Gr. folk songs recorded in the 19th and 20th cs. by anthropologists go back to a centuries-old trad.; but in an oral trad., changes and corruptions are inevitable. There are a few texts in vernacular med. Gr. that clearly rely on an oral substratum. The most famous of these is the Digenis Akritis (early 12th c.?), a text of epic proportions that strings together a compilation of earlier ballads into an incoherent and disjointed narrative; the text has come down to us in various mss., the most important of which are the Escorial and the Grottaferrata versions.
III. Declamatory Poetry. *Panegyrics, *monodies, and *ekphraseis are just a few of the genres that were intended to be declaimed either at official celebrations, at certain ceremonies, or in so-called literary salons where literati would present their works to each other. The two best representatives of the panegyric (epic encomium) are George Pisides (7th c.) and Theodore Prodromos (12th c.), the former writing iambic verse (called dodecasyllable because it consists of 12 syllables) in praise of his patron, Emperor Herakleios, and his victories over the Avars and the Persians; and the latter writing for various patrons, incl. Emperor John Komnenos and other members of the imperial family, whose military feats he celebrated in political verse (a 15-syllable verse with a *caesura in the middle and an iambic rhythm). Monodies are funerary *dirges declaimed at burial ceremonies: the most famous are anonymous monodies on the deaths of Leo VI (912) and Constantine VII (959), the earliest instance of political verse; other monodies mourn the loss of cities, such as the late 12th-c. dirge by Michael Choniates, in which he lamented that ancient Athens was lost forever. Among the many ekphraseis, the detailed descriptions of St. Sophia by Paul the Silentiary (6th c.) and of the Church of the Holy Apostles by Constantine the Rhodian (10th c.) deserve to be mentioned—but ekphrasis can take many forms, incl. an anonymous early 11th-c. description of a boat trip on the Bosporus or a detailed account of a day at the races by Christopher Mitylenaios (11th c.).
IV. Epigrams. Byzantine *epigrams are either genuine or fictitious verse inscriptions attached to monuments or works of art or inscribed on tombs (*epitaphs). There is not a single Byzantine poet without at least a few epigrams to his name. While Agathias, Paul the Silentiary, and other 6th-c. poets clung to the rules and dictates of Hellenistic epigrammatic poetry, a more Christian and less elaborate form was developed by George Pisides (7th c.), Theodore of Stoudios, and Ignatios the Deacon (both early 9th c.). However, the heyday of the Byzantine epigram spans the 10th to 12th cs.: it was then that John Geometres, Christopher Mitylenaios, John Mauropous, Nicholas Kallikles, and Theodore Prodromos flourished. The anonymous 12th-c. epigrams in the collection of Marcianus Graecus 524 are also quite exceptional. The genre of the Byzantine epigram also comprises the many book epigrams found in Byzantine mss.: epigrams written in honor of the author, the patron who commissioned the ms., or the scribe. Gnomic epigrams (see GNOMIC of which there are many, also fall in this category: most of these pithy sayings are anonymous, but some are attributed to Kassia (9th c.), the only known female Byzantine poet.
V. Religious Poetry. Apart from hymnography, the singing of which is a communal act of devotion, there are also lyrical effusions of the soul and intimate soliloquies with God; these poems are not sung but either declaimed or read in silence. The poetry of the Church father Gregory of Nazianzus (4th c.) is a brilliant example followed by all Byzantine poets. The greatest of these are John Geometres (10th c.), Symeon the New Theologian (10th–11th c.), and John Mauropous (11th c.). Geometres’ masterpiece is a long confession and prayer to the Holy Virgin, in which he tries to come to terms with his human limitations. Symeon the New Theologian was a mystic who wrote inspired poetry relating all his mystical experiences and divine revelations, such as one in which he recognizes the presence of Christ in his body. Mauropous was an intellectual reluctant to leave his books and step out into the world: when he was forced to become metropolitan of a provincial town, he wrote two poems first praying that this evil might not happen and then, when the imperial decision proved to be irreversible, asking God to teach him how to accept his fate.
VI. Satirical Poetry. *Satire is ubiquitous in Byzantine poetry, in both the learned and vernacular trads. A good example of the latter are the Ptochoprodromic Poems (12th c.), five satires dealing with different characters who narrate their petty problems and little adventures, posing as a henpecked husband, a hungry a poor grammarian, and a lowly and abused monk. The poems of “Poor Prodromos” are brilliant satires that describe the lives of ordinary citizens in a big city in a vernacular that serves as a vehicle of social crit. and colorful realism. Another good example of satire is the Entertaining Tale of Quadrupeds (14th c.), a hilarious poem about an assembly of animals who express their grudges.
VII. Verse Romances and Chronicles. In the 12th c., the ancient “novelists” Heliodorus and Achilles Tatius were imitated in a number of verse romances by Niketas Eugenianos, Theodore Prodromos, and Constantine Manasses, all of whom wrote in learned Gr. After 1204, this literary experiment was followed by verse romances in vernacular Gr., most of which also show some familiarity with Western romances of chivalry (see MEDIEVAL such as the Livistros and War of and Velthandros and all the works of unknown poets. Verse chronicles, too, were composed in learned and vernacular Gr.: the Synopsis Chronike by Manasses (12th c.), the Chronicle of Morea (14th c.), and the Chronicle of the Tocco (early 15th c.). With its emphasis on love, exploring the depths of the human soul, Manasses’ chronicle might even be seen as a verse romance.
VIII. Didactic Poetry. A few names should suffice for these prose-in-verse creations on all kinds of scientific topics: Pisides’ Leo Choirosphaktes’ Thousand-Line Theology (early 10th c.), Niketas of Herakleia’s grammatical treatises in the form of troparia and kanons (11th c.), and Manuel Philes’ On the Characteristics of Animals (early 14th c.).
Anthologies: Anthologia Graeca Carminum ed. W. Christ and M. Paranikas (1872); Poeti ed. R. Cantarella, 2 v. (1948); Medieval and Modern Greek ed. C. A. Trypanis (1951); An Anthology of Byzantine ed. B. Baldwin (1985).
Criticism and History: K. Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen 2d ed. (1897); H.-G. Beck, Geschichte der byzantinischen Volksliteratur (1971); H. Hunger, Die hochsprachliche Profane 2 v. (1978); Trypanis; Oxford Dictionary of ed. A. P. Kazhdan (1991); M. D. Lauxtermann, Byzantine Poetry from Pisides to Geometres (2003).
How do you cite the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics? ›
Hardison, Jr., and Earl Miner, associate editors. The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton, N.J. :Princeton University Press, 1993.
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, published in 1965, established itself as a standard work in the field. Among the 215 contributors were Northrop Frye writing on allegory, Murray Krieger on belief in poetry, Philip Wheelwright on myth, John Hollander on music, and William Carlos Williams on free verse.What is the new Princeton Handbook of poetic terms? ›
The Princeton Handbook of Poetic Terms—drawn from the latest edition of the acclaimed Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics—provides an authoritative guide to the most important terms in the study of poetry and literature.How to cite a poem in MLA format? ›
Author of Poem's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Poem." Title of Book: Subtitle if Any, edited by Editor's First Name Last Name, Edition if given and is not first, Publisher Name often shortened, Year of Publication, pp. Page Numbers of the Poem.How do you cite a poem in a textbook APA? ›
In text citations
You should cite the poem with the name of the poet and the publication date of the source you are using. If you wish to include a line reference you can add (line xx) or (lines xx -yy) at an appropriate point in your text. Example: As Donne (2003, p.
What was Aristotle's main purpose in writing the Poetics? Aristotle's main purpose in writing Poetics was to present and explain the fundamental principles of art. Specifically, Poetics focuses on the art of poetry.What are the three main concepts in the classical Poetics? ›
language, rhythm, and melody, for Aristotle, make up the matter of poetic creation.How many books are in Poetics? ›
In terms of the Tanakh, it includes the three poetic books of Ketuvim, as well as Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs from the Five Megillot.Which type of poetry consist of 777 syllables? ›
The modern Tanaga still uses the 7777 syllable count, but rhymes range from dual rhyme forms: AABB, ABAB, ABBA; to freestyle forms such as AAAB, BAAA, or ABCD. Modern writers may opt to give them titles.
The poetic books of the Old Testament—Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon—are often called humankind's reach toward God.
Is there poetry on the AP Lit exam? ›
The AP Literature exam has two sections. Section I contains 55 multiple choice questions, with 1 hour time allotted. This includes at least two prose fiction passages and two poetry passages.Do poems need to be in MLA format? ›
If you read the poem in a book or anthology, follow the format of an MLA book chapter citation. If you accessed the poem online, follow the format of an MLA website citation.How do you paraphrase a poem in MLA? ›
When you write information or ideas from a source in your own words, cite the source by adding an in-text citation at the end of the paraphrased portion. Include a full in-text citation with the author name and page number (if there is one).How do you quote lines from a poem in an essay? ›
Use double quotation marks around your quotation. Capitalize whatever is capitalized in the original poem. integration) or within a parenthetical citation. point, or a dash, leave that punctuation mark, and then later use a period to end your sentence.How do you write the title of a poem in an essay MLA? ›
Put the title of the poem in quotation marks. Place a period after the title of the poem within the quotation marks. The title of the poem should be capitalized in title case (using capital letters only at the beginning of principal words). Put the numerical year of the poem's original publication.How do you cite a poem from a book in an essay? ›
Cite the poem you found in a book.
List: the author's Lastname, Firstname. “Title of Poem.” Title of Book. City of publication: Publisher, year. Page number range.
Using In-text Citation
APA in-text citation style uses the author's last name and the year of publication, for example: (Field, 2005). For direct quotations, include the page number as well, for example: (Field, 2005, p. 14).
Science, the science of poetics, for example, deals exclusively with concepts or with the essence of poetry, both of which necessarily transcend the particularity of the object under investigation. The structure that makes poetry comprehensible is explicitly not poetry.What is the main point of Aristotle's poetics? ›
On these bases the Poetics was held to defend the imitative arts because they invite us to place ourselves in complex and nuanced moral situations and to discern behind them the moral laws and patterns at work.What are the six elements of tragedy in Poetics? ›
According to Aristotle, tragedy has six main elements: plot, character, diction, thought, spectacle (scenic effect), and song (music), of which the first two are primary.
What are six major parts of Aristotle's Poetics? ›
The 6 Aristotelean elements are plot, character, thought, diction, spectacle, and song.What is the conclusion of Aristotle Poetics? ›
Aristotle concludes the Poetics by reflecting on the question "which is better, tragedy or epic?" It is important to understand the nature of this question within the context of Aristotle's concerns about the morality of art and about art's social function.How long does it take to read Poetics? ›
Most poetry books are around 80 pages, and you can read them in about 2 hours.What is a book full of poems called? ›
In book publishing, an anthology is a collection of literary works chosen by the compiler; it may be a collection of plays, poems, short stories, songs or excerpts by different authors.What is an 8 syllable line of poetry called? ›
The octosyllable or octosyllabic verse is a line of verse with eight syllables. It is equivalent to tetrameter verse in trochees in languages with a stress accent.What is a 4 lines 8 syllables poem called? ›
Quatern: Poetic Forms. Robert Lee Brewer explains the quatern, a poetic form that employs refrains and eight-syllable lines in four quatrains.What is a 5 syllable poem called? ›
What is a haiku? The haiku is a Japanese poetic form that consists of three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. The haiku developed from the hokku, the opening three lines of a longer poem known as a tanka.What are the three 3 types of poetry? ›
There are three main kinds of poetry: narrative, dramatic and lyrical. It is not always possible to make distinction between them. For example, an epic poem can contain lyrical passages, or lyrical poem can contain narrative parts.Who are the big six in poetry? ›
This six-question activity challenges students to identify the "Big Six" British Romantic poets - Shelley, Byron, Coleridge, Blake, Wordsworth & Keats - by lines of poems they wrote.What is a four word poem called? ›
Quatrains are popular in poetry because they are compatible with different rhyme schemes and rhythmic patterns.
What is the hardest AP class? ›
This class combines physics, scientific inquiry, and algebra. AP Physics 1 is considered one of the hardest AP classes, covering topics like Newtonian mechanics and electrical charge and force. Students also spend about 25% of their class time performing college-level lab experiments and writing reports.
AP English Literature and Composition is considered very hard, with class alumnae rating it 7.5/10 for overall difficulty (the 2nd-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed). The pass rate is higher than other AP classes, with 78% graduating with a 3 or higher. What is this?Is the AP Lit test harder than AP Lang? ›
A. The AP English tests are equally difficult, but for AP lit, you have to read many books and do deep learning for all of them. Therefore, it requires more time and patience. On the other hand, while AP lang needs less reading, the writing part is equal for both.How do you cite the Poetics by Aristotle in APA? ›
- In APA 7th the template for an Ancient Greek or Roman work reference is: Original author. ( Pub date of work viewed). Title of work. ( ...
- Reference list: Aristotle. ( 1925). ...
- In-text: (Aristotle, ca. 350 B.C.E./1925)
- MLA. Aristotle. Aristotle's Poetics. New York :Hill and Wang, 1961.
- APA. Aristotle. ( 1961). Aristotle's poetics. New York :Hill and Wang,
- Chicago. Aristotle. Aristotle's Poetics. New York :Hill and Wang, 1961.
Last Name (Ed.), Name of encyclopedia or dictionary (Volume number if any, pp. first page of entry-last page of entry or p. page number for one page entry). Publication City, Province, State or Country: Publisher Name often shortened.How do you cite a World Book Encyclopedia in MLA? ›
Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Entry." Title of Encyclopedia or Dictionary, edited by Editor's First Name Last Name, Edition if given and not first edition, vol. Volume Number, Publisher Name, Year of Publication, pp. First Page - Last Page.How do you quote Aristotle in an essay? ›
In the main text of the paper, when you quote Aristotle's original text in translation, cite in parentheses following the quote the title of the work, the Bekker pagination, not the pagination of the English translation, and the name of the editor who is responsible for the work being cited.How do you cite a quote from a poem in APA? ›
For an in-text citation of a poem, APA requires that you add parentheses to the end of the quote and include the last name of the author, followed by a comma and the year of publication of the source. If you are quoting a poem that is online, you can simply use the date of publication of the poem.
- List the original author's last name.
- Include the date of publication of the original.
- Add 'as cited in' then the name of the work.
- Follow with the publishing date of the cited work.
- List the page the information can be found on.
Do I have to cite Aristotle? ›
Thus, it is customary to cite Aristotle by work, and Bekker and line numbers. For example: "Every art and every inquiry, and smilarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good." (Nicomachean Ethics, 1094a1-2).How do I cite? ›
- author name(s)
- titles of books, articles, and journals.
- date of publication.
- page numbers.
- volume and issue numbers (for articles)
For poems, cite the line(s) of the poem, rather than the page number in the in-text citation. Shakespeare, William. “Sonnet 73: That time of year thou mayest in me behold.” Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45099/sonnet-73-that-time-of-year-thou-mayst-in-me-behold.How do you cite the encyclopedia in APA 7th edition in text? ›
Author A. A. (n.d.). Title of entry. In E. E. Editor (Ed.), Name of dictionary/encyclopedia (edition, if not the first). Publisher.How do you in text cite an encyclopedia in APA online? ›
To cite an online encyclopedia entry in APA Style, start with the author of the entry (if listed), followed by the publication year, the entry title, the name of the editor, the encyclopedia name, the edition, the publisher, and the URL.How do you cite an encyclopedia in APA 7th edition? ›
Last Name (Ed.), Name of encyclopedia or dictionary (Volume number, pp. first page of entry-last page of entry). Publisher Name often shortened.How to do an MLA citation for a Book? ›
The basic form for a book citation is: Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. City of Publication, Publisher, Publication Date.How do you cite an encyclopedia in MLA with no author? ›
In-Text Citation - No Author
If a dictionary or encyclopedia entry has no author, the in-text citation should include the first word or words in the title of the entry. The title of the entry should be in quotation marks, with each word starting with a capital letter.
Author last name, First name. Book Title. Original publication year. Edition ed., Publisher, Edition publication year.