Free Verse, enjambment, irony: A case study

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Dr. Johnson suggested that "blank verse is often verse for the eye." If this were true, it would apply even more to free verse. The empty space that indicates line endings in printed verse is not available in vocal performance. I claim that just as white spaces break up the series of black marks on the paper into smaller perceptual units whose end may or may not coincide with the end of syntactic units, in aural perception, certain vocal devices may break up the text into versification units, and even indicate conflicts of versification and syntactic units. I discuss such a conflict in the Hebrew poet Yehuda Amichai's brief masterpiece "Rain in the Battlefield." In an instrumental analysis of a recorded reading, I demonstrate the vocal strategies by which the performer indicates the conflict between verse and clause boundaries in this poem. Readers perceive here subtler irony than in a version in which verse and clause boundaries coincide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-45
Number of pages11
JournalStyle
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

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