Get in Line: Poetry and the Flow of Form

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


The flow of recitation and song is nothing like the delicate mental hesitations
(‘a briefly heard silence’) that critics summon up when trying to describe the
effect of a line break. Poets may read like the minister in The Adventures of
Tom Sawyer, who orates each hymn to the congregation line by line before it is
sung, his voice ‘climb[ing] steadily up until it reached a certain point, where it
bore with strong emphasis upon the topmost word, and then plunged down
as if from a spring-board’. But singers don’t sing like that. The supposedly
‘vital (genetic) link’ between the performance of song and a convention of
print poetry is, therefore, of dubious lineage.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
Specialist publicationThe Stinging Fly
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

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