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Close ListeningPoetry and the Performed Word$
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Charles Bernstein

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780195109924

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195109924.001.0001

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Letter on Sound

Letter on Sound

(p.28) (p.29) 1 Letter on Sound
Close Listening

Susan Stewart

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on lyric poetry and its features such as counterpoint, harmony, syncopation, stress, duration, and timbre. It also presents the number of complex conditions under which that “sound” is and is not an aspect of lyric. The complexity of the relation between lyric and musicality is that the dynamic tension between sound and semantic can at once both extend and diminish meaning. This chapter also describes features of sound manipulation in poetry such as counterpoising, tagging, echo effects, diagramming, and the “ornamental” devices of rubrication and embellishment that can make the relation between sound and meaning particularly textured and complex. As a figure of spoken sound, the poem produces effects of transformation in sound and it does not fix or reify the terms of utterance.

Keywords:   lyric poetry, counterpoint, syncopation, stress, duration, timbre, lyric and musicality, tagging, echo effects, diagramming

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