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Thinking Through PoetryField Reports on Romantic Lyric$
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Marjorie Levinson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198810315

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198810315.001.0001

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Parsing the Frost

Parsing the Frost

The Growth of a Poet’s Sentence in “Frost at Midnight”

Chapter:
(p.208) 9 Parsing the Frost
Source:
Thinking Through Poetry
Author(s):

Marjorie Levinson

Marjorie Levinson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198810315.003.0009

The reading of Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight” at the center of this chapter opens up the cognitive and aesthetic stakes of seeing writing. It does so by analyzing the encounter with visible script, an experience that can be understood as a reworking of a previously unrecognized source, the scene of writing in David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature, Book 4. Just such an encounter is the activity in play with the figure of the window frost and with the entire poem. Broadly speaking, sentence formation is seen as analogous to frost formation. In this way, the discussion seeks to shift the sensory register of criticism of the poem from its traditional emphasis on the acoustic to a new appreciation of the visible.

Keywords:   Samuel Taylor Coleridge, frost, grammar, visuality, David Hume, lyric poetry, Romanticism, literary theory

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