Tuesday, 25 July 2000

From "Prosody and Reconciliation"

By Keston Sutherland.

Enjambment can disrupt the semantic unit only virtually, because any fragment of syntax is necessarily liable to be construed as a complete semantic unit [...]

Thomas Gray's "Epitaph on a Child," written in 1758 for his friend and lifelong correspondent Thomas Wharton [...]

"Here, free'd from pain, secure from misery, lies / A Child Darling of his Parent's eyes."

[...] This transplant of one part of the utterance into a separate mouth, or into a representation of consciousness less amenable to the author's sense, is now less of a hermeneutic impropriety than it was when Gray obligingly responded to Wharton's request -- if at that point it would have been considered hermeneutic at all, rather than an instance of the reckless abandonment of hermeneutics (eighteenth-century philological tracts suggest the latter). The point is not that every line of poetry is so obviously liable to be construed as a separate semantic event [...] but that every line is, at least in the current stage of philological history, absolutely liable to be so construed.

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