In the teaching and criticism of poetry, this essay argues, the dominant prosodic tradition, based on classical metrics, provides no way of analyzing and appreciating one of the longest-lasting and most effective verse forms in the English tradition. But using the beat prosody developed in the author’s earlier work makes it possible to capture the distinctiveness of this form that, borrowing a term from Russian prosody, may be called the dolnik. To demonstrate the failure of the traditional approach in dealing with dolnik verse, the essay titled “Versification” in the Norton Anthology of Poetry is tested against a number of poems in the anthology, and the treatment of dolnik verse in a number of poetry handbooks is considered. Finally, Langston Hughes’s “Song for a Dark Girl” is discussed as an example of how dolnik verse might be taught.
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Derek Attridge; The Case for the English Dolnik; Or, How Not to Introduce Prosody. Poetics Today 1 March 2012; 33 (1): 1–26. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-1505522
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