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Describing Shape in the Poetry of J.H. Prynne: Rhythm and Intonation in “Again in the Black Cloud”

Décrire la forme dans la poésie de J.H. Prynne: rythme et intonation dans “Again in the Black Cloud”
Lacy Rumsey
p. 109-128


L’article cherche à proposer des outils qui permettent la description d’un poème de J.H. Prynne, poète britannique contemporain majeur. Il suggère qu’il est possible, à condition que les analyses proposées soient mesurées, d’étudier le placement des frontières de groupes intonatifs et celui des contours nucléaires sur la base de facteurs textuels et contextuels. Dans “Again in the Black Cloud”, on peut identifier une première configuration prosodique au niveau du poème entier, sur la base de laquelle se créent des exemples plus localisés de variation rythmique et intonative. De tels ajouts au vocabulaire critique enrichissent notre capacité de décrire les formes de la poésie non-métrique.

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1If J.H. Prynne is now a much discussed poet, most analysis of his work focuses on the highly difficult conditions it creates for interpretation; much less consideration is given to its rhythm, or to other aspects of its prosody. This is despite the fact that there are ample reasons to consider Prynne’s poems as texts for reading aloud as well as in silence: the movements of his syntax bear a rhetorical as well as formal weight that lends itself well to oral performance; his poems contain frequent metrical passages, and occasional rhyme; and Prynne himself gives public readings of his poetry, albeit not very frequently, while others also read his work in public—such performances are, for example, a feature of the poet Out To Lunch (Ben Watson)’s radio broadcasts. Of course, criticism has not wholly overlooked the formal aspects of Prynne’s poetry—allusions to its “movement” (Larrissy 67), to the “gesture” (Wilkinson 12), or the “reading gestalt” (Patterson 245) by which it is characterised are quite frequent. Yet detailed attention is lacking.

2One reason for this is may be professional reticence on the part of both metrists and critics concerning the scansion of non-metrical verse rhythm, since the absence of metrical expectation—an absence which is the norm in Prynne, despite his occasional metricality—brings instability, and predictive uncertainty, to the relationship between text and performance. The best account of poetic rhythm that we have, the beat-offbeat metrics developed by Derek Attridge, has been applied by Attridge and others to a variety of non-metrical texts, yet Attridge himself acknowledges that in certain aspects the scansion of non-metrical texts remains “highly subjective” (1982, 322). This is undoubtedly a problem for criticism, but it is one which should, it may be thought, be understood as a limit to be engaged with and pushed back, and not as a sign of inevitable failure. If non-metrical poetry has succeeded, since the early twentieth century, in becoming the most widespread form of poetry in English, it must be assumed that it is—at least on occasions—satisfying a desire for new forms of linguistic shape or patterning among its readership, and that to a certain degree readers share a sense of what that patterning may be. It seems, therefore, important that criticism and metrics should make the attempt to imagine and describe instances of such patterning—even if caution is necessary.

3Another is the lack of agreement as to the tools with which the shape of non-metrical poetry may be described. Description of its rhythms—in particular, of its moments of metrical regularity—is reasonably well established, as is the critical tradition of describing the visual aspects of non-metrical poems’ form—the poem on the page and in the eye. Yet what about the “reading gestalts”, the “movements”, the “gestures” of the poem as it is read aloud? The most developed approach currently available is phrasal scansion, developed in particular by Richard Cureton and popularised in simplified form by Attridge (1995). Phrasal scansion, which is influenced by generative music theory, understands poems as nested groups of different types of movement; its aims are very close to those we might wish to pursue in addressing Prynne:

Phrasal scansion [. . .] reflects a reader’s sense of the way a poem goes—its high points, its unemphatic meanings, its tonal variations, its shifts in feeling, its complex of meanings [. . .] the way the meanings and syntactic connections of the poem actually unfold in the reader’s mind as he or she makes sense of the words. (Attridge 1995, 200)

Although this study is not the occasion for an extended analysis of phrasal scansion, it is important to note that the technique has disadvantages. It is cumbersome—the phrasal scansion of even a short poem can run over several pages; that by Cureton of a 21-line passage by William Carlos Williams runs to many more. It is also, in its creation of complex hierarchies, very difficult to reconcile with a readerly or critical stance that is marked by provisionality, confusion or doubt. This is because phrasal scansion is concerned, not with sound, but with “the shape of a text’s meaning” (Cureton 140), an ambition which requires the critic’s sense of the poem’s internal relations to be sufficiently secure that a total interpretative structure can be built upon it. This is a significant problem when dealing with challenging poetry. In the case of J.H. Prynne, although the relationship between meaning and shape is undoubtedly a crucially important part of the poetry, it must be assumed that, given the poetry’s difficulty, and its confusion of basic categories of syntax, defining what that meaning is at any given point of the poem, and determining how it relates to what has gone before, may be impossible.

4What is needed, therefore, is a set of descriptions that can point to aspects of a poem’s performance that structure its reception by listeners, and can create a sense of shape both locally and at the level of a whole poem, yet that can admit, and make available for debate, their own provisionality, and that exist even in the absence of total interpretations of the poem. The descriptions on which this study will draw are those which allow for the prediction of the possible intonational characteristics of the performed text—that is, not simply its rhythm, but also its tonality (its “chunking” into intonation groups) and its use of tone (the individual pitch movements that, in English, constitute the main, or nuclear, accents).

5Given the well-known variety of intonational behaviour, and its dependence on a wide range of factors—discoursal, syntactic, attitudinal, psychological, indexical—the appeal to intonation may seem, from an evidential point of view, doomed to failure. Yet, when investigated selectively, this is not the case. Drawing on previous studies of poetic intonation by Eleanor Berry, Alan Holder, the present author, and others, and above all on phoneticians’ accounts of intonation in English (e.g. Cruttenden, Wells), this study proposes that the following aspects of intonational behaviour are sufficiently well understood, and sufficiently predictable, to form the basis of a discussion of poetic form:

  • The distinction between falling and non-falling tones. This has been described as “the most basic distinction among English nuclear tones” (Wells 15). Falling tones are associated with discoursal finality; rising tones, with dependence and non-finality. Finer distinctions—among non-falling tones, that between rises, fall-rises, and level tones, for instance—can add detail to a discussion, but are probably too tenuously linked to textual cues to be relied upon to form its basis.

  • The distinction between high and low tones, associated respectively with greater and lesser degrees of speaker involvement. To avoid relying too heavily on subjective response, pitch height should only be drawn on when there are clear grounds—notably of punctuation and diction—for predicting it.

  • The placement of intonation-group boundaries on the basis of syntax, discourse structure, punctuation and line-break.

In many cases, a degree of discussion will be necessary to justify particular choices; less when it comes to associating a falling tone with the last prominence of a declarative sentence; more when it comes to deciding the intonational consequences of a line-break, since these depend on a range of contextual factors. More generally, analysis should be conducted on the basis of textual or otherwise public factors and influences; the project to which this study seeks to contribute is not, to paraphrase a well-known study by Catherine Addison, a “mood-of-the-moment” metrics. It is hoped, on the contrary, that it will allow new ways to be developed of describing the “reading gestalt” of non-metrical poetry; new ways of understanding how—to paraphrase T.S. Eliot this time—poetry can move before it is (fully) understood.

  • 1 I am very grateful to the poet for permission to quote the complete text of “Again in the Black Clo (...)

(Prynne 230–31)1

6“Again in the Black Cloud”, originally published in the volume Wound Response (1974), is a poem that, like much of Prynne’s work, moves in and out of clarity and makes confusion both theme and response. It is chosen for analysis here for several reasons: it is a poem that the author of this paper admires; it comes from a pivotal period in Prynne’s work, when his poetry was (to summarise crudely) more difficult than in 1960s volumes such as The White Stones, but had not yet reached the levels of impenetrability of the later work; and it has been the subject of helpful and ground-clearing extended discussion in the principal monograph devoted to Prynne, N.H. Reeves and Richard Kerridge’s Nearly Too Much. Reeves and Kerridge conjecture that parts of “Again in the Black Cloud” may evoke the intermittent brain function of a victim of stroke; their discussion also notes the varying stances and degrees of control evoked by the passages of what they call ‘“quotation”’ (57, 55). These are helpful ways of thinking about the poem; the mixture of apparently passionate recall (“his new shoes and boat!”) with scientific or pseudo-scientific language fits well with an interpretation of the poem as an attempt to account for a confused mental state from both inside and outside. The poem’s attention seems to be more frequently fixed on the consciousness that is experiencing this mental intermittence, while its moments of apparently generalising impulse (“Who can see [. . .]”), its use—without distantiating quotation marks—of imagery drawn from relativity theory (the “light cones” which represent the path that a flash of light would take through space-time, the “child line” which may evoke the “event line”), and its discussion of recollection and emotion in a ways that seem to cast their net of sympathy quite widely, allow the poem to be read as a more widely applicable set of responses to those questions of time, loss, memory and return which matter very much to Prynne’s poetry. As Alan Marshall has noted, “it can be argued that Prynne conceives of existence as being nostalgic in both structure and essence; that is to say, he sees it as being not just based on, but as also shaped by, a longing to return” (138).

7This sense of the poem is, of course, itself acquired in time, as reading progresses through stanzas and moves across the text of the poem in search of pattern and connection.

8The first stanza suggests the importance of memory to the poem, via a symbolist and synaesthetic description of particular configurations of light and sound, and the early repetition of the title word “again”. It goes on to identify both the importance of past experience for the construction of present states of mind (“the cells of the child line run back/through hope to the cause of it”) and the difficulty of having a clear sense of that experience: again, the imagery of sight links in to that of memory—the hour is “crazed” and thus presumably opaque, and the injury takes place “past the curve of recall”, with “past the curve” presumably suggesting something like “over the horizon”, and thus invisible. If the poem is indeed an exploration or evocation of questions of loss and recovery, this is perhaps its basic premise, its statement of theme. The second stanza does not so much develop this theme as complicate it, adding instances of memory both passionate and distracting—intense felicity, tinnitus aurium, and the addition of what seems to be an external perspective on the possibly damaged brain in which some of these instance may be occurring: the checklist of responses, the switch to medical or pseudo-medical discourse at stanza end. The third stanza adopts simpler language, refers once more to the child but also to age and perhaps to death, “the way out”, while the poem’s final stanza combines the vocabulary of relativity with a sensual concreteness to close on a paradoxical but apparently conclusive description.

9Although this brief account draws on acts of interpretation it is also, I believe, a response to a shape. That shape is partly visual, consisting in the variety of its different blocks of text, which include moments of Olsonian open-field expansiveness in the second stanza, moments of apparent restriction such as that in the third stanza, and the fourth stanza’s simple alternating structure of unindented and indented lines. Indentation is patterned throughout the poem: thus, the opening lines of the poem’s four stanzas form an easily grasped sequence, starting close to the left-hand margin, moving out to almost the opposite extreme at the beginning of the second stanza, and rowing back leftwards thereafter. That this sequence describes a simple movement out and back seems likely to contribute to the reader’s overall sense of the poem’s thematics of movement through time, and perhaps of nostalgia.

10The shape is also, of course, prosodic, and the description of that prosodic shape is the main burden of this discussion. It will encompass both rhythm and intonation. The analysis of rhythm will largely proceed via the scansion of short passages, in part for reasons of presentational ease, but also for reasons having to do with an intuition that the perceived shape of a difficult or various poem such as this may be built up out of a few relatively tangible moments. In a predominantly non-metrical poem, these may well be those that are associated with more strongly patterned passages, including passages of metrical language—defined, following beat-offbeat metrics, as those from which a sequence of beats is likely to be inferred.

11The analysis of intonation, on the other hand, will have more macrotextual ambitions, attempting to sketch patterns which—like those visual patterns described above—are operative at the level of the poem as a whole. These patterns are predominantly those of tonal sequence. As noted above, one of the central oppositions in the intonation of English is that between falling and non-falling tones; in sketching the shape of “Again in the Black Cloud”, particular attention will be paid to the distribution of passages likely to give rise to sequences of non-falling tones. Attention will also be paid to highly probable variations in tone height: where the poem seems—notably by means of punctuation—to cue a greater or lesser degree of involvement or excitement on the part of the presumed speaker of one or another passage; the distribution of such passages will be examined.

12For the purposes of describing rhythm, this study will draw on the scansion marks established in Attridge 1982 and slightly modified in Carper and Attridge 2003. Those used in scansions included in this study are the following:

  • Beat associated with a prominent syllable: B

  • Offbeat associated with a non-prominent syllable: o

  • Offbeat associated with two syllables (a double offbeat), both of which are non-prominent: -o-

  • Offbeat associated with two syllables (a double offbeat), the first prominent, the second non-prominent: =o-

One additional mark, helpful in contexts where lines are short and regularly enjambed, is proposed: square brackets, which can denote the perceived boundaries of sequences of beats that are not coterminous with a single line.

13For intonation, the notations used derive from the British nuclear-tone tradition most completely represented by Wells 2006. As noted above, this experimental scansion will not engage, by any means, with the whole gamut of intonational behaviour in English, and will limit itself to describing the following phenomena:

  • intonation-group boundaries:|

  • non-nuclear pitch accents: ' before the syllable

  • nuclear tones: syllable underlined, and preceded by one of the following three tonal marks:

\  fall
/  rise
V fall-rise

  • high or low fall, rise or fall-rise: H or L before the tonal mark. This departs from Wells’s notations—which place the tonal marks in superscript and subscript respectively—in order to make scansions more readable.

These marks are assigned on the basis of knowledge of the literature describing typical intonational patterns, and of analysis of the poetic text’s inducements towards these, in particular in the domains of syntax, lineation, and interpretation. The marks are applied conservatively, seeking to build an analysis that is, though speculative, representative of more than idiosyncrasy.

14For clarity’s sake, intonation and rhythm will be treated consecutively in this discussion, and intonational and rhythmic scansions will not be not combined, although intonation-group boundaries will appear in both. One exception is that, where the rhythm of non-metrical passages needs to described, this will be done using intonational scansion marks, since non-nuclear pitch accents and nuclear tones are, of course, the most important phonetic components of speech rhythm in English.

15It seems reasonable to suppose that most readings of “Against the Black Cloud”, even more than is typical of spoken English, will tend towards a higher percentage of falling than of non-falling tones. This is partly because Prynne’s poetry of this period tends to be constructed of syntactically complete—or at least, syntactically completed—declarative sentences; partly because the paratactic nature of its syntax—and the arguably obscure nature of its sense—necessitates relatively infrequently that signalling of syntactic subordination which is one of non-falling tones’ main functions. Of course, many non-falling tones are likely to be present nevertheless; at the end of line 5, for example, where the noun-phrase subject is likely—partly on the grounds of the enjambment—to be given its own intonation group, a rising tone may be used to signal syntactic incompleteness:

However, in the first stanza, as in the last, I can find no evidence that likely cues to non-falling tones are clustered or otherwise patterned. The first and fourth stanzas should, therefore, be considered as unmarked from the point of view of the relationship of falling and non-falling tones apart from the slightly greater than average tendency to falling tones noted above. The closing lines of both seem likely to be experienced as dominated by falling tones.

A further link between first and fourth stanzas is that neither contains strong cues to attitudinal uses of intonation: that is, while readers are as ever free to use high or low tone to express more or less involvement with any given proposition that these stanzas contain, there is no obvious punctuational or other inducement to do so. It seems safe to say, therefore, that from the point of view both of tone choice and tone height the first and fourth stanzas of the poem resemble each other, and can constitute a relatively intonationally unmarked ground with which more marked passages or stanzas might contrast.

16The second and third stanzas might well play this role. The second is characterised—intonationally as visually—by greater variety than that which precedes it, concentrated in three moments of local patterning. The first is the questionnaire-like list of assessments. Whatever tone is selected for the performance of the four letters (a), (b), (c), (d)—since falls, level tones and rises are all possible, analysis of any one would be of limited interest—it is very probable that each will be assigned its own intonation group, and that the same tone will be used in all four cases. The resulting groups—among the shortest in the poem—will create a strong pattern of alteration with the longer groups that separate them:

17The “list” pattern—notable in itself—contrasts in many ways with the more meandering structures that follow it: visually, syntactically, and in its other stylistic characteristics, as the language of medical case-history is succeeded by an evocation of “aimless beasts”. In one respect, therefore, intonational scansion simply reveals the prosodic contrasts that accompany these more traditionally analysed ones; nonetheless, in hearing the poem, the prosodic contrasts are arguably the most noticeable of all of them. They constitute a moment of clearly graspable pattern within the ongoing movement of the poem.

18Other such moments within this second stanza are those which result from its use of punctuation that is likely to steer readers towards selecting pitch height on attitudinal grounds. The more obvious example is the pair of exclamation marks in ll. 31–32, which a reader capable of being attendri(e) by the expression of Wordworthian emotion that the lines sketch is, it must be thought, likely to perform with a high-fall—“more interested, more excited, more involved” than other falls (Cruttenden, 91):

Less self-evident—but no less powerful—in its possible intonational consequences is the lengthy quotation or pseudo-quotation that closes the second stanza; apt to be taken as satirical in the context of the more vividly emotive language that precedes it (“fear grips the optic muscle”), its objective, diagnostic syntax and lexis repay the use of the “unexcited [. . .] dispassionate” tone that is the low fall (Cruttenden 91):

The three fall-rises that separate the low-falls in this scansion—themselves, it may be noted, forming a small prosodic sequence—are motivated by that tone’s capacity to signal incompleteness and contrastivity; other non-falling tones could also be selected.

19If the first and fourth stanzas suggest a relatively unmarked, unpatterned use of intonation, with a certain homogeneity in the high proportion of probable falls, the second, then, includes much more varied activity. The third—significantly shorter—is less various, but such variety as it has is very notable, since what seems to arise from this eleven-line stanza is a strong contrast of both tonality and tone between its first and second halves. Its opening five lines are characterised by what seems to be a seepage of sustained scientific discourse—kept in quotation marks in stanza 2—into the main body of the poem. The dense, pedantic jargon includes lengthy noun groups, which are very unlikely to be internally subdivided by intonation; in consequence, the intonation-groups associated with these lines are lengthy and accent-rich:

The tones are, lacking cues to the contrary, here assumed to be falls.

20In contrast, the stanza’s closing lines have much shorter probable intonation groups; they also, in their manipulation of rhythm, enjambment and punctuation, contain inducements to use non-falling tones:

These inducements are, it seems to me, twofold. The first is the strong rhythmic drive of the lines, whose eight metrical beats—discussed below—distributed over two-beat lines bring with them a strong sense of forward projection. This projection is complicated by internal rhyme and enjambment, with patterns of metre, phrase and rhyme repeatedly failing to align before finally coming together on the word “rain”, which momentarily satisfies all three systems: rhythmic projection (it carries the eighth beat in an eight-beat sequence), rhyme (via the echo of “gain”) and syntax (it brings the sentence fragment that began with “is” to some form of credible closure)—before itself being completed by the material to the right of the colon; which, given the absence of a full stop after “out”, is itself, in turn, not fully conclusive. There is, in other words, a very great deal of non-finality at play in these lines, a very great deal of syntactic and other openness. To this reader, at least, this openness—which contrasts very powerfully with the move towards ageing and finality which the meaning of the lines seems to suggest—demands a comparable prosodic openness, and the use of tones which are understood by speakers of English as signals of incompleteness.

21This sketch of the possible intonational characteristics of performance of “Again in the Black Cloud” has, then, revealed the following basic pattern: a first stanza in which falls predominate and which is otherwise unmarked; a second stanza with a great deal of prosodic variety, and patterning within that variety, and which, like the first, ends on falling tones; a third stanza of two strongly contrasting halves, in the second of which multiple poetic systems combine to induce non-falling tones; a fourth stanza which returns to the unmarked, fall-final patterns of the first. The poem as a whole thus has a fairly simple prosodic shape. This shape—whose function can in some respects be presumed to be, like musical form, abstractly dynamic—is also closely linked to the overall meaning of the poem; as its prosody moves way from and returns to unmarkedness and fall, passing firstly via variety (stanza 2), and secondly via what one might sentimentalise as a late resistance to fall (stanza 3), the impression that the poem has given readers such as Reeve and Kerridge of dealing with a thematic of return, memory and age cannot fail to be reinforced.

22Against this intonational backdrop, the poem’s most rhythmical moments stand out sharply. The passages that seem unmistakably metrical both occur immediately before the close of the stanzas in which they occur (1, 4)—a fact which suggests their structural importance. Both seem to be passages of relative interpretative clarity, which reinforce one important implication of our analysis of the poem’s cues to intonational patterning: that the patterns of meaning and of form are, in this poem, homologous. Both, finally, lead to a conclusion that is probably non-metrical, but which echoes the metre that immediately precedes it in the number and distribution of its probable accents.

23This emergence of non-metrical from metrical pattern reverses a much more common device of non-metrical poetry: that in which a passage of metre seems to emerge from the nonmetrical lines that precede it. The locus classicus of this device is Whitman’s “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”, in whose final line Paul Fussell finds “the shock of regular iambic pentameter registering a different and more valid way of perceiving” (85). Prynne does this very frequently in his poetry of the late 1960s—see, for example, “From End to End”, “In Cimmerian Darkness”, “Whose Dust Did You Say”, and the comments in Berget (20–21)—the poetry thereby acquiring a strong sense of orderly closure. “Again in the Black Cloud”, however, eschews this sense of closure for an arguably more complex phenomenon. In lines 11–12, as in line 54, the distribution of accents echoes the metre which has just been experienced—four-beat and two-beat respectively—but, because of an irregular distribution of non-prominent syllables, it does not quite permit it to continue. In such circumstances, the non-metrical conclusion seems almost to critique the preceding metre; the poem’s prosody seems to imply, and foster, an analysis in which metre both represents and constitutes an order that, for all its seductive power, has insufficient value as a structuring, or a dramatization, of experience.

24It may, finally, be noted that the last line of the poem’s last stanza echoes the last line of its first, both prosodically and in its apparently aphoristic or diagnostic vocation:

The sequence of probable intonation groups in l. 54 echoes that which stretches over ll. 11–12, both in the distribution of group boundaries and in the number and nature of probable nuclear tones and other syllabic prominences. As such, and especially given the complexities and differences that concluded the intervening second and third stanzas, it helps readings of the poem to close with an enriched and echoic sense of poem-internal context; as elsewhere in Prynne, return, of a kind, is achieved.

25The analyses set out in this study have sought to extend the kinds of discussions that can be engaged about a poetry that is, from the point of view of its form, traditionally under-described. What has emerged from them is a reinforcement of our sense of Prynne as a shaper, a poet who uses cues to intonation and metrical pattern to give the sense of a poem as developing structure or shape even when no argument or narrative can be discerned, creating what Jim Keery calls “the excitement of the music” (76) and deepening the poem’s engagement with the experience of time, memory and order. Such a conception of Prynne’s work by no means prevents a continued focus on its openings to and disruptions of interpretation, yet it may suggest the possibility of a mode of reception that is not without similarities to one sketched by John Ashbery in 1965, for all the British poet’s greater sense of semantic attack:

What I like about music is its ability of being convincing, of carrying an argument through successfully to the finish, though the terms of this argument remain unknown quantities. What remains is the structure, the architecture of the argument, scene or story. I would like to do this in poetry. (Ashbery, qu. Shoptaw, 211)

Whether, on the other hand, the forms, meanings and pleasures described here constitute important satisfactions to Prynne’s admirers—or indeed seductive ones to readers new to his poetry—is beyond the scope of this study.

26Finally, although the author of this paper concurs fully with Simon Jarvis’s statement that “the criticism that takes care to delete all indemonstrable claims may also have taken care to delete the field of criticism itself” (17), the techniques used here do demand more investigation, and more demonstration, than they have hitherto received, even if the claims made have deliberately sought to be modest ones. One possibility, for example, would be the testing of the intonational scansions against different readers’ performances of the poem; undoubtedly, some such future research will be necessary if scansion for intonation is ever to complement the reviving art of scansion for rhythm.

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Shoptaw, John, “The Music of Construction: Measure and Polyphony in Ashbery and Bernstein”, The Tribe of John: Ashbery and Contemporary Poetry, ed. Susan M. Schultz, Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1995, 213–251.

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1 I am very grateful to the poet for permission to quote the complete text of “Again in the Black Cloud”. The poem is © J.H. Prynne.

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Lacy Rumsey, « Describing Shape in the Poetry of J.H. Prynne: Rhythm and Intonation in “Again in the Black Cloud” »Études britanniques contemporaines, 39 | 2010, 109-128.

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Lacy Rumsey, « Describing Shape in the Poetry of J.H. Prynne: Rhythm and Intonation in “Again in the Black Cloud” »Études britanniques contemporaines [En ligne], 39 | 2010, mis en ligne le 11 février 2016, consulté le 05 décembre 2023. URL : ; DOI :

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Lacy Rumsey

Lacy Rumsey lectures in British and American Literature at the École normale supérieure de Lyon. He has published numerous articles on twentieth-century poetry, with a particular focus on the analysis of rhythm.

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