Linguistic Approaches to Poetry
  • ISSN 0774-5141
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9676
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By employing a mathematical characterisation of the distinction between prose and verse, namely the randomword length features of English prose and the non-random features of verse, it is possible to detect mathematical lineation in writings that are not typographically lineated. For example, such lineation can be shown to be present in T. S. Eliot's poem Burnt Norton (1941), and Jim Crace's prose ction Quarantine (1997). In the rst of these cases we show that the verse is lineated in units of four syllables, while the other sections of The Four Quartets are not lineated. In the second we show that Crace's text is lineated in syllabic groups of two, four, six, eight, ten, and subsequent multiples of two. Quarantine, we demonstrate, is non-randomly segmented, and while it does not employ a core isometric line length, and its lines do not follow on one from another, it is still, and in a novel and important sense, lineated. In this paper we offer further comments on appropriate statistical methods for such work, and also on the nature of formal innovation in these two texts. Additional remarks are made on the roots of lineation as a metrical form, and on the prose-verse continuum.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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