Iambic Pentameter From Shakespeare to Browning a Study in Generative Metrics

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This study advances the debate over metrical description to a new level. The debate concerns how best to describe and account for (in perceptual terms) the rule-governed metrical practice of poets writing iambic pentameter in English. The major contribution of the study is to reconcile the opposing points of view of the Halle and Keyser theory and the Kiparsky theory. It accounts for the placement in the poetic line of all the stress-and-intonation-break sequences observed by the earlier theorists, and some additional ones as well. It outlines a basis in linguistic perception for the practice of many important poets writing iambic pentameter, and accounts for the occasional anapestic/iambic lines which recur throughout the iambic pentameter tradition and attain great prominence in the work of Robert Browning. Such lines have gone all by unnoticed by other metrical scholarship.


"Harvey's book is a useful and provocative contribution to generative metrical theory. It will be of interest to linguists and literary critics who seek to discover the cognitive perceptual principles that underlie English iambic pentameter verse." - Gilbert Youmans

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