Vers libre

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Vers libre is an open form of poetry that abandons consistent meter patterns, rhyme, or other forms of musical pattern. It thus tends to follow the rhythm of natural speech.

Prefatory[edit]

Vers libre is a poetic form of flexibility, complexity and naturalness[1] created in the late 19th century in France,in 1886, largely through the activities of La Vogue, a weekly journal founded by Gustave Kahn,[2] and the appearance of a band of poets unequalled at any one time in the history of French poetry,[3] the ‘Counter-Romanticism’ led by Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Mallarmé, Laforgue, Corbière,[4] concerned with synaethesis (the harmony or equilibrium of sensation)[5] later described as ‘ the moment when French poetry began to take consciousness of itself as poetry’.[6]Gustave Kahn was commonly supposed to have invented the term Vers libre and according to F. S. Flint ‘was undoubtedly the first theorist of the techniques ‘.[7] Later in 1912, Robert de Souza published his conclusion on the genre[8] ‘ that a vers libre was possible which would keep all the essential characteristics of vers classique, but would free it from the encumbrances which usage had made appear indispensable.[9] Thus the practice of verse libre was not the abandoning of pattern, but the creation of an original and complicated metrical form for each poem.[10] The formal stimulii for vers libre were vers libéré,(French verse of the late 19th century that liberated itself from classical rules of versification whilst observing the principle of isosyllabism and regular patterned rhyme),and vers libre classique,(a minor French genre of the 17th and 18th century which conformed to classic concepts, but in which lines of different length were irregularly and unpredictable combined), and vers populaire (versification derived from oral aspects of popular song).[11]Remy de Gourmont's Livre des Masques gave definition to the whole vers libre movement [12] noting there should arise, at regular intervals, a full and complete line, which reassures the ear and guides the rhythm.[13]

Form and structure[edit]

The unit of vers libre is not the foot, the number of the syllables, the quantity, or the line. The unit is the strophe, which may be the whole poem, or only a part. Each strophe is a complete circle.[14] in vers libre ‘verse-formal based upon cadence that allows the lines to flow as they will when read aloud by an intelligent reader’.[15] Unrhymed cadence in vers libre is built upon 'organic rhythm,' or the rhythm of the speaking voice with its necessity for breathing, rather than upon a strict metrical system.[16] for vers libre addresses the ear not the eye.[17] Vers libre is liberated from traditional rules concerning metre, caesura and line end stopping,[18] every syllable pronounced is of nearly equal value but is less strongly accented than in English, being less intense requires less disciple to mold the accents into the poem's rhythm.[19] This new technique as defined by Kahn consisted of the denial of a regular number of syllables as the basis for versification, the length of line is long and short, oscillating with images used by the poet following the contours of his thoughts and is free rather than regular.[20]

Legacy[edit]

Vers libre, until 1912, had hardly been heard of outside of France[21] until T. E. Hulme and F. S. Flint shared their knowledge thereof in 1909 with the Poets Club in London[22] which later became the heart of the Imagist movement[23] and through Flint’s advocacy of the genre[24] and thus vers libre influenced Imagism in the discovery of new forms and ryhthms.[25] Imagism, in the wake of French Symbolism ( i.e. vers libre of French Symbolist poets,[26] was the wellspring out of which the main current of Modernism in English flowed,[27] which T. S. Eliot later identified as ‘the point de repere usually taken as the starting point of modern poetry’,[28] as hundreds of poets were led to adopt vers libre as their medium[29]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hover, Richard Poet in Town Interview with Boston Record Sept 1898
  2. ^ Scott, Clive, Vers libre : the emergence of free verse in France, 1886-1914 Clarendon Press, Oxford ISBN 978-0-19-815159-3
  3. ^ Hulme, T. E. Lecture on Modern Poetry, Kensington Town Hall 1914
  4. ^ Pratt, William,Introduction to The Influence of French Symbolism on Modern American Poetry by René Taupin, AMS Press Inc, New York 1985 ISBN 0-404-61579-1
  5. ^ I A Richards & C.K.Ogden The Foundations of Aesthestics, Lear Publisher, New York 1925
  6. ^ Maritain Jaques, The Situation of Poetry Now, Philosophical Library, New York, 1955
  7. ^ Flint, F. S., Contemporary French Poetry,The Poetry Review Aug 1912
  8. ^ de Souza, Robert, Du Rythme en Francais, Welter, Paris 1912
  9. ^ Taupin, René, The Influence of French Symbolism on Modern American Poetry (1986),(trans William Pratt) Ams Studies in Modern Literature, ISBN 0-404-61579-1
  10. ^ Pondrom, Cryrena The Road from Paris, French Influence on English Poetry 1900-1920 Cambridge University Press 1974 ISBN 978-0-521-13119-3
  11. ^ Scott, Clive, Vers libre : the emergence of free verse in France, 1886-1914 Clarendon Press, Oxford ISBN 978-0-19-815159-3
  12. ^ Read, Herbert The Tenth Muse New York 1958
  13. ^ Remy de Gourmant, Le Probleme du Style, Paris 1900
  14. ^ Lowes, John Livingston Conventions and Revolt in Poetry Houghton Mifflin, Boston 1919
  15. ^ Lowell, Amy, Preface, Sword Blades and Poppy Seed; North American Review for January, 1917
  16. ^ Lowes, John Livingston Conventions and Revolt in Poetry Houghton Mifflin, Boston 1919
  17. ^ de Souza Robert, Du Rythme en Francais, Welter, Paris 1912
  18. ^ Kahn, Gustave, Le Vers libre, Paris, 1923 ASIN: B008XZTTY2
  19. ^ Taupin, René, The Influence of French Symbolism on Modern American Poetry (1986),(trans William Pratt) Ams Studies in Modern Literature, ISBN 0-404-61579-1
  20. ^ Hulme, T. E., Lecture on Modern Poetry, Kensington Town Hall 1914
  21. ^ Aldington, Richard, A Young American Poet The Little Review, March 1915.
  22. ^ Pondrom, Cryrena The Road from Paris, French Influence on English Poetry 1900-1920 Cambridge University Press 1974 ISBN 978-0-521-13119-3
  23. ^ F. S. Flint, The History of Imagism Essay in The Egoist May 1915
  24. ^ Jones Peter (editor) Introduction to Imagist Poetry Penguin Books ISBN 0-14-042147-5
  25. ^ Review of Imagist Anthology 1930 Times Literary Supplement June 1931
  26. ^ Pratt William Introduction to The Imagist Poem, modern poetry in miniature Uno Press 1963 edition ISBN 978-0-9728143-8-6
  27. ^ Pratt William Preface to The Imagist Poem, modern poetry in miniatureUno Press 1963 edition ISBN 978-0-9728143-8-6
  28. ^ ,Eliot T. S. Address To Criticize the Critic to Washington University June 1953, Faber & Faber 1965
  29. ^ Untermeyer, Louis, Preface to Modern American Poetry Harcourt Brace& Co New York 1950

Further reading[edit]

  • Taupin, René The Influence of French Symbolism on Modern American Poetry (1986),(trans William Pratt) Ams Studies in Modern Literature, ISBN 0-404-61579-1
  • Pondrom, Cryrena The Road from Paris, French Influence on English Poetry 1900-1920 Cambridge University Press 1974 ISBN 978-0-521-13119-3
  • Scott, Clive, Vers libre : the emergence of free verse in France, 1886-1914 Clarendon Press, Oxford ISBN 978-0-19-815159-3
  • Kahn, Gustave, Le Vers libre, Paris, 1923 ASIN: B008XZTTY2
  • Pound, Ezra, The Approach to Paris The New Age Sep 1913

External links[edit]

Vers libre read aloud