Essays in Romanticism

John Clare’s Speaking Voices: Dialect, Orality, and the Intermedial Poetic Text

Essays in Romanticism (2018), 25, (1), 85–100.

Abstract

This essay considers John Clare’s experiments with the dynamic interplay between poetry and speech, examining his lifelong interest in the diction and grammar of speech, the aural qualities of dialect, and the many ways poems prompt live voicings and inner subvocalization. For Clare, speech opened written verse to strands of English that lay outside the prestige sociolect of Standard English, drawing onto the page the words and rhythms of regional and historical vernaculars. In poems that engage most directly with the unique powers of speech, he forges a collaborative exchange between the media of orality, writing, and print. By taking seriously these poems’ claims to capture speaking voices, this essay casts new light on Clare’s poetic language and on the larger relation between print, writing, and orality in nineteenth-century poetry.

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Details

Author details

Weiner, Stephanie Kuduk