Southall, R. (1961)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
The contention of the essay which follows is that the presumption that Wyatt's rhythm can be judged by standards which are impervious to the actual performance of his poetry, to the actual affects achieved and the 'meanings' thereby imparted, leads ineluctably to the rejection of Wyatt's poetry by prosodists and that the rejection of that presumption leads as rigourously to the conclusion that prosody (as that term is widely understood) has no role to play in the assessment of Wyatt's poetry.
Evidence in favour of this conclusion is provided by the slight and previously unacknowledged testimony of the punctuation of two principal Wyatt manuscripts (transcripts of which are provided in vols. 2 and 3) and slightly reinforced by attention to the phrasal rhyme-scheme of some of the poems. The evidence is considered suggestive rather than conclusive, but by following through the suggestion of a non-quantitative rhythmical principle an attempt is made to show that in Wyatt's poetry there is a creative and dramatic significance indicative of a pervasive though limited set of preoccupations - metaphysical, political and psychological - within the poems.
In conclusion it is maintained that, although no final placing of Wyatt can rest purely upon his rhythmical accomplishment, the approach to Wyatt's rhythm which has been proposed is important in that it reveals a presence of such basic and important preoccupations in the poems and these, set within but transforming the conventions of amour courtois, are finally adduced to establish Wyatt's place in relation to the sixteenth century.
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