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Keeping the Ancient WayAspects of the Life and Work of Henry Vaughan (1621-1695)$
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Robert Wilcher

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781800859746

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781800859746.001.0001

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Henry Vaughan and the Practice of Poetry

Henry Vaughan and the Practice of Poetry

(p.289) Chapter Ten Henry Vaughan and the Practice of Poetry
Keeping the Ancient Way

Robert Wilcher

Liverpool University Press

This chapter notes that early critics expressed distaste for Vaughan’s use of metaphysical conceits, disjointed rhythms and imperfect rhymes; and it explores the more nuanced approaches to these features of his style that were developed during the twentieth century. Examples from his secular and his religious poetry are analysed to demonstrate his mastery of iambic metres in both couplets and quatrains; the significance for his rhymes of Welsh pronunciation and of the bardic system of consonantal echo known as proest is explained; his use of the Welsh poetic form of dyfalu is illustrated; and his virtuoso management of complex stanzas is discussed. Detailed analyses confirm his ability to sustain poems in regular forms and attention is drawn to his experiments with irregular ‘organic form’.

Keywords:   conceits, rhythms, iambic metres, rhymes, couplets, quatrains, proest, dyfalu, complex stanzas, organic form

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