Letter on Sound

Susan Stewart

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

9 Scopus citations


This chapter focuses on lyric poetry and its features such as counterpoint, harmony, syncopation, stress, duration, and timbre. It also presents the number of complex conditions under which that "sound" is and is not an aspect of lyric. The complexity of the relation between lyric and musicality is that the dynamic tension between sound and semantic can at once both extend and diminish meaning. This chapter also describes features of sound manipulation in poetry such as counterpoising, tagging, echo effects, diagramming, and the "ornamental" devices of rubrication and embellishment that can make the relation between sound and meaning particularly textured and complex. As a figure of spoken sound, the poem produces effects of transformation in sound and it does not fix or reify the terms of utterance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationClose Listening
Subtitle of host publicationPoetry and the Performed Word
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199855261
ISBN (Print)0195109929, 9780195109924
StatePublished - Jul 2 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Counterpoint
  • Diagramming
  • Duration
  • Echo effects
  • Lyric and musicality
  • Lyric poetry
  • Stress
  • Syncopation
  • Tagging
  • Timbre


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