© 2018

Modern Marriage and the Lyric Sequence


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Jane Hedley
    Pages 55-72
  3. Jane Hedley
    Pages 73-93
  4. Jane Hedley
    Pages 133-164
  5. Jane Hedley
    Pages 165-191
  6. Jane Hedley
    Pages 193-210
  7. Jane Hedley
    Pages 211-222
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 223-239

About this book


Modern Marriage and the Lyric Sequence investigates the ways in which some of our best poets writing in English have used poetic sequences to capture the lived experience of marriage. Beginning in 1862 with George Meredith’s Modern Love, Jane Hedley’s study utilizes the rubrics of temporality, dialogue, and triangulation to bring a deeply rooted and vitally interesting poetic genre into focus.  Its twentieth- and twenty-first-century practitioners have included Edna St. Vincent Millay, Robert Lowell, Rita Dove, Eavan Boland, Louise Glück, Anne Carson, Ted Hughes, Claudia Emerson, Rachel Zucker, and Sharon Olds.  In their poetic sequences the flourishing or failure of a particular marriage is always at stake, but as that relationship plays out over time, each sequence also speaks to larger questions: why we marry, what a marriage is, what our collective stake is in other people’s marriages.  In the book’s final chapter gay marriage presents a fresh testing ground for these questions, in light of the US Supreme Court’s affirmation of same-sex marriage.


marriage institution lyric poetry relationships same-sex marraiges lyric sequence marriage poetry marriage sequence Modern Love George Meredith Edna St. Vincent Millay Robert Lowell Rita Dove

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Bryn Mawr CollegeBryn Mawr,PAUSA

About the authors

Jane Hedley is Stapleton Emeritus Professor of English at Bryn Mawr College, USA. She has published extensively on both Renaissance and contemporary lyric poetry, with a particular emphasis on gender politics, poetic figuration, and the social implications of poetic performance.


Bibliographic information


“Hedley’s emphasis is as much on the way modern poets have represented the pleasures and satisfactions of marriage as on their attention to its discords and torments.  Engagingly written and full of superb readings, Modern Marriage and the Lyric Sequence should find an appreciative audience among scholars, teachers, and students of modern and contemporary poetry.” (Roger Gilbert, Professor of English, Cornell University, USA)