Questioning the Prose Poem: Thoughts on Geoffrey Hill’s Mercian Hymns
Roman Jakobson describes the poetic function as being peculiarly self-focused. Poetry is uniquely bent upon investigating its own potency as language. So what of the prose poem, a form that stands seemingly midway between poetry and prose? Does it still perform Jakobson’s poetic function, or does it edge closer to prose? This essay questions the prose poem through examples of prose that could be deemed as prose poetry, but the author examines why and why not. The thirty short sections of Geoffrey Hill’s Mercian Hymns constantly exhibit linguistic intensity and rhythmic potency, but no rhyme. They focus the question of the prose poem at its most problematic and, again, this essay asks why.
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