Rhythm: Breaking the Illusion

  • Lyndsey Stonebridge
Part of the Language, Discourse, Society book series (LDS)


Where Fry distinguishes the rhythms of life from those of art, in Woolf’s writing the ebb and flow of rhythm seems to pull life into the order of art. In her ‘Letter to a Young Poet’ Woolf champions an elegiac and lyrical rhythmical instinct that has the power to transcend disunity, to make a ‘whole’ out of the ‘separate fragments’ of contemporary experience. Woolf had given a voice to such a young poet in the character of Bernard in The Waves:

But it is a mistake, this extreme precision, this orderly and military progress; a convenience, a lie. There is always deep below it, even when we arrive punctually at the appointed time with our white waistcoats and polite formalities, a rushing stream of broken dreams, nursery rhymes, street cries, half-finished sentences and sights — elm trees, willow trees, gardeners sweeping, women writing — that rise and sink even as we hand a lady down to dinner.3


Literary History Figurative Language Collective Identification Poetic Language Psychic Life 
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Copyright information

© Lyndsey Stonebridge 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lyndsey Stonebridge
    • 1
  1. 1.University of East AngliaUK

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