“The Insidious Mastery of Song”: Cadence and Decadence in the Early Poems

  • Susan ReidEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Music and Literature book series (PASTMULI)


This chapter, “‘The Insidious Mastery of Song’: Cadence and Decadence in the Early Poems”, surveys Lawrence’s early musical life as a prelude to investigating his use of the cadences of folk song and hymns and his negotiation of a Romantic legacy of transcendent song. Edward Marsh’s criticisms of Lawrence’s poetic rhythms provoked a deepening engagement with the musicality of decadent poetry, exemplified by Ernest Dowson, while the evolution of his poem “Piano” suggests Charles Baudelaire, A.C. Swinburne, and Thomas Hardy as important forebears in forging a poetics that also helped to shape a musical prose. Like his contemporaries, Ezra Pound and W.B. Yeats, Lawrence’s modernist cadences were formed through what Vincent Sherry usefully frames as a “reinvention of decadence”.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Northampton NorthamptonNorthamptonshireUK

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