Abstract

Alfred Tennyson’s In Memoriam (1850) uses polyptoton—the repetition of a word in different forms or grammatical cases—with extraordinary frequency and to extraordinary effect. The trope powerfully reinforces two of the poem’s central motifs. First, polyptoton embodies, at a verbal level, the constant evolutionary change that proves so crucial to the imagery and ideology of the poem. Second, polyptoton reflects the poem’s speculation, its tendency to offer varying ideas about a single theme. The trope carries important resonances not only for Tennyson’s poem but also for the genre of elegy, which depends on the ability and willingness to imagine alternatives.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1522-9270
Print ISSN
0039-3657
Pages
pp. 731-750
Launched on MUSE
2015-12-07
Open Access
No
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