This article tells the long history of poetry's relation to music and religion through the story of common meter in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Combining a new formalist sensibility of the text together with the more recent theories developed by the New Lyric studies, it aims to correct a critical coding of early modern poetry that distinguishes popular--as verse, meter, doggerel, rhyme--from elite, "literary" poetic production, despite its best-known poet, Thomas Sternhold, being a member of elite court circles. Enabled by a blinkered focus on a so-called "purely literary" poetic heritage routed through Tottel's Miscellany, the history of the sound of post-medieval English poetry has relied on divorcing it from its origins in musical church practices. Taking up the examples of Thomas Wyatt and George Herbert and then turning to Thomas Hardy and George Eliot's depictions of the nineteenth-century schism in church musical practices, this essay reveals how writers at once depended upon the common meter of Sternhold and John Hopkins while increasingly insisting upon an emerging literary elite at a distance from such metered rhyme.


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pp. 555-585
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