Prosody (1152 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume : WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.


Prosody is the music of speech, a set of signifying systems that causes syllables to differ in pitch, duration and perceived prominence. Prosodic variation, particularly in tempo, is an important device in poetry and prose: consider, for example, the way the following persuasion to suicide from Spenser’s Faerie Queene achieves its hypnotic lulling rhythms partly through the insistent repetition of a small set of long vowels (particularly ee, o(r) and ay:

Is not short pain well borne, that brings long ease, 
And lays the soul to sleep in quiet grave,
Sleep after toil, port after stormy s

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Editors. "Prosody". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 January 2005
[, accessed 21 January 2019.]

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