This report by the Advisory Board, along with the essay by Wimsatt and Beardsley, together suggest that, while the assumption of a metrical or a racial essence has encountered various forms of critical resistance, the commitment to thinking in terms of such essences has proven resilient. One reason for this is suggested by Wimsatt and Beardsley’s statement, previously quoted, that their assumption of a metrical essence is “fundamental”— indeed, that it is “inevitable for any discussion of ‘meter’” (587). They reassert this inevitability when, in a reply to critics of their meter essay, they provide a “defense of the moderate degree of Platonism in which we indulged”: “Our little joke, ‘if there is any poem,’ was an excuse for the economy of giving metrical theory something to talk about” (Hendren, Wimsatt, and Beardsley 307). As metrical theorists talk about how to “distinguish the metrical from the non-metrical” (“Concept of Meter” 587) and discuss—for those lines that are metrical—what meter to assign them, they make reference to the “features by which one English meter is distinguished from another” (Hendren, Wimsatt, and Beardsley 307). It is these features, Wimsatt and Beardsley later assert, that their account of a (Platonic) metrical essence was intended to addresses: “We are concerned with such observable facts as that when two poems have the same meter, they have a common quality which can be heard in both, and we are interested in discovering what that quality is” (Schwartz, Wimsatt, and Beardsley 674). It is awareness of this quality “which (in the poet) shapes the linguistic structure of the line itself and (in the reader) recognizes that structure” (Hendren, Wimsatt, and Beardsley 307). This shared “recognition” of the “different kinds of English meter” (Hendren, Wimsatt, and Beardsley 308) is what “giv[es] metrical theory something to talk about,” whether the meter be iambic, dactylic, anapestic, trochaic, or whatever. Not only does it enable the recognition of difference among meters, but the assumption of a metrical essence also, according to Wimsatt and Beardsley, permits prosodists to discuss the relationship between meter and individual lines of verse. Their essay acknowledges:

the constant strain or tension of a meter (as an abstract norm or expectancy) against the concrete or full reality of the poetic utterance…. There is no line so regular (so evenly alternating weak and strong) that it does not show some tension.

(596) Indeed, they note that, once a critic identifies the meter associated with a given “poetic utterance,” he or she typically places these tensions at the center of discussion: “This interest in tension, or interaction, is excellent. But how,” Wimsatt and Beardsley ask, “can there be a tension without two things to be in tension?” (596). In order for the uttered line to be in tension with its meter, there must be an abstract meter associated with—but nevertheless irreducible to—that line, and it is in this additional sense that Wimsatt and Beardsley take their “assumption” of an abstract metrical essence to be “inevitable for any discussion of ‘meter’” (587). By this logic, whether prosodists are discussing the qualitative differences among meters or the quantitative tension between an abstract meter and the concrete utterance of a particular line, they simply cannot proceed without assuming a metrical essence.