ABSTRACT

In the comprehensive collection o f metrical studies which we have imagined burdening the shelves of some large library, two relatively short periods would be noteworthy for the space they demand: the decades around the beginning of the present century, which produced voluminous contributions to the two traditions we have discussed, and the years since about 1960, which have seen a flood of metrical investigation that shows no sign of abating. The latter proliferation is, of course, part o f a general phenomenon in academic publishing, but it does not seem to be mere coincidence that during the same period there has been a huge expansion in a closely related discipline, linguistic science. In 1957, the publication of Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures, like the launching of the first orbital satellite in the same year, opened up new realms for exploration, and though both events were signs o f much broader intellectual advances in their respective fields, they deserve the symbolic status they have acquired. Inevitably, and quite properly, progress in linguistic theory has deeply influenced the study o f the literary uses of language, and the effects have been felt nowhere more strongly than in the investigation of metre, whether manifested in defiant rejection or in rapturous embrace. Although the connection between the two realms has always existed, and has often proved profitable to both,1 the explosion in linguistic theory produced by Chomsky’s first book means that the student of prosody stands to lose more than ever by ignoring the sister discipline.