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The Scissors of Meter concerns itself with the ways we read poetry. In it, Donald Wesling elaborates his influential theory of grammetrics, which argues that syntax and meter, like a pair of scissors, work together to separate lines of poetry into distinct units of meaning.
The first part of the book provides a critique of modern theories of meter and poetic form, which the author believes are limited by errors of logical typing, false analogy with other languages or other arts like music, and ethical assumptions, as well as an inability to be interpretive.
Subsequent chapters present the theory of grammetrics and demonstrate its usefulness by applying it to fourteen diverse poems. Wesling demonstrates that the reintroduction of metrics into the humanities allows for grammetrical readings of a variety of poetic styles, such as traditional verse, free verse, and prose poems, from diverse historical eras.
Donald Wesling is Professor of English, University of California, San Diego.