Dynamics of Tonal Shift in the Sonnet

Author: Rich, Morton
This volume uniquely combines syntax analysis and suprasegmental phoneme analysis of tape-recorded performances of sonnets. What sets this study apart from other works on literary tone is that it dramatically diminishes the problem of subjectivity. Before this work, attempts to name something that was felt generated terminology and definitions that were no more illuminating than the terms themselves. The study avoids the problem by recasting the question as one concerning tonal shifts, specifically those that occur at the volta or voltas of sonnets. Syntax analysis is an objective tool that allows for independent verification; and suprasegmental phoneme analysis allows sufficient verification to be a valuable adjunct to syntax analysis. When these tools are used together, voltas and, therefore, tonal shifts can be located grammatically by the reader, and all the other formal elements of the sonnet, whether Elizabethan, Petrarchan, or hybrid, become more pronounced. Through this method, original interpretations emerge in ways that are not likely to be otherwise obtained. This study enriches our understanding of voltas and sonnets, and emphasizes the value of syntax analysis in literary studies.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Preface; Introduction
Part One: Problem and Subproblems: Definitions of Terms; Delimitations; Basic Assumptions: Need for the Study; Related Literature; Methodology
Part Two: The Sonnets
1. Sir Philip Sidney, “When sorrow (using mine own fire’s might)”
2. Fulke Greville, “In night, when colors all to black”
3. Edmund Spenser, “Fair ye be sure, but cruel and Unkind”
4. William Shakespeare, 71, “No longer mourn for me when I am dead”
5. William Shakespeare, 129, “The expense of spirit in a waste of shame”
6. John Donne, “Death, be not proud”
7. John Milton, “Methought I saw my late espoused saint”
8. Charles Cotton, “Martha is not so tall. . .”
9. William Wordsworth, “The world is too much with us. . .”
10. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Work Without Hope”
11. John Keats, “Fame, like a wayward Girl. . .”
12. Matthew Arnold, “To a Republican Friend, 1848”
13. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “Silent Noon”
14. Edna St. Vincent Millay, “I will put chaos into fourteen lines”
15. Thom Gunn, “From the Highest Camp”