Embedded Meaning of Free Verse Types - With an Example from the Introduction of T. S. Eliot’s ‘Ash-Wednesday’ in Swedish

in Stylistics and Social Cognition
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Eliot’s versification technique changes over time, but a freely used 4 beat line is its most significant device. Eliot takes up tendencies in ordinary speech, styling the phrases into something more salient. In many European countries, free verse was introduced in opposition to the taste of a conservative middle class. ‘Ash-Wednesday’ (1930) was translated into Swedish in 1938 by the modernist poet Erik Lindegren. The conservatism and religiosity of Eliot as well as his erudition made his authorship central to the Swedish middle class reader. On the other hand, as a leading modernist he fitted into the ideals of young avant garde poets of the time.

In ‘Ash Wednesday’, Lindegren transferred the verse rhythm in a way which comes closer to speech rhythm than the original. He thus underlined Eliot’s so-called conversational style. In this way, Lindegren tried to make Eliot a bit more avant garde than he really was, thereby supporting the young Swedish modernists whose cause was thus helped by the perceived support of a highly ranked international author like Eliot.

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