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Burney, Fatima (2020) 'Strategies of Sound and Stringing in Ebenezer Pocock’s West–East Verse.' Comparative Critical Studies, 17 (2). pp. 319-336.

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In an effort to capture how Orientalist translations, imitations and criticism of Asian poetry came to inform the idealization of lyric as a universal genre, this paper focuses on the practice of poetic metre in the nineteenth century. How did Victorian conceptions of recitational communities, bounded by shared ‘national’ metres, square against the wealth of translated works that were a major component of Victorian print culture? The amateur Orientalist Ebenezer Pocock explained various metres and musical practices associated with ‘Persian lyrics’ in his book Flowers of the East (1833) and offered equivalent metres in English before replicating these shared English/Persian metres in his own imitative poem ‘The Khanjgaruh: A Fragment’. This article sketches how Pocock's casting of this hybrid material in metres that would already have been recognizable to his English readers seems to have the intended effect of both orienting his work towards his domestic audience and grounding such a flexible approach within the Persian tradition itself. Pocock's poem sits amongst a range of accompanying materials including translations of Sa‘dī and scholarly essays on comparative philology and Persian literary history. Each of these different pieces supports the collection's greater effort – best encapsulated by ‘The Khanjgaruh’ – to both remember and imagine the shared poetic history between Asia and Europe. Pocock's writing thus emblemizes how the nineteenth-century ‘West–East lyric’ was a product of both historical and philological recovering as well as the willed creation of poets and poetry enthusiasts. As a category, lyric performs a binding function in Pocock's work to pull together a linguistically and professionally diverse community of writers.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: metre, Victorian, amateur, lyric, imitation, Persian
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics
ISSN: 17500109
Copyright Statement: © Fatima Burney. The online version of this article is published as Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial Licence ( which permits non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction provided the original work is cited. For commercial re-use, please refer to our website at:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2021 12:47
Funders: European Union

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