‘Shelley’s “compelling rhyme schemes” in The Triumph of Life’

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Abstract

Many critics have noted The Triumph of Life's contradictory understandings of ‘life’, interpreting these contradictions as the product of thematic intention or thematic uncertainty. Drawing on a few deconstructive concepts about language and applying these to Shelley's rhymes in The Triumph of Life, this essay argues that in Shelley's poem rhymes create and disseminate equivocality of meaning but also offer Shelley a means of engaging creatively with that equivocality, and it is this interplay between form and poet that produces the poem's contradictory readings of ‘life’. It also suggests that paying attention to this interplay working itself out does not just tell us something fundamental about The Triumph of Life but also a great deal about Shelley's more general sensitive responsiveness to what he describes in A Defence of Poetry as the ‘relations’ between ‘sounds’ and the ‘uniform and harmonious recurrence of sound’, without which poetry, for Shelley, ‘were not poetry’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-89
JournalRomanticism
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

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