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by George J. Dance

'Formalism' in poetry refers to poetry written in verse, with meter and often with end rhyme (although blank verse is normally also considered formal verse).

The term 'neo-formalist' or 'new formalist' is sometimes used.to distinguish modern formalist verse from traditional poetry.

History Edit

Before the 20th century, almost all of English-language poetry was written in meter; the only sharp distinction in form was between rhymed formal verse and unrhymed formal verse, and many poets (such as Shakespeare and Milton) were equally skillful in both. It makes little sense to use the term "formalist" in relation to poetry of those days, since – with a few exceptions, like William Blake, who were widely seen as eccentrics – everyone was a formalist. It is only with the rise of modernist poetry, in the early decades of the 20th century, that "formalism" becomes a relevant term that reflects a real difference.


See also Edit

  • The Formalist, a literary magazine (now defunct) for formalist poetry
  • New Formalism, a movement within the poetry of the United States.

External linksEdit

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