“Last least of her voices”: the voice of poetry

Michael Wilson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


Commencing with an analysis of lines by the Victorian poet Swinburne, this essay draws on cross-disciplinary research practices to suggest new thoughts for the consideration of poetic production and identity. It contests the prevelant belief that poetry is solely made of 'words', represented by Mallarme's famous dictum and taken up throughout twentieth-century poetic thought, most vocally by Terry Eagleton who descries the poetry of Swinburne as non-poetry, being sound without lexical meaning. It considers the metaphor of the voice as a useful means to access the nature of poetry as it might exist beyond its words. Moving through useful etymologies in the Greek idea of poesis it draws towards the conclusion that poetry, to be classed as poetry, must seem to come into existence from nothing and that our creation of (and response to) poetry is part of a sublte understanding of something which shares useful elements with a common-sense experience of voice. The essay followed a paper delivered to the conference Poetry and Voice at the University of Chichester. It draws on research fields not conventionally undertaken in tandem,such as design practice and notions of contemporary selfhood as well as literature and traditional theories of poetry.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPoetry and voice: a book of essays
EditorsStephanie Norgate, Ellie Piddington
Place of PublicationNewcastle upon Tyne
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)1443841099
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2012 by Stephanie Norgate and Ellie Piddington and contributors


  • poetics
  • writing
  • selfhood
  • creativity


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