Saturday, 21 March 2009

(1) Echo Article: Poetry Cornwall

Echo from the West: An Overview of Echo Verse
by Caroline Gill

This short article appears in issue 26 (2009) of Poetry Cornwall / Bardhonyeth Kernow.

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Thursday, 19 March 2009

(2) Classical Echo Verse and allusions to the nymph, Echo

Echo, the nymph, appears frequently in classical literature. She is quite often the subject of Echo Verse. The story of Echo and Narcissus was well known in antiquity. The subtleties of Echo Verse do not translate easily, but see e.g. the rendering of lines 1082f. on p.171 of Thesmophoriazusai in Aristophanes: Plays 2 by Patric Dickinson (OUP). The Greek alliteration for the title of this particular comedy varies slightly from one translation to another. There are allusions to Echo and/or references to passages of Echo Verse in the following texts:


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Wednesday, 18 March 2009

(3) Echo Verse and the Echo motif in French Literature

The Echo motif was often seen as a playful motif in French Renaissance Literature. Du Bellay was much influenced by Homer, Cicero and others.

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Tuesday, 17 March 2009

(4) Echo Verse and the Echo motif in English Literature (including Shakespeare)

Above and Below:
Kenilworth Castle where Queen Elizabeth I was treated to Echo Verse.

Kenilworth Castle has been in the news a lot this year on account of the amazing £2.1 million restoration of the Elizabethan Garden, based on the description of the garden in a letter of 1575. Articles are appearing on this enchanting story. Recommended ones are listed below:
  • Kenilworth Castle, the wooing of a Virgin Queen by Chris Catling in Current Archaeology 232, p.34.
  • Scents and Seduction by Trea Martyn in Heritage Today, May 2009, p.14
The central feature of the Elizabethan Garden incorporates a back-to-back marble statue of two Atlantes, who balance a globe-shaped water fountain on their shoulders. You can read more about the reconstruction project on The Architects' Website and also on Patrick Baty's blog, News from the Colourman.

The Atlantes in the Elizabethan Garden reconstruction at Kenilworth
Spring 2009

In the run-up to National Poetry Day on Thursday 8 October 2009, The Daily Telegraph for Saturday 3 October 2009 features a new poem by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, entitled 'Atlas'. The poet is concerned with climate change, and the poem alludes to the giant's precarious balancing act as he bears his fragile but precious burdens aloft. The accompanying picture (which does not appear in the online edition) looks much like the Atlantes at Kenilworth, and I began to wonder if there was a difference between Atlas, the Titan with the terrestrial globe on his shoulders (Greek: Ἄτλας), and the Atlantes. I suspect that the names can be used interchangeably, but please advise me if you know otherwise!

Plato informs us, incidentally, that the first king of Atlantis was also named Atlas; but that although he was Poseidon's son, he did not number among the immortal deities.


There have been many British exponents of Echo Verse through the ages. Those listed below represent a small selection of them.

George Gascoigne (c.1539-1577/8)

Gascoigne attended Lord Leicester at Kenilworth Castle during the summer of 1575, and helped with the entertainment for the visit of Queen Elizabeth I.

Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford (1550-1604)

Scholars have not always found it easy to tell whether some works come from the hand of Shakesepare or of De Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. Oxford, it seems, wrote a poem called Anne Vavasour's Echo (sometimes written as Anne Vavasor's Echo). It resonates with Shakespeare’s echo verse in Venus and Adonis, and some have linked Vavasour to Shakespeare’s ‘dark lady’ of the sonnets. Edward de Vere’s lines on Romeo are particularly witty: the echo of the hero’s name is ‘eo’, which can also be read as the initials for the Earl of Oxford:

I would tear the cave where Echo lies,
And make her airy tongue more hoarse than mine,
With repetition of my Rom-eo's name.

Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586)

His sister, Mary, Countess of Pembroke was married to Henry, the eldest son of William Earle of Pembroke.
Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Anne Hathaway's Cottage,

Halloo your name to the reverberate hills
And make the babbling gossip of the air
Cry out.
Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 5, Shakespeare
Barnabe Barnes (1569-1609)

Richard Barnes, son of Dr Richard Barnes, the bishop of Durham entered Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1586. He did not graduate, but in 1591 he accompanied the Earl of Essex on his expedition to Normandy. Barnes published Parthenophil and Parthenophe in 1593. He was prosecuted in the Star Chamber in 1598 on a charge of attempted poisoning, but escaped to the north of England.

  • See Sonnet 89 ... 'marigold', '' etc.
John Donne (1572–1631)

He was appointed the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London in 1621.
  • To Mr T.W. The Culture and Rhetoric of the Answer Poem 1485-1626 Chris Boswell
Lady Mary Wroth (c.1587-c.1651)

I have yet to find a true example of 'echo verse' (in the sense of Herbert's 'Heaven') from Wroth, but she writes about Eccho. Wroth was Robert Sidney's daughter. Robert, himself a poet, was brother to Sir Philip Sidney and Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke.
Richard Brathwayte aka Braithwaite (1588–1673)

Drunken Barnaby's Four Journeys records the dubious hero's pilgrimages through England in rhymed Latin, under the pseudonym of Corymbaeus. The work was highly praised by Southey. Brathwayte is said to be an imitator of George Wither. (Check Pinder).
  • Barnabee's Journal (first published in 1638 as Drunken Barnaby's Four Journeys to the North of England) contains examples of diminishing verse. It also features Eccho at Burleigh on p.105.
  • About Richard Brathwayte - and here.
William Browne (c.1588–c.1643)

A plaque in Tavistock

This poet from the ‘Tavy's voiceful stream’ produced elegies, anagram poems and echo verse. The young Keats was influenced by his work. Browne supplied a poem to Michael Drayton for the second book of his significant topographical work, Poly-Olbion. He also produced a variety of poetic forms, including elegies, anagram poems and echo verses. Browne dedicated his second volume of Britannia’s Pastorals (1616) to William Herbert, third Earl of Pembroke, and resided for a time at Herbert’s home, Wilton House, where contemporary visitors can enjoy the muted echoes of the Whispering Seat.
George Herbert (1593-1633)

St Andrew's Church, Bemerton
near Salisbury and Wilton

Herbert, like Sir Philip Sidney, was a notable exponents of the form at a time when a piece of Echo Verse was sung in the presence of Queen Elizabeth I on her visit to Kenilworth Castle in 1575. Herbert’s poem, 'Heaven', demonstrates the role of the echo in diminishing verse.
Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)

Shepherd. If music softens rocks, love tunes my lyre.
Echo. Liar.

From 'A Gentle Echo on Woman'

Swift also wrote a poem about An Echo.

Ronald A. Knox (1888-1957)

Knox, the Roman Catholic theologian and friend of Evelyn Waugh, penned a masterful echo poem, ‘The Visitors’ Book, Hartland Quay’, which includes a Classical Greek pun on his name. Monsignor Ronald Knox is described on the back of The Knox Brothers by Penelope Fitzgerald (daughter of Ronald's brother, Edmund) as 'Roman Catholic chaplain to Oxford University's student body, preacher, wit, scholar, crime-writer and translator of the Bible.' Knox and his three brothers were the sons of an 'Evangelical Bishop of Manchester'. They all enjoyed poetry and puzzles. Ronnie, as he was affectionately known, has the distinction of being hailed as 'the wittiest young man in England' by the Daily Mail in 1924.

As we have noted, echo verse is often playful, witty and humorous. Knox, in his introduction to Essays in Satire writes that 'the pure humorist is a man without a message'. He states that (in his opinion) 'humour as a force in literature is struggling towards its birth in Jane Austen, and hardly achieves its full stature until Calverley. I know that there are obvious exceptions. There is humour in Aristophanes and in Petronius; there is humour in Shakespeare, though not as much of it as one would expect; humour in Sterne, too, and in Sheridan ... Under correction, then, I am maintaining that literature before the nineteenth century has no conscious humour apart from satire.'

Aristophanes, it seems to me, was one of the earliest known exponents of echo verse, and I suspect that Knox's echo verse poem (with its Greek pun) about Hartland Quay gives a nod in passing to the 'humorous' comic poet of Greek antiquity. His poem, which you can read in the text of Juxta Salices (link to book) ends with the following couplet, hinting that in the Doric Greek of the poet, Pindar (in which the word for Echo becomes A-CH-A in the transliterated form, rather than E-CH-E of the Ionian script), Echo's identity is closely linked with the poet's own:

COYDON. What is thy name? For Attic mountains make a
Clear Ηχω, but thou art in Pindar Αχα.
ECHO. .....................................R.A.K.
...............................................R.A. KNOX.

N.B. It is perhaps worth pointing out that Echo (in the personified form in Elizabethan texts) sometimes appears with this spelling: Eccho.
Other Echo Verse examples can be found here.

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Monday, 16 March 2009

(5) Echo Verse and the Echo motif in the literature of other European countries

The Humanist, Erasmus ( 1466/1469-1536) incorporated an echo device into one of his dialogues.

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Friday, 13 March 2009

(7) Echoes and Whispers (b): The Whispering Seat in the grounds of Wilton House, Wiltshire

Views of Wilton with its Whispering Seat,
and The Palladian Bridge (1736-37) over the River Nadder

William Browne, poet of the ‘Tavy's voiceful stream’, produced a variety of poetic forms, including elegies, anagram poems and echo verses. Browne dedicated his second volume of Britannia’s Pastorals (1616) to William Herbert, third Earl of Pembroke, and resided for a time at Herbert’s home, Wilton House. Isaac de Caux had laid out the formal garden at Wilton in 17th century. Leonard Knyff made a topographical view of it, which you can purchase as a postcard.

Contemporary visitors can enjoy the muted echoes of the Whispering Seat, made by (presumably Sir Richard) Westmacott in the early nineteenth century. The Whispering Seat is quite an attraction today. You need to position a person at each end. One whispers softly while the other listens for the sound to travel round the curved seat to his or her end of the stone bench.

Sir Richard Westmacott (1775-1856) produced, according to Bob Peel, 'a prodigal number of monuments, statues, busts and other works in stone...' He worked at the Royal Academy as Professor of Sculpture from 1827, and received a knighthood in 1837. Westmacott was also responsible for the pedimental sculptures of the British Museum. He came from a gifted family: two of his brothers, George and Henry were also sculptors, as was his son, Richard (1799-1872). Structural alterations to Witon House were undertaken in the early 19th century: James Wyatt began work on his Gothick Cloisters. Richard Westmacott and Sir Jeffrey Wyatville completed them in 1815.

The Wilton gardens are enhanced by a Millennium water feature 'fountain', very similar to the one in the National Botanic Garden of Wales at Middleton House.
  • Wilton in The Natural History of Wilton by John Aubrey (type 'Wilton' or 'Echo' into search box)
  • Wilton House, official site
  • King's Park, Perth, Australia - a similar Whispering Seat
For a delightful book on Wilton House and its estate between the 1520s and 1640s, I highly recommend 'Arcadia, the Dream of Perfection in Renaissance England' by Adam Nicolson (Harper Perennial). Available from Amazon here.

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Tuesday, 10 March 2009

(8) Echoes and Echo Verse: bibliography

Ancient Literature : plays and epic
  • Andromeda Euripides (surviving only in fragments)
  • Thesmophoriazusai 1056-97 Aristophanes
  • Metamorphoses 3.358-401 Ovid
  • Othello 3.3.10
  • John Dyer, bard of the Fleece, on Aberglasney: 'See her woods where Echo talks ...'
  • Poems of George Herbert (OUP 1952 - I think) for 'Paradise' and 'Heaven'
  • 'The Visitor's Book, Hartland Quay' p.211 (to check volume title: information coming soon!)
  • Kenilworth Sir Walter Scott (Penguin 1999)
  • Aristophanes: Plays: 2 Translated by Patric Dickinson (OUP)
  • From the Vergil Caverns Peter Redgrove (Cape Poetry 2002)
  • Essays in Satire Ronald A. Knox (Sheed and Ward 1955)
  • The Knox Brothers Penelope Fitzgerald (Harvill, Harper Collins 1977)
  • Arcadia, the Dream of Perfection in Renaissance England Adam Nicolson (Harper Perennial). See e.g. p.11. Available from Amazon. The book is about the Earls of Pembroke (and other members of the Herbert family) of Wilton House.
  • The Collected Works of Erasmus
  • Refiguring Woman Marilyn Migiel and Juliana Schiesari
Books with 'Echo' in the title
  • Waiting for the Echo (The Norwich Poetry Group, 1994 and edited by Vince Gilbert and Jane Wight).
Reference Books
  • An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (OUP 1978) founded upon the Seventh Edition of Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon.
  • Wilton House (2008/09?)
Articles and other writing
  • The Echo-Device Thornton S. Graves, Modern Language Notes Vol. 36, No.2 (Feb 1921) pp.120-121 (The John Hopkins University Press)
  • The Echo-Device in Literature Elbridge Colby (New York 1920)
  • The Figure of Echo John Hollander (Berkeley, L.A.; London 1981)
  • Responsive Readings Joseph Loewenstein (New Haven 1984)
  • Culture, rhetorique et satire dans l'Echo d'Erasme J-C Margolin (in 'Dix Conferences sur Erasme', ed. Claude Blume)
  • The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (echo poem by Sir Philip Sidney)
  • Note by F.L. Lucas on Duchess of Malfi (5.3.19-51) [Complete Works of John Webster ed. FL Lucas, London 1927] II 195-6
  • Spectator 59 and 61 Addison
Poems in magazines
  • p.34 Quantum Leap 44, Nov 2008, 'Echo' after Theseus and Ariadne by Titian - Elena Tincu
  • Echo echotain by Wendy Webb in her series, 'Forms on Form'
Web resources
  • Gerard Manley Hopkins 'The Leaden Echo'
  • Dauguet, Aurélien - the other 'echo poetry' as developed in 1972: 'A surrealist literary technique ... a poem is constructed by alternately writing a stanza and then "mirroring" it in some fashion to create the following stanza.'

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Monday, 9 March 2009

(9) The Echo Motif in Music

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Saturday, 7 March 2009

(10) Echo Poetry devised by Aurélien Dauguet in 1972

Dauguet, Aurélien - the other 'echo poetry' as developed in 1972: 'A surrealist literary technique ... a poem is constructed by alternately writing a stanza and then "mirroring" it in some fashion to create the following stanza.'

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Friday, 6 March 2009

(11) International Echoes

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Thursday, 5 March 2009

(12) Unusual Echoes

1) Diminishing Verse (see p.48)
Herbert's poem, 'Paradise' is an example of Diminishing Verse. See this link about 'Counted Verse', which can, it seems, include Diminishing Verse poems like 'Paradise'. See also this link - diminishing verse about diminishing returns by Janice D. Soderling.

2) Echo verse

3) Echo of twins

4) Duck's quack

5) Sound definition

6) Rhyme in Ancient Poetry

7) Books as 'divine ecchoes' - as in Swift 1612. (Source: Then Play On: Listening to the Shakespearean Soundscape' (July 1999) Wes Folkerth.

8) The sound of waves in a seashell (BBC).
Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Charles Henry Webb both wrote about the sea sounds inside a shell. The New York Times (click link then open pdf) ran an evocative feature on sea sounds.

9) Eccho in verse by Lady Mary Wroth: The Countess of Montgomery's Urania, and its appended Sonnet Cycle, Pamphilia to Amphilanthus (1621) [A Moving Rhetoricke, Christina Luckyj p.130]

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Tuesday, 3 March 2009

(14) Echo Chamber Allusions

Echo Chamber Allusions
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Monday, 2 March 2009

(15) Echoes: the influence of other voices

Echoes of Adlestrop

I was interested to read a paragraph on p.xxvi of Edward Thomas's Poets, edited by Judy Kendall (Carcanet 2007), on the subject of Thomas the writer 'carrying echoes of his contemporaries' work with him.' This is a subject that has interested and fascinated me for some time. See e.g. my Adlestrop blog post on the blackbird here.

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