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Unformatted text preview: A contemporary of "Janet Waking," Ransom's "The Equilibrists," a 56-line mock chivalric narrative, moves back in time with Tennysonian archaisms and Arthurian characters drawn from the tragic love of Tristan and Isolde. In a peculiarly sanitized study of lovers' obsessions, the poet relies on syntactic inversions "traveled he," "mouth he remembered," and "came I descanting" and the high- sounding diction of "jacinth," "stuprate," "orifice," "saeculum," and "beseeching" to distance viewer from object. Like an accounting of feminine anatomy in the erotic verse of the Song of Solomon, the speaker inventories the white-armed beauty's loveliness in metaphors: "grey doves" for eyes, "officious tower" for mind, and "lilies," a quaint substitute for breasts. As the compelling iambic pentameter couplets press on, the crux arises in line 21 "Predicament...
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- Fall '08