I have not had the pleasure of hearing M. H. Abrams in person deliver his lecture “The Fourth Dimension of a Poem,” but, next best thing, I have seen a video of it online at fourthdimensionofapoem.com.1 This has helped me to understand his emphasis on the phonology of reading poetry, the physiology of the production of sound. He begins by quoting the first paragraph of Lolita to show the sort of thing he means:

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth, Lo. Lee. Ta.

He goes on to describe the four dimensions of a poem:


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