I think the presence of line cuts rather than margin-to-margin lines is a key difference for any poetry other than "prose poetry," and it is a technical, not a value distinction. But it does alter reading--even silently. Austen's is, as you say, a "perfect" cadence, and one can find other writers who have comparable control of cadence. But one is forced by line cuts to alter one's pauses and breaths when speaking or reading--hence the necessity, if acting Shakespeare, for example, to mark up the script for pauses and to retain the iambic pentameter without sounding like doggerel. Meter shifts emphasis, and line endings not only do that as well, they can shift the apparent relation of words and modifiers, for example.
So I don't agree that this is absurd at all. It is "prose poetry" that creates a difficult problem. A good test is to try to read WCW as if it were prose: it simply does not work. One has to recognize the very slight pause at a line cut. Denise Levertov called the end of a line "half a comma"; that is a bit amusing and odd but not totally false. But I love the term of a director I've worked with who says that at the end of a line of Shakespeare one is "poised" for a second. One only just reads over if it is enjambed. There is a real distinction between endstopped and enjambed lines, and it is not the same in prose, where periods and commas, semi-colons and colons (in contemporary codified English--not in Early Modern) do define pauses and lengths.
And, I at least, never said anything about relative value, nor do I recall anyone else talking about "better." It's different. There is far more "cadence" and rhythm in Austen or many others than in a lot of what gets called "poetry" but is just dull self-absorbed observation cut into arbitrary lines. "Free verse," if it is any good, is not "free": it takes real skill to cut in ways that work. Look at the amazing opening of TWL, for example, with the endings on participles, and then the shift to what seems more direct.
>>> Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]
> 08/13/13 1:22 PM >>>
An observation. It is almost impossible in any effort to distinguish prose &
verse not to let (obviously false) "value" judgments to creep in. I say
obviously false because the sentence from Austen quoted below is obviously
as 'perfect' a cadence as is to be found in English. A debate over whether
it or some other passage (prose or verse) is "better" would be unimaginably
absurd. "A just precedence in the grave." Play around with that and
Austen's sentence. :-)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
> Behalf Of Nancy Gish
> Sent: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 9:29 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: prose poetry--new topic
> A good example of the problem. And all the definitions I've seen point to
> rhythm of prose poetry as one reason it is still poetry. I think also that
> is only partly right: it is difficult to say that some prose lacks all the
> qualities of poems, but there is, I think, no problem calling poems poetry
> because they are cut in lines. It is the one consistent difference. Even
> writing below (Eliot's rare lapse, since he had an astonishing ear for
> is cut in lines. Line cuts, of course, do not mean it is good poetry, only
> is not prose, because the cuts force key differences in any reading. WCW,
> example, was brilliant at using cuts, but a lot of bad contemporary verse
> just that. It is not prose, however, even if it is prosaic.
> The difficulty is in the category of lines from margin to margin that are
> prose poems. But one could easily take many passages from Joyce (I keep
> using him because his writing is so musical) and set them off as poems.
> Hugh MacDiarmid said the same thing as Carroll in later life, but his late
> "prosaic" kinds of poems still have line cuts.
> Some Joyce:
> Snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the
> central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly on the Bog of Allen,
> farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It
> was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill
> Michael Furey lay buried.
> And try line cuts:
> Snow was general all over Ireland.
> It was falling on every part
> of the dark central plain, on
> the treeless hills, falling softly
> on the Bog of Allen,
> and farther westward softly falling
> into the dark mutinous Shannon waves.
> It was falling, too, upon every part
> of the lonely churchyard on the hill
> where Michael Furey
> lay buried.
> >>> Peter Dillane <[log in to unmask]
> 08/13/13 3:20 AM >>>
> Hi Peter
> But seriously :
> "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession
> a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
> ticks the box for rhythm
> whereas apart from the mention of rhythm there isnt so much in:
> To whom I owe the leaping delight
> That quickens my senses in our wakingtime
> And the rhythm that governs the repose of our sleepingtime,
> the breathing in unison.
> cheers Pete
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "P" <[log in to unmask]
> To: <[log in to unmask]
> Sent: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 4:41 PM
> Subject: Re: prose poetry--new topic
> > Rythmn is a key difference.
> > Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]
> >>The distinction between "prose" and "poetry" cannot be justified
> >>theoretically: it is simply impossible to establish any criteria that
> >>"do the job."
> >>But if an author _calls_ a text a "prose poem" the reader responds
> >>differently, uses different hermeneutic procedures, in construing it.
> >>Is "found poetry" still around?