The Principles of English Versification
by Paull Franklin Baum
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regularly repeated. The ideal rhythm of the second is

[U][U][#][U][U][#][U][U][#][U][U][#] [U][U][#][U][U][#]([U][U][#])

six times repeated.[27]

[26] I take these figures from the two articles by Professor Ada L. F. Snell in the Publications of the Modern Language Association for September, 1918, pp. 396-408, and September, 1919, pp. 416-435. For the first example I have made an average from the records of three different readers; for the second Miss Snell gives only one set of figures. [27] The second and fourth lines have two feet each, the alternate lines throughout the rest of the poem have three feet each; but it is noteworthy that the average length of these two short lines (1.61) is only .37 less than the average of the four longer lines (1.98). The first, third, fifth, etc., lines have four feet each.

They fer-ry o - ver this Le-the-an sound .29 .36 .15 .24 .13 .26 .23 .23 .23 .62 (.18)

Both to and fro, their sor-row to aug-ment, .41 .27 .2 .63 (.36).26 .4 .16 .24 .32 .43 (.6)

And wish and strug-gle, as they pass, to reach .2 .47 .25 .33 .25 (.13) .21 .21 .57 (.4) .24 .35

The tempt-ing stream, with one small drop to lose .14 .32 .3 .69 (.44) .24 .37 .53 .47 (.09).21 .47

In sweet for-get-ful-ness all pain and woe, .2 .37 .19 .28 .17 .25 (.1) .39 .53 .17 .52 (.59)

All in one mo-ment and so near the brink; .42 .2 .21 .34 .3 (.47) .27 .28 .37 .11 .57 (.49)

But Fate with-stands, and, to op - pose the attempt .23 .39 .28 .66 (.49).22 .18 .11 .48 .23 .52 (.33)

Me - du - sa with Gor-go-nian ter-ror guards .15 .33 .15 .21 .3 .3 .23 .28 .21 .51

The ford, and of it-self the wa - ter flies .14 .6 (.3) .27 .2 .2 .48 .13 .25 .22 .64

All taste of liv-ing wight, as once it fled .26 .48 .16 .19 .18 .43 (.5) .29 .39 .16 .43

The lip of Tan - ta -lus. .1 .32 .14 .33 .15 .3

* * * * *

I bring fresh showers for the thirst-ing flowers, .25 .35 .15 .8 (.15) .15 .15 .3 .2 .6 (.2)

From the seas and the streams; .2 .18 .42 .15 .15 .62 (.75)

I bear light shade for the leaves when laid .2 .35 .3 .5 .18 .18 .34 .4 .45

In their noon-day dreams. .18 .2 .22 .2 .7 (.6)

From my wings are shak-en the dews that wak - en .25 .35 .44 .22 .3 .2 .1 .6 .2 .25 .25

The sweet buds ev - ery one, .1 .35 .53 (.15) .2 .21 .5 (.55)

When rocked to rest on their moth - er's breast, .18 .47 .2 .4 (.2) .18 .2 .22 .18 .47 (.4)

As she danc - es a - bout the sun. .2 .2 .45 .2 .1 .25 .2 .5 (.85)

I wield the flail of the lash - ing hail, .22 .22 .1 .5 .15 .15 .25 .15 .45 (.3)

And whit - en the green plains un - der, .2 .22 .18 .1 .32 .5 .2 .2 (.5)

And then a - gain I dis - solve in rain, .22 .38 .1 .55 .15 .2 .7 .15 .55 (.07)

And laugh as I pass in thun - der. .2 .4 (.2) .15 .18 .39 .18 .22 .25

Two facts emerge from these statistics at once: (1) that in about 90 per cent of the feet the [U] or unstressed element is shorter than the [#] or stressed element, or, in other words, stress and syllabic length nearly always coincide; and (2) that while there is very great variation in the absolute lengths of short syllables and long syllables, the proportion of average lengths is about 2:4.[28] One need not suppose that the conscious mind always hears or thinks it hears the syllables pronounced with these quantitative proportions. Though we deceive ourselves very readily in the matter of time, it is not true that we have no sense of duration whatever. Quite the contrary. Our cerebral metronome is set when we read verse for about .6 seconds for a foot (.2 seconds for the unstressed element; .4 seconds for the stressed element). If we read faster or more slowly the proportions remain the same. When, however, in Paradise Lost, II, 607,

[U] [] [U] [] with one small drop .24 .37 .53 .47

the normal proportions are so patently departed from that the theoretically unstressed syllable small is actually longer than the theoretically stressed syllable drop, and the foot small drop takes 1. second, or 2/5 longer than the average foot beside it (with one, .61 seconds)—when divergences so great as this are both possible and pleasurable, the conclusion should be, not that the ear makes no recognition of the time, but that it is capable, by syncopation and substitution, of adjusting itself to a very great possibility of variation without losing hold of the rhythmic pattern. Looked at from one point of view, the extreme variations would appear to be irregularities and warrant the judgment that no element of duration exists as a principle of English verse; but from the right point of view these variations mean only that the metrical time unit is extraordinarily elastic while still remaining a unit; that the ear is willing and able to pay very high for the variety in uniformity which it requires.

[28] This statement is based on Miss Snell's computations from analysis of several records for blank verse and several kinds of lyric verse. The short syllables range in blank verse from .02 to .54, in lyrics from .09 to .7; the long syllables range in blank verse from .08 to .84, in lyrics from .11 to .92. The average length of all long syllables is .4, of all short syllables is .21.

* * * * *

Pause. The time element of English verse is affected also by different kinds of pauses. Three kinds may be distinguished, two of which belong properly to prose rhythm as well. (1) The logical pause is that cessation of sound which separates the logical components of speech. It helps hold together the members of a unit and separates the units from each other, and never occurs unless a break in the meaning is possible. It is usually indicated in printed language by punctuation. (2) The rhythmical pause separates the breath groups of a sentence and therefore concerns language chiefly as a series of sounds independent for the most part of logical content or symbolism. Though its origin is primarily physiological, it soon induces a psychological state and results in an overuse or overdevelopment of the cerebral metronome. Both readers and writers get into a certain 'swing' which turns to monotony and sing-song in reading and to excessive uniformity of sentence length and structure in writing—what is called a jog-trot style. This pause as it affects the reading of verse is only slightly dependent upon the logical content of words, for it takes its pace, especially in rimed verse, from the normal line length, and tends to make every line sound like every other, regardless of the meaning. (3) Metrical pause is primarily independent of the other two, but most frequently falls in with them. It belongs to the formal metrical pattern, and serves usually to mark off the line units. There is thus theoretically a pause at the end of every line, and a greater pause at the end of every stanza. When verses are 'run on,' i. e., when there is no logical pause at the end, many readers omit the metrical pause or reduce it to a minimum. Others, whose rhythmic sense is very keen, preserve it, making it very slight but still perceptible. The metrical pause is greatly emphasized by rime.

There are two other time elements in English verse, related in different ways to each of these three pauses, one which is nearly equivalent to the musical rest; the other which is nearly equivalent to the musical hold. The latter is common to both verse and prose, and is emotional or elocutionary in origin; "If....," "Well——?" "'These roses?' she drawled." In verse it often coincides with and supports a metrical pause, especially on rime words. Many readers in fact combine the hold and the metrical pause or use them interchangeably. The former, the rest, is a pause used to take the place of an unstressed element. As such, however, it does not altogether compensate the break in the normal time-space, but fills in the omission sufficiently to preserve the rhythm of the verse.

These various pauses are all well illustrated in Tennyson's lyric, Break, Break, Break.

Break, break, break, .5 (.6) .5 (.28) .6 (.3)

On thy cold grey stones, O sea! .35 .3 .6 .5 .7 (.15) .3 .55 (.65)

And I would that my tongue could ut - ter .2 .2 .4 .2 .25 .4 .18 .18 .3 (.35)

The thoughts that a - rise in me. .2 .5 .3 .2 .4 .3 .5 (.8)

O, well for the fish - er - man's boy .6 .6 .2 .2 .22 .15 .45 .6 (.55)

That he shouts with his sis - ter at play! .2 .18 .55 .25 .2 .35 .18 .2 .6 (.9)

O, well for the sail - or lad .5 (.3) .61 .25 .3 .55 .2 .5 (.45)

That he sings in his boat on the bay. .18 .18 .55 .25 .2 .45 .15 .15 .6

Logical pauses occur at the end of ll. 2, 4, 6, 8; and probably after stones in l. 2. After stones there would be also a rhythmic pause, but it is reinforced and practically replaced by the logical pause. Another rhythmic pause might occur after tongue in l. 3, but it is absorbed partly by the length of tongue and partly by the necessity of preserving the line rhythm through utter. It will be felt, however, if the lines are read thus:

And I would that my tongue Could utter the thoughts That arise In me.

The metrical pause appears clearly after utter in l. 3. The pauses after boy (l. 5) and lad (l. 7) are both metrical and logical. The hold is illustrated by O in l. 5 and l. 7. [29] The rest appears distinctly in l. 1. From reading the whole poem we know that the movement is anapestic. The pattern rhythm for the first line would be

[U][U][#] [U][U][#] [U][U][#] Break break break

The number of syllables is three, whereas the other lines have from seven to nine syllables each. That is, before each break two light syllables, or their time equivalent, are lacking, their place being supplied by the rest-pause (which is also logical and emotional).[30]

[29] In the latter case it is supplemented by a pause in Miss Snell's marking. Many readers would no doubt combine the hold and pause; as was done in fact in l. 5. [30] It should be noted that the average line length here (including pauses within the line, excluding those at the end of the line) is 2.8, and the first line is therefore only .32 shorter than the average. If additional allowance (omitted in Miss Snell's computation) be made for the theoretical initial [U][U] the average would be 2.85 and l. 1 would total 2.92. If the end pause is included the average would be 3.38 and l. 1 2.78 a difference of .66; or with the additional allowance the average would be 3.44 and l. 1 3.22. While too much faith is not to be placed in the mere figures, the inference is plain that the rests practically compensate here for the omitted [U][U].

The reader may analyze the comparative lengths of foot, line, pause, and rest in the following record:[31]

Kent-ish Sir Bing stood for the king, .4 .32 .46 .8 (.2) .5 .18 .16 .8 (.6)

Bid-ding the crop-head-ed par-lia-ment swing; .26 .2 .12 .45 .3 .2 .4 .1 .35 .72 (.6)

And, press-ing a troop un - ab - le to stoop, .2 .38 .12 .1 .55 (.2) .18 .26 .12 .2 .58 (.5)

And see the rogues flour-ish and hon - est folk droop; .22 .35 .15 .5 .6 .2 (.2) .26 .45 .18 .35 .48 (.75)

Marched then a - long fif - ty - score strong .52 .22 .12 .8 (.14) .35 .25 .5 .7 (.7)

Great-heart-ed gent-le-men, sing-ing this song. .35 .3 .2 .3 .12 .3 (.45) .44 .25 .28 .68 (.9)

God for King Charles! Pym and such carles .6 .46 .5 .8 (.5) .38 .26 .3 .85 (.42)

To the Dev - il that prompts them their treas-on-ous parles! .18 .18 .35 .25 .42 .5 .38 .2 .38 .1 .32 .75 (.55)

Cav - a - liers, up! Lips from the cup. .35 .15 .5 (.4) .5 (.4) .6 .3 .12 .4

[31] Miss Snell, Pause; a Study of its Nature and its Rhythmical Function in Verse (Ann Arbor, 1918), pp. 78, 79.

* * * * *

Pitch. Pitch appears to be sometimes a determining element in rhythm, as has been shown above; but since its chief function in verse is that of supporting the recognized determinants and adding grace-notes to the music, it is omitted here and discussed in Chapter V, below.

* * * * *

Balance of Forces. It is not to be inferred from the foregoing sections that the basis of English metre is time. For the basis of English metre is dual: time and stress are inextricable. Beneath all metrical language runs the invisible current of time, but the surface is marked by stress. The warp of the metrical fabric is time; stress is the woof. And from the surface, of course, only the woof is visible. Moreover, the poet's point of view in composing and generally the reader's point of view in reading has always been that of the 'stresser.' No poet ever wrote to a metronome accompaniment; extremely few readers are fully conscious—few can be, from the nature of our human sense of time—of the temporal rhythm that underlies verse. Thus it has come about, historically, that modern English verse is written and regarded as a matter of stress only, because to the superficial view stress is predominant.[32] Probably the truth is that most poets compose verse with the ideal metrical scheme definitely in mind and trust (as they well may) to their rhythmical instinct for the rest. Whatever device they employ for keeping the pattern always before them, they do keep it distinctly before them—except perhaps in the simpler measures which run easily in the ear—and build from it as from a scaffolding. They may not know and may not need to know that this metrical scheme does itself involve equal time units as well as equal stresses. They vary and modulate both time and stress according to the thought and feeling the words are asked to express. And though it is a point on which no one can have a dogmatic opinion, one inclines to the belief that usually the finest adaptations of ideas and words to metre are spontaneous and intuitive. Skill is the result of habit and training, and metrical skill like any other; but there is also the faculty divine. One is suspicious of the

Laborious Orient ivory sphere in sphere;

for when we can see how the trick is done we lose the true thrill.

[32] Modern English verse theory may be dated from Coleridge's famous manifesto in the prefatory note to Christabel in 1816: "I have only to add that the metre of Christabel is not, properly speaking, irregular, though it may seem so from its being founded on a new principle: namely, that of counting in each line the accents, not the syllables. Though the latter may vary from seven to twelve, yet in each line the accents will be found to be only four. Nevertheless, this occasional variation in number of syllables is not introduced wantonly, or for mere ends of convenience, but in correspondence with some transition in the nature of the imagery or passion." Even here there is implied a vague perception of the time unit, but Coleridge was apparently unaware of its significance. See Leigh Hunt's comments in "What is Poetry?" in Imagination and Fancy.

It would be absurd to imagine a prosody which was independent of its own materials. It would be absurd therefore not to find in all language the elements out of which verse is made. Indeed, M. Jourdain, having recovered from his first shock on learning that he had actually been talking prose, must prepare for a second: that he has actually been talking potential verse. The three acoustic properties of speech—duration, intensity, pitch—modified by the logical and emotional content of which the sounds are symbolic, combine to produce an incredibly subtle and elastic medium which the poet moulds to his metrical form. In this process of moulding and adjustment, each element, under the poet's deft handling, yields somewhat to the other, the natural rhythm of language and the formal rhythm of metre; and the result is a delicate, exquisite compromise. When we attempt to analyze it, its finer secrets defy us, but the chief fundamental principles we can discover, and their more significant manifestations we can isolate and learn to know. In all the arts there is a point at which technique merges with idea and conceals the heart of its mystery. The greatest poetry is not always clearly dependent upon metrical power, but it is rarely divorced from it. No one would venture to say how much the metre has to do with the beauty of the

magic casements opening on the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.




Line Length. A line of English verse may contain from one to eight feet. Theoretically, of course, more than eight feet would be possible; but just as there are sounds which the human ear cannot hear and colors which the eye cannot see, so there appears to be a limit beyond which we do not recognize the line as a unit. The most frequently used lines are of four and five feet, most conveniently called, respectively, 4-stress and 5-stress lines;[33] those of one, two, and three feet tend to become jerky, those of more than five to break up into smaller units.

[33] The expression '4-foot line' is too suggestive of fishing or surveying; 'tetrameter' is confusing because of its different usage in classical prosody; '4-stress line' is open to objection because it seems to overlook the temporal quality of the foot. On the whole, however, the last seems preferable.

* * * * *

Line Movement. The movement of a line is determined primarily by the foot of which it is composed. It is iambic, trochaic, anapestic, dactylic, according as the metrical pattern is made up of iambs, trochees, etc. Thus

That time of year them mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs that shake against the cold— Bare ruin'd choirs where late the sweet birds sang. SHAKESPEARE, Sonnet 73.

is plainly iambic.

You and I would rather see that angel, Painted by the tenderness of Dante, Would we not?—than read a fresh Inferno.

You and I will never see that picture. While he mused on love and Beatrice, While he soften'd o'er his outlined angel, In they broke, those "people of importance": We and Bice bear the loss forever. BROWNING, One Word More.

is plainly trochaic.

I have found out a gift for my fair, I have found where the wood-pigeons breed. SHENSTONE, Pastoral Ballad.

is plainly anapestic.

Take her up tenderly, Lift her with care; Fashion'd so slenderly, Young, and so fair! HOOD, Bridge of Sighs.

is plainly dactylic.

But very few poems conform exactly to the metrical pattern. For example, Blake's

Tiger, tiger, burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

seems clearly to be trochaic; yet the last trochee of each line lacks its unstressed element, and the fourth line has an extra-metrical syllable, Could. By itself the fourth line would be called iambic: in this context it is called trochaic with 'anacrusis,' i. e., with one or more extra-metrical syllables at the beginning.[34] Or again in Clough's stanza,

And not by eastern windows only, When daylight comes, comes in the light; In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly! But westward, look, the land is bright! 'Say Not, the Struggle Naught Availeth.'

the movement is clearly iambic, yet the first and third lines have an extra-metrical syllable at the end. This is called 'feminine ending.'

[34] From the point of view of stanzaic rhythm Could may be said to complete the final trochee of the previous line: What immortal hand or eye Could Frame, etc.

Moreover, sometimes the word or phrase rhythm clashes with the metrical rhythm and makes the resultant seem doubtful. Thus

Of hand, of foot, of lips, of eye, of brow. SHAKESPEARE, Sonnet 106.

I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance. TENNYSON, The Brook.

are unmistakably iambic, and Wordsworth's

Pansies, lilies, kingcups, daisies. To the Small Celandine.

is unmistakably trochaic; but in Tennyson's

This pretty, puny, weakly little one. Enoch Arden.

With rosy slender fingers backward drew. Oenone.

there are metrically five iambs in each line, but also in each four words that are trochaic. The result is a conflict of rhythms, a kind of syncopation, which produces a very pleasing variant of the formal rhythm.

Furthermore, in a passage like the following, which everyone recognizes as exquisitely musical, it is not obvious whether the rhythm is iambic or anapestic or trochaic.

When the hounds of spring are on winter's traces, The mother of months in meadow or plain Fills the shadows and windy places With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain; And the brown bright nightingale amorous Is half assuaged for Itylus, For the Thracian ships and the foreign faces, The tongueless vigil, and all the pain. SWINBURNE, Atalanta in Calydon.

If the first two syllables be regarded as anacrusis, the first line would be trochaic, with a dactyl substituted for a trochee in the second foot. The third line is apparently trochaic. But only three lines of the eight have a feminine or trochaic ending, and all except the third have iambic or rising rhythm in the first foot; so that it is more simple and natural to consider the last syllable of the first, third, and seventh lines as extra-metrical, and call the rhythm iambic-anapestic, or rising. Since the [U][] and [U][U][] are both rising rhythm they may be readily substituted one for the other—the appearance of equal time values being preserved—without disturbing the musical flow of sounds. Thus of the thirty-two feet in the eight lines, seventeen are iambs and eleven anapests, two are weak iambs (-orous, -ylus), one a spondee (bright night-), and one monosyllabic with a rest ([~] Fills). Tennyson's Vastness may also be studied for its combinations of trochees, dactyls, and spondees. Here is one stanza:

Stately purposes, valour in battle, glorious annals of army and fleet, Death for the right cause, death for the wrong cause, trumpets of victory, groans of defeat.

Similar combinations, still freer, with frequent anacrusis as well, are characteristic of Swinburne's Hesperia; e. g.—

Shrill shrieks in our faces the blind bland air that was mute as a maiden, Stung into storm by the speed of our passage, and deaf where we past; And our spirits too burn as we bound, thine holy but mine heavy laden, As we burn with the fire of our flight; ah, love, shall we win at the last?

The first line of a poem is not always a good criterion of the metre of the whole poem—though Poe declared that it should be. For Tennyson's The Higher Pantheism is chiefly in triple falling rhythm, but it begins

The sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the hills and the plains.

The first stanza of Campbell's famous Battle of the Baltic runs:

Of Nelson and the North, Sing the glorious day's renown, When to battle fierce came forth All the might of Denmark's crown, And her arms along the deep proudly shone; By each gun the lighted brand, In a bold determined hand, And the Prince of all the land Led them on.

Here the first line might be 3-stress or 2-stress; the second, third, fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth might have three stresses or four; the fifth five or six; the ninth two or one. It is not, in fact, until we reach the

Again! again! again!

of the fourth stanza that we are sure how the poem ought to be read. But Campbell was not a faultless artist. There is the same metrical ambiguity, however, in Tennyson's

Come into the garden, Maud,

until the second line shows us we should read it with three stresses, not four. There is a curious verse in Gay's Beggar's Opera which well illustrates the necessity of consulting the context to determine the pattern, for it can, taken by itself, be scanned in three different ways:

How happy could I be with either. Air XXXV.

viz., [U][][U][U][][U][][U][][U] or [U][][U][U][U][][U][][U] or [U][][U][U][][U][U][U][][U].

But sometimes it is difficult, if not impossible, to say whether a line or series of lines is in rising or falling rhythm, or what sort of foot is predominant—in other words, what is the formal metrical pattern. This difficulty is, of course, no fault of the poet's: it lies in the complexity of the phenomena, and is after all a weakness of our power of analysis. In the spectrum blue merges into green, red into yellow, and though we invent names for various tints, others still escape classification. And just as some verses combine iambic and anapestic (rising), or dactylic and trochaic (falling) movements, so others combine rising and falling rhythms. For example,

The mountain sheep are sweeter, But the valley sheep are fatter; We therefore deemed it meeter To carry off the latter. PEACOCK, War-song of Dinas Vawr, from The Misfortunes of Elphin.

This may be trochaic with anacrusis or iambic with feminine endings, but neither quite adequately describes it. Is Shelley's To Night prevailingly iambic or trochaic? All of the twenty-five long lines end with an iamb, but only eleven begin with rising rhythm (thirteen begin with falling or trochaic rhythm, and one is ambiguous). Two of the short lines are definitely iambic, the other eight are doubtful, but apparently trochaic. If it is read as iambic, eleven of the hundred feet in the long lines will be 'irregular'; if it is read as trochaic, eleven likewise will be 'irregular.' Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso contain lines that are purely iambic, as

And oft, as if her head she bow'd;

some that are purely trochaic, as

Whilst the landskip round it measures;

and others which are a combination, as

Bosom'd high in tufted trees. Then to the spicy nut-brown ale. The melting voice through mazes running.

Again, how shall the following stanza from F. W. H. Myers's Saint Paul be classified?

Lo, if some strange intelligible thunder Sang to the earth the secret of a star, Scarce could ye catch, for terror and for wonder, Shreds of the story that was peal'd so far.

The metrical scheme appears to be

[][U][U][][U][][U][][U][][U] [][U][U][][U][][U][][U][] [][U][U][][U][][U][][U][][U] [][U][U][][U][][U][][U][]

that is, 5-stress trochaic, with dactylic substitution in the first foot and truncation or catalexis of the last foot in the second and fourth lines; or perhaps iambic, with anapestic substitution in the second foot and a feminine ending in the first and third lines. But when many of these stanzas are read in succession, the movement is found to be

[][U][U][][U][][U][U][U][][U] [][U][U][][U][][U][U][U][] [][U][U][][U][][U][U][U][][U] [][U][U][][U][U][U][][U][]

that is, 4-stress falling rhythm, with intermixed duple, triple, and quadruple time.

This introduces a new question, whether English verse admits of a foot resembling the Greek paeon, [][U][U][U]. The answer seems to be that theoretically it does not, but practically it does.[35] It would, doubtless, be more accurate to describe the foot as [][U][U]['][U], for some stress, however slight, is regularly felt on the third syllable. But the poets have had their way, and written what certainly try to be paeonic feet. Thus Macaulay's The Battle of Naseby begins:

Oh! wherefore come ye forth in triumph from the north, With your hands, and your feet, and your raiment all red? And wherefore doth your rout send forth a bitter shout? And whence be the grapes of the wine-press that ye tread?[36]

And Mr. Kipling's The Last Chantey:

Thus said the Lord in the vault above the Cherubim, Calling to the angels and the souls in their degree: "Lo! Earth has passed away On the smoke of Judgment Day. That Our word may be established, shall We gather up the sea?"

And Mr. E. A. Robinson's The Valley of the Shadow is in this same rhythm, the first four lines being almost perfectly regular:

There were faces to remember in the Valley of the Shadow, There were faces unregarded, there were faces to forget; There were fires of grief and fear that are a few forgotten ashes, There were sparks of recognition that are not forgotten yet.

Some have read Browning's A Toccata of Galuppi's to the same tune, but at grave risk of destroying the music.

[35] Apparent paeons occur now and then, where the usual contraction would reduce them to triple time. Mr. Omond, Study of Metre, pp. 96, 97, gives among others these examples: The leaves they were withering and sere. Our memories were treacherous and sere. POE. The rags of the sail Are flickering in ribbons within the fierce gale. SHELLEY. A land that is lonelier than ruin. SWINBURNE. [36] In the last stanza occurs the foot: [#] [U] [U] [U][U] she of the seven

Rightly described, this movement is a discontinuous syncopation of fours and twos; the prevailing formal unit is [#][U][U][U], but it is varied now by [#][U][#][U], and now by simply [#][U], with the usual substitution of [#][U][U] for [#][U]. It is an excellent exercise to analyze Jean Ingelow's Like a Laverock in the Lift and observe the pauses, holds, and substitutions. The most notable are [#][#][U] for [#][U][U][U] (we too, it's), and [#][U][#] (lass, my love, l. 5; thou art mine, l. 6; missed the mark, l. 7, etc.). The third line may be read

Like a laverock in the lift [~] etc.


Like a laverock in the lift etc.

The former seems preferable.[37]

It's we two, it's we two, it's we two for aye, All the world, and we two, and Heaven be our stay. Like a laverock in the lift, sing, O bonny bride! All the world was Adam once, with Eve by his side.

What's the world, my lass, my love!—what can it do? I am thine, and thou art mine; lift is sweet and new. If the world have missed the mark, let it stand by, For we two have gotten leave, and once more we'll try.

Like a laverock in the lift, sing, O bonny bride! It's we two, it's we two, happy side by side. Take a kiss from me, thy man; now the song begins: "All is made afresh for us, and the brave heart wins."

When the darker days come, and no sun will shine, Thou shalt dry my tears, lass, and I'll dry thine. It's we two, it's we two, while the world's away. Sitting by the golden sheaves on our wedding day.

[37] See Sidney Lanier's scansion of the first stanza, in his Science of English Verse, p. 228.

How musical and effective this rhythm is, judgments will differ. It is clearly capable of great variety, but the large proportion of light syllables forces heavier stress on some of the accents, and the number of naturally heavy syllables which do not coincide with the metrical stress is excessive; and the almost inevitable result is a thumping which only the deftest manipulation can avoid.[38]

[38] An interesting variation of this rhythm (though perhaps to be related to the Middle English descendant of the Anglo-Saxon long line) occurs in Shelley's Prometheus Unbound, Act I, O sister, desolation is a difficult thing. Compare also Shelley's earlier poem, Stanzas April, 1814; and for a more recent example: Ithaca, Ithaca, the land of my desire! I'm home again in Ithaca, beside my own hearth-fire. Sweet patient eyes have welcomed me, all tenderness and truth, Wherein I see kept sacredly, the visions of our youth. AMELIA J. BURR, Ulysses in Ithaca.

Probably the most striking and successful use of the 4-beat movement is that of Meredith's Love in a Valley. So marked is the time element, with the compensatory lengthenings and pauses, that the poem almost demands to be chanted rather than read; but when well chanted it is peculiarly musical, and when ill read it is horribly ragged and choppy. The whole poem will repay study for the metrical subtleties, but the first stanza is sufficient to illustrate the rhythm (there are normally four [#][U][U][U] in each line).[39]

[39] This metre has been used, e. g., by George Darley (1795-1846) in The Flower of Beauty (four stanzas) and (rather monotonously) by Charles Swain (1803-74) in Tripping down the Field-Path (cf. Stedman's Victorian Anthology, pp. 17, 76); and more recently by Mr. Alfred Noyes.

Under yonder beech-tree single on the greensward, Couch'd with her arms behind her golden head, Knees and tresses folded to slip and ripple idly, Lies my young love sleeping in the shade. Had I the heart to slide an arm beneath her, Press her parting lips as her waist I gather slow, Waking in amazement she could not but embrace me: Then would she hold me and never let me go?

* * * * *

Examples. There occur examples of 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-stress iambic, trochaic, anapestic, and dactylic lines, sometimes used continuously and sometimes used in combinations with other lengths. But many of these are unusual, and may be found only by diligent search.[40] Some have already been illustrated in the previous section, others occur here and there throughout this volume, especially in the paragraphs on the stanza; some of the more important, however, are given below. But, of course, the line rhythm is significant mainly as a unit of the longer composition, and brief selections cannot well represent the rhythmic movement of a whole poem. Whenever possible the poem should be read complete.

[40] For a classified collection see Alden, English Verse, pp. 24 ff.

Attempts have been made to characterize the different feet as slow or rapid, solemn or light, and so on, but they are generally unsuccessful. For though certain measures seem to be inherently unsuitable for dignified themes, or for humorous subjects, there are always contrary instances to be adduced, and it is dangerous to be dogmatic. Anapests are said to be characteristically rapid, hurried, because they crowd more syllables than iambs do into a line; but anapests are often slow-moving, because there is frequent iambic substitution and because many important words—monosyllables, for the most part—have to do duty for light syllables metrically. Perfect anapests, like perfect dactyls, are comparatively few in English.

Two-stress and 6-stress anapestic:

Canst thou say in thine heart Thou hast seen with thine eyes With what cunning of art Thou wast wrought in what wise, By what force of what stuff thou wast shapen, and shown on my breast to the skies? SWINBURNE, Hertha.[41]

[41] This whole poem abounds in substitutions. See Shelley's The Cloud, above, pages 59 f., which may be regarded as 2-an 3-stress anapestic lines, though two 2-stress lines are printed as one.

Three-stress anapestic:

If you go over desert and mountain, Far into the country of Sorrow, To-day and to-night and to-morrow, And maybe for months and for years; You shall come with a heart that is bursting For trouble and toiling and thirsting, You shall certainly come to the fountain At length,—to the Fountain of Tears. ARTHUR O'SHAUGHNESSY, The Fountain of Tears.

Though the day of my destiny's over, And the star of my fate hath declined, Thy soft heart refused to discover The faults which so many could find; Though thy soul with my grief was acquainted, It shrunk not to share it with me, And the love which my spirit hath painted It never hath found but in thee. BYRON, Stanzas to Augusta.

Four-stress anapestic:

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold, And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold; And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee. BYRON, The Destruction of Sennacherib.

Five-stress anapestic. This is a peculiar metre, usually felt to be choppy and harsh. It has been said that no one can read Browning's Saul and follow both metre and meaning at the same time:

As I sang,— Oh, our manhood's prime vigour! No spirit feels waste, Not a muscle is stopped in its playing nor sinew unbraced. Oh, the wild joys of living! the leaping from rock up to rock, The strong rending of boughs from the fir-tree, the cool, silver shock Of the plunge in a pool's living water, the hunt of the bear, ...

Eight-stress anapestic. This is on the whole the longest line possible in English.[42] It is really a tour de force.

- [42] Tennyson's To Virgil, though it has nine stresses in each line and is therefore an exception to the statement made above, page 69, is shorter in respect of the number of syllables. There is, moreover, a poem, After Death, by Fanny Parnell, consisting of fourteen 10-stress lines. The cumbrousness of the rhythm is apparent in these two specimens which are rather better than the others Ah, the harpings and the salvos and the shoutings of thy exiled sons returning! I should hear, though dead and mouldered, and the grave-damps should not chill my bosom's burning. The whole of this poem may be found in Sir Edward T. Cook's More Literary Recreations, p. 278. -

The trochaic line is generally stiff and thumping. It does not admit of frequent substitutions, for many substitutions destroy the trochaic effect. It usually comes to an abrupt close because feminine endings are not easy or natural in English. Moreover, there are in the language so many dissyllabic words of trochaic movement that the resulting frequent coincidence of word and foot tends to produce monotony. Tennyson once said that when he wanted to write a poem that would be popular he wrote in trochaics. Certainly the stresses are more prominent in trochaic verse than in iambic or even anapestic; and the untrained ear likes its rhythms well marked.[43] The Locksley Hall poems are good examples:

Comfort? comfort scorned of devils! this is truth the poet sings, That a sorrow's crown of sorrow is remembering happier things. Drug thy memories, lest thou learn it, lest thy heart be put to proof, In the dead, unhappy night, and when the rain is on the roof.

Notable is Tennyson's skill in this 8-stress line in avoiding the natural break into 4 + 4. This break occurs regularly and is enforced by the rime in Poe's The Raven. One of the most successful metrically of purely trochaic poems is Browning's One Word More, a few lines of which are quoted on page 70.

[43] By a series of experiments C. R. Squire found a natural preference for duple over triple rhythms (though the triple rhythms seemed 'pleasanter'), and for trochaic and dactylic over iambic and anapestic. (Am. Journal of Psychology, vol. 12 (1901), p. 587.)

Four-stress trochaic.

Shall I, wasting in despair, Die because a woman's fair? Or make pale my cheeks with care 'Cause another's rosy are?

Be she fairer than the day, Or the flow'ry meads in May, If she think not well of me, What care I how fair she be? WITHER, The Author's Resolution.

Souls of Poets dead and gone, What Elysium have ye known, Happy field or mossy cavern, Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern? KEATS, Lines on the Mermaid Tavern.

Five-stress trochaic.

Then the music touch'd the gates and died; Rose again from where it seem'd to fail, Storm'd in orbs of song, a growing gale; Till thronging in and in, to where they waited, As 'twere a hundred-throated nightingale, The strong tempestuous treble throbbed and palpitated; Ran into its giddiest whirl of sound, Caught the sparkles, and in circles, Purple gauzes, golden hazes, liquid mazes, Flung the torrent rainbow round. TENNYSON, The Vision of Sin.

(Note here the substitutions for special imitative effect.)

Shelley's To a Skylark is in trochaic metre of 3-stress and 6-stress lines.

Dactylic lines are not common except in the imitations of the classical hexameter. Hood's familiar Bridge of Sighs in 2-stress lines, and Tennyson's still more familiar Charge of the Light Brigade (which is, however, only partly dactylic) are good illustrations.

Iambic lines are by very far the most frequent in English verse. No special examples need therefore be given except of the less usual 6-stress and 7-stress lines. On blank verse see pages 133 ff.

The 6-stress line is called the alexandrine (probably from the name of an Old French poem in this metre). It is still the standard line in classical French verse; but the French alexandrine differs from the English, principally in having four stresses instead of six. In English it is usually awkward when used for long stretches, and tends to split into 3 + 3. Lowell called it "the droning old alexandrine." It was employed for several long poems in Middle English; and certain of the Elizabethans tried it: Surrey, Sidney, and Drayton—Drayton's Polyolbion (1613) contains about 15,000 alexandrines. It has not commended itself to modern poets, with one exception, for sustained work. Browning wrote his Fifine at the Fair (1872) in this measure; and while he succeeded in relieving it of some of its monotony, he only demonstrated again its unfitness, in English, for continuous use. A peculiar musical effect is obtained from it, however, by Mr. Siegfried Sassoon in his Picture-Show:

And still they come and go: and this is all I know— That from the gloom I watch an endless picture-show, Where wild or listless faces flicker on their way, With glad or grievous hearts I'll never understand Because Time spins so fast, and they've no time to stay Beyond the moment's gesture of a lifted hand.

On the other hand, as the last line of the Spenserian and similar stanzas the alexandrine has proved very melodious and effective, largely by contrast with the shorter lines. A few isolated examples will illustrate some of its powers, but of course the whole stanza should be read together.

And streames of purple bloud new die the verdant fields. SPENSER, Faerie Queen, I, 2, 17.

Which from a sacred fountain welled forth alway. Ibid., I, 1, 34.

Swinges the scaly horror of his folded tail. The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through the deep. With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close. MILTON, On the Morning of Christ's Nativity.

Dart follows dart; lance, lance; loud bellowings speak his woes. BYRON, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, I, lxxvi.

Where'er the surge may sweep, the tempest's breath prevail. Ibid., III, ii.

As though a rose should shut, and be a bud again. KEATS, Eve of St. Agnes, xxvii.

Countless and swift as leaves on autumn's tempest shed. SHELLEY, Revolt of Islam, I, iv.

Month follow month with woe, and year wake year to sorrow. SHELLEY, Adonais, xxi.

With sparkless ashes load an unlamented urn. Ibid., xl.

Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought. SHELLEY, To a Skylark.

The slender stream Along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem. TENNYSON, Lotos Eaters.

Alexandrines were occasionally in the eighteenth century (and more frequently in the late seventeenth) inserted among heroic couplets for variety and special effect, as in Pope's

The huge round stone, resulting with a bound, Thunders impetuous down, and smokes along the ground. Odyssey, XI, 737-738.

But Pope himself condemned the 'needless alexandrine'

That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along. Essay on Criticism, 357.

One of the oldest lines of modern English verse is the so-called septenary (septenarius), having had a nearly continuous tradition from the twelfth-century Poema Morale down (in its divided form) to the present. It began as a single line of seven stresses or fourteen syllables, and continued to be used as such through the Elizabethan period, and sporadically even later.[44] But on account of its customary pause after the fourth foot, it very early broke into two short lines of four and three stresses each, and thus the septenary couplet became the ballad stanza. For example,

And even the lowly valleys joy to glitter in their sight When the unmeasur'd firmament bursts to disclose her light. CHAPMAN, Iliad, VIII.

is essentially the same metre, though printed differently, as

The western wave was all aflame, The day was wellnigh done! Almost upon the western wave Rested the broad, bright sun. COLERIDGE, Ancient Mariner, Part III.

The more notable long poems in septenaries are Warner's Albion's England (1586), Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses (1565, 1567), and Chapman's translation of the Iliad (1598-1611).

[44] Wordsworth and Mrs. Browning have written rimed septenaries.


Couplet. The line unit is used sometimes singly and continuously, as in blank verse, and sometimes in groups usually held together by rime. These groups are called stanzas or strophes. The simplest stanza is, therefore, the couplet rimed aa.[45] Couplets are either unequal or equal in length.

[45] The usual and most convenient way of indicating stanzaic structure is with small italic letters for the rimes and either superior or inferior numbers for the number of stresses in each line. Thus Landor's Rose Aylmer: Ah, what avails the sceptred race! Ah, what the form divine! What every virtue, every grace! Rose Aylmer, all were thine. is described as a^{4}b^{3}a^{4}b^{3}. The repetition of a whole line is indicated by a capital letter. When all the lines are of the same length, one exponent figure suffices, as abba^{4} for the In Memoriam stanza.

The only much-used unequal couplet is the combination, now old-fashioned, of an alexandrine and a septenary, and called, from the number of syllables, Poulter's Measure, because, says Gascoigne (1575), "it gives xii. for one dozen and xiii. for another." Wyatt and Surrey and Sidney wrote in it; the older drama employed it occasionally; Arthur Brooke's Romeus and Juliet (1562) on which Shakespeare's play was based, is in this measure. The following example is by Nicholas Grimald (1519-62).

What sweet relief the showers to thirsty plants we see, What dear delight the blooms to bees, my true love is to me! As fresh and lusty Ver foul Winter doth exceed— As morning bright, with scarlet sky, doth pass the evening's weed— As mellow pears above the crabs esteemed be— So doth my love surmount them all, whom yet I hap to see!

It survives chiefly in the S.M. (short measure) of the hymn books and such stanzas as that used by Macaulay in his Horatius:

From Egypt's bondage come, Where death and darkness reign, We seek our new and better home, Where we our rest shall gain.

* * * * *

When the goodman mends his armor, And trims his helmet's plume; When the goodwife's shuttle merrily Goes flashing through the loom; With weeping and with laughter Still is the story told, How well Horatius kept the bridge In the brave old days of old.

Other unequal couplets are found in Herrick's A Thanskgiving to God for his House (a^{4}a^{2}) and Browning's Love among the Ruins (a^{6}a^{2}).

The equal couplet is used both continuously and, more rarely except with long lines, as a single stanza. Sometimes two or three couplets are combined into a larger stanza. The usual forms of the couplet used continuously are the 4-stress or short couplet ("octosyllabic") and the 5-stress or heroic couplet ("decasyllabic").

* * * * *

Short Couplet. The short couplet in duple iambic-trochaic movement has proved its worth by its long history and the variety of its uses. The English borrowed it from the French octosyllabic verse, and employed it chiefly for long narrative poems. Chaucer used it in his earlier work, the Book of the Duchess, and the House of Fame; Butler in the serio-comic Hudibras; Scott, Byron, Wordsworth, and Morris in their Romantic narrative verse. For lyric purposes it was used by Shakespeare and other dramatists, by Milton in L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, and since then by most of the greater and lesser poets. But its effect, especially in long poems, is often monotonous because of the rapid recurrence of the rimes, and its powers are somewhat limited. Except under expert handling it is likely to turn into a dog-trot, and it seems sometimes to lack dignity where dignity is required. On the whole it is better for swift movement, for the obvious reason that the line is short: the frequent repetition of the unit, both line and couplet, produces the effect of hurry.

Never has the short couplet revealed its flexibility to better advantage than in Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso and in Coleridge's Christabel. In Christabel Coleridge believed he was inventing a new prosodic principle, that of counting the stresses rather than the syllables;[46] and though he erred with respect to the originality of his principle, he succeeded in getting a freer movement than the couplet had had since Chaucer. Some of the roughness of Chaucer's short couplets is probably due to the imperfections of our texts, and some also to the haste with which he wrote—it is in this metre that the fatal facility of certain poets has proved the worst bane—but the Chaucerian couplet stands as a prototype (though not literally a model) of the freer flow of Byron's[47] and Morris's couplets, in contrast to those of Scott and Wordsworth, which resemble the stricter, syllable-counting couplets of Chaucer's friend Gower.

[46] See above, p. 66, n. 1. [47] Byron follows now one model, now another. In Parisina he consciously tried the metrical scheme of Christabel.

The chief drawbacks of the short couplet, besides monotony, are the tendency to diffuseness of language and looseness of grammatical structure (as in Chaucer and Scott, for instance), and rime-padding, i. e., the insertion of phrases and sometimes even irrelevant ideas, for the sake of the rime.

The chief sources of variety are substitution, pause, run-on lines, and division. The first is very apparent in the much-quoted passage in Christabel:

The night is chill; the forest bare; Is it the wind that moaneth bleak? There is not wind enough in the air To move away the ringlet curl From the lovely lady's cheek— There is not wind enough to twirl The one red leaf, the last of its clan, That dances as often as dance it can, Hanging so light, and hanging so high, On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky.

The pause offers more difficulties for the poet, and more opportunities; since the line is so short, and the rimes reinforce the regular metrical pause at the end of the line, important grammatical pauses cannot well occur in the middle of the line without danger of breaking the rhythm. The logical pause must, therefore, usually coincide with the metrical and thus emphasize unduly the line unit. Moreover, the quick return of the rime sound causes the couplet itself to be felt as a unit and produces what are called 'closed couplets,' in which the two lines contain an independent idea. To avoid irksome uniformity in this regard three devices are customary: to 'run-on' the meaning from one line to the next, thus momentarily obscuring the metrical pause, to 'run-on' the couplets themselves, and to divide the couplet so that the second verse belongs to a new sentence or independent clause.

And thus, when they appeared at last, And all my bonds aside were cast, These heavy walls to me had grown A heritage—and all my own! And half I felt as they were come 5 To tear me from a second home. With spiders I had friendship made, And watched them in their sullen trade; Had seen the mice by moonlight play— And why should I feel less than they? 10 We were all inmates of one place, And I, the monarch of each race, Had power to kill; yet, strange to tell! In quiet we had learned to dwell. My very chains and I grew friends, 15 So much a long communion tends To make us what we are:—even I Regained my freedom with a sigh. BYRON, The Prisoner of Chillon.

In this passage, which is on the whole conservative and stiff in movement, observe (1) how the pause in the middle of ll. 4, 13, and 17 helps to vary the measure; (2) how many of the verses end with a logical as well as metrical pause; (3) how in ll. 3, 5, 16, and 17 the meaning runs over without pause into the next lines; (4) how the first two couplets and the last two are run together, whereas the third and fourth are both closed and independent; and (5) how at ll. 9 and 10 the couplet is divided. This last device is not very frequent in the practice of any poet except Chaucer; it is well illustrated, however, in these lines from Shelley's With a Guitar to Jane:

All this it knows; but will not tell To those that cannot question well The Spirit that inhabits it. It talks according to the wit Of its companions; and no more ...

Two other means of varying the swing of the short couplet are to change the order of the rimes (as in the example above from Christabel) or introduce a third riming line (that is, to use triplets with the couplets), and to intermingle shorter lines, as Coleridge does occasionally in Christabel, and Byron at the beginning of The Prisoner of Chillon:

My hair is gray, but not with years, Nor grew it white In a single night, As men's have grown from sudden fears.

* * * * *

Heroic Couplet. The 5-stress line, both rimed and unrimed, is the most flexible and best adapted to all kinds of subjects that English versification possesses. Its powers range through the tragedy and comedy of Shakespeare, the dignity of the sonnet, and the grandeur of Milton, to the satire of Pope and the informal conversational verse of Mr. Robert Frost. The 4-stress line is too short, the 6-stress is too long (when it does not split into two equal parts); the 5-stress seems to hit the golden average. It is less inclined to 'go' by itself, and therefore is suitable for slow movements; on the other hand, it is easily divided by pauses and hence is easily relieved of monotony and adjustable to almost all tempos.[48]

[48] It is no doubt significant that the rhythmic pulses which come most naturally to us are in twos and threes and their multiples; while even to beat time in fives requires a special effort. In music 5/8 or 5/4 time is extremely rare. There is an example of the latter in Chopin's Sonata I (the larghetto movement).

The earliest form, historically, of the 5-stress line in English was in rimed couplets; the first poet to use the rimed couplet continuously (as distinguished from occasional use in a stanza) was Chaucer.[49] Blank verse is a modification of the couplet by the simple omission of the rimes at the end.

[49] On the source and origin of the 5-stress couplet in English, authorities are in disagreement. See Alden, English Verse, pp. 177 ff., and the references there given.

The history of the heroic couplet may be divided into two periods, that of Chaucer and his followers, Gavin Douglas and Spenser, and that beginning with Marlowe, Chapman, and other Elizabethans and continuing down to the present. This division is peculiar, for it represents a double curve of development, the one comparatively short, the other long. Chaucer's couplet has all the marks of ease and freedom of a fully matured medium: great variety in the pauses, run-on lines and couplets, and divided couplets. (All the means of securing variety for the short couplet, explained above, apply a fortiori to the heroic line.) Douglas, in large part, and Spenser pretty fully, adopted and preserved this unfettered movement, though the former anticipates here and there the neat balance of the Popian couplet. Then the measure seems to have begun all over again, partly on account of an attack of syllable-counting, with close formal recognition of the line unit and the couplet unit, and gradually worked its way back to its original flexibility.[50]

[50] Note Professor Woodberry's praise of the heroic couplet for its simple music, its suppleness, its power of forcing brevity: "the best metrical form which intelligence, as distinct from poetical feeling, can employ." (Makers of Literature, p. 104.)

The following characteristic examples illustrate the chief varieties of the couplet. (Again, they should be supplemented by the reading of longer passages. Pope's couplet, in particular, with its perfection of form according to a few well-marked formulas, reveals its great weakness, monotony, only in the consecutive reading of several pages.)

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote The drought of Marche hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne in swich licour, Of which vertue engendred is the flour; Whan Zephyrus eek with his swete breeth Inspired hath in every holt and heeth The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne, And smale fowles maken melodye, That slepen al the night with open eye, So priketh hem nature in here corages; Than longen folk to gon on pilgrimages, And palmers for to seken straunge strondes, To feme halwes, kouthe in sondry londes; And specially, from every shires ende Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende, The holy blisful martir for to seeke, That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke. CHAUCER, Canterbury Tales, Prologue.

The Husbandman was meanly well content Triall to make of his endevourment; And, home him leading, lent to him the charge Of all his flocke, with libertie full large, Giving accompt of th' annuall increce Both of their lambes, and of their woolly fleece. Thus is this Ape become a shepheard swaine, And the false Foxe his dog (God give them paine!) For ere the yeare have halfe his course out-run, And doo returne from whence he first begun, They shall him make an ill accompt of thrift. SPENSER, Mother Hubberd's Tale.

And in the midst a silver altar stood: There Hero, sacrificing turtles' blood, Kneel'd to the ground, veiling her eyelids close; And modestly they open'd as she rose: Thence flew Love's arrow with the golden head; And thus Leander was enamoured. Stone-still he stood, and evermore he gaz'd, Till with the fire, that from his countenance blaz'd, Relenting Hero's gentle heart was strook: Such force and virtue hath an amorous look. It lies not in our power to love or hate, For will in us is over-rul'd by fate. MARLOWE, Hero and Leander.

But when the far-off isle he touch'd, he went Up from the blue sea to the continent, And reach'd the ample cavern of the Queen, Whom he found within; without seldom seen. A sun-like fire upon the hearth did flame; The matter precious, and divine the frame; Of cedar cleft and incense was the pile, That breathed an odour round about the isle. Herself was seated in an inner room, Whom sweetly sing he heard, and at her loom, About a curious web, whose yarn she threw In with a golden shuttle. A grove grew In endless spring about her cavern round, With odorous cypress, pines, and poplars crown'd. CHAPMAN, Odyssey, V.

Though Chapman sometimes uses the pause and run-on lines freely, the regularity of the foot makes for a certain stiffness and inflexibility.

She, she is gone; she's gone; when thou know'st this, What fragmentary rubbish this world is Thou know'st, and that it is not worth a thought; He honours it too much that thinks it nought. Think then, my soul, that death is but a groom, Which brings a taper to the outward room, Whence thou spiest first a little glimmering light, And after brings it nearer to thy sight; For such approaches doth heaven make in death. DONNE, Anatomy of the World.

Donne's metres were notoriously careless—or deliberately irregular. They therefore stand somewhat out of place in the general trend of development.

O how I long my careless limbs to lay Under the plantain's shade, and all the day With amorous airs my fancy entertain; Invoke the Muses, and improve my vein! No passion there in my free breast should move, None but the sweet and best of passions, love! There while I sing, if gentle Love be by, That tunes my lute, and winds the strings so high; With the sweet sound of Sacharissa's name, I'll make the list'ning savages grow tame. WALLER, Battle of the Summer Islands.

Waller, though his lifetime (1605-87) embraces that of Milton, is the natural precursor of the eighteenth century. His couplets are almost all characteristic of eighteenth-century couplets, which seem to seek perfection within themselves. The aim of Waller, Dryden, Pope, and Johnson was primarily to exalt the couplet and extract from it all its potentialities, not to obscure it by varied pauses and run-on lines. Waller was praised by the best critics of his own and the following generation for the great 'sweetness' and smoothness of his verse.

Of these the false Achitophel was first; A name to all succeeding ages curst: For close designs and crooked counsels fit; Sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit; Restless, unfix'd in principles and place; In pow'r unpleas'd, impatient of disgrace: A fiery soul which, working out its way, Fretted the pigmy body to decay, And o'er-informed the tenement of clay. DRYDEN, Absalom and Achitophel, Part I.

All human things are subject to decay, And, when Fate summons, monarchs must obey. This Flecknoe found, who, like Augustus, young Was call'd to empire and had govern'd long; In prose and verse was own'd, without dispute, Through all the realms of Nonsense absolute. This aged prince, now flourishing in peace And blest with issue of a large increase, Worn out with business, did at length debate To settle the succession of the State. DRYDEN, MacFlecknoe.

It is interesting, from a metrical point of view, to compare Chaucer's couplets with Dryden's where he is translating Chaucer, e. g., in the Knight's Tale and Palamon and Arcite.

Between 1664 and 1678 it became the fashion, partly as a reaction against the liberties of the late Elizabethan blank verse, and partly under French influence, to write drama in heroic couplets. But the undertaking soon proved abortive.

Others for Language all their care express, And value books, as women men, for dress; Their praise is still,—the style is excellent; The sense, they humbly take upon content. Words are like leaves; and where they most abound, Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found: False eloquence, like the prismatic glass, Its gaudy colours spreads on ev'ry place; The face of nature we no more survey, All glares alike, without distinction gay: But true expression, like th' unchanging sun, Clears and improves whate'er it shines upon; It gilds all objects, but it alters none. POPE, Essay on Criticism.

Meantime the Grecians in a ring beheld The coursers bounding o'er the dusty field. The first who marked them was the Cretan king; High on a rising ground, above the ring, The monarch sat: from whence with sure survey He well observ'd the chief who led the way, And heard from far his animating cries, And saw the foremost steed with sharpen'd eyes. POPE, Iliad, XXIII.

Pope's couplets represent the acme of polish and metrical dexterity—a perfect instrument for wit and satire.[51] Thus in the mock-heroic Rape of the Lock these well-modeled couplets prove their mettle, but in the translation of Homer their fatal limitations are easily apparent.

[51] See Pope's own analysis of his system of verse in a letter to Cromwell, November 25, 1710.

Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain, Where health and plenty cheered the labouring swain, Where smiling spring its earliest visit paid, And parting summer's lingering blooms delayed: Dear lovely bowers of innocence and ease, Seats of my youth, when every sport could please, How often have I loiter'd o'er thy green, Where humble happiness endear'd each scene! How often have I paus'd on every charm, The shelter'd cot, the cultivated farm, The never-failing brook, the busy mill, The decent church that topt the neighboring hill, The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade, For talking age and whispering lovers made....

Ill fares the land to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates, and men decay: Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade; A breath can make them, as a breath has made: But a bold peasantry, a country's pride, When once destroy'd, can never be supplied. GOLDSMITH, The Deserted Village.

The departure from the petrified couplet was gradual and natural, and influenced greatly by the simpler language and content of the verses. These two specimens show Goldsmith writing in two manners, only a few lines apart. Still freer are Cowper's couplets in his On the Receipt of My Mother's Picture. Byron in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809) and Crabbe in his earlier work, still practised the eighteenth-century couplet (in the Tales of the Hall, 1819, Crabbe varied it to a considerable degree), but the new spirit of the Romantic Movement leavened all the metrical forms, as it did the themes, of poetry. Compare the following examples.

One hope within two wills, one will beneath Two overshadowing minds, one life, one death, One heaven, one hell, one immortality, And one annihilation. Woe is me! The winged words on which my soul would pierce Into the height of Love's rare universe Are chains of lead around its flight of fire— I pant, I sink, I tremble, I expire! SHELLEY, Epipsychidion.

I rode one evening with Count Maddalo Upon the bank of land which breaks the flow Of Adria towards Venice: a bare strand Of hillocks, heaped from ever-shifting sand, Matted with thistles and amphibious weeds Such as from earth's embrace the salt ooze breeds, Is this; an uninhabited sea-side, Which the lone fisher, when his nets are dried, Abandons.... SHELLEY, Julian and Maddalo.

'Twas far too strange and wonderful for sadness; Sharpening, by degrees, his appetite To dive into the deepest. Dark, nor light, The region; nor bright, nor sombre wholly, But mingled up; a gleaming melancholy; A dusky empire and its diadems; One faint eternal eventide of gems. Aye, millions sparkled on a vein of gold, Along whose track the prince quick footsteps told, With all its lines abrupt and angular. KEATS, Endymion, II.

Ay, happiness Awaited me; the way life should be used Was to acquire, and deeds like you conduced To teach it by a self-revealment, deemed Life's very use, so long! Whatever seemed Progress to that, was pleasure; aught that stayed My reaching it—no pleasure. I have laid The ladder down; I climb not; still, aloft The platform stretches! Blisses strong and soft, I dared not entertain, elude me; yet Never of what they promised could I get A glimpse till now! BROWNING, Sordello, III.

She thanked men,—good! but thanked Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame This sort of trifling? Even had you skill In speech—(which I have not)—to make your will Quite clear to such an one, and say ... BROWNING, My Last Duchess.

It hath been seen and yet it shall be seen That out of tender mouths God's praise hath been Made perfect, and with wood and simple string He hath played music sweet as shawm-playing To please himself with softness of all sound; And no small thing but hath been sometime found Full sweet of use, and no such humbleness But God hath bruised withal the sentences And evidence of wise men witnessing; No leaf that is so soft a hidden thing It never shall get sight of the great sun; The strength of ten has been the strength of one, And lowliness has waxed imperious. SWINBURNE, St. Dorothy.

Three-Line Stanza

Stanzas of three lines riming aaa (called tercets or triplets) are not very common. Familiar, however, is Herrick's Upon Julia's Clothes:

Whenas in silks my Julia goes, Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows That liquifaction of her clothes!

Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see That brave vibration each way free; O how that glittering taketh me!

Other examples are: Threnos (in The Phoenix and the Turtle), Herbert's Trinity Sunday, Quarles' Shortness of Life, Browning's A Toccata of Galuppi's, Tennyson's The Two Voices, Swinburne's After a Reading, and Clear the Way; and (with a simple refrain) Cowper's To Mary:

The twentieth year is well-nigh past, Since first our sky was overcast; Ah, would that this might be the last! My Mary!

Crashaw's Wishes to his Supposed Mistress rimes a^{2}a^{3}a^{4}.

Tennyson's 'O Swallow, Swallow' in The Princess is in unrimed triplets.

On the terza rima see below, page 164.

Four-Line Stanza: Quatrain

The most important quatrains are the ballad stanza, riming a^{4}b^{3}c^{4}b^{3} or a^{4}b^{3}a^{4}b^{3} (the Common Measure of the hymnals), with the related Long Measure riming abab^{4} or abcb^{4}; the In Memoriam stanza abba^{4}; and the elegiac quatrain abab^{5}. These are often combined into 8-and 12-line stanzas, as abab bcbc^{5} (called the Monk's Tale stanza), abab cdcd, etc., sometimes with alternating long and short lines. And these, as well as longer stanzas, are frequently varied by the use of repetitions and refrains.[52]

[52] For complete lists and examples of all the various stanzaic forms, the larger works of Alden and Schipper should be consulted.

The ballad stanza, with its frequent variations of internal rime and additional verses is excellently illustrated by Coleridge's Ancient Mariner. Similar is Tennyson's Sir Galahad, a 12-line stanza of three quatrains, a^{4}b^{3}a^{4}b^{3}cdc^{4}d^{3}efgf^{4}. Another common variation is that of Hood's The Dream of Eugene Aram, Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol, and Rossetti's Blessed Damozel, a^{4}b^{3}c^{4}b^{3}d^{4}b^{3}. The musical roughness of the old ballads should be contrasted with the regularized modern imitations, such as Longfellow's Wreck of the Hesperus. Better imitations are Rossetti's Stratton Water and The King's Tragedy, Robert Buchanan's Judas Iscariot, and W.B. Yeats's Father Gilligan. Sometimes a shorter quatrain is printed as a long couplet and combined into larger stanzas, as in Mr. Alfred Noyes's The Highwayman (which has an additional variation in the inserted fourth and fifth lines):

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees, The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor, And the highwayman came riding— Riding—riding— The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn door.

The variations in Tennyson's The Revenge should be carefully studied.

The ballad stanza is closely similar to the abab^{4} and abcb^{4} quatrains, and (as in the Sir Galahad mentioned just above) the two are sometimes united. All three were much used by Wordsworth and many minor poets for lyrics as well as narratives; the result is often an undignified tinkle that takes the popular ear and "makes the judicious grieve." The stanzaic unit is so easily carried in one's mind and so rapidly repeats itself, that there is little opportunity for the necessary pleasing surprises. But that the measure is capable of a simple expressive music is evident from such examples as Wordsworth's 'Lucy' poems. These stanzas, both alone and doubled (as in To Mary in Heaven), were favorites with Burns.

A striking musical effect was obtained by Swinburne in Dolores by shortening the last line of a double quatrain:

Cold eyelids that hide like a jewel Hard eyes that grow soft for an hour; The heavy white limbs, and the cruel Red mouth like a venomous flower; When these are gone by with their glories, What shall rest of thee then, what remain, O mystic and sombre Dolores, Our Lady of Pain.

Similar interesting variations are Coleridge's Love, aba^{4}b^{3} and Wordsworth's The Solitary Reaper.

The In Memoriam stanza (abba^{4}) is named after Tennyson's poem (though that was by no means its first use), because Tennyson gave it a peculiar melody, and, partly for this reason and partly from the length and subject of the poem, almost preA"mpted it for elegiac purposes.[53] Characteristic stanzas metrically are these:

Calm and deep peace in this wide air, These leaves that redden to the fall; And in my heart, if calm at all, If any calm, a calm despair.

And all we met was fair and good, And all was good that Time could bring, And all the secret of the Spring Moved in the chambers of the blood.

Now fades the last long streak of snow, Now burgeons every maze of quick About the flowering squares, and thick By ashen roots the violets blow.

[53] On its origin and the twenty-five poems in it by seventeen different poets, from Ben Jonson to Clough and Rossetti, before the publication of In Memoriam, see E. P. Morton in Modern Language Notes, 24 (1909), pp. 67 ff.

One of the peculiarities of the stanza is the increased emphasis which the rime of the third verse receives from its proximity to that of the second; and this is noticeable both when there is a logical pause after the third verse and when there is none:

'Thou makest thine appeal to me: I bring to life, I bring to death: The spirit does but mean the breath: I know no more.' And he, shall he....

I sometimes hold it half a sin To put in words the grief I feel; For words, like Nature, half reveal And half conceal the Soul within.

Run-on stanzas are very frequent; especially remarkable is the periodic movement of the four stanzas of LXXXVI, leading up to the last line—

A hundred spirits whisper 'Peace.'

"By the rhyme-scheme of the quatrain," says Corson, "the terminal rhyme-emphasis of the stanza is reduced, the second and third verses being the most closely braced by the rhyme. The stanza is thus admirably adapted to the sweet continuity of flow, free from abrupt checks, demanded by the spiritualized sorrow which it bears along. Alternate rhyme would have wrought an entire change in the tone of the poem. To be assured of this, one should read, aloud, of course, all the stanzas whose first and second, or third and fourth, verses admit of being transposed without affecting the sense. By such transposition, the rhymes are made alternate, and the concluding rhymes more emphatic. There are as many as ninety-one such stanzas.... The poem could not have laid hold of so many hearts as it has, had the rhymes been alternate, even if the thought-element had been the same."[54] Examples for this experiment are:

To-night the winds begin to rise And roar from yonder dropping day: The last read leaf is rolled away, The rooks are blown about the skies. XV, 1.

I hold it true, whate'er befall; I feel it when I sorrow most; 'Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all. XXVII, 4.

Compare the slightly different effect of the same stanza printed as two lines, in Wilde's The Sphinx:

The river-horses in the slime trumpeted when they saw him come Odorous with Syrian galbanum and smeared with spikenard and with thyme. He came along the river bank like some tall galley argent-sailed, He strode across the waters, mailed in beauty, and the waters sank.

[54] H. Corson, Primer of English Verse, pp. 70 f.

The name 'elegiac stanza' for the abab^{5} quatrain comes apparently from its appropriate use by Gray in the Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, but it is not altogether fitting; for it is simply the quatrain movement of the English sonnet, where no lament is intended, and it was employed effectively by Dryden in his Annus Mirabilis, and has been often employed since, without elegiac feeling. For examples see the stanza from Gray, page 55, and the sonnets on pages 129 f. An especially interesting modification is that of Tennyson's Palace of Art, a^{5}b^{4}a^{5}b^{3}.

Five-Line Stanza

Five-line stanzas are formed in various ways, e. g., aaaba, aabba, aabab, abbba, ababa, ababb, etc., in lines of three, four, five, etc., stresses.

Six-Line Stanza

Six-line stanzas are formed by similar combinations; the most frequent is the quatrain + couplet, called, from Shakespeare's poem, the Venus and Adonis stanza, ababcc^{5} (compare the end of the English sonnet and the ottava rima).[55] Familiar examples are Wordsworth's To a Skylark and his fine Laodamia.

Since them art dead, lo! here I prophesy: Sorrow on love hereafter shall attend: It shall be waited on with jealousy, Find sweet beginning, but unsavoury end; Ne'er settled equally, but high or low; That all love's pleasure shall not match his woe. Venus and Adonis.

The same rimes with 4-stress verses are also common,[56] for example, Wordsworth's

I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

[55] Early examples may be conveniently found in the Oxford Book of English Verse, Nos. 75, 96, 102, 108, 172. [56] For early examples see again the Oxford Book of English Verse, Nos. 74, 140, 182, 184, 187.

Another important 6-line stanza is the tail-rime or rime couA(C)e, a stanza much used in the Middle English romances and chosen by Chaucer for his parody, Sir Thopas. Harry Bailey, mine host of the Canterbury pilgrims, called it 'doggerel rime.' The simple and probably normal form is aa^{4}b^{3}cc^{4}b^{3} or aa^{4}b^{3}aa^{4}b^{3}, which to save space in the manuscripts was written thus:

Listeth, lordes, in good entent, Of mirthe and of solas; And I wol telle verrayment Al of a knyght was fair and gent His name was sir Thopas. In bataille and in tourneyment,

Variations are extremely common: the aaa^{4}b^{2}ccc^{4}b^{2} of Wordsworth's To the Daisy, aaaa^{4}b^{2}ccc^{4}b^{3} of Tennyson's Lady of Shalott, aa^{3}b^{2}ccc^{3}b^{2} of S. F. Smith's America, aaa^{3}b^{2}ccc^{3}b^{2} of Drayton's Agincourt, and the so-called Burns stanza, in which Burns wrote some fifty poems, aaa^{4}b^{2}a^{4}b^{2}, e. g., To a Mouse and Address to the Deil.

Seven-Line Stanza

The most important 7-line stanza is the rime royale or Chaucer (or Troilus) stanza, ababbcc^{5}. In the Parlement of Foules, the Man of Law's Tale, and Troilus and Criseyde, Chaucer made it a splendid vehicle both for narrative and for reflective analysis, for humor, satire, description, and all the gamut of emotions; in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries James I, Lydgate and Hoccleve, Henryson and Dunbar, and Skelton, Hawes and Barclay employed it, largely in imitation of Chaucer; Wyatt used it in his Vixi Puellis Nuper Idoneus; and Shakespeare in The Rape of Lucrece. Since then it has not proved attractive to the poets—though no reason for its disuse is obvious—except Wordsworth (in his translations of Chaucer) and Morris, Chaucer's latest disciple.

And by the hond ful oft he wolde take This Pandarus, and into gardyn lede, And swich a feste, and swiche a proces make Hym of Criseyde, and of hire wommanhede, And of hire beaute, that, withouten drede, It was an heven his wordes for to here, And thanne he wolde synge in this manere. Troilus and Criseyde, Bk. III.

So she, deep-drenched in a sea of care, Holds disputation with each thing she views, And to herself all sorrow doth compare; No object but her passion's strength renews; And as one shifts, another straight ensues: Sometime her grief is dumb and hath no words; Sometime 'tis mad and too much talk affords. Rape of Lucrece.

Dreamer of dreams, born out of my due time, Why should I strive to set the crooked straight? Let it suffice me that my murmuring rhyme Beats with light wing against the ivory gate, Telling a tale not too importunate To those who in the sleepy region stay, Lulled by the singer of an empty day. MORRIS, Earthly Paradise.

In comparison with the formality of Shakespeare's and the evenness of Morris's, the ease and smoothness of Chaucer's stanza are striking. Wyatt's stanzas are musical in their way.

Eight-Line Stanza

Eight-line stanzas are variously formed—chiefly by the doubling of quatrains, sometimes with different rimes, as ababcdcd, sometimes preserving one or another or both rimes, as ababbcbc, abcbdbeb, ababacac, abababab, etc. Other varieties are abcdabcd (Rossetti) and aaabcccb (tail-rime), and aabbccdd.

One of the commonest 8-line stanzas is that imported from Italy and called ottava rima, abababcc. It has been charged with tediousness, and tedious it may become if not sedulously varied. It was introduced, along with so much else from Italy, by Wyatt, and was then employed for different purposes by Sidney, Spenser, Daniel, and others.[57] At the close of the eighteenth century it enjoyed a rebirth. "It had already been used by Harrington, Drayton, Fairfax (in his translation of Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered), and ... in later times by Gay; and it had even been used by Frere's contemporary, William Tennant; but to Frere belongs the honour of giving it the special characteristics which Byron afterwards popularized in Beppo and Don Juan.... Byron, taking up the stanza with equal skill and greater genius, filled it with the vigour of his personality, and made it a measure of his own, which it has ever since been hazardous for inferior poets to attempt."[58] Byron had first adopted the stanza in his translation of Pulci's Morgante Maggiore, which is itself in ottava rime. Beppo was written in 1817, and Don Juan begun in the next year. In 1819 the first four cantos of Don Juan were published; in 1820 Keats published his Isabella, and Shelley wrote his Witch of Atlas, both in the same metre.

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