Part 4 out of 9
4. Transition and summary paragraphs may occur in compositions.
VI. LETTER WRITING
+94. Importance of Good Letter Writing.+--Letter writing is the form of
written language used by most of us more frequently than any other form.
The importance of good letter writing is therefore obvious. Business,
personal, and social relations necessitate the writing of letters. We
are judged by those letters; and in order that we may be considered
businesslike, educated, and cultured, it is necessary that we should be
able to write good letters, not only as regards the form but also as
regards the subject-matter. The writing of good letters is often the means
of securing desirable positions and of keeping up pleasant and helpful
friendships. Since this form of composition plays so important a part in
our lives and the lives of those about us, it is worthy of careful study.
The subject-matter is the most important part of the letter, but adherence
to usages generally adopted is essential to successful letter writing.
Some of these usages may seem trivial in themselves, but a lack of
attention to them shows either ignorance or carelessness on the part of
the writer, and the consequences resulting from this inattention are often
anything but trivial. Applicants for good positions have been rejected
either because they did not know the correct usages of letter writing, or
because they did not heed them. In no other form of composition are
the rules concerning form so rigid; hence the need of knowledge and
carefulness concerning them.
+95. Paper.+--The nature of the letter determines to some extent our
choice of paper. Business letters are usually written on large paper,
about ten by eight inches in size, while letters of friendship and notes
of various kinds are written on paper of smaller size. White or delicately
tinted paper is always in good taste for all kinds of letters. The use of
highly tinted paper is occasionally in vogue with some people, but failure
to use it is never an offense against the laws of good taste. It is
customary now to use unruled paper for all kinds of letters as well as for
other forms of compositions. For letters of friendship four-page paper is
preferred to that in tablet form. The order in which the pages are used
may vary; but whatever the order is, it should not be confusing to the
Black ink should always be used. The writing should be neat and legible.
Attention should be paid to margin, paragraphs, and indentation. In fact,
all the rules of theme writing apply to letter writing, and to these are
added several others.
+96. The Beginning of a Letter.+--Certain forms for the
beginning of letters have been agreed upon, and these
forms should be followed. The beginning of a letter
usually includes the heading, the address of the person or
persons to whom the letter is sent, and the salutation.
Notice the following examples:--
| 171 Miles Ave., |
| Cleveland, Ohio. |
| Oct. 21, 1905. |
| Marshall Field & Co., |
| State St., Chicago, Ill. |
| Gentlemen: |
| Ottawa, Ill. |
| Nov. 9, 1905. |
| Dear Harold, |
| 1028 Jackson Boulevard, |
| Chicago Ill. |
| Nov. 10, 1905. |
| Messrs. Johnson & Foote, |
| 120 Main St., |
| Pittsfield, Mass. |
| Dear Sirs, |
| 120 P Street, |
| Lincoln, Neb. |
| Oct. 17, 1905. |
| My dear Mrs. Scott, |
| Boston, Mass., Nov. 23, 1905. |
| Dear Mother, |
| 33 Front St., |
| Adrian, Mich. |
| Nov. 30, 1905. |
| Miss Gertrude Brown, |
| 228 Warren Ave., Chicago, Ill. |
| Dear Madam: |
| New Hartford, Conn. |
| Nov. 3, 1905. |
| My dear Henry, |
The heading of a letter includes the address of the writer and the date of
the writing. When numerous letters are sent from one place to another, the
street and number may after a time be omitted from the heading. Example
(5) illustrates this. A son living in Boston has written to his mother
frequently and no longer considers it necessary to write the street and
number in every letter. If there is any doubt in the writer's mind as to
whether his address will be remembered or not, he should include it in the
letter. If the writer lives in a small place where the street and number
will not be needed in a reply sent to him, it is unnecessary for him to
make use of it in his letter. When the street and number are omitted, the
heading may be written on one line, as in example (5), but the use of two
lines is preferable.
Custom has decreed that the proper place for the heading is in the
right-hand upper corner of the first page. Sometimes, especially in
business letters, we find the writer's address at the close of the letter,
but for the sake of convenience it is preferably placed at the beginning.
The first line should be about one inch and a half from the top of the
page. The second line should begin a little to the right of the first
line, and the third line, a little to the right of the second line.
Attention should be paid to proper punctuation in each line.
In a comparatively few cases we may find that the omission of the date of
the letter will make no difference to the recipient, but in most cases it
will cause annoyance at least, and in many cases result in serious trouble
both to ourselves and to those who receive our letters. We should not
allow ourselves to neglect the date even in letters of apparently no great
importance. If we allow the careless habit of omitting dates to develop,
we may some day omit a date when the omission will affect affairs of great
importance. This date should include the day, month, and year. It is
better to write out the entire year, as 1905, not '05.
In business letters it is customary to write the address of the person or
persons addressed at the left side of the page. Either two or three lines
may be used. The first line of this address should be one line lower than
the last line of the heading. Notice examples (1), (3), and (6). When the
address is thus written, the salutation is commonly written one line below
it. Sometimes the salutation is commenced at the margin, and sometimes a
little to the right of the address. Where there is no address, the
salutation is written a line below the date and begins with the margin, as
in examples (2), (4), (5), and (7).
The form of salutation naturally depends upon the relations existing
between the correspondents. The forms _Dear Sir, My dear Sir, Madam, My
dear Madam, Dear Sirs, Gentlemen_, are used in formal business letters.
The forms _Dear Miss Robinson, My dear Mrs. Hobart, Dear Mr. Fraser, My
dear Mr. Scott_, are used in business letters when the correspondents are
acquainted with each other. The same forms are also used in letters of
friendship when the correspondents are not well enough acquainted with
each other to warrant the use of the more familiar forms, _My dear Mary,
Dear Edmund, My dear Friend, Dear Cousin, My dear little Niece_.
There is no set rule concerning the punctuation of the salutation. The
comma, the colon, or the semicolon may be used either alone or in
connection with the dash. The comma alone seems to be the least formal of
all, and the colon the most so. Hence the former is used more frequently
in letters of friendship, and the latter more frequently in business
+97. Body of the Letter.+--The body of the letter is the important part;
in fact, it is the letter itself, since it contains the subject-matter. It
will be discussed under another head later, and is only mentioned here in
order to show its place in connection with the beginning of a letter. As a
rule, it is best to begin the body of our letters one line below, and
either directly underneath or to the right of the salutation. It is not
improper, however, especially in business letters, to begin it on the same
line with the salutation. A few examples will be sufficient to show the
variations of the place for beginning the main part of the letter.
| 1694 Cedar Ave., |
| Cleveland, Ohio. |
| June 23, 1905. |
| Messrs. Hanna, Scott & Co., |
| Aurora, Ill. |
| Gentlemen:--I inclose a money order for $10.00, |
| etc. |
| Everett, Washington. |
| Oct. 20, 1905. |
| My dear Robert, |
| We are very glad that you have decided to make |
| us a visit, etc. |
| Greenwich, N.Y. |
| Sept. 19, 1905. |
| My dear Miss Russ, |
| Since I have been Miss Clark's assistant, etc. |
| 2 University Ave., |
| Nashville, Tenn. |
| April 19, 1905. |
| The American Book Company, |
| 300 Pike St., |
| Cinncinnati, O. |
| Dear Sirs:--Please send me by express two copies |
| of Halleck's English Literature, etc. |
+98. Conclusion of a Letter.+--The conclusion of a letter includes what is
termed the complimentary close and the signature. Certain forms have been
agreed upon, which should be closely followed.
Our choice of a complimentary close, like that of a salutation, depends
upon the relations existing between us and those to whom we are writing.
Such forms as _Your loving daughter, With love, Ever your friend, Your
affectionate mother_, should be used only when intimate relations exist
between correspondents. In letters where existing relations are not so
intimate and in some kinds of business letters the forms _Sincerely yours,
Yours very sincerely,_ may be used appropriately. The most common forms in
business letters are _Yours truly_ and _Very truly yours_. The forms
_Respectfully yours,_ or _Yours very respectfully,_ should be used only
when there is occasion for some special respect, as in writing to a person
of high rank or position.
The complimentary close should be written one line below the last line of
the main part of the letter, and toward the right-hand side of the page.
Its first word should commence with a capital, and a comma should be
placed at its close.
The signature properly belongs below and a little to the right of the
complimentary close. Except in cases of familiar relationship, the name
should be signed in full. It is difficult to determine the spelling of
unfamiliar proper names if they are carelessly written. It is therefore
important in writing to strangers that the signature should be made
plainly legible in order that they may know how to address the writer in
their reply. A lady should make it plain whether she is to be addressed as
_Miss_ or _Mrs._ This can be done either by placing the title _Miss_ or
_Mrs._ in parentheses before the name, or by writing the whole address
below and to the left of the signature. Boys and men may often avoid
confusion by signing their first name instead of using only initials.
Notice the following examples of the complimentary close and signature:--
| Appleton, Wisconsin. |
| Sept. 3, 1905. |
| My dear Cousin, |
| (Body of letter.) |
| Yours with love, |
| Gertrude Edmonds. |
| 192 Lincoln Ave., |
| Worcester, Mass. |
| Nov. 25, 1905. |
| L.B. Bliss & Co., |
| 109 Summer St., |
| Boston, Mass. |
| Dear Sirs; |
| (Body of letter.) |
| Very truly yours, |
| Walter A. Cutler. |
| Paxton, Ill. |
| July 3, 1905. |
| American Typewriter Co., |
| 263 Broadway, New York. |
| Gentlemen: |
| (Body of letter.) |
| Very truly yours, |
| (Miss) Jennie R. McAllister. |
| May 5, 1905. |
| Daniel Low & Co., |
| 232 Essex St., Salem, Mass. |
| Dear Sirs; |
| (Body of letter.) |
| Mary E. Ball |
| Mrs. George W. Ball, |
| 415 Fourth St., |
| La Salle, Ill. |
| Marshalltown, Iowa. |
| Oct. 3, 1905. |
| My dear Miss Meyer, |
| (Body of letter.) |
| Sincerely yours, |
| Dorothy Doddridge. |
Write suitable headings, salutations, complimentary endings, and
signatures for the following letters:--
1. To Spaulding & Co., Wabash Ave., Chicago, Ill., ordering their rules
for basket ball.
2. To your older brother.
3. To the school board, asking for a gymnasium.
4. To some business house, making application for a position.
5. To the governor of your state.
6. From one stranger to another.
7. From an older brother to his little sister.
8. From a boy living in New Orleans to the father of his most intimate
+99. The Envelope.+--The direction on the envelope, commonly called the
superscription, consists of the name and address of the person or persons
to whom the letter is sent. This direction should be written in a careful
and _courteous manner_, and should include all that is necessary to insure
the prompt delivery of the letter to the proper destination.
The superscription may be arranged in three or four lines, each line
beginning a little to the right of the preceding line. The name should be
written about midway between the upper and lower edges of the envelope,
and there should be nearly an equal amount of space left at each side. If
there is any difference, there should be less space at the right than at
the left. The street and number may be written below the name, and the
city or town and state below. The street and number may be properly
written in the lower left-hand corner. This is also the place for any
special direction that may be necessary for the speedy transmission of the
letter; for example, "In care of Mr. Charles R. Brown."
Women should be addressed as _Miss_ or _Mrs._ In case the woman is
married, her husband's first name and middle initial are commonly used,
unless it is known that she prefers to have her own first name used. Men
should be addressed as _Mr._, and a firm may in many cases be addressed as
_Messrs._ It is considered proper to use the titles _Dr._, _Rev._, etc.,
in directing an envelope to a man bearing such a title, but it would be
entirely out of place to address the wife of a physician or clergyman as
_Mrs. Dr._ or _Mrs. Rev._
The names of states may be abbreviated, but care should be taken that
these abbreviations be plainly written, especially when there are other
similar abbreviations. In compound names, as North Dakota and West
Virginia, do not abbreviate one part of the compound and write out the
other. Either abbreviate both or write out both. If any punctuation
besides the period after abbreviations is used, it consists of a comma
after each line. It is the custom now to omit such punctuation. Either
form is in good taste, but whichever form is adopted, it should be
employed throughout the entire superscription. The comma should not be
used in one line and omitted in another.
Notice the following forms of correct superscriptions:--
| Mr. Milo R. Maltbie
| 85 West 118th St.
| New York.
| Mr. John D. Clark
| New York
| Teachers College
| Columbia University.
| Mrs. Edgar N. Foster
| South Haven
| Avery Beach Hotel.
| Miss Louise M. Baker
| Box 129.
| Dr. James M. Postle
| De Kalb
| Miss Ida Morrison
| 1048 Warren Ave.
Write proper superscriptions to letters written to the following:--
1. Thaddeus Bolton, living at 524 Q Street, Lincoln, Nebraska.
2. The wife of a physician of your acquaintance.
3. James B. Angell, President of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor,
4. Your mother, visiting some relative or friend.
5. The publishers Allyn and Bacon, 878 Wabash Avenue, Chicago, Ill.
6. Edward Harrington, living at 1962 Seventh Avenue, New York.
7. To a friend at a seaside resort.
8. To a friend visiting your uncle in Oakland, California.
+100. The Great Rule of Letter Writing.+--The great rule of letter writing
is, Never write a letter which you would not be willing to see in print
over your own signature. That which you _say_ in anger may be discourteous
and of little credit to you, but it may in time be forgotten; that which
you _write_, however, may be in existence an untold number of years.
Thousands of letters are now on exhibition whose authors never had such a
use of them in mind. If you ever feel like writing at the end of a letter,
"Burn this as soon as you read it," do not send it, but burn the letter
yourself. Before you sign your name to any letter read it over and ask
yourself, "Is this letter in form and contents one which would do me
credit if it should be published?"
+101. Business Letters.+--Since the purpose of business letters is to
inform, they should, first of all, be characterized by clearness. In
asking for information, be sure that you state your questions so that
there shall be no doubt in the mind of the recipient concerning the
information that you desire. In giving information, be equally sure to
state facts so clearly that there can be no possibility of a mistake.
Brevity is the soul of business letters as well as of wit. Business men
are busy men. They have no time to waste in reading long letters, but wish
to gain their information quickly. Hence we should aim to state the
desired facts in as concise a manner as possible, and we should give only
pertinent facts. Short explanations may sometimes be necessary, but
nothing foreign to the subject-matter should ever be introduced. While we
should aim to make our letters short, they should not be so brief as to
appear abrupt and discourteous. It shows lack of courtesy to omit
important words or to make too frequent use of abbreviations.
We should answer a business letter as soon as possible. This answer,
besides giving the desired information, should include a reference to the
letter received and an acknowledgment of inclosures, if there were any.
All questions should receive courteous replies. The facts should be
arranged in a form that will be convenient for the recipient. As a rule it
is best to follow the order which the writer has used in his letter, but
in some cases we may be able to state our facts more definitely and
concisely if we follow some other order.
What has been said in general about attention to forms in letter writing
might well be emphasized here, for business men are keen critics
concerning letters received. Be careful to use the correct forms already
suggested. Also pay attention to punctuation, spelling, and grammar. Write
only on one side of the paper and fold the letter correctly. In fact, be
businesslike in everything connected with the writing of business letters.
A few examples are here given for your notice:--
| Ypsilanti, Mich. |
| April 4, 1905. |
| Mr. William Wylie, |
| 807 Linn St., Peoria, Ill. |
| Dear Mr. Wylie; |
| Inclosed is a letter from Superintendent Rogers |
| of Rockford, Ill. The position of teacher of |
| mathematics is vacant. The salary may not be so |
| much as you now receive, but in many respects the |
| position is a desirable one. I advise you to apply |
| for it. |
| Sincerely yours, |
| Charles M. Gates. |
| 586 State St., |
| Chicago, Ill. |
| July 20,1905. |
| Mrs. Charles H. McNett, |
| 2345 Franklin St., |
| Denver, Colorado. |
| Dear Madam:--Your card of July 9th is at hand. We |
| beg to say that we sent you the books by express, |
| prepaid, July 9th, and they have probably reached |
| you by this time. If you have not received them, |
| please notify us, and we will send a tracer after |
| them. |
| Very truly yours, |
| Brown and Sherman. |
| Elgin High School, |
| Elgin, Ill. |
| Sept. 4, 1905. |
| Miss Ella B. Walker, |
| Herkimer, New York. |
| My dear Miss Walker: |
| I am very sorry to have to trouble you, |
| but I am desirous of obtaining some information |
| concerning the High School Library. Will you kindly |
| let me know whether the card catalogue was kept up |
| to date prior to your departure and also whether the |
| accession book was in use up to that time? |
| I shall be greatly indebted to you if you will |
| give me this information. |
| Very sincerely yours, |
| Edward J. Taylor. |
Write at least three of the following suggested letters, paying attention
to the rules for writing business letters:--
1. Write to a dry goods firm, asking them to send you one of their
2. Write to the manager of a football team of some town near yours,
proposing a game.
3. Write the reply.
4. In reply to an advertisement, write an application for the position of
clerk or bookkeeper.
5. Write to the publishers of some magazine, asking them to change your
address from 27 K Street, Toledo, Ohio, to 2011 Prospect Avenue,
6. Suppose yourself doing postgraduate work in your high school. Write to
the president of some college, asking him concerning advanced credit.
+102. Letters of Friendship.+--While a great deal of information may be
obtained from some letters of friendship, the real purpose of such letters
is, usually, not to give information, but to entertain. You will notice
that the information derived from letters of friendship differs from that
found in business letters. Its nature is such that of itself it gives
pleasure. Our letters to our relatives, friends, and acquaintances are but
visits on paper, and it should be our purpose to make these visits as
enjoyable as possible.
So much depends upon the circumstances attendant upon the writing of
letters of friendship, that it is impossible to make any definite
statement as to what they should contain. We may say in general that they
should contain matter interesting to the recipient, and that they should
be characterized by vividness and naturalness. Interesting material is a
requisite, but that of itself is not sufficient to make an entertaining
letter. Interesting material may be presented in so unattractive and
lifeless a manner that much of its power to please is lost. Let your
letters be full of life and spirit. In your descriptions, narrations, and
explanations, express yourself so clearly and so vividly that those who
read your letters will be able to understand exactly what you mean.
1. Write a letter to a classmate who has moved to another town, telling
him of the school of which he was once a member.
2. Write to a friend, describing your visit to the World's Fair at St.
3. Suppose yourself away from home. Write a letter to your little brother
or sister at home.
4. If you have ever been abroad, describe in a letter some place of
interest that you have visited.
5. Write to a friend who is fond of camping, about your camping
6. Suppose your mother is away from home on a visit. Write her about the
7. Write to a friend, describing a party that you recently attended.
8. Suppose you have moved from one town to another. In a letter compare
the two towns.
+103. Adaptation to the Reader.+--The golden rule of letter writing is,
Adapt the letter to the reader. Although the letter is an expression of
yourself, yet it should be that kind of expression which shall most
interest and please your correspondent. In business letters the necessity
of brevity and clearness forces attention to the selection and arrangement
of details. In letters to members of the family or to intimate friends
we must include many very minor things, because we know that our
correspondent will be interested in them, but a rambling, disjointed
jumble of poorly selected and ill-arranged details becomes tedious. What
we should mention is determined by the interests of the readers, and the
successful letter writer will endeavor to know what they wish to have
mentioned. In writing letters to our friends we ought to show that
sympathetic interest in them and their affairs which we should have if we
were visiting with them. On occasion, our congratulations should be prompt
In reading letters we must not be hasty to take offense. Many good
friendships have been broken because some statement in a letter was
misconstrued. The written words convey a meaning very different from that
which would have been given by the spoken word, the tone of voice, the
smile, and the personal presence. So in our writing we must avoid
all that which even borders on complaint, or which may seem critical or
fault-finding to the most sensitive.
+104. Notes.+--Notes may be divided in a general way into two classes,
formal and informal. Formal notes include formal invitations, replies,
requests, and announcements. Informal notes include informal invitations
and replies, and also other short communications of a personal nature on
almost every possible subject.
+105. Formal Notes.+--A formal invitation is always written in the third
person. The lines may be of the same length, or they may be so arranged
that the lines shall be of different lengths, thus giving the page a
somewhat more pleasing appearance. The heading, salutation, complimentary
close, and signature are all omitted. The address of the sender may be
written below the body of the letter. Many prefer it a little to the left,
and the date is sometimes written below it. Others, however, prefer it
directly below or a little to the right.
Replies to formal invitations should always be written in the third
person, and should in general follow the style of the invitation. The date
and the hour of the invitation should be repeated in the reply, and this
reply should be sent immediately after receiving the invitation.
A few examples are here given to show the correct forms of both
invitations and replies:--
| Mr. and Mrs. Frederick William Thompson |
| request the pleasure of your company |
| on Monday evening, December thirtieth, |
| at half-past eight o'clock. |
| Miss Barrows accepts with pleasure Mr. and |
| Mrs. Thompson's invitation for Monday evening, |
| December thirtieth, at half-past eight o'clock. |
| Mr. Morris regrets that a previous engagement |
| prevents his accepting Mr. and Mrs. Thompson's |
| kind invitation for Monday evening, December |
| the thirtieth. |
| Mr. and Mrs. Albert W. Elliott request the |
| pleasure of Mr. John Barker's company at dinner |
| on Wednesday, December sixth, at seven o'clock. |
| 1068 Euclid Ave. |
| Mr. Barker regrets his inability to accept |
| Mr. and Mrs. Albert W. Elliott's invitation to |
| dinner at seven o'clock, Wednesday, December |
| sixth. |
1. Write an invitation to a golden wedding.
2. Mrs. Homer A. Payne invites Miss Eva Milton to dine with her next week
Thursday at eight o'clock. Write out a formal invitation.
3. Write regrets to Mrs. Payne's invitation.
4. Write an acceptance of the same invitation.
5. Write a formal invitation to a party to be given in honor of your
guest, Miss Grace Mason.
+106. Informal Notes.+--Informal invitations and replies may contain the
same subject-matter as formal invitations and replies. The only difference
is in the form in which they are written. The informal invitation is in
form similar to a letter except that the same exactness about the heading
is not required. Sometimes the heading is written and sometimes it is
omitted entirely. The address of the one sending the invitation and the
date may be written below the body of the note to the left of the
signature. The reply to an informal invitation should always be informal,
but the date and hour should be repeated as in replies to formal
A great many informal notes not included in invitations and replies are
constantly written. These are simply brief letters of friendship, and the
purposes for which they are written are exceedingly varied. When we write
congratulations or words of condolence, when we introduce one friend to
another, when we thank some one for a gift, and when we give words of
advice, and in many other instances, we make use of informal notes. They
should be simple, personal, and as a rule confined to but one subject.
Notice the following examples of informal notes:--
| My dear Mrs. Lathrop, |
| Will you not give us the pleasure of your company |
| at dinner, on next Friday evening at seven o'clock? Miss Todd |
| of Philadelphia is visiting us, and we wish our friends to meet |
| her. |
| Very sincerely yours, |
| Ethel M. Trainor. |
| 840 Forest Avenue, |
| Dec. 5, 1905. |
| Dec. 6, 1905. |
| My dear Mrs. Trainor, |
| I sincerely regret that I cannot accept your invitation |
| to dinner next Friday evening, for I have made a previous |
| engagement which it will be impossible for me to break. |
| Yours most sincerely, |
| Emma Lathrop. |
| My dear Blanche, |
| Mr. Gilmore and I are planning for a little party |
| Thursday evening of this week. I hope you have no other |
| engagement for that evening, as we shall be pleased to have |
| you with us. |
| Very cordially yours, |
| Margaret Gilmore. |
| My dear Margaret, |
| Fortunately I have no other engagement for this |
| week Thursday evening, and I shall be delighted to spend an |
| evening with you and your friends. |
| Very sincerely yours, |
| Blanche A. Church. |
Write the following informal notes:--
1. Write to a friend, asking him or her to lend you a book.
2. Write an invitation to an informal trolley, tennis, or golf party.
3. Write the reply.
4. Invite one of your friends to spend his or her vacation with you.
5. Write a note to your sister, asking her to send you your theme that you
left at home this morning.
6. Mrs. Edgar A. Snow invites Miss Mabel Minard to dine with her. Write
out the invitation.
7. Write the acceptance.
[Footnote: _To the Teacher._--Since the expression of ideas in metrical
form is seldom the one best suited to the conditions of modern life, it
has not seemed desirable to continue the themes throughout this chapter.
The study of this chapter, with suitable illustrations from the poems to
which the pupils have access, may serve to aid them in their appreciation
of poetry. This appreciation of poetry will be increased if the pupils
attempt some constructive work. It is recommended, therefore, that one or
more of the simpler kinds of metrical composition be tried. For example,
one or two good ballads may be read and the pupils asked to write similar
ones. Some pupils may be able to write blank verse.]
+107. Purpose of Poetry.+--All writing aims to give information or to
furnish entertainment (Section 54). Often the same theme may both inform
and entertain, though one of these purposes may be more prominent than the
other. Prose may merely entertain, or it may so distinctly attempt to set
forth ideas clearly that the giving of pleasure is entirely neglected. In
poetry the entertainment side is never thus subordinated. Poetry always
aims to please by the presentation of that which is beautiful. All real
poetry produces an aesthetic effect by appealing to our aesthetic sense;
that is, to our love of the beautiful.
In making this appeal to our love of the beautiful, poetry depends both
upon the ideas it contains and upon the forms it uses. Like prose, it
may increase its aesthetic effect by appropriate phrasing, effective
arrangement, and subtle suggestiveness, but it also makes use of certain
devices of language such as rhythm, rhyme, etc., which, though they may
occur in writings that would be classed as prose, are characteristic of
poetry. Much depends upon the ideas that poetry contains; for mere
nonsense, though in perfect rhyme and rhythm, is not poetry. But it is not
the idea alone which makes a poem beautiful; it is the form as well. The
merely trivial cannot be made beautiful by giving it poetical form, but
there are many poems containing ideas of small importance which please us
because of the perfection of form. We enjoy them as we do the singing of
the birds or the murmuring of the brooks. In fact, poetry is inseparable
from its characteristic forms. To sort out, re-arrange, and paraphrase
into second-class prose the ideas which a poem contains is a profitless
and harmful exercise, because it emphasizes the intellectual side of a
work which was created for the purpose of appealing to our aesthetic
+108. Rhythm.+--There are several forms characteristic of poetry, by the
use of which its beauty and effectiveness are enhanced. Of these, rhythm
is the most prominent one, without which no poetry is possible. In its
widest sense, rhythm indicates a regular succession of motions, impulses,
sounds, accents, etc., producing an agreeable effect. Rhythm in poetry
consists of the recurrence of accented and unaccented syllables in regular
succession. In poetry, care must be taken to make the accented syllable of
a word come at the place where the rhythm demands an accent. The regular
recurrence of accented and unaccented syllables produces a harmony which
appeals to our aesthetic sense and thus enhances for us the beauty of
poetry. Read the following selections so as to show the rhythm:--
We were crowded in the cabin;
Not a soul would dare to speak;
It was midnight on the waters
And a storm was on the deep.
--James T. Fields.
Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.
Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor
Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one sleeps.
Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for a hermitage.
Merrily swinging on brier and weed,
Near to the nest of his little dame,
Over the mountain side or mead,
Robert of Lincoln is telling his name:
Spink, spank, spink,
Snug and safe is this nest of ours,
Hidden among the summer flowers.
Chee, chee, chee.
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith, "A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"
+109. Feet.+--The metrical effect of the preceding selections is produced
by the regular recurrence of accented and unaccented syllables. A group of
accented and unaccented syllables is called a foot. There are four regular
feet in English verse, the iambus, the anapest, the trochee, and the
dactyl. Three irregular feet, the pyrrhic, the spondee, the amphibrach,
are occasionally found in lines, but not in entire poems, and are often
considered merely as substitutes for regular feet. For the sake of
convenience the accented syllables are indicated thus: _, and the
unaccented syllables thus: U.
_An iambus_ is a foot consisting of two syllables with the accent on the
U _| U _| U _| U _| U _|
Let not ambition mock their useful toil.
U _|U _| U _|U _|
He prayeth best who loveth best
U _| U _| U _|
All things both great and small;
_ U | U _| U _|U _|
For the dear God who loveth us,
U _| U _|U _|
He made and loveth all.
_An anapest_ is a foot consisting of three syllables with the accent on
U U _| U U _|U U _|
I am monarch of all I survey.
U U _ | U U _ | U U _ |
I would hide with the beasts of the chase.
_A trochee_ is a foot consisting of two syllables with the accent on the
_ U | _ U | _ U | _ U|
Double, double, toil and trouble.
_ U | _ U |_ U |_ U |
Let us then be up and doing,
_ U| _ U | _U | _ |
With a heart for any fate,
_ U |_ U | _ U|_ U |
Still achieving, still pursuing,
_ U | _ U |_ U | _ |
Learn to labor and to wait.
_A dactyl_ is a foot consisting of three syllables with the accent on the
_ U U | _ U U |
Cannon to right of them,
_ U U | _ U U |
Cannon to left of them,
_ U U | _ U U |
Cannon in front of them,
_ U U |_ U |
Volleyed and thundered.
It will be convenient to remember that two of these, the iambus and the
anapest, have the accent on the last syllable, and that two, the trochee
and the dactyl, have the accent on the first syllable.
_A spondee_ is a foot consisting of two syllables, both of which are
accented about equally. It is an unusual foot in English poetry.
U _ | _ _ | U _| U _ |
Come now, blow, Wind, and waft us o'er.
_A pyrrhic_ is a foot consisting of two syllables both of which are
unaccented. It is frequently found at the end of a line.
U _ | U _ | U _|U U
Life is so full of misery.
_An amphibrach_ is a foot consisting of three syllables, with
the accent on the second.
U _ U U _ U| U _ U| U _ |
Creator, Preserver, Redeemer and friend.
+110. Names of Verse.+--A single line of poetry is called a verse. A
stanza is composed of several verses. When a verse consists of one foot,
it is called a monometer; of two feet, a dimeter; of three feet, a
trimeter; of four feet, a tetrameter; of five feet, a pentameter; and of
six feet, a hexameter.
_ U U| _ U U |
Dimeter. Emblem of happiness.
_ U| _U| _ U |
Trimeter. Like a poet hidden.
_ U| _ U| _ U | _ U |
Tetrameter. Tell me not in mournful numbers.
U _ |U _ |U _| U _ | U _ |
Pentameter. O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath.
_ U U | _ U U | _ U U | _ U U | _ U
Hexameter. This is the forest primeval; the murmuring pines and
U | _ U |
When we say that a verse is of any particular kind, we do not mean that
every foot in that line is necessarily of the same kind. Verse is named by
stating first the prevailing foot which composes it, and second the number
of feet in a line. A verse having four iambic feet is called iambic
tetrameter. So we have dactylic hexameter, trochaic pentameter, iambic
trimeter, anapestic dimeter, etc.
_A._ Mark the accented and unaccented syllables in the following
selections, and name the kind of verse:--
Build me straight, O worthy Master!
Stanch and strong, a goodly vessel
That shall laugh at all disaster
And with wave and whirlwind wrestle.
I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air,
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care.
For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.
Chanting of labor and craft, and of Wealth in the pot and the
Chanting of valor and fame, and the man who can, fall with the
Fighting for children and wife, and the field which his father
Sweetly and solemnly sang she, and planned new lessons for
Have you read in the Talmud of old,
In the Legends the Rabbins have told,
Of the limitless realms of the air,
Have you read it,--the marvelous story
Of Sandalphon, the Angel of Glory,
Of Sandalphon, the Angel of Prayer?
_B._ 1. Find three poems written in iambic verse, and three written in
2. Write at least one stanza, using iambic verse.
3. Write at least one stanza, using the same kind of verse that you find
in Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade."
4. Write two anapestic lines.
+111. Variation in Rhythm.+--The name given to a verse is determined by
the foot which prevails, but not every foot in the line needs to be of the
same kind. Just as in music we may substitute a quarter for two eighth
notes, so may we in poetry substitute one foot for another, provided it is
given the same amount of time.
Notice in the following that the rhythm is perfect and the beat regular,
although a three-syllable anapest has been substituted in the second line
for a two-syllable iambus:--
U _ | U _ | U _ | U _ | U _ |
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew tree's shade,
U _ | U _ | U _| U U _ | U _ |
Where heaves the turf in many a moldring heap,
_ U | U _ | U _ | U _ |U _ |
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
U _ | U _ | U _ | U _ | U _ |
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The following from _Evangeline_ illustrates the substitution of trochees
_ U U | _ U | _ U U | _ U U | _ U U | _ U |
Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed.
_ U U | _ U | _ U U | _ U | _ U U|_ U
Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October
_ U U | _ U U |_ U | _ U U | _ U U |_ U |
Seize them and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o'er the ocean.
_ U U | _ U U | _ U U | _ U U | _ U U | _ U
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pre.
It is evident that one foot can be substituted for another if the accent
is not changed. Since both the iambus and the anapest are accented on the
last syllable, they may be interchanged. The trochee and the dactyl are
both accented on the first syllable and may, therefore, be interchanged.
There are some exceptions to the general rule that in substituting one
foot for another the accented syllable must be kept in the same part of
the foot. Occasionally a poem in which the prevailing foot is iambic has a
trochee for the first foot of a line in order that it may begin with an
accented syllable. At the beginning of a line the change of accent is
_ U | U _ | U _ |U _ |
Over the rail my hand I trail.
_ U | U _ | U _ | U _ |
Silent the crumbling bridge we cross!
But if the reader has once fallen into the swing of iambic verse, the
substitution of a trochee will bring the accent at an unexpected place,
interrupt the smooth flow of the rhythm, and produce a harsh and jarring
effect. Such a change of accent is justified only when the sense of the
verse leads the reader to expect the changed accent, or when the emphasis
thus given to the sense of the poem more than compensates for the break in
the rhythm produced by the change of accent.
Another form of metrical variation is that in which there are too few or
too many syllables in a foot. This generally occurs at the end of a line,
but may occur at the beginning. If a syllable is added or omitted
skillfully, the rhythm will be unbroken.
When the feet are accented on the last syllable,--that is, when the verse
is iambic or anapestic,--an extra syllable may be added at the end of a
U _ |U U _ |U _ | U
I stood on the bridge at midnight,
U U _ | U _ |U U _ |
As the clocks were striking the hour;
U U _ | U _ | U _|U
And the Moon rose o'er the city,
U _ | U _ | U _ |
Behind the dark church tower.
U _ | U _ |U _ | U _ | U _ | U _ |
Girt round with rugged moun[tains], the fair Lake Constance lies,
U _ | U _ | U _ | U _ | U _ |U _ |
In her blue heart reflect[ed] shine back the starry skies;
U _ | U _ | U _ | U _ |U _ | U _ |
And watching each white cloud[let] float silently and slow,
U _ | U _ | U _ | U _| U _ | U _|
You think a piece of heav[en] lies on our earth below.
--Adelaide A. Procter.
In the second illustration the extra syllables have the same relative
position in the metrical scheme as in the first, though they appear to be
in the middle of the line. The pauses fill in the time and preserve the
When the feet are accented on the first syllable--as in trochaic or
dactylic verse--a syllable may be omitted from the end of a line as in the
second and fourth below.
_ U U | _ U U | _ U U| _ U |
Up with the lark in the first flush of morning,
_ U U | _ U U | _ U U | _ |
Ere the world wakes to its work or its play;
_ U U| _ U U | _ U U | _ U |
Off for a spin to the wide-stretching country,
_ U U | _ U U | _ U U|_ |
Far from the close, stifling city away.
Sometimes we find it necessary to suppress a syllable in order to make the
rhythm more nearly perfect. Syllables may be suppressed in two ways: by
suppressing a vowel at the end of a word when the next word commences with
a vowel; by suppressing a vowel within a word. The former method is termed
elision, and the latter, slurring.
U _ | U _ |U _ | U _ | U _ |
Thou glorious mirror where the Almighty's form
_ U |U _| U _ | U
Glasses itself in tempests.
An accented syllable often takes the place of an entire foot. This occurs
most frequently at the end of a line, but it is sometimes found at the
beginning. Occasionally whole lines are formed in this way. If a pause or
rest is made, the rhythm will be unbroken.
u _ | u _ | u _ |
Break, break, break,
U U _ | U _ | U _ |
On thy cold gray stones, O sea!
U U _ | U U _ | U _|U
And I would that my tongue could utter
U _ | U U _ |U _|
The thoughts that arise in me.
We frequently find verses in which a syllable is lacking at the close of
the line; we also find many verses in which an extra syllable is added.
Verse that contains the number of syllables required by its meter is said
to be acatalectic; if it contains more than the required number of
syllables, it is said to be hypercatalectic; and if it lacks a syllable,
it is termed catalectic. It is difficult to tell whether a line has the
required number of syllables or not when it is taken by itself; but by
comparing it with the line prevailing in the rest of the stanza we are
enabled to tell whether it is complete or not. Shakespeare's _Julius
Caesar_ is written in iambic pentameter verse. Knowing this, we can detect
the hypercatalectic and catalectic lines.
U _| U _ | U _| U _| U _ |
You all did see that on the Lupercal
U _ | U _| U _ |U _| U _|
I thrice presented him a kingly crown
U _| U _ |U _ | U _ | U _| U
Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?
U _| U _ | U _ | U _ | U
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious.
+112. Cesura.+--Besides the pauses caused by rests or silences there is
the cesural pause which needs to be considered in reading verse. A cesura
is a pause determined by the sense. It coincides with some break in the
sense. It is found in different parts of the verse and may be entirely
lacking. Its observance does not noticeably interfere with the rhythm. In
the following selection it is marked thus: ||.
U _ | U _ | U _| U _ |
The sun came up || upon the left,
_ U| U _ | U _ |
Out of the sea || came he;
U _| U _ | U _| U _|
And he shone bright, || and on the right
U _ | U_ | U _ |
Went down || into the sea
Lives of great men || all remind us
We can make our lives || sublime,
And, departing, || leave behind us,
Footprints || on the sands of time.
Read the selections on page 197 so as to indicate the position of the
+113. Scansion.+--Scansion is the separation of a line into the feet which
compose it. In order to scan a line we must determine the rhythmic
movement of it. The rhythmic movement determines the accented syllables.
Sometimes in scanning, merely the accented syllables are marked. Usually
the whole metrical scheme is indicated, as in the examples on page 199.
Scan the following selections. Note substitutions and
The night has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.
The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When love is gone.
--Francis W. Bourdillon.
Laugh, and the world laughs with you,
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
--Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
Hear the robin in the rain,
Not a note does he complain.
But he fills the storm refrain
With music of his own.
--Charles Coke Woode.
The mistletoe hung in the castle hall,
The holly branch shone on the old back wall
And the baron's retainers are blithe and gay,
And keeping their Christmas holiday.
--Thomas Haynes Bagley.
+114. Rhyme.+--Rhyme is a regular recurrence of similar sounds. In a broad
sense, it may include sounds either terminal or not, but as here used it
refers to terminal sounds.
Just as we expect a recurrence of accent in a line, so may we expect a
recurrence of similar sounds at the end of certain lines of poetry. The
interval between the rhymes may be of different lengths in different
poems, but when the interval is once established, it should be followed
throughout the poem. A rhyme out of place jars upon the rhythmic
perfection of a stanza just as an accent out of place interferes with the
rhythm of the verse.
Not only should the rhymes occur at expected places, but they should be
the expected rhymes; that is, real rhymes. If we are expecting a word
which will rhyme with _blossom_ and find _bosom_, or if we are expecting a
rhyme for _breath_ and find _beneath_, the effect is unpleasant. The
rhymes named above are based on spelling, while a real rhyme is based on
sound. A correct rhyme should have precisely the same vowel sounds and the
final consonants should be the same, but the initial consonant should be
different. For example: _death, breath; home, roam; tongue, young;
Notice the arrangement of the rhymes in the following selections:--
My soul to-day is far away,
Sailing the Vesuvian Bay;
My winged boat, a bird afloat,
Swims round the purple peaks remote.
--T. Buchanan Read.
I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally,
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down the valley.
By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorps, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.
I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin
At him here;
But the old three-cornered hat
And the breeches, and all that,
Are so queer!
The splendor falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story;
The long light shakes across the lakes
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying;
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
Breathes there a man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned
As home his footsteps he hath turned
From wandering in a foreign strand!
If such there be, go mark him well:
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim:
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch concentered all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.
+115. Blank Verse.+--When rhyme is omitted, we have blank verse. This is
the most dignified of all kinds of verse, and is, therefore, appropriate
for epic and dramatic poetry, where it is chiefly found. Most blank verse
makes use of the iambic pentameter measure, but we find many exceptions.
Read the following examples of blank verse so as to show the rhythm:--
So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan that moves
To the pale realms of shade, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not like the quarry slave at night
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach the grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
I stood upon the steps--
The last who left the door--and there I found
The lady and her friend. The elder turned
And with a cordial greeting took my hand,
And rallied me on my forgetfulness.
Her eyes, her smile, her manner, and her voice.
Touched the quick springs of memory, and I spoke
Her name. She was my mother's early friend
Whose face I had not seen in all the years
That had flown over us, since, from her door,
I chased her lamb to where I found--myself.
+116. The Stanza.+--Some of our verse is continuous like Milton's
_Paradise Lost_ or Shakespeare's plays, but much of it is divided into
groups called stanzas. The lines or verses composing a stanza are bound
together by definite principles of rhythm and rhyme. Usually stanzas of
the same poem have the same structure, but stanzas of different poems show
a variety of structure.
Two of the most simple forms are the couplet and the triplet. They often
form a part of a continuous poem, but they are occasionally found in
The western waves of ebbing day
Roll'd o'er the glen their level way.
A chieftain's daughter seemed the maid;
Her satin snood, her silken plaid,
Her golden brooch such birth betray'd.
A stanza of four lines is called a quatrain. The lines of quatrains show a
variety in the arrangement of their rhymes. The first two lines may rhyme
with each other and the last two with each other; the first and fourth may
rhyme and the second and third; or the rhymes may alternate. Notice the
example on page 208, and also the following:--
I ask not wealth, but power to take
And use the things I have aright.
Not years, but wisdom that shall make
My life a profit and delight.
I count this thing to be grandly true:
That a noble deed is a step toward God,--
Lifting the soul from the common sod
To a purer air and a broader view.
A quatrain consisting of iambic pentameter verse with alternate rhymes is
called an elegiac stanza.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds.
The Tennysonian stanza consists of four iambic tetrameter lines in which
the first line rhymes with the fourth, and the second with the third.
Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before.
Five and six line stanzas are found in a great variety. The following are
We look before and after,
And pine for what is not;
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.
And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
In the spring.
Let them smile as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
Where I cling.
The upper air burst into life;
And a hundred fire flags sheen,
To and fro they were hurried about;
And to and fro, and in and out,
The wan stars danced between.
The Spenserian stanza consists of nine lines: the first eight are iambic
pentameters, and the last line is an iambic hexameter or Alexandrine.
Burns makes use of this stanza in _The Cotter's Saturday Night._ The
following stanza from that poem shows the plan of the rhymes:--
O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent!
Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content!
And oh! may Heaven their simple lives prevent
From luxury's contagion, weak and vile!
Then, howe'er crowns and coronets be rent,
A virtuous populace may rise the while,
And stand a wall of fire around their much beloved isle.
_A._ Scan the following:--
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.
Into the sunshine,
Full of light,
Leaping and flashing
From morn to night!
_B._ Name each verse in the following stanza:--
Hear the sledges with the bells--
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight--
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells--
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.
+117. Kinds of Poetry.+-There are three general classes of poetry:
narrative, lyric, and dramatic.
_A. Narrative poetry_, as may be inferred from its name, relates events
which may be either real or imaginary. Its chief varieties are the epic,
the metrical romance or lesser epic, the tale, and the ballad.
_An epic_ poem is an extended narrative of an elevated character that
deals with heroic exploits which are frequently under supernatural
control. This kind of poetry is characterized by the intricacy of plot, by
the delineation of noble types of character, by its descriptive effects,
by its elevated language, and by its seriousness of tone. The epic is
considered as the highest effort of man's poetic genius. It is so
difficult to produce an epic that but few literatures contain more than
one. Homer's _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_, Virgil's _Aeneid_, the German
_Nibelungenlied_, the Spanish _Cid_, Dante's _Divine Comedy_, and Milton's
_Paradise Lost_ are important epics found in different literatures.
A _metrical romance_ or lesser epic is a narrative poem, shorter and less
dignified than the epic. Longfellow's _Evangeline_ and Scott's _Marmion_
and _Lady of the Lake_ are examples of this kind of poetry.
_A metrical tale is_ a narrative poem somewhat simpler and shorter than
the metrical romance, but more complex than the ballad. Longfellow's
_Tales of a Wayside Inn_, Tennyson's _Enoch Arden_, and Lowell's _Vision
of Sir Launfal_ are examples of the tale.
_A ballad_ is the shortest and most simple of all narrative poems. It
relates but a single incident and has a very simple structure. In this
kind of poetry the interest centers upon the incident rather than upon any
beauty or elegance of language. Many of the Robin Hood Ballads are well
known. Macaulay's _Lays of Ancient Rome_ and Longfellow's _Wreck of the
Hesperus_ are other examples of the ballad. It may be well to note here
that it is not always possible to draw definite lines between two
different kinds of narrative poetry. In fact, there will sometimes be a
difference of opinion as regards the classification.
_B. Lyric poetry_ was the name originally applied to poetry that was to be
sung to the accompaniment of the lyre, but now the name is often applied
to poems that are not intended to be sung at all. Lyric poetry deals
primarily with the feelings and emotions. Love, hate, jealousy, grief,
hope, and praise are emotions that may be expressed in lyric poetry. Its
chief varieties are the song, the ode, the elegy, and the sonnet.
A _song_ is a short poem intended to be sung. Songs may be divided into
sacred and secular. _Jerusalem, the Golden_, and _Lead, Kindly Light_, are
examples of sacred songs. Secular songs may be patriotic, convivial, or
An _ode_ expresses exalted emotion and is more complex in structure than
the song. Some of the best odes in our language are Dryden's _Ode to St.
Cecilia_, Wordsworth's _Ode on Intimations of Immortality_, Keats's _Ode
on a Grecian Urn_, Shelley's _Ode to a Skylark_, and Lowell's
An _elegy_ is a lyric pervaded by the feeling of grief or melancholy.
Milton's _Lycidas_, Tennyson's _In Memoriam_, and Gray's _Elegy in a
Country Churchyard_ are all noted elegies.