Part 37 out of 54
Few, if any, of these feet are really _necessary_ to a sufficient
explanation of English verse; and the adopting of so many is liable to the
great objection, that we thereby produce different modes of measuring the
same lines. But, by naming them all, we avoid the difficulty of selecting
the most important; and it is proper that the student should know the
import of all these prosodical terms.
5. A _Spondee_ is a poetic foot consisting of two long syllables; as,
_c=old n=ight, p=o=or s=ouls, ~am~en, shr=ovet=ide._
6. A _Pyrrhic_ is a poetic foot consisting of two short syllables; as,
presumpt-|_~uo~us_, perpet-|_~u~al_, unhap-|_p~il~y_, inglo-|_r~io~us_.
7. A _Moloss_ is a poetic foot consisting of three long syllables; as,
_De~ath's p=ale h=orse,--gre=at wh=ite thr=one,--d=eep d=amp v=a=ult._
8. A _Tribrach_ is a poetic foot consisting of three short syllables; as,
prohib-|_~it~or~y_, unnat-|_~ur~all~y_, author-|_~it~at~ive_,
9. An _Amphibrach_ is a poetic foot of three syllables, having both sides
short, the middle long; as, _~impr=ud~ent, c~ons=id~er, tr~ansp=ort~ed._
10. An _Amphimac, Amphimacer_, or _Cretic_, is a poetic foot of three
syllables, having both sides long, the middle short; as, _w~ind~ingsh=eet,
11. A _Bacchy_ is a poetic foot consisting of one short syllable and two
long ones; as, _th=e wh=ole w~orld,--~a gre=at v=ase,--=of p=ure g=old_.
12. An _Antibacchy_, or _Hypobacchy_, is a poetic foot consisting of two
long syllables and a short one; as, _kn=ight-s=erv~ice, gl=obe-d=ais~y,
Among the variegations of verse, one emphatic syllable is sometimes counted
for a foot. "When a single syllable is [thus] taken by itself, it is called
a _Caesura_, which is commonly a long syllable." 
"Keeping | _time, | time, | time_,
In a | sort of | Runic | _rhyme_,
To the | tintin| -nabu| -lation that so | musi| -cally | _wells_
From the | _bells, | bells, | bells, | bells,
Bells, | bells, | bells._"
--EDGAR A. POE: _Union Magazine, for Nov. 1849; Literary World_,
OBS. 1.--In defining our poetic feet, many late grammarians substitute the
terms _accented_ and _unaccented_ for _long_ and _short_, as did Murray,
after some of the earlier editions of his grammar; the only feet recognized
in his _second_ edition being the _Iambus_, the _Trochee_, the _Dactyl_,
and the _Anapest_, and all these being formed by _quantities_ only. This
change has been made on the supposition, that accent and long quantity, as
well as their opposites, nonaccent and short quantity, may oppose each
other; and that the basis of English verse is not, like that of Latin or
Greek poetry, a distinction in the _time_ of syllables, not a difference in
_quantity_, but such a course of accenting and nonaccenting as overrides
all relations of this sort, and makes both length and shortness compatible
alike with stress or no stress. Such a theory, I am persuaded, is
untenable. Great authority, however, may be quoted for it, or for its
principal features. Besides the several later grammarians who give it
countenance, even "the judicious Walker," who, in his Pronouncing
Dictionary, as before cited, very properly suggests a difference between
"_that quantity which constitutes poetry_," and the mere "_length or
shortness of vowels_," when he comes to explain our English accent and
quantity, in his "_Observations on the Greek and Latin Accent and
Quantity_," finds "accent perfectly compatible with either long or short
quantity;" (_Key_, p. 312;) repudiates that vulgar accent of Sheridan and
others, which "is only a greater force upon one syllable than another;"
(_Key_, p. 313;) prefers the doctrine which "makes the elevation or
depression of the voice inseparable from accent;" (_Key_, p. 314;) holds
that, "unaccented vowels are frequently pronounced long when the accented
vowels are short;" (_Key_, p. 312;) takes long or short _vowels_ and long
or short _syllables_ to be things everywhere tantamount; saying, "We have
_no conception_ of quantity arising from any thing but the nature of the
vowels, as they are pronounced long or short;" (_ibid._;) and again: "Such
long quantity" as consonants may produce with a close or short vowel, "an
English ear _has not the least idea of_. Unless the sound of the vowel be
altered, we have _not any conception_ of a long or short
syllable."--_Walker's Key_, p. 322; and _Worcester's Octavo Dict._, p. 935.
OBS. 2.--In the opinion of Murray, Walker's authority should be thought
sufficient to settle any question of prosodial quantities. "But," it is
added, "there are some critical writers, who dispute the propriety of his
arrangement."--_Murray's Octavo Gram._, p. 241. And well there may be; not
only by reason of the obvious incorrectness of the foregoing positions, but
because the great orthoepist is not entirely consistent with himself. In
his "_Preparatory Observations_," which introduce the very essay above
cited, he avers that, "the different states of the voice," which are
indicated by the comparative terms _high_ and _low, loud_ and _soft, quick_
and _slow, forcible_ and _feeble_, "may not improperly be called
_quantities_ of sound."--_Walker's Key_, p. 305. Whoever thinks this,
certainly conceives of quantity as arising from _several other things_ than
"the nature of the vowels." Even Humphrey, with whom, "Quantity differs
materially from time," and who defines it, "the weight, or aggregate
quantum of sounds," may find his questionable and unusual "conception" of
it included among these.
OBS. 3.--Walker must have seen, as have the generality of prosodists since,
that such a distinction as he makes between long syllables and short, could
not possibly be the basis of English versification, or determine the
elements of English feet; yet, without the analogy of any known usage, and
contrary to our customary mode of reading the languages, he proposes it as
applicable--and as the only doctrine conceived to be applicable--to Greek
or Latin verse. Ignoring all long or short quantity not formed by what are
called long or short vowels, he suggests, "_as a last refuge_," (Sec.25,)
the very doubtful scheme of reading Latin and Greek poetry with the vowels
conformed, agreeably to this English sense of _long_ and _short_ vowel
sounds, to the ancient rules of quantity. Of such words as _fallo_ and
_ambo_, pronounced as we usually utter them, he says, "_nothing can be more
evident_ than the long quantity of the final vowel though without the
accent, and the short quantity of the initial and accented
syllable."--_Obs. on Greek and Lat. Accent_, Sec.23; Key, p. 331. Now the very
reverse of this appears to me to be "evident." The _a_, indeed, may be
close or short, while the _o_, having its primal or _name_ sound, is
_called_ long; but the first _syllable_, if fully accented, will have
_twice the time_ of the second; nor can this proportion be reversed but by
changing the accent, and misplacing it on the latter syllable. Were the
principle _true_, which the learned author pronounces so "evident," these,
and all similar words, would constitute _iambic feet_; whereas it is plain,
that in English they are _trochees_; and in Latin,--where "_o_ final is
_common_,"--either _trochees_ or _spondees_. The word _ambo_, as every
accurate scholar knows, is always a _trochee_, whether it be the Latin
adjective for "_both_," or the English noun for "_a reading desk_, or
OBS. 4.--The names of our poetic feet are all of them derived, by change of
endings, from similar names used in Greek, and thence also in Latin; and,
of course, English words and Greek or Latin, so related, are presumed to
stand for things somewhat similar. This reasonable presumption is an
argument, too often disregarded by late grammarians, for considering our
poetic feet to be quantitative, as were the ancient,--not accentual only,
as some will have them,--nor separately both, as some others absurdly
teach. But, whatever may be the difference or the coincidence between
English verse and Greek or Latin, it is certain, that, in _our_ poetic
division of syllables, strength and length must always concur, and any
scheme which so contrasts accent with long quantity, as to confound the
different species of feet, or give contradictory names to the same foot,
must be radically and grossly defective. In the preceding section it has
been shown, that the principles of quantity adopted by Sheridan, Murray,
and others, being so erroneous as to be wholly nugatory, were as unfit to
be the basis of English verse, as are Walker's, which have just been spoken
of. But, the puzzled authors, instead of reforming these their elementary
principles, so as to adapt them to the quantities and rhythms actually
found in our English verse, have all chosen to assume, that our poetical
feet in general _differ radically_ from those which the ancients called by
the same names; and yet the _coincidence_ found--the "_exact sameness of
nature_" acknowledged--is sagely said by some of them _to duplicate each
foot into two distinct sorts for our especial advantage_; while the
_difference_, which they presume to exist, or which their false principles
of accent and quantity would create, between feet quantitative and feet
accentual, (both of which are allowed to us,) would _implicate different
names_, and convert foot into foot--iambs, trochees, spondees, pyrrhics,
each species into some other--till all were confusion!
OBS. 5.--In Lindley Murray's revised scheme of feet, we have first a
paragraph from Sheridan's Rhetorical Grammar, suggesting that the ancient
poetic measures were formed of syllables divided "into _long_ and _short_,"
and affirming, what is not very true, that, for the forming of ours, "In
English, syllables are divided into _accented_ and _unaccented_."--_Rhet.
Gram._, p. 64; _Murray's Gram._, 8vo, 253; _Hart's Gram._, 182; and others.
Now _some_ syllables are accented, and others are unaccented; but syllables
singly significant, i.e., monosyllables, which are very numerous, belong to
neither of these classes. The contrast is also comparatively new; our
language had much good poetry, long before _accented_ and _unaccented_ were
ever thus misapplied in it. Murray proceeds thus: "When the feet are
formed by _accent on vowels_, they are _exactly of the same nature as
ancient feet_, and have the same just quantity in their syllables. So that,
in this respect, _we have all that the ancients had_, and something which
they had not. We have in fact _duplicates of each foot_, yet with such a
_difference_, as to fit them for _different purposes_, to be applied at our
pleasure."--_Ib._, p. 253. Again: "_We_ have observed, that _English verse
is composed of feet formed by accent_; and that when the accent falls on
_vowels_, the feet are equivalent to those formed by quantity."--_Ib._, p.
258. And again: "From the preceding view of English versification, we may
see _what a copious stock of materials_ it possesses. For _we are not only
allowed the use of all the ancient poetic feet_, in our _heroic measure_,
but we have, as before observed, _duplicates of each_, agreeing in
movement, though differing in measure, _and which_ make different
impressions on the ear; _an opulence peculiar_ to our language, _and which_
may be the source of a boundless variety."--_Ib._, p. 259.
OBS. 6.--If it were not dullness to overlook the many errors and
inconsistencies of this scheme, there should be thought a rare ingenuity in
thus turning them all to the great advantage and peculiar riches of the
English tongue! Besides several grammatical faults, elsewhere noticed,
these extracts exhibit, first, the inconsistent notion--of "_duplicates
with a difference_;" or, as Churchill expresses it, of "_two distinct
species of each foot_;" (_New Gram._, p. 189;) and here we are gravely
assured withal, that these _different sorts_, which have no separate names,
are sometimes forsooth, "_exactly of the same nature_"! Secondly, it is
incompatibly urged, that, "English verse is _composed of feet formed by
accent_," and at the same time shown, that it partakes largely of _feet
"formed by quantity_." Thirdly, if "_we have all that the ancients had_,"
of poetic feet, and "_duplicates of each_," "_which they had not_" we are
encumbered with an enormous surplus; for, of the twenty-eight Latin
feet, mentioned by Dr. Adam and others, Murray never gave the names of
more than eight, and his early editions acknowledged _but four_, and these
_single_, not "_duplicates_"--_unigenous_, not severally of "_two
species_." Fourthly, to suppose a multiplicity of feet to be "_a copious
stock of materials_" for versification, is as absurd as to imagine, in any
other case, a variety of _measures_ to be materials for producing the thing
measured. Fifthly, "_our heroic measure_" is _iambic pentameter_, as Murray
himself shows; and, to give to this, "_all the ancient poetic feet_," is to
bestow most of them where they are least needed. Sixthly, "feet _differing
in measure_," so as to "_make different impressions on the ear_," cannot
well be said to "_agree in movement_," or to be "_exactly of the same
OBS. 7.--Of the foundation of metre, _Wells_ has the following account:
"The _quantity_ of a syllable is the relative time occupied in its
pronunciation. A syllable may be _long_ in quantity, as _fate_; or _short_,
as _let_. The Greeks and Romans based their poetry on the quantity of
syllables; but modern versification depends chiefly upon accent, the
quantity of syllables being almost wholly disregarded."--_School Gram._,
1st Ed., p. 185. Again: "_Versification_ is a measured arrangement of
words[,] in which the _accent_ is made to recur at certain regular
intervals. This definition applies only to modern verse. In Greek and Latin
poetry, it is the regular recurrence of _long syllables_, according to
settled laws, which constitutes verse."--_Ib._, p. 186. The contrasting of
ancient and modern versification, since Sheridan and Murray each contrived
an example of it, has become very common in our grammars, though not in
principle very uniform; and, however needless where a correct theory
prevails, it is, to such views of accent and quantity as were adopted by
these authors, and by Walker, or their followers, but a necessary
counterpart. The notion, however, that English verse has less regard to
quantity than had that of the old Greeks or Romans, is a mere assumption,
originating in a false idea of what quantity is; and, that Greek or Latin
verse was less accentual than is ours, is another assumption, left
proofless too, of what many authors disbelieve and contradict. Wells's
definition of quantity is similar to mine, and perhaps unexceptionable; and
yet his idea of the thing, as he gives us reason to think, was very
different, and very erroneous. His examples imply, that, like Walker, he
had "no conception of quantity arising from any thing but the nature of the
vowels,"--no conception of a long or a short _syllable_ without what is
called a long or a short _vowel sound_. That "the Greeks and Romans based
their poetry on quantity" of that restricted sort,--on _such "quantity"_ as
"_fate_" and "_let_" may serve to discriminate,--is by no means probable;
nor would it be more so, were a hundred great modern masters to declare
themselves ignorant of any other. The words do not distinguish at all the
long and short quantities even of our own language; much less can we rely
on them for an idea of what is long or short in other tongues. Being
monosyllables, both are long with emphasis, both short without it; and,
could they be accented, accent too would lengthen, as its absence would
shorten both. In the words _phosphate_ and _streamlet_, we have the same
sounds, both short; in _lettuce_ and _fateful_, the same, both long. This
cannot be disproved. And, in the scansion of the following stanza from
Byron, the word "_Let_" twice used, is to be reckoned a _long_ syllable,
and not (as Wells would have it) a short one:
"Cavalier! and man of worth!
_Let_ these words of mine go forth;
_Let_ the Moorish Monarch know,
That to him I nothing owe:
Wo is me, Alhama!"
OBS. 8.--In the English grammars of Allen H. Weld, works remarkable for
their egregious inaccuracy and worthlessness, yet honoured by the Boston
school committee of 1848 and '9, the author is careful to say, "Accent
should not be confounded with emphasis. _Emphasis_ is a stress of voice on
a word in a sentence, to mark its importance. _Accent_ is a stress of voice
on a syllable in a word." Yet, within seven lines of this, we are told,
that, "A _verse_ consists of a certain number of _accented and unaccented
syllables_, arranged according to certain rules."--_Weld's English
Grammar_, 2d Edition, p. 207; "Abridged Edition," p. 137. A doctrine cannot
be contrived, which will more evidently or more extensively confound accent
with emphasis, than does this! In English verse, on an average, about three
quarters of the words are monosyllables, which, according to Walker, "have
no accent," certainly none distinguishable from emphasis; hence, in fact,
our syllables are no more "divided into _accented_ and _unaccented_" as
Sheridan and Murray would have them, than into _emphasized_ and
_unemphasized_, as some others have thought to class them. Nor is this
confounding of accent with emphasis at all lessened or palliated by
teaching with Wells, in its justification, that, "The term _accent_ is also
applied, in poetry, to _the_ stress laid on monosyllabic words."--_Wells's
School Gram._, p. 185; 113th Ed., Sec.273. What better is this, than to apply
the term _emphasis_ to the accenting of syllables in poetry, or to all the
stress in question, as is virtually done in the following citation? "In
English, verse is regulated by the _emphasis_, as there should be one
_emphatic_ syllable in every foot; for it is by the interchange of
_emphatick_ and _non-emphatick_ syllables, that verse grateful to the ear
is formed."--_Thomas Coar's E. Gram._, p. 196. In Latin poetry, the longer
words predominate, so that, in Virgil's verse, not one word in five is a
monosyllable; hence accent, if our use of it were adjusted to the Latin
quantities, might have much more to do with Latin verse than with English.
With the following lines of Shakspeare, for example, accent has, properly
speaking, no connexion;
"Good friend, thou hast no cause to say so yet;
But thou shalt have; and creep time ne'er so slow,
Yet it shall come, for me to do thee good.
I had a thing to say,--But let it go."--_King John_, Act iii, Sc. 3.
OBS. 9.--T. O. Churchill, after stating that the Greek and Latin rhythms
are composed of syllables long and short, sets ours in contrast with them
thus: "These terms are commonly employed also in speaking of English verse,
though it is marked, _not by long and short_, but by accented and
unaccented syllables; the accented syllables being _accounted_ long; the
unaccented, short."--_Churchill's New Gram._, p. 183. This, though far from
being right, is very different from the doctrine of Murray or Sheridan;
because, in practice, or the scansion of verses, it comes to the _same
results_ as to suppose all our feet to be "formed by quantity." To
_account_ syllables long or short and not _believe_ them to _be_ so, is a
ridiculous inconsistency: it is a shuffle in the name of science.
OBS. 10.--Churchill, though not apt to be misled by others' errors, and
though his own scanning has no regard to the principle, could not rid
himself of the notion, that the quantity of a syllable must depend on the
"vowel sound." Accordingly he says, "Mr. Murray _justly observes_, that our
accented syllables, or those reckoned long:, may have either _a long or [a]
short vowel sound_, so that we have _two distinct species_ of each
foot."--_New Gram._, p. 189. The obvious impossibility of "two distinct
species" in one,--or, as Murray has it, of "duplicates fitted for different
purposes,"--should have prevented the teaching and repeating of this
nonsense, propound it who might. The commender himself had not such faith
in it as is here implied. In a note, too plainly incompatible with this
praise, he comments thus: "Mr. Murray adds, that this is 'an opulence
_peculiar_ to our language, and which may be the source of a boundless
variety:' a point, on which, I confess, _I have long entertained doubts_. I
am inclined to suspect that the English mode of reading verse _is
analogous_ to that of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Dion. Hal., _de Comp.,
Verb_. Sec.xi, speaks of the _rhythm of verse differing_ from the proper
measure of the syllables, and often reversing it: does not this imply, that
the ancients, contrary to the opinion of the learned author of
Metronariston, read verse as we do?"--_Churchill's New Gram._, p. 393, note
OBS. 11.--The nature, chief sources, and true distinction of _quantity_, at
least as it pertains to our language, I have set forth with clearness,
first in the short chapter on Utterance, and again, more fully in this,
which treats of Versification; but that the syllables, long and short, of
the old Greek and Latin poets, or the feet they made of them, are to be
expounded on precisely the same principles that apply to ours. I have not
deemed it necessary to affirm or to deny. So far as the same laws are
applicable, let them be applied. This important property of
syllables,--their _quantity_, or relative time,--which is the basis of all
rhythm, is, as my readers have seen, very variously treated, and in general
but ill appreciated, by our English prosodists, who ought, at least in this
their own province, to understand it all alike, and as it is; and so common
among the erudite is the confession of Walker, that "the accent and
quantity of the ancients" are, to modern readers, "obscure and mysterious,"
that it will be taken as a sign of arrogance and superficiality, to pretend
to a very certain knowledge of them. Nor is the difficulty confined to
Latin and Greek verse: the poetry of our own ancestors, from any remote
period, is not easy of scansion. Dr. Johnson, in his History of the English
Language, gave examples, with this remark: "Of the _Saxon_ poetry some
specimen is necessary, though our ignorance of the laws of their metre and
the quantities of their syllables, _which it would be very difficult,
perhaps impossible, to recover_, excludes us from that pleasure which the
old bards undoubtedly gave to their contemporaries."
OBS. 12.--The imperfect measures of "the father of English poetry," are
said by Dryden to have been _adapted to the ears_ of the rude age which
produced them. "The verse of Chaucer," says he, "I confess, is not
harmonious to us; but it is like the eloquence of one whom Tacitus
commends, it was _auribus istius temporis accommodata_:' they who lived
with him, and sometime after him, thought it musical; and it continues so
even in our judgment, if compared with the numbers of Lidgate and Gower,
his contemporaries: there is the rude sweetness of a Scotch tune in it,
which is natural and pleasing, though not perfect. It is true, I cannot go
so far as he who published the last edition of him; for he would make us
believe that the fault is in _our ears_, and that there were really ten
syllables in a verse where we find but nine: but this opinion is not worth
confuting; it is so gross and obvious an error, that common sense (which is
a rule in every thing but matters of faith and revelation) must convince
the reader that equality of numbers in every verse, which we call Heroic,
was either not known, or not always practised in Chaucer's age. It were an
easy matter to produce some thousands of his verses, which are lame for
want of half a foot, and sometimes a whole one, and which no pronunciation
can make otherwise. We can only say, that he lived in the infancy of our
poetry, and that nothing is brought to perfection at the first."--_British
Poets_, Vol. iii, p. 171.
OBS. 13.--Dryden appears to have had more faith in the ears of his own age
than in those of an earlier one; but Poe, of our time, himself an ingenious
versifier, in his Notes upon English Verse, conveys the idea that all ears
are alike competent to appreciate the elements of metre. "Quantity,"
according to his dogmatism, "is a point in the investigation of which the
lumber of mere learning may be dispensed with, if ever in any. _Its
appreciation_" says he, "_is universal_. It appertains to no region, nor
race, nor era in especial. To melody and to harmony the Greeks hearkened
with ears precisely similar to those which we employ, for similar purposes,
at present; and a pendulum at Athens would have vibrated much after the
same fashion as does a pendulum in the city of Penn."--_The Pioneer_, Vol.
i. p. 103. Supposing here not even the oscillations of the same pendulum to
be more uniform than are the nature and just estimation of quantity the
world over, this author soon after expounds his idea of the thing as
follows: "I have already said that all syllables, in metre, are either long
or short. Our usual prosodies maintain that a long syllable is equal, in
its time, to two short ones; this, however, is but an approach to the
truth. It should be here observed that the quantity of an English syllable
_has no dependence upon_ the sound of its vowel or dipthong [diphthong],
but [depends] chiefly upon _accentuation_. Monosyllables are exceedingly
variable, and, for the most part, may be either long or short, to suit the
demand of the rhythm. In polysyllables, the accented _ones_ [say,
_syllables_] are always long, while those which immediately precede or
succeed them, are always short. _Emphasis_ will render any short syllable
long."--_Ibid._, p. 105. In penning the last four sentences, the writer
must have had Brown's Institutes of English Grammar before him, and open at
OBS. 14.--Sheridan, in his Rhetorical Grammar, written about 1780, after
asserting that a distinction of accent, and not of quantity, marks the
movement of English verse, proceeds as follows: "From not having examined
the peculiar genius of our tongue, our Prosodians have fallen into a
variety of errors; some having adopted the rules of our neighbours, the
French; and others having had recourse to those of the ancients; though
neither of them, in reality, would square with our tongue, on account of an
essential difference _between them_. [He means, "_between each language and
ours_," and should have said so.] With regard to the French, they measured
verses by the number of syllables whereof they were composed, on account of
a constitutional defect in their tongue, which rendered it incapable of
numbers formed by poetic feet. For it has neither accent nor quantity
suited to the purpose; the syllables of their words being for the most part
equally accented; and the number of long syllables being out of all
proportion greater than that of the short. Hence for a long time it was
supposed, _as it is by most people at present_, that our verses were
composed, not of feet, but syllables; and accordingly they _are
denominated_ verses often, eight, six, or four syllables, _even to this
day_. Thus have we lost sight of the great advantage which our language has
given us over the French, in point of poetic numbers, by its being capable
of a geometrical proportion, on which the harmony of versification depends;
and blindly reduced ourselves to that of the arithmetical kind which
contains no natural power of pleasing the ear. And hence like the French,
our chief pleasure in verse arises from the poor ornament of
rhyme."--_Sheridan's Rhetorical Gram._, p. 64.
OBS. 15.--In a recent work on this subject, Sheridan is particularly
excepted, and he alone, where Hallam, Johnson, Lord Kames, and other
"Prosodians" in general, are charged with "astonishing ignorance of the
first principles of our verse;" and, at the same time, he is as
particularly commended of having "especially insisted on the subject of
Quantity."--_Everett's English Versification, Preface_, p. 6. That the
rhetorician was but slenderly entitled to these compliments, may plainly
appear from the next paragraph of his Grammar just cited; for therein he
mistakingly represents it as a central error, to regard our poetic feet as
being "formed by quantity" at all. "Some few of our Prosodians," says he,
"finding this to be an error, and that our verses were really composed of
feet, not syllables, without farther examination, boldly applied all the
rules of the Latin prosody to our versification; though scarce any of them
answered exactly, and some of them were utterly incompatible with the
genius of our tongue. _Thus because the Roman feet were formed by quantity,
they asserted the same of ours, denominating all the accented syllables
long; whereas I have formerly shewn, that the accent, in some cases, as
certainly makes the syllable on which it is laid, short, as in others it
makes it long_. And their whole theory of quantity, borrowed from the
Roman, in which they endeavour to establish the proportion of long and
short, as immutably fixed to the syllables of words constructed in a
certain way, at once falls to the ground; when it is shewn, that the
quantity of our syllables is _perpetually varying with the sense_, and is
_for the most part regulated by_ EMPHASIS: which has been fully proved in
the course of Lectures on the Art of reading Verse; where it has been also
shewn, that _this very circumstance_ has given us an _amazing advantage
over the ancients_ in the point of poetic numbers."--_Sheridan's
Rhetorical Gram._, p. 64.
OBS. 16.--The lexicographer here claims to have "_shewn_" or "_proved_,"
what he had only _affirmed_, or _asserted_. Erroneously taking the quality
of the vowel for the quantity of the syllable, he had suggested, in his
confident way, that short quantity springs from the accenting of
_consonants_, and long quantity, from the accenting of _vowels_--a doctrine
which has been amply noticed and refuted in a preceding section of the
present chapter. Nor is he, in what is here cited, consistent with himself.
For, in the first place, nothing comes nearer than this doctrine of his, to
an "endeavour to establish the proportion of long and short, as immutably
fixed to the syllables of words constructed in a certain way"! Next,
although he elsewhere contrasts accent and emphasis, and supposes them
different, he either confounds them in reference to verse, or contradicts
himself by ascribing to each the chief control over quantity. And, lastly,
if our poetic feet are not quantitative, not formed of syllables long and
short, as were the Roman, what "advantage over the ancients," can we derive
from the fact, that quantity is regulated by stress, whether accent or
OBS. 17.--We have, I think, no prosodial treatise of higher pretensions
than Erastus Everett's "System of English Versification," first published
in 1848. This gentleman professes to have borrowed no idea but what he has
regularly quoted. "He mentions this, that it may not be supposed that this
work is a compilation. It will be seen," says he, "how great a share of it
is original; and the author, having deduced his rules from the usage of the
great poets, has the best reason for being confident of their
correctness."--_Preface_, p. 5. Of the place to be filled by this System,
he has the following conception: "It is thought to supply an important
desideratum. It is a matter of surprise to the foreign student, who
attempts the study of English poetry and the structure of its verse, to
find that _we have no work on which he can rely as authority on this
subject_. In the other modern languages, the most learned philologers have
treated of the subject of versification, in all its parts. In English
alone, in a language which possesses a body of poetical literature more
extensive, as well as more valuable than any other modern language, not
excepting the Italian, _the student has no rules to guide him_, but a few
meagre and incorrect outlines appended to elementary text-books." Then
follows this singularly inconsistent exception: "We must except from this
remark two works, published in the latter part of the sixteenth century.
But as they were written before the poetical language of the English tongue
was fixed, and as the rules of verse were not then settled, these works can
be of little practical utility."--_Preface_, p. 1. The works thus excepted
as of _reliable authority without practical utility_, are "a short tract by
_Gascoyne_," doubtless _George Gascoigne's_ 'Notes of Instruction
concerning the making of Verse or Rhyme in English,' published in 1575, and
Webbe's 'Discourse of English Poetry,' dated 1586, neither of which does
the kind exceptor appear to have ever seen! Mention is next made,
successively, of Dr. Carey, of Dryden, of Dr. Johnson, of Blair, and of
Lord Kames. "To these _guides_," or at least to the last two, "the author
is indebted for many valuable hints;" yet he scruples not to say, "Blair
betrays a paucity of knowledge on this subject;"--"Lord Kames has slurred
over the subject of Quantity," and "shown an unpardonable ignorance of the
first principles of Quantity in our verse;"--and, "Even Dr. Johnson speaks
of syllables in such a manner as would lead us to suppose that he was in
the same error as Kames. These inaccuracies," it is added, "can be
accounted for only from the fact that Prosodians have not thought
_Quantity_ of sufficient importance to merit their attention."--See
_Preface_, p. 4-6.
OBS. 18.--Everett's Versification consists of seventeen chapters, numbered
consecutively, but divided into two parts, under the two titles Quantity
and Construction. Its specimens of verse are numerous, various, and
beautiful. Its modes of scansion--the things chiefly to be taught--though
perhaps generally correct, are sometimes questionable, and not always
consonant with the writer's own rules of quantity. From the citations
above, one might expect from this author such an exposition of quantity, as
nobody could either mistake or gainsay; but, as the following platform will
show, his treatment of this point is singularly curt and incomplete. He is
so sparing of words as not even to have given a _definition_ of quantity.
He opens his subject thus: "VERSIFICATION is the proper arrangement of
words in _a line_ according to _their quantity_, and the disposition of
_these lines in_ couplets, stanzas, or in blank verse, in such order, and
according to such rules, as are sanctioned by usage.--A FOOT is a
combination of two or _more_ syllables, whether long or short.--A LINE is
one foot, or more than one.--The QUANTITY of each _word_ depends on its
_accent_. In words of more than one syllable, all accented syllables are
long, and all unaccented syllables are short. Monosyllables are long or
short, according to the following Rules:--1st. All Nouns, Adjectives,
Verbs, and Participles are long.--2nd. The articles are always short.--3rd,
The Pronouns are long or short, according to _emphasis_.--4th.
Interjections and Adverbs are generally long, but sometimes _made short by
emphasis_.--5th. Prepositions and Conjunctions are almost always _short_,
but sometimes _made long by emphasis_."--_English Versification_, p. 13.
None of these principles of quantity are unexceptionable; and whoever
follows them implicitly, will often differ not only from what is right, but
from their author himself in the analysis of verses. Nor are they free from
important antagonisms. "Emphasis," as here spoken of, not only clashes with
"accent," but contradicts itself, by making some syllables long and some
short; and, what is more mysteriously absurd, the author says, "It
_frequently happens_ that syllables _long by_ QUANTITY become _short by_
EMPHASIS."--_Everett's Eng. Versif._, 1st Ed., p. 99. Of this, he takes the
first syllable of the following line, namely, "the word _bids_," to be an
"B~ids m~e l=ive b~ut t=o h=ope f~or p~ost=er~it~y's pr=aise."
OBS. 19.--In the American Review, for May, 1848, Everett's System of
Versification is named as "an apology and occasion"--not for a critical
examination of this or any other scheme of prosody--but for the
promulgation of a new one, a rival theory of English metres, "the
principles and laws" of which the writer promises, "at an other time" more
fully "to develop." The article referred to is entitled, "_The Art of
Measuring Verses_." The writer, being designated by his initials, "J. D.
W.," is understood to be James D. Whelpley, editor of the Review. Believing
Everett's principal doctrines to be radically erroneous, this critic
nevertheless excuses them, because he thinks we have nothing better! "The
views supported in the work itself," says his closing paragraph, "_are not,
indeed, such as we would subscribe to, nor can we admit the numerous
analyses of the English metres which it contains to be correct_; yet, as it
is as complete in design and execution as anything that has yet appeared on
the subject, and well calculated to excite the attention, and direct the
inquiries, of English scholars, to the study of our own metres, we shall
even pass it by without a word of criticism."--_American Review, New
Series_, Vol. I, p. 492.
OBS. 20.--Everett, although, as we have seen, he thought proper to deny
that the student of English versification had any well authorized "rules to
guide him," still argues that, "The laws of our verse are just as fixed,
and may be as clearly laid down, if we but attend to the usage of the great
Poets, as are the laws of our syntax."--_Preface_, p. 7. But this critic,
of the American Review, ingenious though he is in many of his remarks,
flippantly denies that our English Prosody has either authorities or
principles which one ought to respect; and accordingly cares so little whom
he contradicts, that he is often inconsistent with himself. Here is a
sample: "As there are _no established authorities_ in this art, and,
indeed, _no acknowledged principles_--every rhymester being permitted to
_invent_ his own _method_, and write by _instinct_ or _imitation_--the
critic feels quite at liberty to say just what he pleases, and _offer his
private observations_ as though these were really of some moment."--_Am.
Rev._, Vol. i, p. 484. In respect to writing, "_to invent_," and _to
"imitate_," are repugnant ideas; and so are, _after a "method_," and "_by
instinct_." Again, what sense is there in making the "liberty" of
publishing one's "private observations" to depend on the presumed absence
of rivals? That the author did not lack confidence in the general
applicability of his speculations, subversive though they are of the best
and most popular teaching on this subject, is evident from the following
sentence: "We intend, also, that if these principles, with the others
previously expressed, are true in the given instances, _they are equally
true for all languages and all varieties of metre_, even to the denial that
_any_ poetic metres, founded on other principles, can properly
exist."--_Ib._, p. 491
OBS. 21.--J. D. W. is not one of those who discard quantity and supply
accent in expounding the nature of metre; and yet he does not coincide very
nearly with any of those who have heretofore made quantity the basis of
poetic numbers. His views of the rhythmical elements being in several
respects _peculiar_, I purpose briefly to notice them here, though some of
the peculiarities of this new "_Art of Measuring Verses_," should rather be
quoted under the head of _Scanning_, to which they more properly belong.
"Of every species of beauty," says this author, "and more especially of the
beauty of sounds, _continuousness_ is the _first element_; a succession of
_pulses_ of sound becomes agreeable, only when the breaks or intervals
cease to be heard." Again: "Quantity, or the _division into measures of
time_, is a _second element_ of verse; each line must be _stuffed out with
sounds_, to a certain fullness and plumpness, that will sustain the voice,
and force it to dwell upon the sounds."--_Rev._, p. 485. The first of these
positions is subsequently contradicted, or very largely qualified, by the
following: "So, the line of significant sounds, in a verse, is also marked
by _accents_, or _pulses_, and divided into portions called _feet_. These
are necessary and natural for the very simple reason that _continuity by
itself is tedious_; and the greatest pleasure arises from the union of
continuity with _variety_. [That is, with "_interruption_," as he elsewhere
calls it!] In the line,
'Full many a tale their music tells,'
there are at least four accents or stresses of the voice, with faint
_pauses_ after them, just enough to separate the continuous stream of sound
into these four parts, to be read thus:
by which, new combinations of sound are produced, of a singularly musical
character. It is evident from the inspection of the above line, that the
division of the feet by the accents is quite independent of the division of
words by the sense. The sounds are melted into continuity, and _re-divided
again_ in a manner agreeable to the musical ear."--_Ib._, p. 486.
Undoubtedly, the due formation of our poetic feet occasions both a blending
of some words and a dividing of others, in a manner unknown to prose; but
still we have the authority of this writer, as well as of earlier ones, for
saying, "Good verse requires to be read _with the natural quantites
[sic--KTH] of the syllables_," (p. 487,) a doctrine with which that of the
_redivision_ appears to clash. If the example given be read with any regard
to the _caesural pause_, as undoubtedly it should be, the _th_ of _their_
cannot be joined, as above, to the word _tale_; nor do I see any propriety
in joining the _s_ of _music_ to the third foot rather than to the fourth.
Can a theory which turns topsyturvy the whole plan of syllabication, fail
to affect "the _natural quantities_ of syllables?"
OBS. 22--Different modes of reading verse, may, without doubt, change the
quantities of very many syllables. Hence a correct mode of reading, as well
as a just theory of measure, is essential to correct scansion, or a just
discrimination of the poetic feet. It is a very common opinion, that
English verse has but few spondees; and the doctrine of Brightland has been
rarely disputed, that, "_Heroic Verses_ consist of five _short_, and five
_long_ Syllables _intermixt_, but not so very strictly as never to alter
that order."--_Gram._, 7th Ed., p. 160. J. D. W., being a heavy
reader, will have each line so "_stuffed out with sounds_," and the
consonants so syllabled after the vowels, as to give to our heroics three
spondees for every two iambuses; and lines like the following, which, with
the elisions, I should resolve into four iambuses, and without them, into
three iambuses and one anapest, he supposes to consist severally of four
"'When coldness wraps this suffering clay,
Ah! whither strays the immortal mind?'
[These are] to be read," according to this prosodian,
"The verse," he contends, "is perceived to consist of _six_ [probably he
meant to say _eight_] heavy syllables, each composed of a vowel followed by
a group of consonantal sounds, the whole measured into four equal feet. The
movement is what is called spondaic, a spondee being a foot of two heavy
sounds. The absence of short syllables gives the line a peculiar weight and
solemnity suited to the sentiment, and doubtless prompted by
it."--_American Review_, Vol. i, p. 487. Of his theory, he subsequently
says: "It maintains that good English verse is as thoroughly quantitative
as the Greek, though it be _much more heavy and spondaic_."--_Ib._, p.
OBS. 23--For the determining of quantities and feet, this author borrows
from some old Latin grammar three or four rules, commonly thought
inapplicable to our tongue, and, mixing them up with other speculations,
satisfies himself with stating that the "Art of Measuring Verses" requires
yet the production of many more such! But, these things being the essence
of his principles, it is proper to state them _in his own words_: "A short
vowel sound followed by a double consonantal sound, usually makes a _long_
quantity; so also does a long vowel like _y_ in _beauty_, before a
consonant. The _metrical accents_, which _often differ from the prosaic_,
mostly fall upon the heavy sounds; _which must also be prolonged in
reading_, and never slurred or lightened, unless to help out a bad verse.
In our language _the groupings of the consonants furnish a great number of
spondaic feet_, and give the language, especially its more ancient forms,
as in the verse of Milton and the prose of Lord Bacon, a grand and solemn
character. One vowel followed by another, unless the first be _naturally
made long_ in the reading, makes a short quantity, as in _th[=e] old_. So,
also, a short vowel followed by a single short consonant, gives a short
_time_ or _quantity_, as in _toe give_. [Fist] A great variety of rules for
the detection of long and short quantities _have yet to be invented_, or
applied from the Greek and Latin prosody. _In all languages they are of
course the same_, making due allowance for difference of organization; but
it is as absurd to suppose that the Greeks should have a system of prosody
differing in principle from our own, as that their rules of musical harmony
should be different from the modern. Both result from the nature of the ear
and of _the organ of speech_, and are consequently _the same_ in all ages
and nations."--_Am. Rev._, Vol. i, p. 488.
OBS. 24.--QUANTITY is here represented as "_time_" only. In this author's
first mention of it, it is called, rather less accurately, "_the division
into measures of time_." With too little regard for either of these
conceptions, he next speaks of it as including both "_time and accent_."
But I have already shown that "_accents_ or _stresses_" cannot pertain to
_short_ syllables, and therefore cannot be ingredients of quantity. The
whole article lacks that _clearness_ which is a prime requisite of a sound
theory. Take all of the writer's next paragraph as an example of this
defect: "The two elements of musical metre, _time_ and _accent_, both
together constituting _quantity_, are _equally_ elements of the metre of
verse. Each _iambic_ foot or metre, is marked by a swell of the voice,
concluding abruptly in an _accent_, or _interruption_, on the _last sound_
of the foot; or, [omit this 'or:' it is improper,] in metres of the
_trochaic_ order, in such words as _dandy, handy, bottle, favor, labor_, it
[the foot] begins with a heavy accented sound, and declines to a faint or
light one at the close. The line is thus composed of a series of swells or
waves of sound, _concluding and beginning alike_. The _accents_, or points
at which the voice is most forcibly exerted in the feet, _being the
divisions of time_, by which a part of its musical character is given to
the verse, are _usually made to coincide_, in our language, with the
accents of the words as they are spoken; which [coincidence] diminishes the
musical character of our verse. In Greek hexameters and Latin hexameters,
on the contrary, this coincidence is avoided, as tending to monotony and a
OBS. 25.--The passage just cited represents "_accent_" or "_accents_" not
only as partly constituting _quantity_, but as being, in its or their turn,
"_the divisions of time_;"--as being also stops, pauses, or
"_interruptions_" of sound else continuous;--as being of two sorts,
"_metrical_" and "_prosaic_," which "usually coincide," though it is said,
they "often differ," and their "interference" is "very frequent;"--as being
"the points" of stress "in the _feet_," but not always such in "the
_words_," of verse;--as striking different feet differently, "each _iambic_
foot" on the latter syllable and every _trochee_ on the former, yet
causing, in each line, only such waves of sound as conclude and begin
"_alike_;"--as coinciding with the long quantities and "_the prosaic
accents_," in iambics and trochaics, yet not coinciding with these
always;--as giving to verse "a part of its musical character," yet
_diminishing_ that character, by their usual coincidence with "_the prose
accents_;"--as being kept distinct in Latin and Greek, "_the metrical" from
"the prosaic_" and their "coincidence avoided," to make poetry more
poetical,--though the old prosodists, in all they say of accents, acute,
grave, and circumflex, give no hint of this primary distinction! In all
this elementary teaching, there seems to be a want of a clear, steady, and
consistent notion of the things spoken of. The author's theory led him to
several strange combinations of words, some of which it is not easy, even
with his whole explanation before us, to regard as other than _absurd_.
With a few examples of his new phraseology, Italicized by myself, I dismiss
the subject: "It frequently happens that _word and verse accent_ fall
differently."--P. 489. "The _verse syllables_, like _the verse feet_,
differ _in the prosaic and_ [the] _metrical reading_ of the line."--_Ib._
"If we read it by _the prosaic syllabication_, there will be no possibility
of measuring the quantities."--_Ib._ "The metrical are perfectly distinct
from the _prosaic properties of verse_."--_Ib._ "It may be called _an
iambic dactyl_, formed by the substitution of two short for one long time
in the last portion of the foot. _Iambic spondees and dactyls_ are to be
distinguished by the _metrical accent_ falling on the last syllable."--P.
SECTION IV.--THE KINDS OF VERSE.
The principal kinds of verse, or orders of poetic numbers, as has already
been stated, are four; namely, _Iambic, Trochaic, Anapestic_, and
_Dactylic_. Besides these, which are sometimes called "_the simple orders_"
being unmixed, or nearly so, some recognize several "_Composite orders_" or
(with a better view of the matter) several kinds of mixed verse, which are
said to constitute "_the Composite order_." In these, one of the four
principal kinds of feet must still be used as the basis, some other species
being inserted therewith, in each line or stanza, with more or less
PRINCIPLES AND NAMES.
The diversification of any species of metre, by the occasional change of a
foot, or, in certain cases, by the addition or omission of a short
syllable, is not usually regarded as sufficient to change the denomination,
or stated order, of the verse; and many critics suppose some variety of
feet, as well as a studied diversity in the position of the caesural pause,
essential to the highest excellence of poetic composition.
The dividing of verses into the feet which compose them, is called
_Scanning_, or _Scansion_. In this, according to the technical language of
the old prosodists, when a syllable is wanting, the verse is said to be
_catalectic_; when the measure is exact, the line is _acatalectic_; when
there is a redundant syllable, it forms _hypermeter_.
Since the equal recognition of so many feet as twelve, or even as eight,
will often produce different modes of measuring the same lines; and since
it is desirable to measure verses with uniformity, and always by the
simplest process that will well answer the purpose; we usually scan by the
principal feet, in preference to the secondary, where the syllables give us
a choice of measures, or may be divided in different ways.
A single foot, especially a foot of only two syllables, can hardly be said
to constitute a line, or to have rhythm in itself; yet we sometimes see a
foot so placed, and rhyming as a line. Lines of two, three, four, five,
six, or seven feet, are common; and these have received the technical
denominations of _dim'eter, trim'eter, tetram'eter, pentam'eter,
hexam'eter_, and _heptam'eter_. On a wide page, iambics and trochaics may
possibly be written in _octom'eter_; but lines of this measure, being very
long, are mostly abandoned for alternate tetrameters.
ORDER I.--IAMBIC VERSE.
In Iambic verse, the stress is laid on the even syllables, and the odd ones
are short. Any short syllable added to a line of this order, is
supernumerary; iambic rhymes, which are naturally single, being made double
by one, and triple by two. But the adding of one short syllable, which is
much practised in dramatic poetry, may be reckoned to convert the last foot
into an amphibrach, though the adding of two cannot. Iambics consist of the
MEASURE I.--IAMBIC OF EIGHT FEET, OR OCTOMETER.
_Psalm XLVII, 1 and 2_.
"O =all | y~e p=eo | -pl~e, cl=ap | y~our h=ands, | ~and w=ith | tr~i=um
| -ph~ant v=oi | -c~es s=ing;
No force | the might | -=y power | withstands | of God, | the u
| -niver | -sal King."
See the "_Psalms of David, in Metre_," p. 54.
Each couplet of this verse is now commonly reduced to, or exchanged for, a
simple stanza of four tetrameter lines, rhyming alternately, and each
commencing with a capital; but sometimes, the second line and the fourth
are still commenced with a small letter: as,
"Your ut | -most skill | in praise | be shown,
for Him | who all | the world | commands,
Who sits | upon | his right | -eous throne,
and spreads | his sway | o'er heath | -en lands."
_Ib._, verses 7 and 8; _Edition bound with Com. Prayer_,
N. Y., 1819.
_An other Example_.
"The hour | is come | --the cher | -ish'd hour,
When from | the bus | -y world | set free,
I seek | at length | my lone | -ly bower,
And muse | in si | -lent thought | on thee."
THEODORE HOOK'S REMAINS: _The Examiner_, No. 82.
MEASURE II.--IAMBIC OF SEVEN FEET, OR HEPTAMETER.
"It's odd | how hats | expand [ their brims | as youth | begins
| to fade,
As if | when life | had reached | its noon, | it want | -ed them
| for shade."
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES: _From a Newspaper_.
_Example II.--Psalm XLII_, 1.
"As pants | the hart | for cool | -ing streams, | when heat | -ed in
| the chase;
So longs | my soul, | O God, | for thee, | and thy | refresh
| -ing grace."
EPISCOPAL PSALM-BOOK: _The Rev. W. Allen's Eng. Gram._, p. 227.
_Example III.--The Shepherd's Hymn_.
"Oh, when | I rove | the des | -ert waste, | and 'neath | the hot
| sun pant,
The Lord | shall be | my Shep | -herd then, | he will | not let
| me want;
He'll lead | me where | the past | -ures are | of soft | and shad
| -y green,
And where | the gen | -tle wa | -ters rove, | the qui | -et hills
And when | the sav | -age shall | pursue, | and in | his grasp
| I sink,
He will | prepare | the feast | for me, | and bring | the cool
| -ing drink,
And save | me harm | -less from | his hands, and strength | -en me
| in toil,
And bless | my home | and cot | -tage lands, and crown | my head
| with oil.
With such | a Shep | -herd to | protect, | to guide | and guard
| me still,
And bless | my heart | with ev | -'ry good, | and keep | from ev
| -'ry ill,
_Surely_ | I shall | not turn | aside, | and scorn | his kind
| -ly care,
But keep | the path | he points | me out, | and dwell | for ev
| -er there."
W. GILMORE SIMMS: _North American Reader_, p. 376.
_Example IV.--"The Far, Far Fast."--First six Lines._
"It was | a dream | of earl | -y years, | the long | -est and
| the last,
And still | it ling | -ers bright | and lone | amid | the drear
| -y past;
When I | was sick | and sad | at heart | and faint | with grief
| and care,
It threw | its ra | -diant smile | athwart | the shad | -ows of
And still | when falls | the hour | of gloom | upon | this way
| -ward breast,
Unto | THE FAR, | FAR EAST | I turn | for sol | -ace and | for rest."
_Edinburgh Journal_; and _The Examiner_,
_Example V.--"Lament of the Slave."--Eight Lines from thirty-four._
"Behold | the sun | which gilds | _yon heaven_, how love | -ly it
And must | it shine | to light | a world | of war | -fare and
| of tears?
Shall hu | -man pas | -sion ev | -er sway | this glo | _-rious world_
| of God,
And beau | -ty, wis | -dom, hap | -piness, | sleep with | the tram
| -pled sod?
Shall peace | ne'er lift | her ban | -ner up, | shall truth | and rea
| -son cry,
And men | oppress | them down | with worse | than an | -cient tyr
Shall all | the les | -sons time | has taught, | be so | long taught
| in vain;
And earth | be steeped | in hu | -man tears, | and groan | with hu
| -man pain?"
ALONZO LEWIS: _Freedom's Amulet_, Dec. 6, 1848.
_Example VI.--"Greek Funeral Chant."--First four of sixty-four Lines._
"A wail | was heard | around | the bed, | the death | -bed of
| the young;
Amidst | her tears, | the Fu | _-neral Chant_ | a mourn | -ful moth
| -er sung.
'I-an | -this dost | thou sleep?-- | Thou sleepst!-- | but this
| is not | the rest,
The breath | -ing, warm, | and ros | -y calm, | I've pil | -low'd on
| my breast!'"
FELICIA HEMANS: _Poetical Works_, Vol. ii, p. 37.
Everett observes, "The _Iliad_ was translated into this measure by CHAPMAN,
and the _AEneid_ by PHAER."--_Eng. Versif._, p. 68. Prior, who has a ballad
of one hundred and eighty such lines, intimates in a note the great
antiquity of the verse. Measures of this length, though not very uncommon,
are much less frequently used than shorter ones. A practice has long
prevailed of dividing this kind of verse into alternate lines of four and
of three feet, thus:--
"To such | as fear | thy ho | -ly name,
myself | I close | -ly join;
To all | who their | obe | -dient wills
to thy | commands | resign."
_Psalms with Com. Prayer: Psalm_ cxix, 63.
This, according to the critics, is the most soft and pleasing of our lyric
measures. With the slight change of setting a capital at the head of each
line, it becomes the regular ballad-metre of our language. Being also
adapted to hymns, as well as to lighter songs, and, more particularly, to
quaint details of no great length, this stanza, or a similar one more
ornamented with rhymes, is found in many choice pieces of English poetry.
The following are a few popular examples:--
"When all | thy mer | -cies, O | my God!
My ris | -ing soul | surveys,
Transport | -ed with | the view | I'm lost
In won | -der, love, | and praise."
_Addison's Hymn of Gratitude_.
"John Gil | -pin was | a cit | -izen
Of cred | -it and | renown,
A train | -band cap | -tain eke | was he
Of fam | -ous Lon | -don town."
_Cowper's Poems_, Vol. i, p. 275.
"God pros | -per long | our no | -ble king,
Our lives | and safe | -ties all;
A wo | -ful hunt | -ing once | there did
In Chev | -y Chase | befall,"
_Later Reading of Chevy Chase_.
"Turn, An | -geli | -na, ev | -er dear,
My charm | -er, turn | to see
Thy own, | thy long | -lost Ed | -win here,
Restored | to love | and thee."
_Goldsmith's Poems_, p. 67.
"'Come back! | come back!' | he cried | in grief,
Across | this storm | -y wa_ter_:
'And I'll | forgive | your High | -land chief,
My daugh | -ter!--oh | my daugh_ter_!
'Twas vain: | the loud | waves lashed | the shore,
Return | or aid | prevent_ing_:--
The wa | -ters wild | went o'er | his child,--
And he | was left | lament_ing_."--_Campbell's Poems_, p. 110.
The rhyming of this last stanza is irregular and remarkable, yet not
unpleasant. It is contrary to rule, to omit any rhyme which the current of
the verse leads the reader to expect. Yet here the word "_shore_" ending
the first line, has no correspondent sound, where twelve examples of such
correspondence had just preceded; while the third line, without previous
example, is so rhymed within itself that one scarcely perceives the
omission. Double rhymes are said by some to unfit this metre for serious
subjects, and to adapt it only to what is meant to be burlesque, humorous,
or satiric. The example above does not confirm this opinion, yet the rule,
as a general one, may still be just. Ballad verse may in some degree
imitate the language of a simpleton, and become popular by clownishness,
more than by elegance: as,
"Father | and I | went down | to the camp
Along | with cap | -tain Goodwin,
And there | we saw | the men | and boys
As thick | as hast | -y pudding;
And there | we saw | a thun | -dering gun,--
It took | a horn | of powder,--
It made | a noise | like fa | -ther's gun,
Only | a na | -tion louder."
_Original Song of Yankee Doodle_.
Even the line of seven feet may still be lengthened a little by a double
How gay | -ly, o | -ver fell | and fen, | yon sports | -man light
| is _dashing_!
And gay | -ly, in | the sun | -beams bright, | the mow |--er's blade
| is _flashing_!
Of this length, T. O. Churchill reckons the following couplet; but by the
general usage of the day, the final _ed_ is not made a separate syllable:--
"With _hic_ | and _hoec_, | as Pris | -cian tells, | _sacer | -dos_ was
| de_cli | -n~ed_;
But now | its gen | -der by | the pope | far bet | -ter is | de_fi
_Churchill's New Grammar_, p. 188.
MEASURE III.--IAMBIC OF SIX FEET, OR HEXAMETER.
_Example I.--A Couplet_.
"S~o v=a | _-r~y~ing still_ | th~eir m=oods, | ~obs=erv | -~ing =yet
| ~in =all
Their quan | -tities, | their rests, | their cen | -sures met
MICHAEL DRAYTON: _Johnson's Quarto Dict., w. Quantity_.
_Example II.--From a Description of a Stag-Hunt_.
"And through | the cumb | -rous thicks, | as fear | -fully | he makes,
He with | his branch | -ed head | the ten | -der sap | -lings shakes,
That sprink | -ling their | moist pearl | do seem | for him | to weep;
When aft | -er goes | the cry, | with yell | -ings loud | and deep,
That all | the for | -est rings, | and ev | -ery neigh
| -bouring place:
And there | is not | a hound | but fall | -eth to | the chase."
DRAYTON: _Three Couplets from twenty-three,
in Everett's Versif._, p. 66.
_Example III.--An Extract from Shakespeare_.
"If love | make me | forsworn, | how shall | I swear | to love?
O, nev | -er faith | could hold, | if not | to beau | -ty vow'd:
Though to | myself | forsworn, | to thee | I'll con | -stant prove;
Those thoughts, | to me | like oaks, | to thee | like o | -siers bow'd.
_St=ud~y_ | his bi | -as leaves, | and makes | his book | thine eyes,
Where all | those pleas | -ures live, | that art | can com | -prehend.
If knowl | -edge be | the mark, | to know | thee shall | suffice;
Well learn | -ed is | that tongue | that well | can thee | commend;
All ig | -norant | that soul | that sees | thee with' | _o~ut wonder_;
Which is | to me | some praise, | that I | thy parts | admire:
Thine eye | Jove's light | -ning seems, | thy voice | his dread
| _-ful thunder_,
Which (not | to an | -ger bent) | is mu | -sic and | sweet fire.
Celes | -tial as | thou art, | O, do | not love | that wrong,
To sing | the heav | -ens' praise | with such | an earth | -ly tongue."
_The Passionate Pilgrim, Stanza IX_;
SINGER'S SHAK., Vol. ii, p. 594.
_Example IV.--The Ten Commandments Versified_.
"Adore | no God | besides | me, to | provoke | mine eyes;
Nor wor | -ship me | in shapes | and forms | that men | devise;
With rev | 'rence use | my name, | nor turn | my words | to jest;
Observe | my sab | -bath well, | nor dare | profane | my rest;
Honor | and due | obe | -dience to | thy pa | -rents give;
Nor spill | the guilt | -less blood, | nor let | the guilt
| -y live;
Preserve | thy bod | -y chaste, | and flee | th' unlaw | -ful bed;
Nor steal | thy neigh | -bor's gold, | his gar | -ment, or | his bread;
Forbear | to blast | his name | with false | -hood or deceit;
Nor let | thy wish | -es loose | upon | his large | estate."
DR. ISAAC WATTS: _Lyric Poems_, p. 46.
This verse, consisting, when entirely regular, of twelve syllables in six
iambs, is the _Alexandrine_; said to have been so named because it was
"first used in a poem called _Alexander_."--_Worcester's Dict._ Such metre
has sometimes been written, with little diversity, through an entire
English poem, as in Drayton's Polyolbion; but, couplets of this length
being generally esteemed too clumsy for our language, the Alexandrine has
been little used by English versifiers, except to complete certain stanzas
beginning with shorter iambics, or, occasionally, to close a period in
heroic rhyme. French heroics are similar to this; and if, as some assert,
we have obtained it thence, the original poem was doubtless a French one,
detailing the exploits of the hero "_Alexandre_." The phrase, "_an
Alexandrine verse_," is, in French, "_un vers Alexandrin_." Dr. Gregory, in
his Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, copies Johnson's Quarto Dictionary,
which says, "ALEXANDRINE, a kind of verse borrowed from the French, first
used in a poem called Alexander. They [Alexandrines] consist, among the
French, of twelve and thirteen syllables, in alternate couplets; and, among
us, of twelve." Dr. Webster, in his American Dictionary, _improperly_ (as I
think) gives to the name two forms, and seems also to acknowledge two sorts
of the English verse: "ALEXAN'DRINE, or ALEXAN'DRIAN, _n._ A kind of verse,
consisting of twelve syllables, or of twelve and thirteen alternately."
"The Pet-Lamb," a modern pastoral, by Wordsworth, has sixty-eight lines,
all probably meant for Alexandrines; most of which have twelve syllables,
though some have thirteen, and others, fourteen. But it were a great pity,
that versification so faulty and unsuitable should ever be imitated. About
half of the said lines, as they appear in the poet's royal octave, or "the
First Complete American, from the Last London Edition," are as sheer prose
as can be written, it being quite impossible to read them into any proper
rhythm. The poem being designed for children, the measure should have been
reduced to iambic trimeter, and made exact at that. The story commences
"The dew | was fall | -ing fast, | the stars | began | to blink;
I heard | a voice; | it said, | 'Drink, pret | -ty crea
| -ture, drink!'
And, look | -ing o'er | the hedge, | before | me I | espied
A snow | -white moun | -tain Lamb | w=ith =a M=aid | -en at
| its side."
All this is regular, with the exception of one foot; but who can make any
thing but _prose_ of the following?
"Thy limbs will shortly be twice as stout as they are now,
Then I'll yoke thee to my cart like a pony in the plough."
"Here thou needest not dread the raven in the sky;
Night and day thou art safe,--our cottage is hard by."
WORDSWORTH'S _Poems_, New-Haven Ed., 1836, p. 4.
In some very ancient English poetry, we find lines of twelve syllables
combined in couplets with others of fourteen; that is, six iambic feet are
alternated with seven, in lines that rhyme. The following is an example,
taken from a piece of fifty lines, which Dr. Johnson ascribes to the _Earl
of Surry_, one of the wits that flourished in the reign of Henry VIII:--
"Such way | -ward wayes | hath Love, | that most | part in | discord,
Our willes | do stand, | whereby | our hartes | but sel | -dom do
Decyte | is hys | delighte, | and to | begyle | and mocke,
The sim | ple hartes | which he | doth strike | with fro | -ward di
| -vers stroke.
He caus | -eth th' one | to rage | with gold | -en burn | -ing darte,
And doth | allay | with lead | -en cold, | again | the oth
| -er's harte;
Whose gleames | of burn | -ing fyre | and eas | -y sparkes | of flame,
In bal | -ance of | ~un=e | -qual weyght | he pon | -dereth | by ame."
See _Johnson's Quarto Dict., History of the Eng. Lang._, p. 4.
MEASURE IV.--IAMBIC OF FIVE FEET, OR PENTAMETER.
_Example I.--Hector to Andromache._
"Andr=om | -~ach=e! | m=y s=oul's | f~ar b=et | -t~er p=art,
_Wh=y w~ith_ | untime | -ly | sor | -rows heaves | thy heart?
No hos | -tile hand | can an | -tedate | my doom,
Till fate | condemns | me to | the si | -lent tomb.
Fix'd is | the term | to all | the race | of earth;
And such | the hard | conditi | -on of | our birth,
No force | can then | resist, | no flight | can save;
All sink | alike, | the fear | -ful and | the brave."
POPE'S HOMER: _Iliad_, B. vi, l. 624-632.
_Example II.--Angels' Worship._
"No soon | -er had | th' Almight | -y ceas'd | _but_ all
The mul | -titude | of an | -gels with | a shout
Loud as | from num | -bers with' | -out num | -ber, sweet
As from | blest voi | -ces ut | _t~er ~ing j=oy_, | heav'n rung
With ju | -bilee, | and loud | hosan | -nas fill'd
Th' eter | -nal | re | -gions; low | -ly rev | -erent
Tow'rds ei | -ther throne | they bow, | and to | the ground
With sol | -emn ad | -ora | -tion down | they cast
Their crowns | inwove | with am | -arant | and gold."
MILTON: _Paradise Lost_, B. iii, l. 344.
_Example III.--Deceptive Glosses_.
"The world | is still | deceiv'd | with or | -nament.
In law, | what plea | so taint | -ed and | corrupt,
But, be | -ing sea | -son'd with | a gra | -cious voice,
Obscures | the show | of e | -vil? In | _religi~on_,
What dam |--n~ed er | -ror, but | some so | -ber brow
Will bless | it, and | approve | it with | a text,
_Hid~ing_ | the gross | -ness with | fair or | -nament?"
SHAKSPEARE: _Merch. of Venice_, Act iii, Sc. 2.
_Example IV.--Praise God_.
"Ye head | -long tor | -rents, rap | -id, and | profound;
Ye soft | -er floods, | that lead | the hu | -mid maze
Along | the vale; | and thou, | majes | -tic main,
A se | -cret world | of won | -ders in | thyself,
Sound His | stupen | -dous | praise; | whose great | -er voice
Or bids | you roar, | or bids | your roar | -ings fall."
THOMSON: _Hymn to the Seasons_.
_Example V.--The Christian Spirit_.
"Like him | the soul, | thus kin | -dled from | above,
Spreads wide | her arms | of u | -niver | -sal love;
And, still | enlarg'd | as she | receives | the grace,
Includes | cr~e=a | -tion in | her close | embrace.
Behold | a Chris | -tian! and | without | the fires
The found | -_~er ~of_ | that name | alone | inspires,
Though all | accom | -plishment, | all knowl | -edge meet,
To make | the shin | -ing prod | -igy | complete,
Whoev | -er boasts | that name-- | behold | a cheat!"
COWPER: _Charity; Poems_, Vol. i, p. 135.
_Example VI.--To London_.
"Ten right | -eous would | have sav'd | a cit | -y once,
And thou | hast man | -y right | -eous.--Well | for thee--
That salt | preserves | thee; more | corrupt | -ed else,
And there | -fore more | obnox | -ious, at | this hour,
Than Sod | -om in | her day | had pow'r | to be,
For whom | God heard | his Abr' | -ham plead | in vain."
IDEM: _The Task_, Book iii, at the end.
This verse, the iambic pentameter, is the regular English _heroic_--a
stately species, and that in which most of our great poems are composed,
whether epic, dramatic, or descriptive. It is well adapted to rhyme, to the
composition of sonnets, to the formation of stanzas of several sorts; and
yet is, perhaps, the only measure suitable for blank verse--which latter
form always demands a subject of some dignity or sublimity.
The _Elegiac Stanza_, or the form of verse most commonly used by elegists,
consists of four heroics rhyming alternately; as,
"Thou knowst | how trans | -port thrills | the ten | -der breast,
Where love | and fan | -cy fix | their ope | -ning reign;
How na | -ture shines | in live | -lier col | -ours dress'd,
To bless | their un | -ion, and | to grace | their train."
SHENSTONE: _British Poets_, Vol. vii, p. 106.
Iambic verse is seldom continued perfectly pure through a long succession
of lines. Among its most frequent diversifications, are the following; and
others may perhaps be noticed hereafter:--
(1.) The first foot is often varied by a substitutional trochee; as,
"_Bacchus_, | that first | from out | the pur | -ple grape
_Crush'd the_ | sweet poi | -son of | mis-=us | -~ed wine,
_After_ | the Tus | -can mar | -iners | transform'd,
_Coasting_ | the Tyr | -rhene shore, | ~as th~e | winds list_~ed_,
On Cir | -ce's isl | -and fell. | Who knows | not Cir_c~e_,
The daugh | -ter of | the sun? | whose charm | -~ed cup
Whoev | -er tast | -ed, lost | his up | -right shape,
And down | -ward fell | _=int~o_ a grov | -elling swine."
MILTON: _Comus; British Poets_, Vol. ii, p. 147.
(2.) By a synaeresis of the two short syllables, an anapest may sometimes be
employed for an iambus; or a dactyl, for a trochee. This occurs chiefly
where one unaccented vowel precedes an other in what we usually regard as
separate syllables, and both are clearly heard, though uttered perhaps in
so quick succession that both syllables may occupy only half the time of a
long one. Some prosodists, however, choose to regard these substitutions as
instances of trissyllabic feet mixed with the others; and, doubtless, it is
in general easy to make them such, by an utterance that avoids, rather than
favours, the coalescence. The following are examples:--
"No rest: | through man | _-y a dark_ | and drear | -y vale
They pass'd, | and man | _-y a re_ | -gion dol | -orous,
_O'er man_ | _-y a fro_ | -zen, man | _-y a fi_ | _-ery Alp_."
--MILTON: _P. L._, B. ii, l. 618.
"Rejoice | ye na | -tions, vin | -dicate | the sway
Ordain'd | for com | -mon hap | -piness. | Wide, o'er
The globe | terra | _-queous, let_ | Britan | _-nia pour_
The fruits | of plen | -ty from | her co | _-pious horn_."
--DYER: _Fleece_, B. iv, l. 658.
"_Myriads_ | of souls | that knew | one pa | -rent mold,
See sad | -ly sev | er'd by | the laws | of chance!
_Myriads_, | in time's | peren | _-nial list_ | enroll'd,
Forbid | by fate | to change | one tran | _-sient glance!_"
SHENSTONE: _British Poets_, Vol. vii, p. 109.
(3.) In plays, and light or humorous descriptions, the last foot of an
iambic line is often varied or followed by an additional short syllable;
and, sometimes, in verses of triple rhyme, there is an addition of two
short syllables, after the principal rhyming syllable. Some prosodists call
the variant foot, in die former instance, an _amphibrach_, and would
probably, in the latter, suppose either an _additional pyrrhic_, or an
amphibrach with still a _surplus syllable_; but others scan, in these
cases, by the iambus only, calling what remains after the last long
syllable _hypermeter_; and this is, I think, the better way. The following
examples show these and some other variations from pure iambic measure:--
"Each sub | st~ance ~of | a grief | hath twen | -ty shad_~ows_,
Which show | like grief | itself, | but are | not so:
For sor | -row's eye, | gl=az~ed | with blind | -ing tears,
Divides one thing | entire | to man |--y ob_j~ects_;
Like per | -spectives, | which, right | -ly gaz'd | upon,
Show noth | -ing but | confu | -sion; ey'd | awry,
Distin | -guish form: | so your | sweet maj | -esty,
Lo=ok~ing | awry | upon | your lord's | depart_~ure_,
Finds shapes | of grief, | more than | himself, | to wail;
Which, look'd | on as | it is, | is nought | but shad_~ows_."
SHAKSPEARE: _Richard II_, Act ii, Sc. 2.
_Example II.--A Wish to Please_.
"O, that | I had | the art | of eas | -y _writing_
What should | be eas | -y read | -ing | could | I scale
Parnas | -sus, where | the Mus | -es sit | in_diting_
Those pret | -ty po | -ems nev | -er known | to fail,
How quick | -ly would | I print | (the world | de_lighting_)
A Gre | -cian, Syr | -ian, or | Assy | -ian tale;
And sell | you, mix'd | with west | -ern sen | -ti_mentalism_,
Some sam | -ples of | the fin | -est O | -ri_entalism_."
LORD BYRON: _Beppo_, Stanza XLVIII.
MEASURE V.--IAMBIC OF FOUR FEET, OR TETRAMETER.
_Example I.--Presidents of the United States of America_.
"First stands | the loft | -y Wash | -ington,
That no | -ble, great, | immor | -tal one;
The eld | -er Ad | -ams next | we see;
And Jef | -ferson | comes num | -ber three;
Then Mad | -ison | is fourth, | you know;
The fifth | one on | the list, | Monroe;
The sixth | an Ad | -ams comes | again;
And Jack | -son, sev | -enth in | the train;
Van Bu | -ren, eighth | upon | the line;
And Har | -rison | counts num | -ber nine;
The tenth | is Ty | -ler, in | his turn;
And Polk, | elev | -enth, as | we learn;
The twelfth | is Tay | -lor, peo | -ple say;
The next | we learn | some fu | -ture day."
ANONYMOUS: _From Newspaper_, 1849.
_Example II.--The Shepherd Bard_.
"The bard | on Ett | -rick's moun | tain green
In Na | -ture's bo | -som nursed | had been,
And oft | had marked | in for | -est lone
Her beau | -ties on | her moun | -tain throne;
Had seen | her deck | the wild | -wood tree,
And star | with snow | -y gems | the lea;
In love | _-li~est c=ol_ | -ours paint | the plain,
And sow | the moor | with pur | -ple grain;
By gold | -en mead | and moun | -tain sheer,
Had viewed | the Ett | -rick wav | -ing clear,
Where shad | _-=ow=y fl=ocks_ | of pur | -est snow
Seemed graz | -ing in | a world | below."
JAMES HOGG: _The Queen's Wake_, p. 76.
_Example III.--Two Stanzas from Eighteen, Addressed to the Ettrick
"O Shep | -herd! since | 'tis thine | to boast
The fas | -cinat | -ing pow'rs | of song,
Far, far | above | the count | -less host,
Who swell | the Mus | -es' sup | -_pli~ant throng_,
The GIFT | OF GOD | distrust | no more,
His in | -spira | -tion be | thy guide;
Be heard | thy harp | from shore | to shore,
Thy song's | reward | thy coun | -try's pride."
B. BARTON: _Verses prefixed to the Queen's Wake_.
_Example IV.--"Elegiac Stanzas," in Iambics of Four feet and Three_.
"O for | a dirge! | But why | complain?
Ask rath | -er a | trium | -phal strain
When FER | MOR'S race | is run;
A gar | -land of | immor | -tal boughs
To bind | around | the Chris | -tian's brows,
Whose glo | _-rious work_ | is done.
We pay | a high | and ho | -ly debt;
No tears | of pas | -sionate | regret
Shall stain | this vo | -tive lay;
Ill-wor | -thy, Beau | -mont! were | the grief
That flings | itself | on wild | relief
When Saints | have passed | away."
W. WORDSWORTH: _Poetical Works_, First complete Amer. Ed., p. 208.
This line, the iambic tetrameter, is a favourite one, with many writers of
English verse, and has been much used, both in couplets and in stanzas.
Butler's Hudibras, Gay's Fables, and many allegories, most of Scott's
poetical works, and some of Byron's, are written in couplets of this
measure. It is liable to the same diversifications as the preceding metre.
The frequent admission of an additional short syllable, forming double
rhyme, seems admirably to adapt it to a familiar, humorous, or burlesque
style. The following may suffice for an example:--
"First, this | large par | -cel brings | you _tidings_
Of our | good Dean's | eter | -nal _chidings_;
Of Nel | -ly's pert | -ness, Rob | -in's _leasings_,
And Sher | -idan's | perpet | -ual _teasings_.
This box | is cramm'd | on ev | -ery side
With Stel | -la's mag | -iste | -rial pride."
DEAN SWIFT: _British Poets_, Vol. v, p. 334.
The following lines have _ten syllables_ in each, yet the measure is not
iambic of five feet, but that of four with hypermeter:--
"There was | ~an =an | -cient sage | phi_losopher_,
Who had | read Al | -exan | -der _Ross over_."--_Butler's Hudibras_.
"I'll make | them serve | for per | -pen_diculars_,
As true | as e'er | were us'd | by _bricklayers_."
--_Ib._, Part ii, C. iii, l. 1020.
MEASURE VI.--IAMBIC OF THREE FEET, OR TRIMETER.
"Now teach | me, maid | compos'd
To breathe | some soft | -en'd strain."--_Collins_, p. 39.
This short measure has seldom, if ever, been used alone in many successive
couplets; but it is often found in stanzas, sometimes without other
lengths, but most commonly with them. The following are a few examples:--
_Example I.--Two ancient Stanzas, out of Many_,
"This while | we are | abroad,
Shall we | not touch | our lyre?
Shall we | not sing | an ode?
Shall now | that ho | -ly fire,
In us, | that strong | -ly glow'd,
In this | cold air, | expire?
Though in | the ut | -most peak,
A while | we do | remain,
Amongst | the moun | -tains bleak,
Expos'd | to sleet | and rain,
No sport | our hours | shall break,
To ex | -ercise | our vein."
DRAYTON: _Dr. Johnson's Gram._, p. 13; _John Burn's_, p. 244.
_Example II.--Acis and Galatea_.
"For us | the zeph | -yr blows,
For us | distils | the dew,
For us | unfolds | the rose,
And flow'rs | display | their hue;
For us | the win | -ters rain,
For us | the sum | -mers shine,
Spring swells | for us | the grain,
And au | -tumn bleeds | the vine."
JOHN GAY: _British Poets_, Vol. vii, p. 376.
_Example III.--"Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin_."
"The king | was on | his throne,
The sa | -traps thronged | the hall;
A thou | -sand bright | lamps shone
O'er that | high fes | -tival.
A thou | -sand cups | of gold,
In Ju | -dah deemed | divine--
Jeho | -vah's ves | -sels, hold
The god | -less Hea | -then's wine!
In that | same hour | and hall,
The fin | -gers of | a hand
Came forth | against | the wall,
And wrote | as if | on sand:
The fin | -gers of | a man,--
A sol | -ita | -ry hand
Along | the let | -ters ran,
And traced | them like | a wand."
LORD BYRON: _Vision of Belshazzar_.
_Example IV.--Lyric Stanzas_.
"Descend, | celes | -tial fire,
And seize | me from | above,
Melt me | in flames | of pure | desire,
A sac | -rifice | to love.
Let joy | and wor | -ship spend
The rem | -nant of | my days,
And to | my God, | my soul | ascend,
In sweet | perfumes | of praise."
WATTS: _Poems sacred to Devotion_, p. 50.
_Example V.--Lyric Stanzas_.
"I would | begin | the mu | -sic here,
And so | my soul | should rise:
O for | some heav'n | -ly notes | to bear
My spir | -it to | the skies!
There, ye | that love | my say | -iour, sit,
There I | would fain | have place
Amongst | your thrones | or at | your feet,
So I | might see | his face."
WATTS: _Same work_, "_Horae Lyricae_," p. 71.
_Example VI.--England's Dead_.
"The hur | -ricane | hath might
Along | the In | -dian shore,
And far, | by Gan | -ges' banks | at night,
Is heard | the ti | -ger's roar.
But let | the sound | roll on!
It hath | no tone | of dread
For those | that from | their toils | are gone;--
_There_ slum | -ber Eng | -land's dead."
HEMANS: _Poetical Works_, Vol. ii, p. 61.
The following examples have some of the common diversifications already
noticed under the longer measures:--
_Example I.--"Languedocian Air_."
"_L=ove ~is_ | a hunt | -er boy,
Who makes | young hearts | his prey;
_And in_ | his nets | of joy
Ensnares | them night | and day.
In vain | conceal'd | they lie,
Love tracks | them ev' | -ry where;
In vain | aloft | they fly,
Love shoots | them fly | -ing there.
But 'tis | his joy | most sweet,
At earl | -y dawn | to trace
The print | of Beau | -ty's feet,
And give | the trem | -bler chase.
And most | he loves | through snow
To track | those foot | -steps fair,
For then | the boy | doth know,
None track'd | before | him there."
MOORE'S _Melodies and National Airs_, p. 274.
_Example II.--From "a Portuguese Air_."
"Flow on, | thou shin | -ing _river_,
But ere | thou reach | the sea,
Seek El | -la's bower, | and _give her_
The wreaths | I fling | o'er thee.
But, if | in wand' | -ring _thither_,
Thou find | she mocks | my pray'r,
Then leave | those wreaths | to _wither_
Upon | the cold | bank there."
MOORE: _Same Volume_, p. 261.
"O Res | -igna | -tion! yet | unsung,
Untouch'd | by for | -mer strains;
Though claim | -ing ev | -_ery mu_ | -se's smile,
And ev | -_ery po_ | -et's pains!
All oth | -er du | -ties cres | -cents are
Of vir | -tue faint | -ly bright;
The glo | -_rious con_ | -summa | -tion, thou,
Which fills | her orb | with light!"
YOUNG: _British Poets_, Vol. viii, p. 377.
MEASURE VII.--IAMBIC OF TWO FEET, OR DIMETER.
_Example--A Scolding Wife_.
"There was | a man
Whose name | was Dan,
Who sel | -dom spoke;
His part | -ner sweet
He thus | did greet,
Without | a joke;
My love | -ly wife,
Thou art | the life
Of all | my joys;
Without | thee, I
Should sure | -ly die
For want | of noise.
O, prec | -ious one,
Let thy | tongue run
In a | sweet fret;
And this | will give
A chance | to live,
A long | time yet.
When thou | dost scold
So loud | and bold,
I'm kept | awake;
But if | thou leave,
It will | me grieve,
Till life | forsake.
Then said | his wife,
I'll have | no strife
With you, | sweet Dan;
As 'tis | your mind,
I'll let | you find
I am | your man.
And fret | I will,
To keep | you still
Enjoy | -ing life;
So you | may be
Content | with me,
A scold | -ing wife."
ANONYMOUS: _Cincinnati Herald_, 1844.
Iambic dimeter, like the metre of three iambs, is much less frequently used
alone than in stanzas with longer lines; but the preceding example is a
refutation of the idea, that no piece is ever composed wholly of this
measure, or that the two feet cannot constitute a line. In Humphrey's
English Prosody, on page 16th, is the following paragraph; which is not
only defective in style, but erroneous in all its averments:--
"Poems are never composed of lines of two [-] feet metre, in succession:
they [combinations of two feet] are only used occasionally in poems, hymns,
odes, &c. to diversify the metre; and are, in no case, lines of poetry, or
verses; but hemistics, [_hemistichs_,] or half lines. The shortest metre of
which iambic verse is composed, in lines successively, is that of three
feet; and this is the shortest metre _which_ can be denominated lines, or
verses; and _this is not frequently used_."
In ballads, ditties, hymns, and versified psalms, scarcely any line is
_more common_ than the iambic trimeter, here denied to be "frequently
used;" of which species, there are about seventy lines among the examples
above. Dr. Young's poem entitled "Resignation," has eight hundred and
twenty such lines, and as many more of iambic tetrameter. His "Ocean" has
one hundred and forty-five of the latter, and two hundred and ninety-two of
the species now under consideration; i.e., iambic dimeter. But how can the
metre which predominates by two to one, be called, in such a case, an
occasional diversification of that which is less frequent?
Lines of two iambs are not very uncommon, even in psalmody; and, since we
have some lines _yet shorter_, and the lengths of all are determined only
by the act of measuring, there is, surely, no propriety in calling dimeters
"hemistichs," merely because they are short. The following are some
examples of this measure combined with longer ones:--
_Example I.--From Psalm CXLVIII_.
"Ye bound | -less realms | of joy,
Exalt | your Ma | -ker's fame;
His praise | your songs | employ
Above | the star | -ry frame:
Your voi | -ces raise,
Ye Cher | -ubim,
And Ser | -aphim,
To sing | his praise.
Thou moon, | that rul'st | the night,
And sun, | that guid'st | the day,
Ye glitt' | -ring stars | of light,
To him | your hom | -age pay:
His praise | declare,
Ye heavens | above,
And clouds | that move
In liq | -uid air."
_The Book of Psalms in Metre_, (_with Com. Prayer_,) 1819.
_Example II.--From Psalm CXXXVI._
"To God | the might | -y Lord,
your joy | -ful thanks | repeat;
To him | due praise | afford,
as good | as he | is great:
For God | does prove
Our con | -stant friend,
His bound | -less love
Shall nev | -er end."--_Ib._, p. 164.
_Example III.--Gloria Patri_.
"To God | the Fa | -ther, Son,
And Spir | -it ev | -er bless'd,
Eter | -nal Three | in One,
All wor | -ship be | address'd;
As here | -tofore
It was, | is now,
And shall | be so
For ev | -ermore."--_Ib._, p. 179.
_Example IV.--Part of Psalm III_.
[O] "Lord, | how man | -y are | my foes!
How man | -y those
That [now] | in arms | against | me rise!
_Many_ | are they
That of | my life | distrust | -fully | thus say:
'No help | for him | in God | there lies.'
But thou, | Lord, art | my shield | my glo_ry_;
Thee, through | my sto_ry_,
Th' exalt | -er of | my head | I count;
Aloud | I cried
Unto | Jeho | -vah, he | full soon | replied,
And heard | me from | his ho | -ly mount."
MILTON: _Psalms Versified, British Poets_, Vol. ii, p. 161.
_Example V.--Six Lines of an "Air."_
"As when | the dove
Laments | her love
All on | the na | -ked spray;
When he | returns,
No more | she mourns,
But loves | the live | -long day."
JOHN GAY: _British Poets_, Vol. vii, p. 377.
_Example VI.--Four Stanzas of an Ode_.
Gold pleas | -ure buys;
But pleas | -ure dies",
Too soon | the gross | fruiti | -on cloys:
Though rapt | -ures court,
The sense | is short;
But vir | -tue kin | -dles liv | -ing joys:
Joys felt | alone!
Joys ask'd | of none!
Which Time's | and For | -tune's ar | -rows miss;
Joys that | subsist,
Though fates | resist,
An un | -preca | -rious, end | -less bliss!
The soul | refin'd
Is most | inclin'd
To ev | -_~er=y m=or_ | -al ex | -cellence;
All vice | is dull,
A knave's | a fool;
And Vir | -tue is | the child | of Sense.
The vir | -_tuous mind_
Nor wave, | nor wind,
Nor civ | -il rage, | nor ty | -rant's frown,
The shak | -en ball,
Nor plan | -ets' fall,
From its | firm ba | -sis can | dethrone."
YOUNG'S "OCEAN:" _British Poets_, Vol. viii, p 277.
There is a line of five syllables and double rhyme, which is commonly
regarded as iambic dimeter with a supernumerary short syllable; and which,
though it is susceptible of two other divisions into two feet, we prefer to
scan in this manner, because it usually alternates with pure iambics.
Twelve such lines occur in the following extract:--
"Could Love | for ev_er_
Run like | a riv_er_,
And Time's | endeav_our_
Be tried | in vain,--
No oth | -er pleas_ure_
With this | could meas_ure_;
And like | a treas_ure_
We'd hug | the chain.
But since | our sigh_ing_
Ends not | in dy_ing_,
And, formed | for fly_ing_,
Love plumes | his wing;
Then for | this rea_son_
Let's love | a sea_son_;
But let | that sea_son_
Be on | -ly spring."
LORD BYRON: See _Everett's Versification_, p. 19;
_Fowler's E. Gram._, p. 650.
MEASURE VIII.--IAMBIC OF ONE FOOT, OR MONOMETER.
"The shortest form of the English Iambic," says Lindley Murray, "consists
of an Iambus with an additional short syllable: as,
We have no poem of this measure, but it may be met with in stanzas. The
Iambus, with this addition, coincides with the Amphibrach."--_Murray's
Gram._, 12mo, p. 204; 8vo, p. 254. This, or the substance of it, has been
repeated by many other authors. Everett varies the language and
illustration, but teaches the same doctrine. See _E. Versif._, p. 15.
Now there are sundry examples which may be cited to show, that the iambus,
without any additional syllable, and without the liability of being
confounded with an other foot, may, and sometimes does, stand as a line,
and sustain a regular rhyme. The following pieces contain instances of this
_Example I.--"How to Keep Lent."_
"Is this | a Fast, | to keep
The lard | -er lean
From fat | of neats | and sheep?
Is it | to quit | the dish
Of flesh, | yet still
The plat | -ter high | with fish?
Is it | to fast | an hour,
Or ragg'd | to go,
A down | -cast look | and sour?
No:--'Tis | a Fast | to dole
Thy sheaf | of wheat,
Unto | the hun | -gry soul.
It is | to fast | from strife,
From old | debate,
To cir | -cumcise | thy life;
To show | a _heart_ | grief-rent;
To starve | thy sin,
Ay, that's | to keep | thy Lent."
ROBERT HERRICK: _Clapp's Pioneer_, p. 48.
Example II.--"To Mary Ann."
[This singular arrangement of seventy-two separate iambic feet, I find
_without intermediate points_, and leave it so. It seems intended to be
read in three or more different ways, and the punctuation required by one
mode of reading would not wholly suit an other.]
"Your face Your tongue Your wit
So fair So sweet So sharp
First bent Then drew Then hit
Mine eye Mine ear Mine heart
Mine eye Mine ear Mine heart
To like To learn To love
Your face Your tongue Your wit
Doth lead Doth teach Doth move
Your face Your tongue Your wit
With beams With sound With art
Doth blind Doth charm Doth rule
Mine eye Mine ear Mine heart
Mine eye Mine ear Mine heart
With life With hope With skill
Your face Your tongue Your wit
Doth feed Doth feast Doth fill
O face O tongue O wit
With frowns With cheek With smart
Wrong not Vex not Wound not
Mine eye Mine ear Mine heart
This eye This ear This heart
Shall joy Shall bend Shall swear
Your face Your tongue Your wit
To serve To trust To fear."
ANONYMOUS: _Sundry American Newspapers_, in 1849.
"The late George Canning, of whom Byron said that 'it was his happiness to
be at once a wit, poet, orator, and statesman, and excellent in all,' is
the author of the following clever _jeu d' esprit_:" [except three lines
here added in brackets:]
"I saw | a man | with two | umbrellas,
(One of | the lon |--gest kind | of fellows,)
When it rained,
M=eet =a | l=ady
On the | shady
Side of | thirty |-three,
Minus | one of | these rain |-dispellers.
'Your qual | -ity | of mer | -cy is | not strained.'
[Not slow | to comprehend | an inkling,
His eye | with wag |-gish hu |-mour twinkling.]
Replied | he, 'Ma'am,
This one | under | my arm
[And can |-not save | you from | a sprinkling.]
Besides | to keep | you dry,
'Tis plain | that you | as well | as I,
'Can lift | your cotton.'"
See _The Essex County Freeman_, Vol. i, No. 1.
_Example IV.--Shreds of a Song._
"The cuck |--oo then, | on ev |--ery tree,
Mocks mar |--ried men, | for thus | sings he, _Cuckoo'_;
Cuckoo', | cuckoo',-- | O word | of fear,
Unpleas |-ing to | a mar |-ried ear!"
"When blood | is nipp'd, | and ways | be foul,
Then night | -ly sings | the star |-ing owl, _To-who_;
To-whit, | to-who, | a mer | -ry note,
While greas | -y Joan | doth keel | the pot."
--SHAKSPEARE: _Love's Labour's Lost_, Act v, Sc. 2.
_Example V.--Puck's Charm._
[_When he has uttered the fifth line, he squeezes a juice on Lysander's
"On the ground,
To your eye,
Gentle | lover, | remedy.
When thou wak'st,
In the sight
Of thy | former | lady's eye." 
IDEM: _Midsummer-Night's Dream_, Act iii, Sc. 2.
ORDER II.--TROCHAIC VERSE.
In Trochaic verse, the stress is laid on the odd syllables, and the even
ones are short. Single-rhymed trochaic omits the final short syllable, that
it may end with a long one; for the common doctrine of Murray, Chandler,
Churchill, Bullions, Butler, Everett, Fowler, Weld, Wells, Mulligan, and
others, that this chief rhyming syllable is "_additional_" to the real
number of feet in the line, is manifestly incorrect. One long syllable is,
in some instances, used _as a foot_; but it is one or more _short
syllables_ only, that we can properly admit _as hypermeter_. Iambics and
trochaics often occur in the same poem; but, in either order, written with
exactness, the number of feet is always the number of the long syllables.
_Examples from Gray's Bard._
"_Ruin | seize thee,| ruthless | king_!
Confu | -sion on | thy ban |-ners wait,
Though, fann'd | by Con | -quest's crim | -son wing.
They mock | the air | with i | -dle state.
_Helm, nor | hauberk's | twisted | mail_,
Nor e'en | thy vir | -tues, ty | -rant, shall | avail."
"_Weave the | warp, and | weave the | woof_,
The wind | -ing-sheet | of Ed | -ward's race.
Give am | -ple room, | and verge | enough,
The char | -acters | of hell | to trace.