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The tones of prose reading, not being affected by any accommodation to melody or harmony of sound, but solely by the plain and direct conveyance of meaning, the voice inclines to brevity. Poetry implies, in all its expression, a reference to pleasure; and the ear is to be gratified by sound, while the mind is receiving ideas. A slightly prolonged articulation, therefore, becomes necessary in the reading of verse, to afford due scope to the beauty of sound : it constitutes the natural expression, also, of the gratification derived, through the ear, from the pleasing form in which objects are offered to the attention; since the sense tends to dwell on what gives delight to the mind. Rapidity and brevity in utterance, accordingly, destroy the effect of poetry to the ear.
The length of single sounds occasions, of necessity, a slow succession of them. The general style of utterance in poetic reading, therefore, is slower than that of prose.
The preceding explanations may be applied to the following stanza.* “All hail! thou lovely queen of night,
Bright empress of the starry sky!
Beams gladness on the gazer's eye,
Thou shinest bright as cloudless noon,
Before thy glory,-harvest moon!”
2d. Force. The general effect of verse on the force of the voice, is to diminish it slightly, as compared with the same quality of utterance in prose. This result is produced chiefly by softening the abruptness of force,-partly through the prolongation of sound already mentioned, and partly through a slight yet perceptible swelling of every sound, especially long vowels,-somewhat in the manner of singing, though only a distant approach to it.
* The prolongation of sound mentioned above is a quality which has been described as comparative merely. It must be confined to a very moderate degree.
The rhythm of verse identifies it so far with music: the swell' is inseparable from musical utterance; and the reading of poetry consequently partakes of it. The slight swell of voice in verse differs, however, from that of music, in not being so regular in its formation. The swell of music is a gradual increase of force, from the beginning to the middle of a note, from which point it diminishes as regularly and gradually as it increased in approaching it. An exact copy of this style of utterance, even in a rapid delivery,-in which it would be comparatively obscured by the quick succession of sounds,-cannot be transferred, even to prose, without creating the fault of a mouthing tone. The swell of verse differs from that of music, not only in being very slight, or barely perceptible, but in attaining its utmost force at a point comparatively near to its commencement, and thence decreasing, in a manner which leaves the diminishing of the force much more apparent to the ear, than the increasing of it when approaching to its utmost degree.
This slight swell of voice is a natural and indispensable characteristic of poetic tone, without which the utterance becomes hard and prosaic. A slow and careful reading of the first line, and especially of the first two words, of the stanzas already quoted, will exemplify this modification of voice.
3d. Pitch. The effect of poetry on the pitch of the voice, is usually, in consequence of the more vivid emotion by which it is characterized, to carry the voice to a higher or lower note than in prose, according to the nature of the emotion expressed, as grave and deep-toned, or inclining to a high strain of utterance.
Prosodial Pauses. The general office of 'time,' in
regulating the movement of the voice, has been already mentioned. Its peculiar effect on the reading of verse depends much on two pauses, one essential to all forms of metre, and the other chiefly to those which run to comparative length in single lines, as heroic and blank verse, and, sometimes, anapæstic measure. These pauses are termed final and cæsural. The former takes place at the end of every line where it would not destroy the natural connexion of sense; and the latter, at or near the middle of a line.
The final pauses in the following stanza, coincide, at the close of the first two lines, with the sense and the punctuation. But at the close of the third, the final pause must be omitted as inappropriate and unmeaning.
“On Linden, when the sun was low,
All bloodless lay the untrodden snow,
Of Iser rolling rapidly.” ! Note. The final pause very often coincides with
the rhetorical pause, which was mentioned and exem- plified in the lesson on pauses. If this coincidence does not exist, and no grammatical stop occurs, no pause should be observed in the reading.
The cesural pause, in heroic and blank yerse, occurs commonly at the end of the fourth syllable, but changes its place occasionally, to produce a more agreeable and varied harmony. "Not half so swift* | the trembling doves can fly, When the fierce eagle cleaves the liquid sky; Not half so swiftly | the fierce eagle moves, When through the clouds he drives the trembling
doves.” “Now came still evening on, and twilight gray
Hadt | in her sober livery | all things clad;
* This mark denotes the cæsural pause.
† Some verses are divided by a double cæsural pause of shorter duration than that of the common cæsura.
Silence accompanied ; | for beast and bird,
The cæsural pause in anapæstic verse, falls appropriately near the middle of the line. But harmony and variety require not unfrequently a deviation from this rule. "Tis night; I and the landscape is lovely no more:
I mourn; | but, ye woodlands, I mourn not for you; For morn is approaching, | your charms to restore, Perfum'd with fresh fragrance and glittering
with dew.” "My banks , they are furnished with bees,
Whose murmur | invites me to sleep; My grottoes are shaded with trees,
And my hills | are white over with sheep.”' Note 1. The cæsural pause is to be observed only when it coincides with the rhetorical pause; and the latter may sometimes produce a double pause or demic@sura; thus, “The look | that spoke gladness and welcome | was
gone, The blaze | that shone bright in the hall / was no
more; A stranger was there, with a bosom of stone:
And cold was his look, | as I enter'd the door.” 2d. This pause is comparatively slight, and is sometimes entirely omitted in the shorter forms of verse.
* This pause is sometimes termed demi-cæsural, as it has but half the length of that which occurs at the cæsura.
+ See note on preceding page.
"Remote from cities liv'd a swain
Metre. Metre is the measure, or “time of rhythm, arising from the arrangement of successive sounds, in 'numbers' or groups, corresponding to or contrasted with each other in length or shortness, force or weakness,denominated metrical feet, and constituting prosodial time.'
These correspondences and contrasts in sound, produce to the ear a degree of that effect which belongs, in its full expression, to the beat' in music. The value of metre may be made to appear in a very striking light, by reading a passage of poetry, without regard to its rhythm, and in the manner of prose. We may take for example the opening of Paradise Lost, and arrange it to the eye as prose, in the following manner: “Of man's first disobedience; and the fruit of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste brought death into the world, and all our wo, with loss of Eden, till one greater man restore us, and regain the blissful seat, sing, heavenly muse." This passage, if read with a due attention to rhythm, will produce a very different effect to the ear, and become at once invested with a sonorous harmony of utterance.
66 Of man's first disobedience; and the fruit
Sing, heavenly muse!” The groups or portions of sound into which rhythm divides itself, are, in the language of prosody, called feet : of these, the following are the principal that occur in English verse; the iambus, consisting of two