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syllables; the first either short, or unaccented, or both, and the second either long, or accented, or both, as “ădõre," "förgöt* :"—the trochee, which is exactly the iambus inverted, as “fătăl," "ērror:"—the pyrrhic, which consists of two short syllables, as the first two words in the phrase "in à recess: "—the spondee, which consists of two long syllables, as “lowbrow'd:"—the anapæst, consisting of three syllables, the first two short, and the third long, as “complaisant."
The prevalence of any one of these feet, gives rise to the classification of verse as iambic, trochaic, or anapæstic; each requiring an appropriate but chaste rhythm in the utterance. The spondee and pyrrhic occur only as occasional feet, thrown in for variety in particular verses; thus,
“Shē all night long her amorous descant sung; "'Twas from philosophy man learn'd to tame The soil."
Note. The trochee and the anapæst, though they usually form distinct species of verse, are occasionally introduced, like the pyrrhic and the spondee, for variety of rhythm; thus,
"Lo! from the echoing axe and thunděring flame Poison and plague, and yelling rage are fled."
Iambic verse has the following among other subdivisions: heroic—or the rhyming couplet, (two lines,) of five iambic feet, or ten syllables in each line. This kind of verse occurs in heroic poems,-(the narrative of heroic actions or enterprises ;) but it is also used in lofty or grave subjects, generally. A stanza is sometimes formed of four heroic couplets, or eight lines rhyming in successive or alternate pairs, and an Alexandrine
verse, - -a line of six iambic feet, or twelve syllables. See examples of this stanza in the 'Suggestions' for practice on this lesson,-under the heads of moderate' and 'lively' utterance. Blank verse differs from heroic metre in consisting
* These marks are used to distinguish long and short syllables, and they are transferred arbitrarily to those which are unaccented or accented.
of single lines, and being entirely destitute of rhyme hence its epithet of blank.' This species of verse is restricted to the highest order of subjects. Examples of heroic and blank verse were given in the application of the cæsural pause.
Verses, or lines, are arranged in stanzas, or successive portions, according to rhyme,—the correspondence of the sound of syllables to each other; and hence the further subdivision of iambic verse, as classed in couplets or distichs. Thus, are formed heroic verse, and the couplet of four iambuses, or eight syllables in each line, (called therefore octosyllabic,) of which the following is an example:
"The way was long, the wind was cold,
Was carried by an orphan boy.' A very common form of iambic verse, is the quatrain or stanza of four lines, in which the rhyme occurs on alternate lines, according to their correspondence in the number of their syllables; the first and third lines containing eight syllables, or four iambic feet; and the second and fourth, six syllables, or three feet; as in the following example:
The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but him had fled;
Shone round him, o'er the dead;
As born to rule the storm,
A proud though childlike form.” A less common form of the iambic stanza is that in which no verse contains more than three iambic feet or their equivalents. This species of stanza belongs to pieces of great force and animation.
"It was the wild midnight:
A storm was on the sky;
The lightning gave its light,
And the thunder echoed by:-
The ocean lash'd the shore;
To make their bed in gore.” Trochaic verse occurs more rarely in separate compositions, being usually interspersed with iambic measure, for variety of rhythm. It is exemplified in Milton's L'Allegro.
“Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
Shallow brooks and rivers wide."* Anapæstic measure is found chiefly in the following forms the longer, containing four feet; and the shorter, containing three.
Of the former, the following stanzas are examples : + The evening was glorious; and light through the
trees, Play the sunshine and rain-drops, the birds and the
breeze; *The landscape, outstretching in loveliness, lay On the lap of the year, in the beauty of May. “For the Queen of the Spring, as she pass'd down
the vale, Left her robe on the trees, and her breath on the
gale; And the smile of her promise gave joy to the hours, And flush in her footsteps sprang herbage and
flowers." The shorter anapæstic stanza is exemplified in the following extract.
* Some writers prefer to class this and similar measures under the general head of iambic verse, deficient in one syllable at the beginning of each line. The trochaic scanning, however, is better adapted to reading or recitation.
# The first foot of such verses, is sometimes an jambus.
*"Ye winds that have made me your sport,
*Convey to this desolate shore
Of a land I shall visit no more!
A wish or a thought after me?
Though a friend I am never to see.
Compar'd with the speed of its flight,
And the swift-wing'd arrows of light.
In a moment I seem to be there;
Soon hurries me back to despair.” The influence of the various kinds of verse on the voice, may be considered as affecting generally the rate, or movement, and the time, of utterance. Thus, blank verse is remarkably slow and stately in the character of its tone; and the timing of the pauses requires attention chiefly to length. Heroic verse is commonly in the same prevailing strain, but not to such an extent as the preceding. The octo-syllabic metre is generally more quick and lively in its movement, and the pauses are comparatively brief. But, under the influence of slow time, it gives intensity to grief, and tenderness to the pathetic tone. The quatrain or four-line stanza in the common form, (called sometimes common metre,) has a comparatively musical arrangement of the lines, and a peculiar character in its cadence,-- which admits of its expressing the extremes of emotion whether grave or gay. It prevails, accordingly, in hymns and in ballads alike,-
whether the latter are pathetic or humorous. It derives the former character from the observance of slow rate, and the latter from quick rate.
Trochaic verse has a peculiar energy, from the abruptness of its character ;-the foot commencing either with a long or an accented syllable. In gay pieces, and with quick time in utterance, it produces a
* See note on preceding page.
dancing strain of voice, peculiarly adapted to the expression of joy; while in grave and vehement strains, with slow time, it produces the utmost force and severity of tone. These two extremes are strikingly exemplified in Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso.
Anapæstic metre has a peculiar fullness and sweetness of melody. Slow, time accordingly renders it deeply pathetic, and quick time renders it the most graceful expression of joy. This, as well as iambic and trochaic verse, becomes well fitted to express the mood of calmness and tranquillity, when the rate is rendered moderate. *
ERRORS. The chief faults which usually occur in the reading of poetry, are the following:
1st. Too rapid utterance, by which the effect of verse is lost to the ear; the space of time allowed for the formation of each sound not being sufficient to admit of its completion, and the succession of all so rapid that they tend to obliterate each other, or at least fail of acquiring a just proportion. The general hurry of voice abridges the pauses, and sacrifices every characteristic beauty of the metre.
2d. A plain and dry articulation, which, though sufficiently distinct for meaning, withholds the appropriate tone of poetry, and turns every line into prose, by neglecting to accommodate the voice to emotion and to rhythm.
3d. There is also the opposite fault of a mouthing and chanting tone, producing the effect of bombast, and of mock solemnity. This error consists in carrying prolongation and swell to excess, and causes the style of reading or reciting to fall consequently into the manner of extravagance and caricature, rather than that of strong emotion.
Most of these explanations may be applied by repeating the examples quoted in the preceding part of this lesson.