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by the reader's understanding and interpretation of the thought. Since there is no set arrangement of strong and light syllables, as in poetry, prose rhythm is adaptable to the speaker's thinking. A change in his understanding of the meaning of a passage causes a corresponding change in the rhythmic accents of his utterance, these being adjusted in conformity with the sense emphasis ; and though prose is not marked by that regularity of rhythmical beat which characterizes poetry, the excellent rendering of it gives the sense of rhythmical order and progress consistent with purposeful thinking. As an illustration of this, read aloud the following examples, giving emphasis only to the words underlined, allowing the voice to pass lightly over intervening ones, and observe the various shades of meaning brought out by the different readings and rhythms.

Will you go with me to-morrow ?
Will you go with me to-morrow?

Will you go with me to-morrow? Which of the following readings best expresses the thought of the sentence? Which has the more regular and decided rhythm ?

I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.

I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.

I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.

Shakespeare: Merchant of Venice, I, ii.

32. The rhythm of poetry Since poetry is metrical in form, with accented and unaccented syllables alternating with more or less regularity, the rhythmical stresses may not be placed wholly at the option of the reader, as in prose, but they must conform to the metrical plan of the poem. Observance of metrical form alone will not, of course, insure good reading. A poem may be spoken with strictest attention to its structure and metre and yet be but “a dull, mechanic exercise.” Emotional response to thought is vital in the reading of poetry. The more strong and true this response, the niore readily will the utterance adapt itself to the metre and rhythm of the verse, for these are means by which the feeling of the poem is communicated. This being true, careful attention to the metrical form in reading aloud helps to a fuller and truer appreciation of the spirit of the poem. Metre and rhythm are addressed to the ear. They must be heard, if the emotion from which they spring is to be felt and communicated to others. The reading of verse with little regard for its metre, line-length, or rhythmic movement, betokens lack of understanding and appreciation and a feeble response to its spirit. Sympathetic adjustment to the thought of a poem, then, is an aid to better metrical rendering, and, on the other hand, accurate rendering is essential to the appreciation and enjoyment of it.

1. Logical emphasis and metrical accent. a. In normal verse forms, logical emphasis, that is, emphasis required by the sense of the line, does not clash with the regular metri. cal accent.1

The western waves of ébbing day
Rolled o'er the glen their level way;
Each purple peak, each flinty spire,

,
Was bathed in floods of living fire.

Scott: The Lady of the Lake, Canto I. 1 The temptation in reading verse, wherein correspondence of metrical and sense accent is pretty consistently carried out, is to sacrifice the sense of the line to the metrical beat. This results in “sing-song " reading. The student should remember that each line adds some new idea or image, and that when we are thinking well we do not express all thoughts in the same way, - on the same pitch, or with the same melody of utterance.

The charge of the gallant, three hundred,

The Heavy Brigade!
Down the hill, down the hill, thousands of Russians,
Thousands of horsemen, drew to the valley and stay'd.

Tennyson: The Charge of the Heavy Brigade.

b. When the logical emphasis falls upon a word not metrically accented, both emphasis and accent should be placed as thought and metre demand, the important words being given prominence without undue violence to the regular metrical beat. In this connection it should again be observed that sense emphasis may be effected, not alone by vocal force, but by change of pitch, pause, or the lengthening of the emphatic vowel. Read aloud the lines quoted below, first without regard to the sense emphasis and with attention only to the metrical accent; then read them, giving both metrical accent and logical emphasis as indicated. How are the important words emphasized ? By added force, higher pitch, or lengthened vowel quantity ?

On the pallet before her was stretched the form of an old man.

Longfellow: Evangeline.

The lost days of my life untíí to-day.

Rossetti: Lost Days (Sonnet).

The quality of mercy is not strained ;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath : it is twice bless'd.

Shakespeare: Merchant of Venice.

I pass, like night, from land to land;
I have strange power of speech;
The moment that his face I

see,

I know the man that must hear me:

To him

my

tale I teach.

Coleridge: The Ancient Mariner.
I could be well mou'd if I were as you ;

mov'd
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me.

Shakespeare: Julius Cæsar, III, 1. c. It occasionally happens that the metrical beat does not fall upon a syllable normally accented in prose, and, to preserve the metre, it becomes necessary to shift the accent to an otherwise unaccented syllable. Thus, in the speech of Shylock (Merchant of Venice, IV,

i), I have a daughter ; Would any of the stock of Barrabas

Had been her husband rather than a Christian, the usual prose pronunciation, “ Barrabas,” is sacrificed to metrical need, and the stress is made to fall upon the first and last syllables instead of on the second.

Sometimes, when the prose accent and the metrical beat do not coincide, the stress is distributed between the two conflicting syllables and a compromise is thus brought about which satisfies, in a measure, both the metrical and the etymological requirements. This sentence from Hamlet, I, iv, affords a good illustration.

What
may
this

mean,
That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel
Revisit’st thus the glimpses of the moon,
Making night hideous.

Here the usual pronunciation, “ compléte,” is modified by a division of the stress between the two syllables of the word, the first syllable receiving the greater stress, the last somewbat less than in

prose

utterance.1 d. Not only should the metre of verse be observed because poetic form demands it, but it will be found that the problem of rendering the meaning of difficult lines will often be simplified by giving due regard to metrical accent. A good example of this is found in the opening lines of Shakespeare's Hamlet :

Francisco at his post. Enter to him Bernardo
Bernardo. Who's there?
Francisco. Nay, answer me; stand and unfold yourself.
Bernardo. Long live the king!
Francisco. Bernardo?
Bernardo. He.

Many students, reading Francisco's first speech, will give emphasis to answer,” and little or none to “me.” But analysis of the situation will make it apparent that such reading fails to give the significance that the line is intended to convey. Bernardo, suddenly coming upon Francisco, who is standing guard before the king's castle at midnight, exclaims: “Who's there?” But it is not for him to challenge the guard. Why does he do it? The truth is that Bernardo knows of the appearance of the ghost of the dead king on two previous occasions and on this very platform where the men now face each other, and he half expects to encounter the apparition again. His hasty exclamation upon seeing the guard, and Francisco's prompt

1 It should be explained here that, in conforming to the metrical stress required by the lines quoted from Shakespeare above, we are pronouncing the words as they were commonly spoken by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The point is that, though words may undergo change in accent and pronunciation, we are not justified in ignoring metrical form.

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