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in the second as compared with the first, there is little inflection, but marked pitch intervals between phrases. Indeed, the lines may be spoken almost as a chant with little other rise or fall of the voice than the intervals of pitch that occur between such different images as “Ship after ship,” “ The whole night long,” and “their high-built galleons came.
After the fight had thus without intermission continued while the day lasted and some hours of the night, many of our men were slain and hurt, and one of the great galleons of the Armada and the Admiral of the Hulks both sunk, and on many other of the Spanish ships great slaughter was made. The Spanish ships which attempted to board the Revenge, as they were wounded and beaten off, so always others came in their places, she having never less than two mighty galleons by her sides and aboard her. So that ere the morning from three of the clock the day before, there had fifteen several Armadas assailed her, and all so ill approved their entertainment as they were by the break of day far more willing to harken to a composition than hastily to make any more assaults or entries.
Sir Walter Raleigh: The Last Fight of the Revenge.
And the sun went down, and the stars came out far over the sum
mer sea, But never a moment ceased the fight of the one and the fifty
three. Ship after ship, the whole night long, their high-built galleons
came, Ship after ship, the whole night long, with her battle-thunder
and flame; Ship after ship, the whole night long, drew back with her dead
and her shame. For some were sunk and many were shatter'd, and so could fight
us no more
God of battles, was ever a battle like this in the world before ?
Tennyson : The Ballad of the Revenge.
Read the following lyric with little inflection but with marked intervals of pitch between phrases and lines, and note how the charm of the song and the beauty of the imagery is revealed through the melody of pitch-intervals rather than through inflection.
Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Wind of the western sea!
Blow him again to me;
Tennyson : The Princess.
3. Inflection. Of the various expressive changes of the voice, inflection is perhaps the most intellectual and logical, yet, under the stress of the speaker's mood, inflections are modified and become expressive of shades of feeling as well as of thought. The difference in the inflectional range of the voice between the assertion of fact and the expression of imagination and emotion may be observed if you speak directly and emphatically, as in discussion with a friend, the sentences: “Don't tell me that life does n't mean anything. I know it does. Life is more than a dream. It is real and earnest and has a meaning for time and eternity.” Now read the stanzas from Longfellow's Psalm of Life, preserving their poetic elevation and beauty of thought and the strength of their faith and hope.
1 In the prose statement the sense is narrowed to the mere facts asserted; in the poem the words arouse noble sentiment and connote spiritual truth, and this hint of larger meaning is communicated in speech, not through the didactic, assertive inflection of ordinary talk, but through inflections of greater duration and those other modulations of the voice, like change of pitch, sustained vowels, and strong rhythm, which contribute to the thought something of the emotional power of music. In song there is little inflection, but much change of pitch. The beauty and emotional appeal of musical expression would be lost if tones were changed by inflection during their utterance. The same is true of emotional speech. As utterance is prompted by strong feeling, inflections give place to sustained tones on various pitches. Such inflections as are needed for bringing out the thought are rarely short or quick, except in light and playful lyrics.
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest !
And the grave is not its goal;
Was not spoken of the soul.
a. In earnest utterance prompted by intense and con trolled feeling, inflections are firm, long, strong, and sustained, and are less subject to the abrupt and light leaps and glides of the voice heard in speech of a casual, less digni. fied or formal character.
Macbeth. If it were done when 't is done, then 't were wel It were done quickly: if the assassination Could trammel up the consequence, and catch With his surcease success; that but this blow Might be the be-all and the end-all here, But here, upon this bank and shoal of time, We'd jump the life to come. But in these cases We still have judgment here; that we but teach Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return To plague the inventor. This even-handed justice Commends the ingredients of our poison'd chalice To our own lips.
Macbeth, 1, vii.
6. In the reading of noble and delicate sentiment and of thought strong in its spiritual appeal, such as is found in much of our lyric and epic poetry, inflections, which characterize our off-hand, casual talk, yield to the musical rise and fall of the voice in intervals of pitch between lines and phrases, as in song. Such inflections as occur differ greatly in direction, range, and duration from those of ordinary, cursory conversation. The following lines, taken from Sill's little poem entitled Life, if read as indicated in the inflections suggested, with indifference to the spiritual significance of the poem, are degraded to the level of superficial, whining, impotent talk.
Now read the poem with appreciation of the dignity and nobility of its thought. It will be found that much of the trivial, upward inflection will disappear, and the solemn spirit of the verse will be expressed by intervals of pitch between words, and by falling inflections of completeness of thought and of greater strength, definiteness, and duration,