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Title: Historical Manual of English Prosody
Author: Saintsbury, George
Language: English
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       *       *       *       *       *


      PRESENT DAY.# 3 vols. 8vo.

      Vol. I. FROM THE ORIGINS TO SPENSER. 12s. 6d. net.
      Vol. II. FROM SHAKESPEARE TO CRABBE. 18s. net.
      Vol. III. FROM BLAKE TO SWINBURNE. 18s. net.




      in Five Parts. Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d. each.

  #LIFE OF DRYDEN.# Library Edition. Crown 8vo. 3s. net. Pocket
      Edition. Fcap. 8vo. 2s. net.


                           HISTORICAL MANUAL
                            ENGLISH PROSODY


                      MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

                  LONDON · BOMBAY · CALCUTTA · MADRAS

                         THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

                      NEW YORK · BOSTON · CHICAGO
                        DALLAS · SAN FRANCISCO

                   THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.







   _First Edition_ 1910
  _Reprinted_ 1914, 1919


The reception of the first two volumes of a larger work (since
completed) on English Prosody suggested, to the author and to the
publishers, that there might be room for a more compressed dealing with
the subject, possessing more introductory character, and attempting
the functions of a manual as well as those of a history. It did
not, however, seem that the matter could be satisfactorily treated
in extremely brief form, as a primer or elementary school-book. The
subject is one not very well suited for elementary instruction; and in
endeavouring to shape it for that use there is a particular danger of
too positive and peremptory statement in reference to matters of the
most contentious kind. Catechetical instruction has to be categorical;
if you set hypotheses, or alternative systems, before young scholars,
they are apt either to distrust the whole thing or to become hopelessly
muddled. And the opposite danger--of unhesitating adoption of positive
statements on doubtful points--must have been found to be only too
real by any one who has had to do with education. Schoolboys cannot
be too early, or too plentifully, or too variously supplied with good
_examples_ of verse; but they should be thoroughly familiar with the
practice before they come to the principles.

To the Senior Forms of the higher Secondary Schools, on the other hand,
and to students in those Universities which admit English literature as
a subject, this function of it is quite suitable and well adapted, and
it is for their use that this volume is planned (as well as for that of
the general reader who may hardly feel inclined to tackle three large
octavos). An effort will be made to include everything that is vital
to a clear understanding of the subject; while opportunity will, it is
hoped, be found for insertion of some information, both of a historical
and of a practical kind, which did not seem so germane to the larger
_History_. It has been a main object with me in preparing this book,
while reducing prosodic theory to the necessary minimum, but keeping
that, to "load every rift" with prosodic fact; and I could almost
recommend the student to devote himself to the Contents and the Index,
illustrated by the Glossary, all of which have been made exceptionally
full, before attacking the text.

The work, like the larger one of which it is not so much an abstract
as a parallel with a different purpose, cannot hope to content those
who think that prosody should be, like mathematics or music, a science,
immutable, peremptory, abstract in the other sense. It will not content
those who think--in pursuance or independently of such an opinion--that
it should discard appreciation of the actual poetry, on which, from
my point of view, it is solely based. It will, from another point,
leave dissatisfied those who decline the attempt to reduce this poetry
to some general but elastic laws, and who concentrate themselves on
the immediate musical or rhetorical values (as they seem to them) of
individual poems, or passages, or even (as is not uncommon) lines. Nor
will it provide, what some seem to desire, a tabular analysis of every
verse-form in the language, for reasons explained in the proper place
(_v. inf._ p. 336 _note_). But, from past experience, it seems that it
may find some public ready for it; and it is perhaps not wholly fatuous
to hope that it may help to create a larger.[1]

                                                       GEORGE SAINTSBURY.



[1] _Note to Second Edition. Christmas 1913._--The opportunity of this
second edition[2] has been taken to read the text carefully, and to
correct a certain number of errors of pen and press, connected more
especially with division of feet and quantification of syllables. How
difficult it is to avoid errors here, nobody who has not tried the
matter on an extensive scale can well conceive. Few more substantial
alterations have been found necessary; but I may mention here an
addition to the evidence of distinct, if clumsy, anapæstic metre in
the mid.-sixteenth century, which I had not noticed when writing
this book, or my larger one. It is a translation of the 149th Psalm,
contributed to the "Old Version" (1561-2) by John Pulleyne, Student of
Christchurch, Archdeacon of Colchester, and Prebendary of St. Paul's.
It may be found in the Parker Society's _Select Poems_, and begins:

        Sing unto the Lord with hearty accord
            A new joyful song;
        His praises resound, in every ground
            His saints all among.

[2] And of a third.--BATH, _Sept._ 1919.


    BOOK I




    INTRODUCTORY                                                          3



    Classical prosody uniform in theory--English not so--"Accent"
    and "stress"--English prosody as adjusted to them--Its
    difficulties--and insufficiencies--Examples of its application--Its
    various sects and supporters                                          6



    History of the syllabic theory--Its results--_Note:_ Cautions        14



    General if not always consistent use of the term "foot"--Particular
    objections to its systematic use--"Quantity" in English--The
    "common" syllable--Intermediate rules of arrangement--Some
    interim rules of feet (expanded in note)--The different systems
    applied to a single verse of Tennyson's--and their application
    examined--Application further to his "Hollyhock" song--Such
    application possible always and everywhere                           19



    § A. Feet.--Feet composed of long and short syllables--Not all
    combinations actual--Differences from "classical" feet--The
    three usual kinds: iamb, trochee, anapæst--The spondee--The
    dactyl--The pyrrhic--The tribrach--Others. § B. Constitution of
    Feet.--Quality or "quantity" in feet--Not necessarily "time"--nor
    vowel "quantity"--Accumulated consonants--or rhetorical stress--or
    place in verse will quantify--Commonness of monosyllables. §
    C. Equivalence and Substitution.--Substitution of equivalent
    feet--Its two laws--Confusion of base must be avoided--(Of which
    the ear must judge)--Certain substitutions are not eligible. § D.
    Pause.--Variation of pause --Practically at discretion--Blank verse
    specially dependent on pause. § E. Line-Combination.--Simple or
    complex--Rhymes necessary to couplet--Few instances of successful
    unrhymed stanza--Unevenness of line in length--Stanzas to be
    judged by the ear--Origin of commonest line-combinations. § F.
    Rhyme.--Rhyme natural in English--It must be "full" --and not
    identical--General rule as to it--Alliteration--Single, etc.,
    rhyme--Fullness of sound--Internal rhyme permissible--but sometimes
    dangerous. § G. Miscellaneous--Vowel-music--"Fingering"--Confusion
    of rhythms intolerable                                               30



    I. Old English Period: Scansion only dimly visible--II. Late Old
    English with _nisus_ towards Metre: "Grave" Poem--III. Transition
    Period: Metre struggling to assert itself in a new way--IV. Early
    Middle English Period: Attempt at merely Syllabic Uniformity
    with Unbroken Iambic Run and no Rhyme--V. Early Middle English
    Period: Conflict or Indecision between Accentual Rhythm and
    Metrical Scheme--VI. Early Middle English Period: The Appearance
    and Development of the "Fourteener"--VII. Early Middle English
    Period: The Plain and Equivalenced Octosyllable--VIII. Early Middle
    English Period: The Romance-Six or _Rime Couée_--IX. Early Middle
    English Period: Miscellaneous Stanzas--X. Early Middle English
    Period: Appearance of the Decasyllable--XI. Later Middle English
    Period: The Alliterative Revival (Pure)--XII. Later Middle English
    Period: The Alliterative Revival (Mixed)--XIII. Later Middle
    English Period: Potentially Metrical Lines in Langland (_see_ Book
    II.)--XIV. Later Middle English Period: Scansions from Chaucer--XV.
    Later Middle English Period: Variations from Strict Iambic Norm in
    Gower--XVI. Transition Period: Examples of Break-down in Literary
    Verse--XVII. Transition Period: Examples of True Prosody in Ballad,
    Carols, etc.--XVIII. Transition Period: Examples of Skeltonic and
    other Doggerel--XIX. Transition Period: Examples from the Scottish
    Poets--XX. Early Elizabethan Period: Examples of Reformed Metre
    from Wyatt, Surrey, and other Poets before Spenser--XXI. Spenser
    at Different Periods--XXII. Examples of the Development of Blank
    Verse--XXIII. Examples of Elizabethan Lyric--XXIV. Early Continuous
    Anapæsts--XXV. The Enjambed Heroic Couplet (1580-1660)--XXVI.
    The Stopped Heroic Couplet (1580-1660)--XXVII. Various Forms
    of Octosyllable-Heptasyllable (late Sixteenth and Seventeenth
    Century)--XXVIII. "Common," "Long," and "In Memoriam" Measure
    (Seventeenth Century)--XXIX. Improved Anapæstic Measures (Dryden,
    Anon., Prior)--XXX. "Pindarics" (Seventeenth Century)--XXXI. The
    Heroic Couplet from Dryden to Crabbe--XXXII. Eighteenth-Century
    Blank Verse--XXXIII. The Regularised Pindaric Ode--XXXIV. Lighter
    Eighteenth-Century Lyric--XXXV. The Revival of Equivalence
    (Chatterton and Blake)--XXXVI. Rhymeless Attempts (Collins to
    Shelley)--XXXVII. The Revived Ballad (Percy to Coleridge)--XXXVIII.
    Specimens of _Christabel_; Note on the Application of the
    _Christabel_ System to Nineteenth-Century Lyric generally--XXXIX.
    Nineteenth-Century Couplet (Leigh Hunt to Mr. Swinburne)--XL.
    Nineteenth-Century Blank Verse (Wordsworth to Mr. Swinburne)--XLI.
    The Non-Equivalenced Octosyllable of Keats and Morris--XLII. The
    Continuous Alexandrine (Drayton and Browning)--XLIII. _The Dying
    Swan_ of Tennyson scanned entirely through to show the Application
    of the System--XLIV. The Stages of the Metre of "Dolores" and the
    Dedication of "Poems and Ballads"--XLV. Long Metres of Tennyson,
    Browning, Morris, and Swinburne--XLVI. The Later Sonnet--XLVII.
    The Various Attempts at "Hexameters" in English--XLVIII. Minor
    Imitations of Classical Metres--XLIX. Imitations of Artificial
    French Forms--L. Later Rhymelessness--LI. Some "Unusual" Metres and
    Disputed Scansions                                                   37





    Relations of "Old" to "Middle" and "New" English--generally--and
    in prosody--Anglo-Saxon prosody itself--Prosody of the Transition
    to Middle English--Contrast in Layamon--Examinations of it:
    Insufficient--Sufficient--Other documents The _Ormulum_--The
    _Moral Ode_ and the _Orison of Our Lady_--The _Proverbs of
    Alfred_ and _Hendyng_--The _Bestiary_--Minor poems--_The Owl
    and the Nightingale_ and _Genesis and Exodus_--Summary of
    results to the mid-thirteenth century--The later thirteenth
    century and the fourteenth--Robert of Gloucester--The
    Romances--Lyrics--The alliterative revival--The later fourteenth
    century--Langland--Gower--Chaucer--His perfecting of M.E.
    verse--Details of his prosody                                       133



    Causes of decay in Southern English prosody--Lydgate, Occleve,
    etc.--The Scottish poets--Ballad, etc.--Dissatisfaction and
    reform--Wyatt and Surrey--Their followers--Spenser--The _Shepherd's
    Calendar_--The _Faerie Queene_                                      161



    Blank verse--Before Shakespeare--In him--and after him in
    drama--Its degeneration--Milton's reform of it--_Comus_--_Paradise
    Lost_--Analysis of its versification, with application of different
    systems--Stanza, etc., in Shakespeare--in Milton--and others--The
    "heroic" couplet--Enjambed--and stopped--Lyric                      173



    Recapitulation--Dryden's couplet--and Pope's--Their
    predominance--Eighteenth-century octosyllable and anapæst--Blank
    verse--and lyric--Merit of eighteenth-century "regularity"          190



    Gray and Collins--Chatterton, Burns, and Blake--Other
    influences of change--Wordsworth, Southey, and
    Scott--Coleridge--Moore--Byron--Shelley: his longer poems--His
    lyrics--Keats                                                       198



    From Keats to Tennyson--Tennyson himself--Special example of his
    manipulation of the quatrain--Browning--Mrs. Browning--Matthew
    Arnold--Later poets: The Rossettis--W. Morris--Mr. Swinburne--Others



    I. Old English Period--II. Before or very soon after 1200: Earliest
    Middle English Period--III. Middle and Later Thirteenth Century:
    Second Early Middle English Period--IV. Earlier Fourteenth Century:
    Central Period of Middle English--V. Later Fourteenth Century:
    Crowning Period of Middle English--VI. Fifteenth and Early
    Sixteenth Centuries: The Decadence of Middle English Prosody--VII.
    Mid-Sixteenth Century: The Recovery of Rhythm--VIII. Late Sixteenth
    Century: The Perfecting of Metre and of Poetical Diction--IX.
    Early Seventeenth Century: The further Development of Lyric,
    Stanza, and Blank Verse; Insurgence and Division of the Couplet--X.
    Mid-Seventeenth Century: Milton--XI. The Later Seventeenth Century:
    Dryden--XII. The Eighteenth Century--XIII. The Early Nineteenth
    Century and the Romantic Revival--XIV. The Later Nineteenth Century




    BEFORE 1700

    Dearth of early prosodic studies--Gascoigne--His remark on feet--
    Spenser and Harvey--Stanyhurst--Webbe--King James VI.-- Pattenham
    (?)--Campion and Daniel--Ben Jonson, Drayton, Beaumont--Joshua
    Poole and "J. D."--Milton--Dryden-- Woodford--Comparative
    barrenness of the whole                                             233



    Bysshe's _Art of Poetry_--Its importance--Minor prosodists of
    the mid-eighteenth century--Dr. Johnson--Shenstone--Sheridan--
    John Mason--Mitford--Joshua Steele--Historical and Romantic
    prosody--Gray--Taylor and Sayers--Southey: his importance
    --Wordsworth--Coleridge--_Christabel_, its theory and its
    practice--Prosodists from 1800 to 1850--Guest                       242



    Discussions on the _Evangeline_ hexameter--Mid-century prosodists
    --Those about 1870--and since--Summary                              256





    --Amphibrach--Amphimacer--Note on Musical and Rhetorical
    Arrangements of Verse--Anacrusis--Anapæst--Anti-Bacchic
    or Anti-Bacchius--Antispast--Antistrophe--Appoggiatura--
    Arsis and its opposite, Thesis--Assonance--Atonic--Bacchic
    or Bacchius--Ballad (rarely Ball_et_)--Ballade--Ballad
    Metre or Common Measure--Bar and Beat--Blank Verse--Bob
    and Wheel--Burden--Burns Metre--Cadence--Cæsura--Carol--
    --Common Measure ("C.M.")--Consonance--Couplet--
    --Epitrite--Epode--Equivalence--Eye-Rhyme--Feminine Rhyme
    (Feminine Ending)--"Fingering"--Foot; Table of Feet
    --Fourteener--Galliambic--Gemell or Geminel--Head-Rhyme
    Hiatus--Iambic--Inverted Stress--Ionic; Note on Ionic
    _a minore_ as applicable to the Epilogue of Browning's
    _Asolando_--Leonine Verse--Line--Long and Short--Long Measure
    ("L.M.")-- Lydgatian Line--Masculine Rhyme--Metre--Molossus--
    or Quatrain--Quintet--Redundance--Refrain--Rhyme
    --Rhyme-Royal--Rhythm--Riding Rhyme--_Rime Couée_ or
    Tailed Rhyme--Romance-Six--Rondeau, Rondel--Sapphic--
    Section--Septenar--Septet--Sestet, also Sixain--Sestine,
    Sestina--Short Measure ("S.M.")--Single-moulded--Skeltonic
    --Slur--Sonnet--Spenserian--Spondee--Stanza or
    Syncope--Synizesis--Syzygy--Tailed Sonnet--Tercet--Terza
    Triple--Triplet--Trochee--Truncation--Tumbling Verse--Turn of
    Words--Verse--Verse Paragraph--Vowel-Music-- Weak Ending--Wrenched
    Accent                                                              265



    #Arnold#, Matthew (1822-1888)--Barham, Richard H.
    ("Thomas Ingoldsby") (1788-1845)--Beaumont, Sir John
    (1583-1623)--Blake, William (1757-1827)--Bowles, William Lisle
    (1762-1850)--Browne, William (1591-1643)--Browning, Elizabeth
    Barrett (1806-1861)--Browning, Robert (1812-1889)--Burns, Robert
    (1759-1796)--Byron, George Gordon, Lord (1788-1824)--Campbell,
    Thomas (1777-1844)--Campion, Thomas (?-1619)--Canning, George
    (1770-1827)--Chamberlayne, William (1619-1689)--Chatterton,
    Thomas (1752-1770)--Chaucer, Geoffrey (1340?-1400)--Cleveland,
    John (1613-1658)--Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1772-1834)--Collins,
    William (1721-1759)--Congreve, William (1670-1729)--Cowley,
    Abraham (1618-1667)--Cowper, William (1731-1800)--Donne,
    John (1573-1631)--Drayton, Michael (1563-1631)--Dryden, John
    (1630-1700)--Dixon, Richard Watson (1833-1900)--Dunbar, William
    (1450?-1513? or -1530?)--Dyer, John (1700?-1758?)--Fairfax,
    Edward (d. 1635)--Fitzgerald, Edward (1809-1883)--Fletcher,
    Giles (1588-1623), and Phineas (1582-1650)--Fletcher, John
    (1579-1625)--Frere, John Hookham (1769-1846)--Gascoigne, George
    (1525?-1577)--Glover, Richard (1712-1785)--Godric, Saint
    (?-1170)--Gower, John (1325?-1408)--Hampole, Richard Rolle
    of (1290?-1347)--Hawes, Stephen (d. 1523?)--Herrick, Robert
    (1591-1674)--Hunt, J. H. Leigh (1784--1859)---Jonson, Benjamin
    (1573?-1637)--Keats, John (1795-1821)--Kingsley, Charles
    (1819-1875)--Landor, Walter Savage (1775-1864)--Langland, William
    (fourteenth century)--Layamon (late twelfth and early thirteenth
    century)--Lewis, Matthew Gregory (1775-1818)--Locker (latterly
    Locker-Lampson), Frederick (1821-1895)--Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth
    (1807-1882)--Lydgate, John (1370-1450?)--Macaulay, Thomas
    Babington (1800-1859)--Maginn, William (1793-1842)--Marlowe,
    Christopher (1664-1693)--Milton, John (1608-1674)--Moore, Thomas
    (1779-1852)--Morris, William (1834-1896)--Orm--O'Shaughnessy,
    Arthur W. E. (1844-1881)--Peele, George (1558?-1597?)--Percy,
    Thomas (1729-1811)--Poe, Edgar (1809-1849)--Pope, Alexander
    (1688-1744)--Praed, Winthrop Mackworth (1802-1839)--Prior,
    Matthew (1664-1721)--Robert of Gloucester (_fl. c._
    1280)--Rossetti, Christina Georgina (1830-1894) and Dante
    Gabriel (1828-1882)--Sackville, Thomas (1536-1608)--Sandys,
    George (1578-1644)--Sayers, Frank (1763-1817)--Scott, Sir Walter
    (1771-1832)--Shakespeare, William (1564-1616)--Shelley, Percy
    Bysshe (1792-1822)--Shenstone, William (1714-1763)--Sidney, Sir
    Philip (1554-1586)--Southey, Robert (1774-1843)--Spenser, Edmund
    (1552?-1599)--Surrey, Earl of (1517-1547)--Swinburne, Algernon
    Charles (1837-1909)--Tennyson, Alfred (1809-1892)--Thomson,
    James (1700-1748)--Tusser, Thomas (1524?-1580)--Waller, Edmund
    (1606-1687)--Watts, Isaac (1674-1741)--Whitman, Walt[er]
    (1819-1892)--Wordsworth, William (1770-1850)--Wyatt, Sir Thomas
    (1503?-1542)                                                        298



    A. Lines.--I. Alliterative--II. "Short" Lines--III.
    Octosyllable--IV. Decasyllabic--V. Alexandrine--VI.
    Fourteener--VII. Doggerel--VIII. "Long" Lines. B. Stanzas, etc.--I.
    Ballad Verse--II. Romance-Six or _Rime Couée_--III. Octosyllabic
    and Decasyllabic Couplet--IV. Quatrain--V. _In Memoriam_ Metre--VI.
    Rhyme-Royal--VII. Octave--VIII. Spenserian--IX. Burns Metre--X.
    Other Stanzas                                                       316



    Abbot, E. A.--Alden, R. M.--[Blake, J. W.]--Brewer, R. F.--Bridges,
    R. S.--Bysshe, Edward--Calverley, C. S.--Campion, Thomas--Cayley,
    C. B.--Coleridge, S. T.--Conway, Gilbert--Crowe, William--Daniel,
    Samuel--Dryden, John--Gascoigne, George--Goldsmith, Oliver--Guest,
    Edwin--Hodgson, Shadworth--Hood, T. (the younger)--Jenkin,
    Fleeming--Johnson, Samuel--Ker, W. P.--King James the First (Sixth
    of Scotland)--Lewis, C. M.--Liddell, Mark H.--Mason, John--Masson,
    David--Mayor, J. B.--Mitford, William--Omond, T.S.--Patmore,
    Coventry--Poe, E. A.--[Puttenham, George?]--Ruskin, John--Schipper,
    J.--Shenstone, William--Skeat, W. W.--Southey, Robert--Spedding,
    James--Spenser, Edmund--Steele, Joshua--Stone, W. J.--Symonds, J.
    A.--Thelwall, John--Verrier, M.--Wadham, E.--Webbe, William         337

    INDEX                                                               341





Prosody, or the study of the constitution of verse, was, not so long
ago, made familiar, in so far as it concerned Latin, to all persons
educated above the very lowest degree, by the presence of a tractate
on the subject as a conclusion to the Latin Grammar. The same persons
were further obliged to a more than theoretical knowledge of it, in
so far as it concerned that language, by the once universal, now (as
some think) most unwisely disused habit of composing Latin verses. The
great majority of English poets, from at least the sixteenth century,
if not earlier, until far into the nineteenth, had actually composed
such verses; and even more had learnt the rules of them, long before
attempting in English the work which has given them their fame. It
is sometimes held that this fact--which as a fact is undeniable--has
had an undue influence on the way in which English prosody has been
regarded; that it must have exercised an enormous influence on the way
in which English poetry has been produced may be denied, but hardly by
any one who really considers the fact itself, and who is capable of
drawing an inference.

It was, however, a very considerable time before any attempt was
regularly made to construct a similar scientific or artistic analysis
for English verse itself. Although efforts were made early to adjust
that verse to the complete forms of Latin--and of Greek, which is in
some respects prosodically nearer than Latin to English,-- although
such attempts have been constantly repeated and are being continued
now,--it has always been impossible for any intelligent person to
make them without finding curious, sometimes rather indefinite, but
extremely palpable differences and difficulties in the way. The
differences especially have sometimes been exaggerated and more often
mistaken, and it is partly owing to this fact that, up to the present
moment, no authoritative body of doctrine on the subject of English
prosody can be said to exist. It is believed by the present writer
that such a body of doctrine ought to be and can be framed--with the
constant proviso and warning that it will be doctrine subject, not
to the practically invariable uniformity of Science, but to the wide
variations of Art,--not to the absolute compulsion of the universal,
but to the comparative freedom of the individual and particular. The
inquiries and considerations upon which this doctrine is based will be
found, at full, in the larger work referred to in the Preface. In the
first Book, here, will be set forth the leading systems or principles
which have actually underlain, and do underlie, the conflicting views
and the discordant terminology of the subject, and this will be
followed by perhaps the most valuable part, if any be valuable, of the
whole--a series of selected passages, scanned and commented, from the
very beginning to the very end of English poetry. In the second, a
survey will be given of that actual history of the actual poetry which
ought to be, but has very seldom been, the basis of every discussion
on prosody. In the third a brief conspectus will be supplied of the
actual opinions which have been held on this subject by those who have
handled it in English. The fourth will give, in the first place, a
Glossary of Terms, which appears to be very much needed; in the second,
a list of poets who have specially influenced the course of prosody,
with reasoned remarks on their connection with it; in the third, a
selected list of important metres with their origins and affiliations;
any further matter which may seem necessary following, with a short
Bibliography to conclude. The object of the whole is not merely to
inculcate what seems to the author to be the best if not the only
adequate general system of English prosody, but to provide the student
with ample materials for forming his own judgment on this difficult,
long debated, often mistaken, but always, if duly handled, profitable
and delectable matter.



[Sidenote: Classical prosody uniform in theory.]

The great difficulty attending the study of English prosody, and
the cause of the fact that no book hitherto published can be said
to possess actual authority on the subject, arises from the other
fact that no general agreement exists, or ever has existed, on the
root-principles of the matter.[3] Classical writers on metre, of
whom we possess a tolerable stock, differed with each other on many
minor points of opinion, and from each other in the ways in which
they attacked the subject. But they were practically agreed that
"quantity" (_i.e._ the difference of technical "time" in pronunciation
of syllables) and "feet"--that is to say, certain regular mathematical
combinations of "long" and "short" quantity--constituted metre.
They had indeed accent--the later Greeks certainly and the Latins
probably--which was independent of, and perhaps sometimes opposed to,
quantity; but except in what we call the ante-classical times of Latin
and the post-classical times of both Latin and Greek, it had nothing
to do with metrical arrangement. They had different values of "long"
and "short"; but these did not affect metre, nor did the fact that in
both languages, but especially in Greek, a certain number of syllables
were allowed to be "common"--that is to say, capable of taking the
place of "long" or "short" alike. The central system of prosodic
arrangement (till the flooding of the later Empire with "barbarians"
of various nationality and as various intonation and modes of speech
broke it down altogether) remained the same. "Longs" and "shorts"
in the various combinations and permutations possible, up to three
syllables most commonly, up to four in fewer cases, and possibly up to
five in still fewer, made up _lines_ which experiment discovered to be
harmonious, and practice adopted as such. These lines were sometimes
used continuously (with or without certain internal variations of
feet, considered equivalent to each other), as in modern blank verse;
sometimes arranged in batches corresponding more or less to each other,
as in modern couplet or stanza poetry.

[Sidenote: English not so.]

On the other hand, though English prosodists may sometimes agree on
details, translated into their different terminologies, the systems
which lie at the root of these terminologies are almost irreconcilably
different. Even the reduction of these systems to three types may
excite protest, though it is believed that it can be made out without
begging the question in favour of any one.

[Sidenote: "Accent" and "stress."]

The discord begins as early as possible; for there are some who would
maintain that "accentual" systems and "stress" systems ought not to be
identified, or even associated. It is quite true that the words are
technically used[4] with less or more extensive and intensive meaning;
but definitions of each are almost always driven to adopt the other,
and in prosodic systems they are practically inseparable. The soundest
distinction perhaps is that "accent" refers to the habitual stress
laid on a syllable in ordinary pronunciation; "stress" to a syllable
specially accented for this or that reason, logical, rhetorical, or
prosodic purely.

[Sidenote: English prosody as adjusted to them.]

According to this system (or systems) English poetry consists of
syllables--accented or unaccented, stressed or unstressed--arranged
on principles which, whatever they may be in themselves, have no
analogy to those of classical feet. According to the more reckless
and thorough-going accentualists--the view is expressed, with
all but its utmost crudity, in Coleridge's celebrated Preface to
_Christabel_[5]--all you have got to do is to look to the accents.
Cruder advocates still have said that "accents take the place of
feet" (which is something like saying that points take the place
of swords), or that unaccented syllables are "left to take care of
themselves." It has also been contended that the number and the
position of accents or stresses give a complete and sufficient scheme
of the metre. And in some late forms of stress-prosody the regularity,
actual or comparative, which used to be contended for by accentualists
themselves, is entirely given up; lines in continuous and apparently
identical arrangement may have two, three, four, five, or even more
stresses. While yet others have gone farther still and deliberately
proposed reading of verse as a prose paragraph, the natural stresses
of which will give the rhythm at which the author aimed.[6] Some again
would deny the existence of any normal form of staple lines like the
heroic, distributing them in "bars" of "beats" which may vary almost

On the other hand, there are some accentualists who hardly differ,
in more than terminology, from the upholders of a foot-and-quantity
system. They think that there is no or little time-quantity in English;
that an English "long" syllable is really an accented one only, and
an English short syllable an unaccented. They would not neglect the
unaccented syllables; but would keep them in batches similar to, if
not actually homonymous with, feet. In fact the difference with them
becomes, if not one of mere terminology, one chiefly on the previous
question of the final constitution and causation of "long" and
"short" syllables. Of these, and of a larger number who consciously
or unconsciously approach nearer to, though they do not actually
enter, the "go-as-you-please" prosody of the extreme stressmen,
the majority of English prosodists has nearly always consisted.
Gascoigne, our first writer on the subject, belonged to them, calling
accent itself "emphasis," and applying the term "accent" only to the
written or typographical symbols of it; while he laid great stress on
its observance in verse. With those who adopt this system, and its
terminology, the substitution of a trochee for an iamb in the heroic
line is "inversion of accent," the raising or lowering of the usual
pronounced value of a syllable, "wrenching of accent," and so on. And
the principal argument which they advance in favour of their system
against the foot-and-quantity scheme is the very large prevalence of
"common" syllables in English--an undoubted fact; though the inference
does not seem to follow.

[Sidenote: Its difficulties]

The mere use of the word "unaccented" for "short" and "accented"
for "long" does no particular harm, though it seems to some clumsy,
irrational, and not always strictly correct even from its own point of
view, while it produces unnecessary difficulty in the case of feet,
or "sections," with _no_ accent in them--things which most certainly
exist in English poetry. But the moment that advance is made upon this
mere question of words and names, far more serious mischief arises.
There can be no doubt that the insistence on strict accent, alternately
placed, led directly to the monotonous and snip-snap verse of the
eighteenth century. In some cases it leads, logically and necessarily,
to denial of such feet as those just mentioned--a denial which flies
straight in the face of fact. Although it does not necessarily
involve, it most frequently leads also to, the forbidding, ignoring,
or shuffling off of trisyllabic feet, which are the chief glory and
the chief charm of English poetry, as substituted for dissyllabic.
And, further still, it leads to the most extraordinary confusion of
rhythms--accentualists very commonly, if not always, maintaining that,
inasmuch as there are the same number of accented syllables, it does
not matter whether you scan

    Whēn | thĕ Brī|tĭsh wār|rĭŏr quēen |

iambically or

    Whēn thĕ | Brītĭsh | wārrĭŏr | quēen


    Īn thĕ hĕx|āmĕtĕr | rīsĕs thĕ | fōuntāin's | sīlvĕry̆ | cōlūmn

dactylically or

    Īn | thĕ hĕxām|ĕtĕr rī|sĕs thĕ fōun|tāin's sīl|vĕry̆ cōl|ūmn


Further still, and almost worst of all, it leads to the enormities of
fancy stress above referred to, committed by people who decline to
regard as "long" syllables not accented in ordinary pronunciation.

[Sidenote: and insufficiencies.]

But its greatest crime is its hopeless inadequacy, poverty, and
"beggarly elementariness." At best the accentual prosodist, unless
he is a quantitative one in disguise, confines himself to the mere
skeleton of the lines, and neglects their delicately formed and softly
coloured flesh and members. To leave unaccented syllables "as it were
to take care of themselves" is to make prosody mere singsong or patter.

Finally, it may be observed that, in all accentual or stress prosodies
which are not utterly loose and desultory, there is a tendency to
multiply exceptions, provisos, minor classifications to suit particular
cases, and the like, so that English prosody assumes the aspect, not
of a combination of general order and individual freedom, but of a
tangle of by-laws and partial regulations. Unnecessary when it is not
mischievous, mischievous when it is strictly and logically carried
out, the accentual system derives its only support from the fact
above mentioned (the large number of common syllables to be found in
English), from the actual existence of it in _Old_ English before the
language and the poetry had been modified by Romance admixture, and
from an unscientific application of the true proposition that the
classical and the English prosodies are _in some respects_ radically

[Sidenote: Examples of its application.]

It will, however, of course be proper to give examples of the manner
in which accentual (or stress) scansion is worked by its own partisans
and exponents. Their common formula for the English heroic line in its
normal aspect is 5^_xa_:[7]

    What òft | was thòught, | but nè'er | so wèll | exprèst.

If they meet with a trisyllabic foot, as in

    And ma|ny an am|orous, ma|ny a hu|morous lay,

they either admit _two_ unaccented syllables between the accents, or
suggest "slur" or _synalœpha_ or "elision" ("man-yan"), this last
especially taking place with the definite article "the" ("th'"). But
this last process need not be insisted on by accentualists, though it
must by the next class we shall come to.

It is common, if not universal, for accentual prosodists to hold that
two accents must not come together, so that they are troubled by that
double line of Milton's where the ending and beginning run--

                  Bòth stòod
    Bòth tùrned,

They admit occasional "inversion of accent" (trochaic
substitution)--especially at the opening of a verse,--as in the line
which Milton begins with


but, when they hold fast to their principles, dislike it much in other
cases, as, for instance, in

    fàlls to | the gròund.

And they complain when the accent which they think necessary falls, as
they call it, on one of two weak syllables, as in

    And when. |

This older and simpler school, however, represented by Johnson, has
been largely supplemented by another, whose members use the term
"stress" or _ictus_ in preference to "accent," and to a greater or less
extent give up the attempt to establish normality of line at all.

[Sidenote: Its various sects and supporters.]

Some of them[8] admit lines of four, three, or even two stresses, as,
for instance--

    His mìn|isters of vèn|geance and pursùit. |

Others[9] break it up into "bars" or "sections" which need not contain
the same or any fixed number of "beats" or "stresses," while some
again[10] seem to regard the stresses of a whole passage as supplying,
like those of a prose paragraph, a sufficient rhythmical skeleton the
flesh of which--the unaccented or unstressed part--is allowed to huddle
itself on and shuffle itself along as it pleases.

This school has received large recent accessions; but even now the
greater number of accentualists do little more than eschew the terms
of quantity, and substitute for them those of accent, more or less
consistently. Many of them even use the classical names and divisions
of feet; and with these there need not, according to strict necessity,
be any quarrel, since their error, if it be one, only affects the
constitution of prosodic material before it is verse at all, and not
the actual prosodic arrangement of verse as such.


[3] Or, it may be added, on its terminology; whence it results that
there is no subject on which it is so difficult to write without being
constantly misunderstood. It is perhaps not surprising that some people
almost deny the existence of English prosody itself, and decline at any
rate to take it seriously; while others talk about it in ways which
half justify the sceptics.

[4] It is inevitable, in dealing with this subject, that
technicalities, historical and literary references, etc., should
be plentifully employed. To explain them always in the text would
mean endless and disgusting delay and repetition; to give notes of
cross-reference in every case would bristle the lower part of the page
unnecessarily and hideously. Not merely the Contents and Index, but the
various Glossaries and Lists in the Fourth Book have been expressly
arranged to supply explanation and assistance in the least troublesome
and most compendious manner. But special references will be given when
they seem absolutely necessary.

[5] See on this in Book III.

[6] See the article in Glossary on "Musical and Rhetorical Arrangements
of Verse," and Rule 41, _infra_, p. 35.

[7] This formula seems due to Latham, the compiler of a well-known
work on Language. The foot-division mark | has been sometimes adopted
(by Guest) and defended (by Professor Skeat, who, however, does
not personally employ it) as a substitute for the accent mark. For
arguments against this which seem to the present writer strong, see _H.
E. P._ i. 8, and iii. 276, 544-545.

[8] Of whom the most important by far is Mr. Bridges, though he has
never, I think, reduced the number to two, or increased it above five.
Others, however, have admitted _eight_!

[9] _E.g._ Mr. Thomson, Sir W. M'Cormick, M. Verrier.

[10] _E.g._ Mr. J. A. Symonds, Mr. Hewlett.



[Sidenote: History of the syllabic theory.]

A strictly syllabic system of prosody has hardly at any time been
a sufficient key, even in appearance, to English verse. But it has
preserved a curious insistence of pretension, and the study of it is
of great and informing prosodic interest. It is, of course, French
in origin--French prosody, except in eccentric instances, has been
from the first, and is to the present day, strictly syllabic. It is
innocuous in so far as in the words "octosyllable," "decasyllable,"
"fourteener," and the like, the irreducible syllabic minimum (save
by licence of certain metres) is conveniently indicated. In so early
an example as Orm (_v. inf._) we find it carried out exactly and
literally. But the inherited spirit of Old English, surviving and
resisting all changes and reinforcements of vocabulary, accent,
and everything else, will have none of it. In the _fif_teener[11]
itself; in its sequel and preserver, ballad measure; in octosyllabic
couplet--not merely in the loose form of _Genesis and Exodus_, but to
some extent even in the strict one of _The Owl and the Nightingale_;
in almost all mixed modes, when once they have broken free from direct
copying of French or Provençal, it is cast to the winds. It can only
be introduced into Chaucer, as far as his heroic couplet is concerned,
by perpetual violations of probability, document, and rhythm. Even
in Gower, the principal representative of it, and one who probably
did aim at it, there are some certain, and many probable, lapses from
strict observance. But in the linguistic and phonetic changes of the
fifteenth century, with the consequent decadence of original literary
poetry, the principle of syllabic liberty degenerates into intolerable
licence, and the doggerel which resulted, after triumphing or at least
existing for some generations, provoked considerable reaction in
practice and a still more considerable mistake in principle.

Wyatt, Surrey, and their successors in the middle of the century and
the first half of Elizabeth's reign, are pretty strict syllabically;
and it was from their practice, doubtless, that Gascoigne--one
of the last of the group, but our first English preceptist in
prosody--conceived the idea that English has but one foot, of two
syllables. Spenser's practice in the _Shepherd's Kalendar_ is not
wholly in accordance with this; but even he came near to observing it
later, and the early blank-verse writers were painfully scrupulous in
this respect.

But it was inevitable that blank verse, and especially dramatic blank
verse, should break through these restraints; and in the hands of
Shakespeare it soon showed that the greatest English verse simply
paid no attention at all to syllabic limitations; while lyric, though
rather slower, was not so very slow to indulge itself to some extent,
as it was tempted by "triple-timed" music. The excesses, however, of
the decayed blank verse of the First Caroline period joined with those
of the enjambed couplet, though these were not strictly syllabic, to
throw liberty into discredit; and the growth and popularity of the
strict _closed_ couplet encouraged a fresh delusion--that English
prosody _ought_ to be syllabic. Dryden himself to some extent
countenanced this, though he indemnified himself by the free use of the
Alexandrine, or even of the fourteener, in decasyllabics. The example
of Milton was for some time not imitated, and has even to this day been
misunderstood. About the time of Dryden's own death, in the temporary
decadence of the poetic spirit, syllabic prosody made a bold bid for
absolute rule.

In the year 1702 Edward Bysshe, publishing[12] the first detailed and
positive manual of English prosody, laid it down, without qualification
or apology, that "the structure of our verses, whether blank or
rhyming, consists in a certain number of syllables; not in feet
composed of long or short syllables, as the verses of the Greeks and
Romans." And although all Bysshe's details, which, as will be seen
below, were rigidly arranged on these principles--so that he made
no distinction between verse of triple time (though he grudgingly
and almost tacitly admitted it) and verse of double, as such,--were
not adopted by others, his doctrine was always (save in a very few
instances to be duly noticed later) implicitly, and often explicitly,
the doctrine of the eighteenth century. Nor has this ever lost a
certain measure of support; while it is very curious that the few
foreign students of English prosody who have arisen in late years are
usually inclined to it.

One difficulty in it, however, could never escape its most peremptory
devotees; and a shift for meeting it must have been devised at the same
time as the doctrine. It was all very well to lay down that English
verse _must_ consist of a certain number of syllables; but it could
escape no one who had ever read a volume or even a few pages of English
poetry, that it _did_ consist of a very uncertain number of them. The
problem was, therefore, how to get rid of the surplus where it existed.
It was met by recourse to that very classical prosody which was in
other respects being denied, and by the adoption of ruthless "elision"
or "crushing out" of the supposed superfluities. This involved not
merely elision proper--the vanishing or metrical ignoring of a vowel
at the end of a word before a vowel (or an _h_) at the beginning of
another, "th('/e) Almighty," "t('/o) admire." Application of a similar
process to the interior of words like "vi('/o)let," "di('/a)mond,"
was inculcated, and in fact insisted on; and even where consonants
preceded and followed a vowel of the easily slurrable kind, as in
"wat_e_ry," the suppression of the _e_ and sometimes even of other
vowels--"del('/i)cate"--was prescribed.

[Sidenote: Its results.]

There may possibly be two opinions (though it seems strange that
there should be) on the æsthetic results of this proceeding. To the
present writer they seem utterly hideous; while the admission of the
full syllables seems melodious and satisfying. It may also be pointed
out that there is a very tell-tale character about the fact that not
a few prosodists who defend "elision" in principle defend it only
as a metrical fiction, and even lay down positively that the elided
syllables are _always_ to be pronounced.[13] But it is far less matter
of opinion--if it is even matter of opinion at all--first, that this
process of mangling and monotonising English poetry is unnecessary;
and, secondly, that it is inconsistent with the historic development
of the language and the literature. That it is unnecessary will, it
is hoped, be demonstrated in the next of these Introductory Chapters;
and that it is unhistorical the whole body of the historical survey
to follow will show. And another objection of great importance can
be made good at once and here. The rigid observance of the syllabic
system produces, and cannot but produce, an intolerable monotony--a
monotony which has made the favourite verse of the eighteenth century
positively (if perhaps excessively and unreasonably) loathsome to
succeeding generations. It would be condemned by this, if it had no
other fault; while it has, as a matter of fact, hardly a virtue. It was
tried once for all by Orm, and failed once for all, in the beginning of
modern English, and it has never been tried in practice or maintained
in theory since without validating inferior poetry and discouraging


[11] For the almost necessary precedence, owing to the inflexional _e_,
of the _four_teener by this, and for expansion and explanation of other
historic facts mentioned in this chapter, see Scanned Conspectus and
Books II. and III.

[12] See Bibliography and Book III.

[13] This, it may be pointed out, is in flat contradiction to the older
doctrine of, for instance, Dryden, that no vowel can be cut out before
another in scansion which is not so in pronunciation.

[14] Examples here can hardly be needed. At any rate, one (Shenstone's,
_v. inf._, own) may suffice:

    The loose wall _tottering_ o'er the trembling shade,

[Sidenote: Cautions.]

Here syllabic prosody would pronounce, and in strictness spell,
"tott'ring."--This is perhaps as good a place as any to make some
remarks on the connection of syllables with English prosody. In
that prosody there are no _extrametrical_ syllables, except at the
end of lines, and (much more doubtfully) at the cæsura, which is a
sort of end. Every syllable that occurs elsewhere must be part of,
or constitute, a foot; and it is for this reason that the "Rules"
following begin with feet, not syllables. It is practically impossible,
in many, if not in most cases, to tell the prosodic value of an English
syllable, or an English word, till you see it in actual verse.--Again,
although there are, of course, innumerable instances where a foot
coincides with a word, the composition of the foot out of syllables
belonging to different words, as in

    The thun|_der of_ | the trum|_pets of_ | the night,


    To set|_tle the_ | success|_ion of_ | the state,

is usually more effective.--And, lastly, although there have,
at different times, been strange prejudices against the use of
monosyllables and of polysyllables, these prejudices are, in both
cases, wholly unreasonable.



[Sidenote: General if not always consistent use of the term "foot."]

Although the accentual and the syllabic systems--sometimes separate,
but oftener combined--have, on the whole, dominated English preceptist
prosody almost from the time when it first began to be formally
studied, there has, until very recently, been a constant tendency
to blend with these, if not the full acceptance, at any rate a
certain borrowing, of the terminology of a _third_ system--the
foot-and-quantity one, so well known in the classical prosodies. Not
before Bysshe (_c._ 1700) do you find any positive denial of "feet."
Gascoigne (_c._ 1570) talks of them; Milton speaks of "committing short
and long"; Dr. Johnson, though using a strict accent-and-syllable
scheme, admits (whether with absolute accuracy or not does not matter)
that "our heroic verse is derived from the iambic." And in more modern
times, from Mitford downwards, arguments against the applicability of
the terms in English have not unfrequently been found consistent with
an occasional, if not a regular, employment of them.

In fact, nothing but a curious suspicion, as of something cabalistical
in them, can prevent their use, or the use of some much more clumsy
and inconvenient equivalents--bars, beats, sections, what not;[15]
for that use is based on the most unalterable of all things, except
the laws of thought, the laws of mathematics. Everybody, whatsoever
his prosodic sect, admits that verse consists of alternations of two
values--some would say of more than two, but that only complicates the
application of an unchanged argument. Now the possible combinations
of two different things, in successive numerical units of two, three,
four, etc., are not arbitrary, but naturally fixed; and the names of
feet--iambic, trochaic, dactylic, etc.--are merely tickets for these

[Sidenote: Particular objections to its systematic use.]

The reasons of the objection have been various, and are perhaps not
always fully stated, or even fully appreciated, by those who advance
them. It is most common perhaps now (though it was not so formerly)
to find the objection itself lodged thus--that the so-called English
iambs, anapæsts, etc., are different things from the feet so called
in Greek or Latin. This is sufficiently met by the reply that they
are naturally so, the languages being different, and that all that is
necessary is that the English foot should stand to English prosody as
the Latin or Greek foot does to Latin or Greek, that is to say, as
the necessary and constituent middle stage between the syllable and
the line. But a less vague and, in appearance at least, more solid
objection is that the Latin and the Greek foot were constituted out
of definite "quantities" attaching to definite syllables, and that
there is "no syllabic quantity in English," though there may be vowel
quantity. And this objection is generally, if not always, based on or
backed by a further one, that "quantity" depends directly on _time_
of pronunciation; while this again is supported, still further back,
by elaborate discussions of accent and quantity,[16] by denials that
accent can constitute quantity, and by learned expatiations in quest
of proof that Greeks and Romans scanned their verses as they did _not_
pronounce them--that there was a sort of amicable pitched battle,
always going on, between quantity and accent.

[Sidenote: "Quantity" in English.]

Now it can be easily shown that, even if these contentions as to
classical verse be accepted (and some of them are very doubtful), they
supply no sort of bar to the application of the foot system, with
such quantity as it requires, to English. It is quite true that the
proportion of syllables of absolutely fixed quantity--that is fixed
capacity of filling up what corresponds to the long or short places of
a classical verse--is, in English, very small. There are some which
the ear discovers by the awkwardness of the sound when they are forced
into a "short" place. So also there are some which--by the coincidence
of vowel quality, position, and absence of accent--it is practically
impossible to put into a "long" place, such as the second syllable
of "Deity." Nor are what are called "long vowel sounds"--the sounds
of "rīte," "fāte," "bēat," "Ēurope," "ōmen," "āwkward," etc.--always
sufficient to make a syllable inflexibly long; though they may be
sometimes. Again, the extremest "shortness" of vowel sound, as in "and"
or "if," will not prevent such syllables from being indubitably long in
certain values and collocations.

[Sidenote: The "common" syllable.]

In other words, that peculiarity of being "common"--that is to say, of
being capable of holding either position--which was far from unknown
in the classical languages, is very much more prevalent in English. It
would be quite false to say that every syllable in English is common;
but it is scarcely at all false to say that almost every English
_mono_syllable is, and an extremely large proportion of others.

The methods and movements by which this commonness is turned into
length or shortness for the purposes of the poet are obvious enough,
and in practice undeniable; though the processes of professional
phonetics sometimes tend to obscure or even to deny them. Every
well-educated and well-bred Englishman, who has been accustomed to
read poetry and utter speech carefully, knows that when he emphasises
a syllable like "and," "if," "the," etc., it becomes what the Germans
would call _versfähig_--capable of performing its metrical duty--in the
long position; that when he does not, it is not so capable. Every one
knows in practice, though it may be denied in theory, that similar
lengthening[17] follows the doubling of a consonant after a short
vowel, or the placing of a group of consonants of different kinds
after it--the vowel-sound running, as it were, under the penthouse of
consonants till it emerges. Extreme loudness and sharpness would have
the same effect in conversation, but, unless very obviously suggested
by sense, would escape notice in silent reading. Not very seldom, the
mere art of the poet will get weight enough on a short syllable to fit
it for its place as "long," or conjure away from a long one length
enough to enable it to act as "short."

At any rate, it is with these two values, and with syllables endowed
with them by custom, incidental effect, place, sense, the poet's
sleight of hand, or otherwise, that the English poet deals; and has
dealt, ever since a period impossible to nail down with exactness to
year or decade, but beginning, perhaps, early in the twelfth century
and perfecting itself in the thirteenth and later. And impartial
examination of the whole facts from that period shows that he deals
with them on a system, in early times no doubt almost or quite
unconsciously adopted, but perfectly recognisable. In still earlier
or "Old" English verse this system is not discernible at all; in the
earliest period of "Middle" English it is discernible, struggling to
get itself into shape. Later, with advances and relapses, it perfects
itself absolutely. Its principles are as follows:--

[Sidenote: Intermediate rules of arrangement.]

#Every English verse consists of a certain number of feet, made up of
long and short syllables, each of which is of equal consequence in the
general composition of the line.#

#The correspondence of the foot arrangements between different lines
constitutes the link between them, and determines their general

[Sidenote: Some interim rules of feet (expanded in note).]

#But this correspondence need not be limited to repetition of feet
composed of a fixed and identical number of syllables in the same
order; on the contrary, the best verse admits of large substitution
of feet of different syllabic length, provided--(1) that these are
equal or nearly equal in prosodic value to those for which they are
substituted; (2) that the substituted feet go rhythmically well with
those next to which they are placed.#[18]

        A fuller list of observed rules for English verse
        generally will be found in the next chapter, but between
        the two a set of remarks, specially on the foot, may be
        extracted from the larger _History_, vol. i. pp. 82-84.

        #Every English verse which has disengaged itself from
        the versicle[1] is composed, and all verses that are
        disengaging themselves therefrom show a _nisus_ towards
        being composed, of feet of one, two, or three syllables.#

        #The foot of one syllable is always long, strong,
        stressed, accented, what-not.#[19]

        #The foot of two syllables usually consists of one long
        and one short syllable, and though it is not essential
        that either should come first, the short precedes rather
        more commonly.#

        #The foot of three syllables never has more than one
        long syllable in it, and that syllable, save in the most
        exceptional rhythms, is always the first or the third. In
        modern poetry, by no means usually, but not seldom, it
        has no long syllable at all.#

        #The foot of one syllable is practically not found except#

        _a_, #In the first place of a line.#

        _b_, #In the last place of it.#

        _c_, #At a strong cæsura or break, it being almost
        invariably necessary that the voice should rest on it
        long enough to supply the missing companion to make up
        the equivalent of a "time and a half" at least.#

        _d_, #In very exceptional cases where the same trick of
        the voice is used apart from strict cæsura.#

        #The foot of two syllables and that of three may, subject
        to the rules below, be found anywhere.#


        #These feet of two and three syllables may be very freely
        substituted for each other.#

        #There is a certain metrical and rhythmical norm of
        the line which must not be confused by too frequent

        #In no case, or in hardly any case,[20] must such
        combinations be put together so that a juxtaposition of
        more than three short syllables results.#

But, for the purpose of this present book, illustration and example
are of much more value than abstract exposition; and to them we shall
now turn.

Here, for instance, is a line from Tennyson's "Brook":

    Twinkled the innumerable ear and tail.

[Sidenote: The different systems applied to a single verse of

Now the system which regards syllabic precision first of all, with
a minor glance at accent, but rejects "feet," surveys this line and
pronounces it passable with the elision

    Twinkled _th'_ innumerable ear and tail,

but rather shakes its head at the absence of accent, or the slight
and weak accent, in "innumer_a_ble," and the "inversion" of accent in

The system which looks at accent first of all pronounces that there are
only _four_ proper accents [stresses] here:

    Twìnkled the innùmerable èar and tàil.

Both these systems, moreover--the syllabic, as far as it recognises
accent; the accentual, of necessity,--regard "twinkled" as the
admittance (pardonable, censurable, or quite condemnable, according
to individual theory) of "wrenched accent," "inverted stress," or
something of the kind--as a thing abnormal and licentious.

The foot system simply scans it--

    Twīnklĕd | thĕ ĭnnū|mĕrā|blĕ ēar | ănd tāil;

regarding "twinkled" as a trochee substituted in full right for an
iamb, and "the innu-" as an anapæst in like case; "merā" as raised,
by a liberty not out of accordance with the actual derivation, to a
sufficiently long quantity for its position, and the other two feet as
pure iambs.

[Sidenote: and their application examined.]

Now let us examine these three views.

In the first place, the bare syllabic view (which, it is fair to
say, is almost obsolete, save among foreigners, though in consistency
it ought to find defenders at home) takes no account of any special
quality in the line at all. It is turned out to sample; the knife is
applied at "th'" to fit specification; and there you are. It differs
only from Southey's favourite heroic ejaculation


in being less "pure."

The syllabic-_plus_-accentual view passes it; but with certain
reservations. "Twinkled" is an "aberration," a "licence" perhaps
(in some views certainly), a more or even less venial sin, while
"-āble" with _a_ in a stressed or accented place is a case for more
head-shaking still. The line is saved; yet so as by fire.

So is it under the looser stress-accentual system, but by a fire more
devouring still. According to this latter, all rhythmical similarity
with its companion five-stress lines is lost on the one hand, and
on the other a jumble, with difficulty readable and absolutely
heterogeneous, is created in the line itself. Your first rhythmical
mouthful is "twink-," then you gabble over "led the innū-" till you
rest on this last; then you repeat the process (as soon as you have
breath enough) with "-merable ear," and finally you reach "and tail."
But you never find your fifth stress, and instead of continuous blank
verse you make the context a sort of clumsy Pindaric.[21]

Even if this last description be regarded as exaggerated, it will
remain a sober fact that, in all these handlings, either the beauty of
the line is obscured altogether, or it is smuggled off as a "licence,"
or it is converted into something individual, separated from its
neighbours, and possessing no kinship to them.

Yet the line, though not "a wonder and a wild desire," is a good one;
and (therein differing from their eighteenth-century ancestors) the
syllabists and accentualists would mostly nowadays allow this, though
their principles have to submit it to _privilegia_ and allowances to
make it out.

The foot arrangement makes no difficulty, needs no _privilegium_, and
necessarily applies none. The line is at once recognised by the ear as
a good line and correspondent to its neighbours, which, as a body, and
also at once when a few have been read, informed that ear that they
were five-foot lines of iambic basis. Therefore it will lend itself to
foot-arrangement on that norm. The five feet may be iambs, trochees,
anapæsts, spondees, tribrachs, and _perhaps_ (this is a question of
ear) dactyls and pyrrhics. These may be substituted for each other as
the ear shall dictate, provided that the general iambic base is not
overthrown or unduly obscured.

Further, these feet are composed of long and short syllables, the
length and shortness of which is determined to some extent by ordinary
pronunciation, but subject to various modifying influences of position
and juxtaposition. Under those laws to which all its companions are
equally and inevitably subject, _mutatis mutandis_, it makes itself out
as above:

    Twīnklĕd | thĕ ĭnnū|mĕrā|blĕ ēar | ănd tāil--

trochee, anapæst, iamb, iamb, iamb. The justification of _ā_ in "āble"
has already been partly given; it may be added that in the actual
pronunciation of the word by good speakers there is a "secondary
accent" (as they call it) on the syllable.

Here there is no straining, no "private bill" legislation, no
separating of the line from its fellows, only a reasonable Reign of Law
with reasonable easements.

[Sidenote: Application further to his "Hollyhock" song.]

Let us now take a more complicated instance, also from Tennyson. In
that poet's first volume there was a "Song" which, unlike most of its
fellows, remained practically unaltered amid the great changes which he
introduced later. It has, I believe, always been a special favourite
with those who have been most in sympathy with his poetry. But, nearly
twenty years after its first appearance, it was described by no
ill-qualified judge (an admirer of Tennyson on the whole) in the words
given in the note:[22] and I believe it had been similarly objected
to earlier. Now what were the lines that excited this cry of agonised
indignation? They are as follows:--

    A spirit haunts the year's last hours
    Dwelling amid these yellowing bowers:
          To himself he talks;
    For at eventide, listening earnestly,
    At his work you may hear him sob and sigh
          In the walks;
          Earthward he boweth the heavy stalks
    Of the mouldering flowers:
        Heavily hangs the broad sunflower
          Over its grave in the earth so chilly;
        Heavily hangs the hollyhock,
          Heavily hangs the tiger-lily.

Now it is not very difficult to perceive the defects of this extremely
beautiful thing in the eyes of a syllabic-accentualist, as this critic
(whether knowing it or not) probably was.

The syllabists have always, by a perhaps natural though perhaps also
irrational extension of their arithmetical prepossession, disliked
lines of irregular length on the page. Bysshe would have barred
stanzas; a very few years before Tennyson's book, Crowe, then Public
Orator at Oxford, had protested against the exquisite line-adjustments
of the seventeenth century. To the pure accentualists the thing might
seem an unholy jumble, accented irregularly, irregularly arranged in
number, seemingly observing different rhythms in different parts.

Now see how it looks under the foot system:

    A spi|rit haunts | the year's | last hours
    Dwelling | amid | these yel|lowing bowers:
          To himself | he talks;
    For at e|ventide, list|ening ear|nestly,
    At his work | you may hear | him sob | and sigh
          In the walks;
          Earth|ward he bow|eth the hea|vy stalks
    Of the moul|dering flowers:
        Hea|vily hangs | the broad | sunflower
          O|ver its grave | in the earth | so chilly;
        Hea|vily hangs | the hol|lyhock,
          Hea|vily hangs | the ti|ger-lily--

the feet being sometimes, at the beginning of the lines, monosyllabic,
and of course of one long syllable only (Ēarth-|, Hēa-|, Ō-|);
sometimes dissyllabic, iambic mainly, but occasionally at least

    Ă spīr|ĭt hāunts | thĕ yēar's | lā̆st hōurs;

often trisyllabic, and then always anapæstic--

    Fŏr ăt ē|vĕntĭde līst|ĕnĭng ēarn|ĕstlȳ̆.

Even so early in the present book this should need little comment;
but it may be the better for some. It is an instance of substitution
carried out boldly, but unerringly; so that, iamb and anapæst
being the coin of interchange and equivalence, the rhythm is now
iambic, now anapæstic chiefly, the two being not muddled, but
_fluctuant_--a prosodic part-song. And the foot system brings this
out straightforwardly and on its general principles, with no beggings
or assumptions whatever for the particular instance. Moreover, the
structure of the piece may be paralleled freely from the songs in
Shakespeare's plays.[23]

[Sidenote: Such application possible always and everywhere.]

It is indeed sometimes said that such methods of scansion as these
may apply very well to nineteenth-century poets, but that they are
out of place in regard to older ones. This is demonstrably false. The
method applies alike, and in like measure obviates all difficulties,
in examples of the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth,
seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. It is as applicable to the
early and mostly anonymous romancers and song-writers as to Tennyson,
it accommodates Shakespeare as well as Browning. To Milton as to
Shelley, to Dryden and Pope as to the most celebrated of our modern
experimenters, say to Miss Christina Rossetti or Mr. Swinburne, it
"fits like a glove." The rules in the next chapter, and the subjoined
examples fully scanned in Chapter VI., will show its application as
a beginning; the whole contents of this volume must give the fuller
illustration and confirmation.[24]


[15] The most recent, perhaps, and the most unfortunate competitor is
"stress-unit"--for there are most certainly feet (_i.e._ constitutive
divisions of lines) which include no stress at all.

[16] A full account of these would occupy a book bigger than the larger
_History_. Among the latest and most curious attempts on the subject is
one to mark off certain metrical rhythms as "accentual," certain others
as "quantitative." This (which partly results from the superfluous
anxiety to discover and isolate the sources of length and shortness)
makes something very like a chimera or a hotch-potch of English verse.

[17] In metrical quantity, not in vowel sound.

[18] Of Anglo-Saxon and very early Middle English poetry. See Scanned
Conspectus and Book II.

[19] Except, to speak paradoxically, when it is nothing at all. The
pause-foot or half-foot, the "equivalent of silence," is by no means
an impossible or unknown thing in English poetry, as, for instance, in
Lady Macbeth's line, I. v. 41--

    Under | my bat|tlements. | ʌ Come, | you spirits,

where | spĭrīts, | though not actually impossible, would spoil the line
in one way, and "come," as a monosyllabic foot, in another.

[20] The exceptions, and probably the only ones, are to be found,
if anywhere, in some modern blank verse, where two tribrachs, or a
tribrach and an iamb or anapæst, succeed each other.

[21] It is difficult to see how this effect can be avoided by those who
think that accents or stresses, governing prosody, vary in Milton from
_eight_ to _three_.

[22] Having already called it "an odious piece of pedantry," the critic
(_Blackwood's Magazine_, April 1849) adds: "What metre, Greek or Roman,
Russian or Chinese, it was intended to imitate we have no care to
inquire: the man was writing English and had no justifiable pretence
for torturing our ears with verse like this."

[23] Such as "Under the Greenwood Tree."

[24] For cautions and additions, as well as explanations, see Glossary,
especially under "Foot," "Stress-unit," "Quantity," etc.




  (_These_ Rules _are not imperative or compulsory precepts, but
      observed inductions from the practice of English poets. He
      that can break them with success, let him._)

[Sidenote: Feet composed of long and short syllables.]

#1. English poetry, from the first constitution of literary Middle
English to the present day, can best be scanned by a system of _feet_,
or groups of syllables in two different values, which may be called for
convenience _long_ (̄) and _short_ (̆).#

[Sidenote: Not all combinations actual.]

#2. The nature of these groups of syllables is determined by the
usual mathematical laws of permutation; but some of them appear more
frequently than others in English poetry, and some hardly occur at all.#

[Sidenote: Differences from "classical" feet.]

#3. Although, in the symbols of their constitution, these feet
resemble those of the classical prosodies, it does not follow that
they are identical with them, except mathematically,[25] the nature
of the languages being different; and, in particular, their powers of
combining in metre are far from being identical, so that combinations
of feet which are successful in Greek and Latin need by no means be
successful in English. Success is indeed almost limited to instances
where the metrical constituents are restricted to iambs (̆̄]), anapæsts
(̆̆̄]), and trochees (̄̆), with the spondee (̄̄) as an occasional

[Sidenote: The three usual kinds--iamb, trochee, anapæst.]

#4. The iamb (̆̄), the trochee (̄̆), and the anapæst (̆̆̄) are by far
the commonest English feet; in fact, the great bulk of English poetry
is composed of them.#

[Sidenote: The spondee.]

#5. The spondee (̄̄) is not so unusual as has sometimes been thought;
but owing to the commonness of most syllables, especially in _thesis_,
it may often be passed as an iamb, and sometimes as a trochee.#

[Sidenote: The dactyl.]

#6. The dactyl (̄ ̆ ̆), on the other hand, though observable enough
in separate English words, does not seem to compound happily in
English, its use being almost limited to that of a substitute for the
trochee. Used in continuity, either singly or with other feet, it has a
tendency, especially in lines of some length, to rearrange itself into
anapæsts with anacrusis. In very short lines, however, this "tilt" has
not always time to develop itself.#

[Sidenote: The pyrrhic.]

#7. The pyrrhic (̆̆]) may occur in English, but is rarely wanted (see
note above on spondee).#

[Sidenote: The tribrach.]

#8. The tribrach (̆̆̆), however, has become not unusual.#

[Sidenote: Others.]

#9. Other combinations (for names see Glossary) than these are
certainly rare, and are perhaps never wanted in English verse, though
they are plentiful in prose. (See Rule 41 and Glossary.)#


[Sidenote: Quality or "quantity" in feet.]

#10. The quality, or contrast of quality, called "quantity," which fits
English syllables for their places as long or short in a foot, is not
uniform or constant.#

[Sidenote: Not necessarily "time,"]

#11. It does not necessarily depend on the amount of time taken to
pronounce the syllable; though there is probably a tendency to lengthen
or shorten this time according to the prosodic length or shortness

[Sidenote: nor vowel "quantity."]

#12. It does not wholly depend on the usual quantity[26] of the vowel
sound in the syllable; for long-sounding vowels are not very seldom
shortened, and short-sounding ones are constantly made long.#

[Sidenote: Accumulated consonants,]

#13. An accumulation of consonants after the vowel will lengthen it
prosodically, but need not necessarily do so.#

[Sidenote: or rhetorical stress,]

#14. Strong rhetorical stress will almost always lengthen if required.#

[Sidenote: or place in verse will quantify.]

#15. The place in verse, if cunningly managed by the poet, will
lengthen or shorten.#

[Sidenote: Commonness of monosyllables.]

#16. All monosyllables are common, the articles being, however, least
susceptible of lengthening, and the indefinite perhaps hardly at all.#


[Sidenote: Substitution of equivalent feet.]

#17. The most important law of English prosody is that which permits
and directs the interchange of certain of these feet with others, or,
in technical language, the substitution of equivalent feet.#

[Sidenote: Its two laws.]

#18. This process of substitution is governed by two laws: one in a
manner _a priori_, the other the result of experience only.#

[Sidenote: Confusion of base must be avoided.]

#19. Substitution must not take place in a batch of lines, or even
(with rare exceptions) in a single line, to such an extent that the
base of the metre can be mistaken.#

[Sidenote: (Of which the ear must judge.)]

#20. Even short of this result of confusion the ear must decide whether
the substitution is allowable.#

[Sidenote: Certain substitutions are not eligible.]

#21. As a result of experience we find that the feet most suitable--if
not alone suitable--as substitutes for the iamb--the commonest
foot-staple--are the trochee, the anapæst, and the tribrach; that the
dactyl substitutes well, if not too freely used, for the trochee.[27]
These equivalences are reciprocal.#


[Sidenote: Variation of pause.]

#22. Next to equivalence, the most important and valuable engine in
the constitution of English verses is the variation of the middle or
internal pause.#

[Sidenote: Practically at discretion.]

#23. Except in very long lines--which always tend to pause themselves
either at the middle or at _two_ places more or less equidistant--there
is no reason why the pause of an English line should not be at any
syllable from the first to the penultimate, and none why it should or
should not occur at the end of a line, couplet, or even stanza--though
in the last-named case rather special reasons are required for its
omission. Not every line need necessarily have any pause at all.#

[Sidenote: Blank verse specially dependent on pause.]

#24. The effect of blank verse depends more upon pause-variation than
upon anything else; and by this variation, accompanied by stop or
overrun ("enjambment") at the end of the line, _verse-paragraphs_ are
constituted, which can contain _verse-clauses_ or _sentences_, in like
manner brought into existence by pauses.#


[Sidenote: Simple or complex.]

#25. Lines, composed as above of feet, can be used in English either
continuously on the same or equivalent patterns, or in batches of two
or more.#

[Sidenote: Rhymes necessary to couplet.]

#26. The batches of two almost necessarily require rhyme to indicate
and isolate them, especially if the individual lines are of the same
length. Other batches [stanzas] might, as far as any _a priori_
objection goes, consist of unrhymed lines, symmetrically correspondent,
or irregular [Pindaric].#

[Sidenote: Few instances of successful unrhymed stanza.]

#27. It is, however, found in practice, despite the examples of
Campion, Collins, and one or two others, that rhymeless batching or
stanza-making is very seldom successful.#[28]

[Sidenote: Unevenness of line in length.]

#28. There is neither _a priori_ objection nor _a posteriori_
inconvenience to be urged against the construction of stanzas or
batches in lines of very uneven length.#

[Sidenote: Stanzas to be judged by the ear.]

#29. Every stanza-scheme must undergo, and is finally to be judged by,
the test of the ear, and that only.#

[Sidenote: Origin of commonest line-combinations.]

#30. The commonest and oldest line-combinations--octosyllabic couplet,
"common" or "ballad" measure, "long" and "short" measure, etc.--in some
cases demonstrably, in all probably, result from the breaking up of the
old long line ("fifteener" or "fourteener"), which itself came from the
metricalising of the O.E. double stave.#


[Sidenote: Rhyme natural in English.]

#31. It is natural to English poetry--_i.e._ Middle and Modern English,
or English poetry proper--to rhyme; and, except in the case of blank
verse, no unrhymed measure for the last seven centuries has ever
produced large quantities of uniformly satisfactory quality.#

[Sidenote: It must be "full,"]

#32. Rhyme in English must be "full," _i.e._ consonantal (on the vowel
_and_ following consonant or consonants), not merely assonantal (on the
vowel only). Assonance by itself is insufficient.#

[Sidenote: and not identical.]

#33. It should not, according to modern usage, be _identical_--that is
to say, the rhyming syllables should not consist of exactly the same
vowels and consonants. But exceptions to this may be found in good
poets, especially when the _words_ are not the same.#

[Sidenote: General rule as to it.]

#34. Good rhyme has necessarily varied, at different times, with
pronunciation; but a certain rough rule may be seen prevailing not
uncommonly, that vowels in rhyme may take the value which they have in
words other than those actually employed.[29]#

[Sidenote: Alliteration.]

#35. What is sometimes called "_head_-rhyme" (_i.e._ "alliteration")
has now no place in English as rhyme at all, nor does it constitute
either metre or stanza; but it is a permissible, and often a very
considerable, ornament to verse.#

[Sidenote: Single, etc., rhyme.]

#36. Rhyme is either single (on the last syllable only), double (on the
two last), or triple (on the three last). Beyond three the effect would
be burlesque, and this is hard to keep out of triple rhyme, and even
sometimes seems to menace the double.#

[Sidenote: Fullness of sound.]

#37. In serious poetry the fuller in sound the single rhyme is the

[Sidenote: Internal rhyme permissible,]

#38. Rhyme is usually at the end of the line; but it may be "internal";
that is to say, syllables at one or even more than one place within
the line may rhyme to the syllable at the end or to each other, and
syllables within one line may rhyme to those at corresponding places
within another.#

[Sidenote: but sometimes dangerous.]

#39. But this has a dangerous tendency to break the lines up.#


[Sidenote: Vowel-music.]

#40. The effect of English poetry at all times, but especially for
the last hundred years, has been largely dependent on _Vowel-music_.
This is by no means limited to the practice of what used to be called
"making the sound suit the sense," though the two sometimes coincide.
Vowel-music, not without occasional assistance from consonants,
establishes a sort of _accompaniment_ to the intelligible poetry--a
prosodic _setting_.#

[Sidenote: "Fingering."]

#41. In the management of this, as of rhyme, pause, enjambment,
and even the selection and juxtaposition of feet themselves, the
poet often, if not as a rule in the best examples, uses particular
sleights of fingering and execution parallel to those of the musical
composer and performer. The results of this may appear to constitute
verse-sections different from the feet. But these, however, never
supersede feet, and are always resolvable into them; nor do they ever
supply criteria for anything except the individual line or passage.
They stand to prosody proper very much as delivery or elocution
does to rhetoric. The conveniences of this "fingering," or poetic
elocution, as well as sense and other things, may sometimes bring about
_alternative_ scansions, but all these connect themselves with and are
obedient to the general foot system.#[30]

[Sidenote: Confusion of rhythms intolerable.]

#42. Despite this possibility of alternative scansion, and the other
and commoner possibility of substitution of individual feet, iambic
and trochaic, dactylic and anapæstic, metre or rhythm remain entirely
distinct. Any system which regards these as merely different names
for the same thing is self-condemned as disregarding the evidence, or
rather verdict, of the ear.#


[25] See above, Rule 2. It should be hardly necessary to remark
that the explanations and exemplifications of these rules are to be
furnished by the whole book, and that the Glossary in particular should
be in constant use.

[26] _E.g._ "fāte" or "fāst" as opposed to "făt"; "mēet" to "dĕter";
"rīte" to "fĭt"; "ōmen" to "ŏtter"; "dūpe" to "bŭt."

[27] The combination of dactyl and trochee in English, however, will
not produce the same effect as the combination of dactyl and spondee in
Latin or Greek.

[28] Rules 26 and 27 do not apply to _un_metrical verse, such as the
old alliterative couplet-line, or the rhythmed prose-verse of _Ossian_,
Blake, and Whitman.

[29] Thus Dryden rhymes "travell_er_" to "st_ar_," giving the _er_ the
value it has in "cl_er_k."

[30] For elucidation and example see below, in Glossary, as above
noted, p. 8. The "sections" referred to are not those of Guest.




_Scansion only dimly visible._

No better examples can be taken for this than two already used by
Dr. Sievers--the close of the _Phœnix_ with its illuminative Latin
admixture, and a bit of _Beowulf_ (205 _ff._)(dotted foot division
added in first case):

    Háfað ¦ us alýfed ¦ _lucis_ | _auctor_
    Þœt we mó¦tun hér ¦ _meru_ |_eri_
    ȝóddædum be¦ȝiétan ¦ _gaudia in_ | _coelo_
    Pǽr we ¦ mótun ¦ _maxima_ | _regna_.

    Hǽfde se ȝoda || Géata téoda
    cémpan ȝecórene || þara þe ne cénóste
    findan míhte || fíftener súm
    súndwudu sóhte || sécȝ wísade
    láȝucræftig món || lándȝemýrcu.

In these the general trochaic run and the corresponding tendency to
dactylic substitution, which are so evident in the Latin, as it were
_muffle_ themselves in the English; and the contrast, so strikingly
brought out in the mixed passage, is not really less evident in the
pure Anglo-Saxon one. The muffling is the result, partly of the
imperfect substitution, or rather the actual presence of syllables
not digested into the metre; partly of the overbearing middle pause,
which, suggesting another in each section, chops the whole up into
disconnected grunts or spasmodic phrases.


        (_"Grave" Poem. Guest's text, spelling, and accentuation;
        the usual marks for the latter being substituted for his
        dividing bars, and foot division added in dots._)

    Thé wes ¦ bóld ge¦býld || er ¦ thú i¦bóren ¦ wére,
    Thé wes ¦ mólde i¦mynt || er ¦ thú of ¦ móder ¦ cóme,
    Ác hit ¦ nés no i¦díht ¦|| né theo ¦ deópnes i¦méten,
    Nés gyt i¦lóced || hu ¦ lóng hit the ¦ wére.

Here an immense advance is made. The rhythm is still trochaic,
though it is by no means certain that it does not show symptoms
of _iambicisation_. It is far more well marked; and one of the
means of the marking is that the "ditch in the middle"--the formal
pause,--though no doubt technically and even rhetorically existing, is
overrun by the suggested feet as long as the trochee is kept. But if
this pause holds its place it suggests _iambic_ scansion--

    The | wes bold | gebyld;

and something like the whole future of English poetry lies in the
suggestion. Do not omit to notice the metrical assistance given by the
epanaphora, or repetition of the same word and phrases in the same
place, and by the imperfect and irregular assonances emphasising the


_Metre struggling to assert itself in a New Way._

_Part of the verses of St. Godric._

    Sainte ¦ Mari¦e Vir¦gine
    Moder Je¦su Cris¦tes Na¦zarene
    Onfang ¦ schild ¦ help thin ¦ Godric,
    Onfang ¦ bring he ¦ gelich ¦ mit the ¦ in God¦es ric.

A distinct effort at iambic stanza, such as that of the great Ambrosian
hymn, _Veni Redemptor gentium_.

It is not surprising if the experimenter stumbles, if the old trochaic
rhythm is sometimes in his head, and if, in the last verse, he either
overruns or divides and makes a quintet. The struggle towards feet--and
new feet--is there, and rhyme, if imperfect, is there also.


_Attempt at merely Syllabic Uniformity with Unbroken Iambic Run and no


    And nu | icc wil|le shæ|wenn yuw
      summ-del | withth God|ess hellp|e
    Off thatt | Judiss|kenn follk|ess lac
      thatt Drih|htin wass | full cwem|e.

The moral of this (whether it be written as above in eights and sevens
or continuously as "fifteeners") is unmistakable, as stated before:
the writer, for all his scrupulous indication of short _vowels_, seems
to care no more than if he were a modern Frenchman for _syllabic_
quantity, or even for accent. He will have his fifteen syllables,
his pause at the eighth, and his sing-song run of seven dissyllabic
batches and a feminine ending. But, will he nill he, he impresses--with
whatever sing-song effect and whatever merciless iteration--the iambic
beat throughout his whole enormous work.


_Conflict or Indecision between Accentual Rhythm and Metrical Scheme._


    1. {Þa an|swære|de Vor|tiger--
       {of ælc | an vu|ele he | wes wær.

    2. {Nulle ¦ ich heom ¦ belauen ||
       {bi mine ¦ quike live.

    3. {For Hen|gest is | hider | icumen,
       {He is | mi fa|der and ich | his sune.

    4. {And ich ¦ habbe ¦ to leof-monne ||
       {his dohter ¦ Rowenne.

These four couplets (continuous in the original) exhibit perfectly the
process which was going on. (2) is a rather shapeless example of the
old scarcely metrical Anglo-Saxon line with a roughly trochaic rhythm;
and (4) is not very different. But (3) is a not quite successful,
though recognisable, attempt at a rhymed (it is actually assonanced)
iambic dimeter or octosyllabic couplet. And (1) is this couplet
complete at all points in rhythm, metre, and rhyme--capable, in fact,
of being exactly quantified and rendered exactly into modern English,
all but the dropped final _e_:

  Thĕn ān|swĕrēd|[ĕ] Vōr|tĭger
  ŏf īlk | ăn ē|vĭl hē | wăs wāre.


_The Appearance and Development of the "Fourteener."_

The exact origin[31] of the "fourteener," "septenar" (as the Germans
call it), "long Alexandrine" (as it was very improperly termed in
England for a time), "seven-foot" or "seven-accent" line--to give its
various designations--is a matter of conjecture. The "fifteener" of
Orm with the redundant syllable lopped off; a variation with iambic
or "rising stress" rhythm substituted for trochaic or falling, and a
syllable added in the popular Latin metre of

    Meum est propositum in taberna mori;

with other things; most probably of all, a shortened metrification of
the old long line, to represent the frequent inequality of its halves
better than the octosyllabic couplet--have been suggested. It holds,
however, such an important place in English prosody from the early
thirteenth to the late sixteenth century, and its resolution into the
ballad couplet or "common measure" is of so much greater importance
still, that it can hardly have too much attention.

The extraordinarily prosaic and "stumping" cadence of the _Ormulum_
perhaps obscures the connection, especially as this rigid syllabisation
makes trisyllabic feet impossible. But the true rhythm appears, though
still with a redundant syllable, in the famous _Moral Ode_, the older
versions of which are dated before Orm. The oldest, as it is supposed
to be, of these shows the form in full existence--

    Ich em | nu al|der thene | ich wes | a win|tre and | a la|re.

But the youngest--

    Ich | am el|der than | ich wes | a win|ter and eke | on lo|re--

gives a priceless improvement; for even if "nu" has dropped out, the
resulting monosyllabic foot is quite rhythmical, the trisyllabic "-ter
and eke" is unmistakable, and the life and spirit that it gives to the
verse equally so.

In the course of the thirteenth century the form develops immensely.
As a continuous one, it furnishes the staple of the _Chronicle_ and
_Saints' Lives_, attributed--the former certainly and the latter
probably in at least some cases--to Robert of Gloucester. As thus in
Lear's complaint:

    Mid yox|ing and | mid gret | wop || þas | began | ys mone
    Alas! | alas! | þe luþ | or wate | that fyl|est me | þos one:
    Þat | þus | clene | me bryngst | adoun || wyder | schal I | be broȝht?
    For more | sorwe | yt doþ | me when || it co|meth in | my thoȝht.
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Le|ve doȝ|ter Cor|deille, || to sþo|e þou seid|est me
    Þat as muche | as ych | hadde y | was worþ | pei y | ne lev|ed the.

But before long it shows, though it may be still written on, an
evident tendency to break up into ballad measure, as in the (also
thirteenth-century) _Judas_ poem:

    Hit wes upon a scere-Thursday
        That ure Laverd aros,
    Ful milde were the wordes
        He spec to Judas:
    "Judas, thou most to Jursalem
        Oure mete for to bugge,
    Thritti platen of selver
        Thou bere upo thi rugge.


_The Plain and Equivalenced Octosyllable._

We have seen how, in Layamon, the regular rhymed octosyllabic couplet
or iambic dimeter ("four-stress line," etc.) shows itself, either as a
deliberate alternative to the old long line, or as a half-unconscious
result of the endeavour to adjust it to the new metrical tendencies
of the language. And we saw, also, that its examples in Layamon
himself vary from absolute normality to different stages of licence
or incompleteness. Before long, however, we find _two_ varieties
establishing themselves, with more or less distinct and definite
contrast. The first, which seems to keep French or Latin examples
more or less strictly before it, is exemplified in _The Owl and the
Nightingale_, and scans as follows:

    Wi nul|tu singe | an oth|er theode,
    War hit | is much|ele mo|re neode?
    Thu nea|ver ne | singst in | Irlonde,
    Ne thu | ne cumest | nogt in | Scotlonde:
    Hwi nul|tu fa|re to Nor|eweie?[32]
    And sing|en men | of Gal|eweie?
    Thar | beoth men | that lut|el kunne
    Of songe | that is | bineothe | the sunne.

Here, it will be observed, there is practically no licence except
a few doubtful _e_'s, and that of omitting one syllable and making
the line "acephalous" iambic or catalectic trochaic. This form was
followed largely, and, from Chaucer and Gower onwards, by most poets,
except Spenser, till the time of Chatterton, Blake, and Coleridge in

Side by side with it, however, a form embodying the special
characteristic of the new English prosody-- equivalent
substitution--exhibits itself in full force in the
mid-thirteenth-century _Genesis and Exodus_, as well as in other
miscellaneous poems and in the romances. Here are specimens from
_Genesis and Exodus_, 2367-2376:

    Josep | gaf ilc | here twin|ne srud,
    Benia|min most | he ma|de prud;
    Fif we|den best | bar Ben|iamin
    Thre hun|dred plates | of sil|ver fin,
    Al|so fele | o|there | thor-til,
    He bad | ben in | is fa|deres wil,
    And x | asses | with se|mes fest;
    Of all | Egyp|tes welth|e best
    Gaf he | is brethe|re, with her|te blithe,
    And bad | hem ra | pen hem hom | ward swithe.

And from _Richard Cœur de Lion_, 3261-3268:

    Nay quod | Kyng Rich|ard, be God | my lord,
    Ne schal | I ne|vyr with him | acord!
    Ne hadde ne|vyr ben | lost A|cres toun
    Ne had|de ben | through hys | tresoun.
    Yiff he yil|de again | my fad|erys tresour
    And Jeru|salem | with gret | honour,
    Thenne | my wrath|e I hym | forgive
    And ne|vyr ellys | whyl that | I live.

Here, it will be observed, the foot of _three_ syllables--generally,
if not always, an anapæst--and even, it would seem, that of _one_
sometimes, are freely substituted for that of _two_, adding immensely
to the variety, spirit, and freedom of the line. The first "ne hadde"
is perhaps run together.


_The Romance-Six or "Rime Couée."_

At an uncertain period in the thirteenth century this makes its
appearance--no doubt directly imitated from the French, but probably
also in part a derivative of the application of metrical tendency
to the aboriginal line-couplet. Its French name[33] is not, to
our eyes, appropriate --one would rather call it "waisted" or
"waisted-and-tailed rhyme"; and as it is very largely (in fact,
with the plain couplet predominantly) used in the English romances,
"romance-six" as opposed to "ballad-four" seems a good name for it. It
sometimes, however, extends to three, four, or even six sets of two
eights and a six, and is found both plain and equivalenced, as thus:

    The brid|des sing|e, it is | no nay,
    The spar|hauk and | the pap|ejay,
        that joy|e it was | to here.
    The thrus|telcok made eek | his lay,
    The wo|de dowv|e upon | the spray
        She sang | ful loud|e and clere.

                                               (Chaucer, _Sir Thopas_.)

    As soon|e as the em|peroure yil|dyd the gast,
    A prowd|e gar|son came | in haste,
        Sir Syn|agote | hight he--
    And broght | an hun|dred hel|mes bright
    Of har|dy men | that cowd|e wel fight
        Of felde | wolde ne|ver oon flee.

                                 (_Le Bone Florence of Rome_, 778-783.)

The plain form, as Chaucer, of malice prepense, showed in the above, is
particularly liable to sing-song effect.


_Miscellaneous Stanzas._

(_a_) A very considerable number of these were introduced, sometimes
no doubt by direct imitation of French or (as in the case of the
"Burns-metre,"[34]) Provençal originals, sometimes by the ingenuity of
the individual poet, working on the plastic material of the blended
language, according to the new metrical foot-system. They all scan
easily by this, as may be seen in a stanza of _Tristrem_, one of the
Harleian Lyrics, and a "Burns stanza" from the York Plays; while
anapæstic substitution, amounting to something like "triple time" as a
whole, appears in the Hampolian extract.

    The king | had a douh|ter dere,
    That mai|den Y|sonde hight,
    That gle | was lef | to here
    And romaun|ce to rede | aright.
    Sir Tram|tris hir | gan lere,
    Tho, | with al | his might,
    What al|le poin|tès were
    To se | the sothe |in sight,
        To say,
    In Yr|lond nas | no knight,
    With Y|sonde | durst play.

                                             (_Sir Tristrem_, 1255-63.)

(_Three_-foot iambic with single-foot "bob." All final _e_'s sounded or
elided. One monosyllabic, and two or three trisyllabic, substitutions.)

    Bytuen|e Mershe | ant A|veril
      when spray bigin|neth to springe,
    The lut|el foul | hath hi|re wyl
      on hy|re lud | to synge;
    Ich lib|be in ^|^ love-|longinge
    For sem | lokest | of al|le thynge,
    He may | me ^|^ blis|se bringe,
      icham | in hire | baundoun.
    An hen|dy hap | ichab|be y-hent,
    Ichot | from hevene | it is | me sent,
    From alle | wymmen | mi love | is lent
      ant lyht | on A|lysoun.

                            (_Alison_, Harleian MS. p. 27, ed. Wright.)

(From the other stanzas it appears that the middle quatrain
should consist of three eights and a six, and that something has
dropped--supplied now by carets. Otherwise the scheme is clear.)

    Fro thaym | is lost[e] | both[e] game | and glee.
    He bad|de that they | schuld mais|ters be
    Over all[e] kenn[e] thing, | outy-taen | a tree
                        He taught | them to be
    And ther-|to went[e] | both she | and he
                          Agagne | his wille.

                                               ("York" Plays, vi. § 2.)

(The final _e_'s are beginning to be neglected, and the whole is
probably in strict iambics _here_, though vacillation between four-
and five-foot lines is not absolutely impossible. But there is
trisyllabic substitution elsewhere, though not very much. It may be
remembered that there is little of it in Burns's own examples of this
metre. Closer still to his is the following):

    _Eve._ Sethyn[35] it | was so | me knyth | it sore,
    Bot syth|en that wo|man witte|lles ware,
    Mans mais|t[i]rie | should have | been more
        Agayns | the gilte.

    _Adam._ Nay at | my speech|e would thou ne|ver spare
        That has | us spilte.

                                                        (_Ibid._ § 24.)


    My tru|est trea|sure so trai|torly ta|ken,
      So bit|terly bound|en with by|tand band|es,
    How soon | of thy ser|vants wast thou | forsa|ken
        And loathe|ly for my | life hurled | with hand|es

                                        (Horstmann's _Hampole_, i. 72.)

(Probably, when first written, the ultimate _e_'s of the even lines
were sounded; but even this is not certain, and the superiority of the
shortening would soon have struck the ear.)

(_c_) More elaborate stanza from the Drama:

    Myght|ful God | veray, || Ma|ker of all | that is
    Thre per|sons without|en nay, || oone God | in end|les blis,
    Thou maid|è both night | and day, || beest, fowle | and fish,
    All crea|tures that | lif may || wrought | thou at | thy wish,
                As thou | wel myght:
      The sun, | the moyn|è, ve|rament
      Thou maid|è: [and] | the fir|mament,
      The star|rès al|so full | fervent
                To shyn|e thou maid|e ful bright.

                                ("Townley" Plays, iii. p. 23, E.E.T.S.)


_Appearance of the Decasyllable._

The idea that the new metres in English were invariably direct copies
of those already existing in French (or Latin) seems to be decisively
negatived by the fact that the decasyllabic line--the staple, not
indeed in couplet but in long batches or _tirades_, of the earlier
French _chansons de geste_--makes a rare appearance in English verse
before the late fourteenth century. But it does appear, thereby, on the
other hand, negativing the notion that Chaucer "introduced" it, and
suggesting that it was, in part at least, a genuine _experiment_--not
in imitation, but in really independent development, of the
possibilities of English metre. Here are scanned examples of different

(_a_) Uncertain in _intention_, but assuming distinct couplet _cadence_:

    Cristes | milde | moder | seynte | marie,
    Mines | liues | leome | mi leou|e lefdi,
    To the | ich buwe | and mi|ne kneon | ich beie,
    And al | min heor|te blod | to the | ich offrie.

                                    (_Orison of Our Lady_ (_c._ 1200).)

(_b_) Expansion of octosyllable in single line:

    And nu|tes amig|deles | thoron|ne numen.

  (_Genesis and Exodus_, 3840 (_c._ 1250).)

(_c_) In couplet:

    And swore | by Je|su that | made moon | and star
    Agenst | the Sara|cens he | should learn | to war.

                      (_Richard Cœur de Lion_, 2435-36 (before 1325?).)

(_d_) Overflow of octosyllable into decasyllable; probably, in the
first place, from the equivalenced lines lending themselves to another

    The bugh|es er | the ar|mes with | the handes,
    And the | legges, | with the | fete | that standes.

                          (In Hampole's _Prick of Conscience_, 680, 681
                          (before 1350), with scores of others.)


_The Alliterative Revival--Pure._

The examples of this revival (see Book II.) cannot, of course, in their
nature, be strictly _scanned_. But it is important to bring out the
change of _rhythm_ as compared with the older examples (_v. sup._ p.

(To prevent confusion with positive _metrical_ scansion, I have made
the scanning bars dotted, and have doubled the foot-division line for
the middle pause in the first extract.)

    Hit bifel ¦ in that fo¦rest there fast ¦ by-side,
    Ther woned ¦ a wel old cherl |¦| that was ¦ a couherde.

                                                (_William of Palerne._)

(Notice that the _nisus_ towards anapæstic cadence overruns the break
both in the metre and, as at "-glent," "stor," "-port" below, in the
half line.)

    Wende, wor¦thelych wyght ¦ vus won¦ez to seche,
    Dryf ouer ¦ this dymme wa¦ter if thou ¦ druye findez,
    Bryng bod¦worde to bot ¦ blysse ¦ to vus alle.


    Thenne ho gef ¦ hym god-day ¦ and wyth a¦glent laghed,
    And as ho stod ¦ ho stonyed hym ¦ with ful ¦ stor wordes,
    "Now he that spedes ¦ uche spech ¦ this dis¦port yelde,
    Bot that ye ¦ be Gaw¦ayn hit gotz ¦ in mynde."

                                       (_Gawain and the Green Knight._)


_The Alliterative Revival--Mixed._

The metrical _additions_, on the other hand (see Book II.), and those
poems which, while employing alliteration, subject it to metrical
schemes, scan perfectly, as:

    Quen thay | hade play|ed in halle,
    As long|e as her wyll|e hom last,
    To cham|bre he con | hym calle
    And to | the chem|ne thay past.
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    "A' mon | how may | thou slepe,
    This mor|ning es | so clere?"
    He watz | in droup|ing depe
    Bot thenne | he con | hir here.

                           ("Wheels" of _Gawain and the Green Knight_.)

    Fro spot | my spyryt | ther sprang | in space,
    My bo|dy on balk|e ther bod | in sweven,
    My gost|e is gon | in God|es grace,
    In a|ventur|e ther mer|vayles meven.

                                                     (_The Pearl_, ii.)

    Mone | makeles | of mighte,
    Here co|mes ane er|rant knighte,
    Do him | reson|e and righte
        For thi | manhead.

                            ("Wheel" of _The Awnyrs of Arthur_, xxvii.)


_Potentially Metrical Lines in Langland_ (see Book II).


    For Ja|mes the gen|tel bond | it in | his book.

                                                           (A. i. 159.)

    Thus I | live lov|eless lik|e a lu|ther dogge.

                                                            (A. v. 97.)


    And ser|ved Treu|the soth|lyche | somdel | to paye.

                                                        (C. viii. 189.)

    Adam | and A|braham | and Y|say the | prophete.

                                                          (B. xvi. 81.)


    But if | he wor|che well | there-with | as Do|wel him | techeth.

                                                         (B. viii. 56.)

    Of a|ny sci|ence un|der son|ne the se|ven arts | and alle.

                                                          (B. xi. 166.)

A large number might be added where the pronunciation which was shortly
to come in necessarily makes such lines, though they may not have been
intended as such; for instance--

    Take we | her words | at worth, | for her | witness | be true;

                                                         (B. xii. 125.)

and even octosyllables will appear--

    Ne no say robe in rich[e] pelure;

                                                         (A. iii. 277.)

partly explaining to us the chaos of lines in fifteenth-century poetry.


_Scansions from Chaucer._


    Hit was | of Ve|nus re|dely,
    This tem|ple; for | in por|treyture,
    I saw | anoon | right hir | figure
    Na|ked fle|tyng_e_ in | a see.
    And al|so on hir heed, | parde,
    Hir ro|se gar|lond white | and reed,
    And | hir comb | to kemb|_e_ hir heed,
    Hir dow|ves, and | daun Cu|pido,
    Hir blin|de son|_e_, and Vul|cano,
    That in | his fa|ce was | ful broun.

                                         (_House of Fame_, i. 130-139.)

(_Two_ "acephalous" lines, initial monosyllabic feet, or trochaic
admixtures; some unimportant elisions before vowels and _h_; middle
pause not kept in lines 1, 4, 6, and 10.)


    And down | from then|nès fast_e_ | he gan | avise
    This li|tel spot | of erthe | that with | the see
    Embra|cèd is, | and ful|ly gan | despise
    This wrec|ched world, | and held | al vanite,
    To re|spect of | the pleyne | feli|cite
    That is | in heven|_e_ above. And at | the laste
    Ther he | was slayn | his lo|king down | he caste.

                                  (_Troilus and Criseyde_, v. 1814-20.)

(Metre quite regular, but pause much varied--practically _none_ in line
5. Elisions as above, but _e_'s not valued, or elided, in _erthe_,
_pleyne_. Final couplet hendecasyllabic, as indeed most are.)

(_a_) Riding rhyme or heroic couplet:

    Whan that April|le with | his shou|res soote
    The droght|e of March | hath per|ced to | the roote,
    And bath|ed ev|ery veyn|e in swich | licour
    Of which | vertu | engen|dred is |the fleur;
    Whan Ze|phirus | eek with | his swe|te breeth
    Inspi|red hath | in ev|ery holt | and heeth
    The ten|dre crop|pes, and | the yon|ge sonne
    Hath in | the Ram | his half|e cours | y-ronne,
    And smal|e fowel|es ma|ken me|lodye,
    That sle|pen al | the nyght | with o|pen eye,--
    So pri|keth hem | Nature | in hir | corages,--
    Thanne long|en folk | to goon | on pil|grimages,
    And pal|meres for | to se|ken straun|ge strondes,
    To fer|ne hal|wes, kowth|e in son|dry londes;
    And spec|ially, | from ev|ery shi|res ende
    Of En|gelond, | to Caun|terbury | they wende,
    The hoo|ly blis|ful mar|tir for | to seke
    That hem | hath hol|pen whan | that they | were seeke.

                             (Opening paragraph of _Canterbury Tales_.)

(Very regular; but possible trisyllabic feet wherever "every" occurs,
and a certain one in "Caunt|erbury|." Pause almost indifferently
at 4th and 5th syllables. French-Latin accent in "Natùre." Many
hendecasyllables or redundances; but all made by the _e_ in one form or

(_b_) "Acephalous" or nine-syllable lines:

    Twen|ty bo|kes clad | in blak | or reed.      (_Prol._ 274.)

(_c_) Alexandrines:

    Westward, | right swich | ano|ther in | the op|posite.

                                                        (_K. T._ 1036.)

    So sor|weful|ly eek | that I | wende ver|raily.

                                                        (_Sq. T._ 585.)


_Variations from Strict Iambic Norm in Gower._

(_a_) Trochaic substitution:

    Ūndĕr | the gren|e thei | begrave.

                                                 (_Conf. Am._ i. 2348.)

(_b_) Anapæstic substitution:

    Sometime | in cham|bre sometime | in halle.

                                                            (iv. 1331.)

    Of Je|lousi|e, but what | it is

                                                              (v. 447.)

(_if the dissyllabic "ie" is insisted on_).

    And thus | ful oft|e about|e the hals.

                                                             (v. 2514.)

    It was | fantosm|e but yet | he heard.

                                                             (v. 5011.)

(It will be observed that in these four instances, all acknowledged by
Professor Macaulay, the final _e_ is required to make the trisyllabic
foot, though the first instance differs slightly from the others. I
should myself add a large number where Mr. Macaulay sees only "slur,"
but in which occur words like "ever" (i. 3), "many a" (i. 316, 317), or
syllables like "eth," which _must_ be valued in one case at least here--

    To break_eth_ and renn_eth_ al aboute,

                                                         (_Prol._ 505.)

where Mr. Macaulay reads "tobrekth," and where the copyists very likely
made it so.)

(_c_) Acephalous lines:

Very rare if the _e_ be always allowed. Perhaps non-existent.


_Examples of Break-down in Literary Verse._

(_a_) Lydgate's decasyllabic couplet:

    Ther he | lay to | the lar|kè song [̆̄]
    With no|tès herd|è high | up in | the ayr.
    The glad|è mor|owe ro|dy and | right fayr,
    Phe|bus al|so cast|ing up | his bemes
    The high|e hyl|les ʌ | gilt with | his stremes.

                                       (_Story of Thebes_, 1250 _sqq._)

(3, tolerable; 2, ditto, with hiatus at cæsura; 1, last foot missing;
4, "acephalous"; 5, syllable missing at cæsura.)

(_b_) His rhyme-royal:

    This is | to sein |--douteth | never | a dele--
    That ye | shall have | ʌ ful posses|sion
    Of him | that ye | ʌ cher|rish now | so wel,
    In hon|est man|er, without|e offen|cioun,
    Because | I know|e your | enten|cion
    Is tru|li set | in par|ti and | in al
    To loue | him best | and most | in spe|cial.

                                           (_Temple of Glass_, st. 16.)

(_Two_ examples (2 and 3) of the so-called "Lydgatian" missing syllable
at cæsura.)

(_c_) A typical minor, John Metham, in _Amoryus and Cleopes_, stanza 1:

    The charms | of love | and eke | the peyn | of Amo|ryus | the knyght
    For Cleo|pes sake | and eke | how bothe | in fere
    Lovyd | and af|tyr deyed, | my pur|pos ys | to indight.
    And now, | O god|dess, I thee | beseche | off kun|ning that | have |
                                                            syche might,
    Help me | to adorne | ther charms | in syche | maner
    So that | qwere this | matere | doth yt | require
    Bothe ther | lovys I | may compleyne | to loverys | desire.

(A fourteener, a decasyllable, an Alexandrine, a _six_teener, and three
decasyllables, the last very shaky either as that or as an Alexandrine!
In fact, sheer doggerel of the unintended kind.)


_Examples of True Prosody in Ballad, Carols, etc._

(_a_) _Chevy Chase_:

    The Per|cy out | of Northum|berland,
    And a vow | to God | made he,
    That he | would hunt | in the moun|tains
    Of Chev|iot within | days three,
    In the mau|gre of dough|ty Doug|las
    And all | that ever with | him be.

(It must be observed that this modern spelling _exactly_ represents the
old prosodically. The reader will then see that there are no liberties,
on the equivalent system, except the _crasis_ of "-viot" and "ever."
The former, insignificant in any case, is still more so here, for the
actual Northumbrian pronunciation is or was "Chevot"; while if "ever"
changes places with "that," there is not even any crasis needed.
For a piece so rough in phrase, and copied by a person so evidently
illiterate, the exactness is astonishing.)

(_b_) "E.I.O.":

    To doom | we draw | the sooth | to schaw
      In life | that us | was lent,
    Ne la|tin, ne law, | may help | ane haw,[36]
      But rath|ely us | repent.
    The cross, | the crown, | the spear | bees bown,
      That Je|su rug|ged and rent,
    The nail|ès rude, | shall thee | conclude
      With their | own ar|gument.
          With E | and O take keep | thereto,
            As Christ | himself | us kenned
          We com|e and go | to weal | or woe,
            That dread|ful doom | shall end.

(Spelling modernised as before, but not a word altered.)


_Examples of Skeltonic and other Doggerel._

(_a_) Skelton:


    Mirry | Marga|ret
    As mid|somer flower,
    Gen|tyll as fau|coun
    Or hauke | of the tower--
    With sol|ace and glad|ness,
    Much mirth | and no mad|ness,
    All good | and no bad|ness:--
    So joy|ously,
    So maid|enly,
    So wom|anly.
    Her de|menyng
    In ev|ery thyng
    Far far | passyng
    That I | can indite
    Or suffyce | to write.

                                                   (_Crown of Laurel._)


    But to make | up my tale,
    She bru|eth nop|py ale,
    And ma|kethe there|of sale,
    To travel|lers, || to tink|ers,
    To sweat|ers, || to swink|ers,
    And all | good || ale-drink|ers
    That will noth|ing spare
    But drynke | till they stare
    And bring | themselves bare,
    With "now | away | the mare,
    And let | us slay Care,
    As wise | as an hare."

                                                    (_Elinor Rumming._)

(_b_) Examples from Heywood and other interludes.

(1) Continuous long doggerel:

    I can|not tell | you: one knave | disdains | another,
    Wherefore | take ye | the tone | and I | shall take | the other.
    We shall | bestow | them there | as is most | conven|ient
    For such | a coup|le. I trow | they shall | repent
    That ev|er they met | in this | church here.

(2) Singles:

                          (_Shortened six._)
                        This | wyse him | deprave,

                       And give | the ab|solu|tion.

                     (_Irregular decasyllable._)
              The aboun|dant grace | of the | powèr | divyne

        Preserve | this aud|ience | and leave | them to | inclyne.

                      (_Irregular fourteener._)
  Then hold | down thine | head like | a pret|ty man | and take |
                                                           my blessing.

(In all these examples the doggerel is probably _intended_; that is
to say, the writers are not aiming at a regularity which they cannot
reach, but cheerfully or despairingly renouncing it.)


_Examples from the Scottish Poets._

(_a_) Barbour (regular octosyllables):

    The kyng | toward | the vod | is gane,
    Wery, | for-swat and vill | of vayn;
    Intill | the wod | soyn en|terit he,
    And held | doun to|ward a | valè,
    Quhar throu | the vod | a vat|tir ran.
    Thiddir | in gret | hy went | he than,
    And | begouth | to rest | hym thair,
    And said | he mycht | no for|thirmair.

(_One_ "acephalous" line.)

(_b_) Wyntoun (octosyllables somewhat freer):

    Thir sev|yn kyng|is reg|nand were
    A hun|der ful|l_y and for_|ty year,
    And fra | thir kyng|is thus | can cess
    In Ro|me thai che|_sit twa con_|sulès.

                                                     (IV. ii. 157-160.)

(_c_) Blind Harry (regular decasyllables on French model):

    Than Wal|lace socht | quhar his | wncle suld be;
    In a | dyrk cawe | he was | set|dul|fullè,
    Quhar wat|ter stud, | and he | in yrn|yss strang.
    Wallace | full sone | the brass|is wp | he dang;
    Off that | myrk holl | brocht him | with strenth | and lyst,
    Bot noyis | he hard, | off no|thing ellis | he wyst.
    So blyth | befor | in warld | he had | nocht beyn,
    As thair | with sycht, | quhen he | had Wal|lace seyn.

(_d_) James I. (rhyme-royal):

    For wak|it and | for-wal|owit, thus | musing,
      Wery | forlain | I list|enyt sod|dynlye,
    And sone | I herd | the bell | to ma|tyns ryng,
      And up | I rase, | no lon|ger wald | I lye:
      Bot soon, | how trow|e ye? Suich | a fan|tasye
    Fell me | to mynd | that ay | me thoght | the bell
      Said to | me, "Tell | on, man, | what the | befell."

(_e_) Henryson (ballad measure; slight anapæstic substitution):

    Makyne, | the night | is soft | and dry,
      The wed|_dir is warm_ | and fair,
    _And the gre_|nè wuid | richt neir | us by
      To walk | out on | all quhair:
    Thair ma | na jan|gloor us | espy,
      That is | to lufe | contrair,
    Thairin, | Makyne, | bath ye | and I
      Unseen | we ma | repair.

Those who deny the valued _e_ in "grenè," as not Scots, may refuse the
second instance of trisyllabic feet, but the first will remain.

(_f_) Dunbar (alliterative):

    I saw thre gay ladeis sit in ane grein arbeir,
    All grathit into garlandis of fresche gudelie flouris;
    So glitterit as the gold wer thair glorius gilt tressis,
    Quhill all the gressis did gleme of the glaid hewis;
    Kemmit was thair cleir hair, and curiouslie sched
    Attour thair schulderis doun schyre, schyning full bricht.

Dunbar (dimeter iambic quatrains with refrain, and much anapæstic

    Come ne|vir yet May | so fresch|e and grene,
    Bot Jan|uar come | als wud and kene--
    Wes nev|ir sic drowth | bot anis | come raine,
    _All erd_|_ly joy_ | _returnis_ | _in pane_.

(_g_) Alexander Scott (stanzas):

      It cumis | yow luv|aris to | be laill,
    Of bo|dy, hairt | and mynd | al haill,
    And though | ye with | year la|dyis daill--
    Bot and | your faith | and law|ty faill--
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
              Be land | or se,
              Quhaur ev|ir I be,
              As ye | fynd me,
                So tak | me;
              And gif | I le,
              And from | yow fle,
              Ay quhill | I de
                Forsaik | me!

(_h_) Montgomerie (_Cherry and Slae_ stanza):

    About | ane bank | quhair birdis | on bewis
    Ten thou|sand tymis | thair notis | renewis
        Ilke houre | into | the day,
    The merle | and ma|ueis micht | be sene,
    The Prog|ne and | the Phel|omene,
        Quhilk caus|sit me | to stay.
    I lay | and leynit | me to | ane bus
        To heir | the bir|dis beir;
    Thair mirth | was sa | melo|dious
        Throw na|ture of | the yeir;
          Sum sing|ing, || some spring|ing
            With wingis | into | the sky,
          So trim|lie, || and nim|lie,
            Thir birdis | they flew | me by.


_Examples of Reformed Metre from Wyatt, Surrey, and other Poets before

(_a_) Wyatt (sonnet)

    The long[e] | love that | in my | thought I | harbèr
    And in | my heart | doth keep | his re|sidence,
    Into | my face | presseth | with bold | pretence,
    And there | campèth | display|ing his | bannèr:
    She that | me learns | to love | and to | suffèr,
    And wills | that my | trust and | lust[e]s neg|ligence
    Be rein|ed by rea|son, shame, | and rev|erence,
    With his | hardì|ness tak|ès dis|pleasùre,
    Wherewith | love to | the hart[e]s | forest | he fleèth,
    Leaving | his en|terprise | with pain | and cry,
    And there | him hi|deth and | not àp|pearèth. |
    What may | I do? | when my | master | feareth,
    But in | the field | with him | to live | and die,
    For good | is thè | life end|ing faith|fully.

(I formerly scanned line 9:

    Wherewith | love to |the hart's fo|rest he | fleèth.

But "forèst" is so frequent and makes such a much better rhythm
that perhaps it should be preferred. It will, however, emphasise
still further the poet's curious uncertainty about the "-_eth_"
rhymes--whether he shall arrange them on that syllable only, or take
in the penultimate. Besides this point, the student should specially
notice the pains taken to get, not merely the feet, but the syllables
right at the cost sometimes of pretty strongly "wrenched" accent. On
all this see Book II. The final _è_'s are rather a curiosity than
important: longè _may_ have been sounded, "lust_e_" and "hart_e_" (so
printed in Tottel) improbably.)

(_b_) Wyatt (lyric stanza):

    Forget | not yet | the tried | intent
    Of such | a truth | as I | have meant,
    My great | travàil, | so glad|ly spent,
          Forget | not yet!

    Forget | not yet | when first | began
    The wea|ry life | ye know, | since whan
    The suit, | the ser|vice, none | tell can--
          Forget | not yet!

(It will be observed that this rondeau-like motion, with its short
lines and frequent repetition, is brought off better than the sonnet,
though the French accent sticks in _travàil_.)

(_c_) Surrey (sonnet):

    I nev|er saw | my la|dy lay | apart
    Her cor|net black, | in cold | nor yet | in heat,
    Sith first | she knew | my grief | was grown | so great;
    Which o|ther fan|cies dri|veth from | my heart,
    That to | myself | I do | the thought | reserve,
    The which | unwares | did wound | my woe|ful breast.
    But on | her face | mine eyes | mought ne|ver rest
    Yet, since | she knew | I did | her love, | and serve
    Her gold|en tress|es clad | alway | with black,
    Her smil|ing looks | that hid[es] | thus ev|ermore
    And that | restrains | which I | desire | so sore.
    So doth | this cor|net gov|ern me, | alack!
    In sum|mer sun, | in win|ter's breath, | a frost
    Whereby | the lights | of her | fair looks | I lost.

(Observe how much more surely and lightly the younger poet treads in
the uncertain pioneer footsteps of the elder.)

(_d_) Surrey ("poulter's measure"):

        Good la|dies, ye | that have || your pleas|ures in | exile,
    Step in | your foot, | come take | a place | and mourn | with me |
                                                               a while;
        And such | as by, | their lords || do set | but lit|tle price,
    Let them | sit still, | it skills | them not | what chance | come on |
                                                              the dice.
        But ye | whom love | hath bound || by or|der of | desire
    To love | your lords, | whose good | deserts | none oth|er would |
        Come ye | yet once | again || and set |your foot | by mine,
    Whose wo|ful plight | and sor|rows great | no tongue | can even |

(Very little to be said for it, except as a school of regular rhythm.
Broken up into "short measure" (6, 6, 8, 6) it has been not ineffective
in hymns.)

(_e_) Gascoigne (lyric stanza):

    Sing lull|aby, | as wom|en do,
    Wherewith | they bring | their babes | to rest,
    And lull|aby | can I | sing too,
    As wom|anly | as can | the best.
    With lull|aby | they still | the child;
    And if | I be | not much | beguiled,
    Full ma|ny wan|ton babes | have I
    Which must | be stilled | with lull|aby.

(_f_) Turberville (lyric stanza):

    As I | in this | have done | your will,
            And mind | to do,
    So I | request | you to | fulfil
            My fan|cy too,
    A green | and lov|ing heart | to have,
    And this | is all | that I | do crave.

(Observe in both of these the absolute syllabic regularity, and
_observance_ of foot-rhythm.)


(_a_) _Shep. Kal._ (strict stanza):

    Thou bar|ren ground, | whom win|ter's wrath | has wasted,
      Art made | a mir|ror to | behold | my plight:
    Whilome | thy fresh | spring flower'd, | and af|ter hasted
      Thy sum|mer proud, | with daf|fodil|lies dight;
        And now | is come | thy win|ter's storm|y state,
        Thy man|tle marr'd | wherein | thou mask|edst late.

(Regular iambs throughout. One double rhyme.)

(_b_) _Shep. Kal._ (equivalenced octosyllable--_Christabel_ or _Genesis
and Exodus_ metre):

    His harm|ful hat|chĕt hĕ hēnt | in hand,
    (Alas! | that it | so read|y̆ shŏuld stānd!)
    And to | the field | alone | he speedeth,
    (Aye lit|tle help | to harm | there needeth!)
    Anger | nould let | him speak |tŏ thĕ trēe,
    Enaun|tĕr hĭs rāge | mought cool|ed bee;
    But to | thĕ rŏot bēnt | his sturd|y stroke,
    And made | măny̆ wōunds | in the | waste oak.
    The ax|e's edge | did oft turne | again,
    As half | unwill|ĭng tŏ cūt | the grain.
    Seemed | the sense|less ir|on did fear,
    Or to | wrong ho|ly eld | dĭd fŏrbēar--
    For it | had been | an an|cient tree,
    Sacred | with ma|ny̆ ă mȳs|tery,
    And of|ten crossèd | with the pries|tès cruise
    And of|ten hal|lowed with ho|ly wa|ter dews.

(Observe that this last is the only distinct, if not the only
_possible_, decasyllabic couplet, while it can become an Alexandrine
by valuing "hal|lowèd" |; and that "priestès" is the only attempt at
valued Chaucerian _e_.)

(_c_) _Shep. Kal._ (equivalenced stanza):

    Bring hi|thĕr thĕ pīnk and pur|ple col|umbine,
            With gil|lyflowers;
    Bring cor|ona|tions | and sops | in wine,
            Worn of | părămōurs:
    Strow me | the ground | with daf|fadown | dillies,[38]
    And cow|slips and | kingcups | and lov|ed lil|liès:
            The pret|ty paunce,
            And the chev|isaunce,
    Shall match | with the fair | flow'r delice.

It may be just desirable to remind the student that a final "-ion"
is commonly dissyllabic in the sixteenth and earlier seventeenth
centuries. "Worn of par|amours" is possible.

(_d_) "Spenserian" stanza (occasional, but mostly slight, equivalence.
Pause in ll. 1-8 at discretion; in 9 usually at middle, but, as in the
following, not always):

    So pass|eth, in | the pass|ing of | a day
      Of mor|tal life, | the leaf, | the bud, | the flower;
      No more | doth flour|ish af|ter first | decay
      That erst | was sought | to deck | both bed | and bower
      Of ma|ny̆ ă lā|dy̆ ănd mā|ny̆ ă pār|amour!
      Gather, | therefore, | the rose | while yet | is prime,
      For soon | comes age | that will | her pride | deflower:
      Gather | the rose | of love | whilst yet | is time,
    Whilst lov|ing thou | mayst lov|èd be | with e|qual crime.

(_e_) _Mother Hubberd's Tale_ (antithetic and stopped heroic couplet):

    Full litt|le know|est thou | that hast | not tried,
    What hell | it is, | in su|ing long | to bide:
    To lose | good days | that might | be bet|ter spent;
    To waste | long nights | in pen|sive dis|content;
    To speed | to-day, | to be | put back | to-morrow;
    To feed | on hope, | to pine | with fear | and sorrow;
    To have | thy Prin|ce's grace, | yet want | her Peer's;
    To have | thy ask|ing, yet | wait ma|ny years;
    To fret | thy soul | with cross|es and | with cares;
    To eat | thy heart | through com|fortless | despairs;
    To fawn, | to crouch, | to wait, | to ride, | to run,
    To spend, | to give, | to want, | to be | undone.

(_f_) _Epithalamion_ (elaborate quasi-Pindaric stanza concerted in
different line length, but almost strictly iambic; "the," etc., before
a vowel being probably elided):

    Open | the tem|ple gates | unto | my Love,
    Open | them wide | that she | may en|ter in,
    And all | the posts | adorn | as doth | behove,
    And all | the pil|lars deck | with gar|lands trim,
    For to | receive | this Saint | with hon|our due,
    That com|eth in | to you.
    With trem|bling steps, | and hum|ble rev|erence,
    She com|eth in, | before | th' Almight|y's view:
    Of her, | ye vir|gins, learn | obe|dience,
    When so | ye come, | into | those ho|ly places,
    To hum|ble your | proud faces:
    Bring her | up to | th' High Al|tar, that | she may
    The sa|cred ce|remo|nies there | partake
    The which | do end|less ma|trimo|ny make;
    And let | the roar|ing or|gans loud|ly play
    The prai|ses of | the Lord | in live|ly notes,
    The whiles | with hol|low throats
    The cho|risters | the joy|ous an|them sing,
    That all | the woods | may an|swer, and | their ech|o ring!


(_a_) _Surrey_ (translation of _Aeneid_):

    It was | the night; | the sound | and qui|et sleep
    Had through | the earth | the wear|y bod|ies caught,
    The woods, | the ra|ging seas, | were fallen |to rest,
    When that | the stars | had half | their course | declined.
    The fields | whist: beasts | and fowls | of di|vers hue,
    And what | so that | in the | broad lakes | remained,
    Or yet | among | the bush|y thicks | of briar,
    Laid down | to sleep | by sil|ence of | the night,
    'Gan swage | their cares, | mindless | of tra|vails past.
    Not so | the spirit | of this | Phenic|ian.
    Unhap|py she | that on | no sleep | could chance,
    Nor yet | night's rest | enter | in eye | or breast.
    Her cares | redoub|le: love | doth rise | and rage | again,
    And ov|erflows | with swell|ing storms | of wrath.

(The interest of the new mode here is manifold. The lines are almost
wholly "single-moulded," the author's anxiety to keep himself right
without rhyme necessitating this. The cæsura at the fourth syllable
is _almost_ always kept, according to the tradition of the French
line. _Once_ (in the penultimate line) he has to overflow; but
into an Alexandrine, not into the next line. Whether by intention
or not--"sprite" being possible--he _once_ discovers the enormous
advantage of the trisyllabic foot.[39] _Once_ he makes with "rest" and
"breast" the oversight of a "Leonine" rhyme. But, on the whole, the
success is remarkable for a beginning; and there are indications of
what has to be done to secure the end.)

(_b_) First dramatic attempts--_Gorboduc_ onwards:

[Sidenote: _Sackville and Norton._]

    Your won|ted true | regard | of faith|ful hearts
    Makes me, | O king, | the bold|er to | resume,
    To speak | what I | conceive | within | my breast:
    Although | the same | do not | agree | at all
    With that | which o|ther here | my lords | have said,
    Nor which | yourself | have seem|èd best | to like.


[Sidenote: _Hughes and others._]

    What! shall | I stand | whiles Ar|thur sheds | my blood?
    And must | I yield | my neck | unto | the axe?
    Whom fates | constrain |let him | forego | his bliss.
    But he | that need|less yields | unto | his bane
    When he | may shun, | does well | deserve | to lose
    The good | he can|not use. | Who would | sustain
    A ba|ser life | that may | maintain | the best?

                                             (_Misfortunes of Arthur._)

[Sidenote: _Peele._]

    Were ev|ĕry̆ shīp | ten thou|sand on | the seas,
    Manned with | the strength | of all | the eas|tern kings,
    Convey|ing all | the mon|archs of | the world,
    Tŏ ĭnvāde | the is|land where | her High|ness reigns--
    'Twere all | in vain: | for heav|ĕns ănd dēs|tinies
    Attend | and wait | upon | her Maj|esty!

                                                 (_Battle of Alcazar._)

[Sidenote: _Greene._]

    Why thinks | King Hen|ry's son | that Mar|gărĕt's lōve
    Hangs in | thĕ ŭncēr|tain bal|ance of | proud time?
    That death | shall make | a dis|cord of | our thoughts?
    No! stab | the earl: | and ere | the morn|ing sun
    Shall vaunt | him thrice | over | the lof|ty east,
    Mārgărĕt | will meet | her Lac|y in | the heavens!

                                            (_F. Bacon and F. Bungay._)

[Sidenote: _Marlowe._]

    Black is | the beau|ty of | the bright|est day!
    The gol|den ball | of Heav|en's eter|nal fire,
    That danced | with glo|ry on | the sil|ver waves,
    Now wants | the glo|ry that | inflamed | his beams:
    And all | for faint|ness and | for foul | disgrace,
    He binds | his tem|ples with | a frown|ing cloud,
    Ready | to dark|en earth | with end|less night.


(An extreme stiffness and "single-mouldedness" in the lines; modified
in Peele and Greene by trisyllabic feet, perhaps not intended as such
("heav'n" was pretty certainly regarded and generally spelt as a
monosyllable, and the pronunciations "ev'ry" and "Margret" are old;
while "t'invade" and "th'uncertain" would be likely), but virtually so,
and inviting, especially in "Margaret," the full and beautiful value.
The _Gorboduc_ form, as is natural, is much the least accomplished. It
is indeed what, by an almost incomprehensible inversion of sense and
nature, some people call "blank verse _according to the rules_"--ten
syllables only, five almost strictly iambic feet (="accent on the even
places"); pause near the middle; stop, metrical, if not grammatical, at
every end--in fact, the roughest and most rudimentary form possible.)

(_c_) Early non-dramatic blanks (Gascoigne):

    And on | their backs | they bear | both land | and fee,
    Castles | and towers, | reven|ues and | receipts,
    Lordships | and ma|nors, fines,|--yea farms|--and all.
    "What should | these be?" | (speak you, | my love|ly lord?)
    They be | not men: | for why, | they have | no beards.
    They be | no boys, | which wear | such side|long gowns.
    They be | no gods, | for all | their gal|lant gloss.
    They be | no devils, | I trow, | which seem | so saintish.
    What be | they? wom|en? mask|ing in | men's weeds
    With dutch|kin doub|lets and | with jerk|ins jagged?
    With Span|ish spangs, | and ruffs | set out | of France,
    With high | copt hats | and feath|ers flaunt-|a-flaunt?
    They be, | so sure, | even _woe_ | to _men_ | indeed.

(It will be noticed that the "single-moulded" character is even more
noticeable here than in drama, and is emphasised by the _epanaphora_.
There is one redundance--"saintish" ("jagged" is probably "jagg'd"),
and, as we know that the author thought the iamb the only English foot,
we must not read "rĕvĕnue," but, with "tow'rs," "revènue"--which indeed
was, by precisians, regarded as the correct pronunciation not so very
long ago.)

(_d_) Perfected "single-mould":

[Sidenote: _Peele._]

    Come, gen|tle Ze|phyr, trick'd | with those | perfùmes
    That erst | in E|den sweet|en'd Ad|am's love,
    And stroke | my bos|om with |thy silk|en fan:
    This shade, | sun-proof, | is yet | no proof | for thee;
    Thy bo|dy, smooth|er than | this wave|less spring,
    And pu|rer than | the sub|stance of | the same,
    Can creep | through that | his lan|ces can|not pierce:
    Thou, and | thy sis|ter, soft | and sa|cred Air,
    Goddess | of life, | and gov|erness | of health,
    Keep ev|ery fount|ain fresh | and ar|bour sweet;
    No bra|zen gate | her pas|sage can | repulse,
    Nor bush|y thick|et bar | thy sub|tle breath:
    Then deck | thee with | thy loose | delight | some robes,
    And on | thy wings | bring del|icate | perfumes,
    To play | the wan|ton with | us through | the leaves.

                                                (_David and Bethsabe._)

[Sidenote: _Marlowe._]

    If all | the pens | that ev|er po|ets held
    Had fed | the feel|ing of | their mas|ters' thoughts,
    And ev|ery sweet|ness that | inspir'd | their hearts,
    Their minds, | and mu|ses, on | admir|èd themes;
    If all | the heav|enly quint|essence | they 'still
    From their | immort|al flowers | of po|esy,
    Wherein | as in | a mir|ror we | perceive
    The high|est reach|es of | a hu|man wit;
    If these | had made | one po|em's per|iod,
    And all | combined | in beau|ty's worth|iness,
    Yet should | there hov|er in | their rest|less heads
    One thought, | one grace, | one won|der at | the least,
    Which in|to words | no vir|tue can | digest.


(These passages, despite their extreme poetical beauty, are still
prosodically immature. Even when, as in the last, there are lines
with no technical "stop" at the end, as at "held" and "heads," the
grammatical incompleteness does not interfere with the rounding off of
the prosodic period or sub-period. Marlowe (_v. inf._) could enjamb
_couplet_ beautifully, but not blank verse. Note also that the lines
are strictly decasyllabic, the only hints at trisyllabic feet being
in words like "Heaven," then regularly a monosyllable, "ev_e_ry," and

(_e_) Shakespeare.

(1) Early single-moulded:

    Upon | his blood|y fin|ger he | doth wear
    A pre|cious ring, | that light|ens all | the hole,
    Which, like | the ta|per in | some mon|ument,
    Doth shine | upon | the dead | man's earth|y cheeks,
    And shows | the rag|ged en|trails of | the pit.

                                                  (_Titus Andronicus._)

(Same remarks applying as to the last citation.)

(2) Beginning of perfected stage:

    Why art | thou yet | so fair? | shall I | believe
    That un|substan|tial death | is am|orous,
    And that | the lean | abhor|rèd mon|ster keeps
    Thee here | in dark | to be | his par|amour?
    For fear | of that, | I still | will stay | with thee:
    And ne|ver from | this pal|ace of | dim night
    Depart | again: | here, here | will I | remain
    With worms | that are | thy cham|ber-maids; | O, here
    Will I | set up | my ev|erlast|ing rest.
    And shake | the yoke | of in|auspic|ious stars
    From this | world-wear|ied flesh.

                                                  (_Romeo and Juliet._)

(No trisyllabic feet yet, and no redundance: but, by shift of pause and
completer juncture of lines, the paragraph effect solidly founded.)

(3) Further process in the same direction:

    Nay, || but this dotage of our general's
    O'erflows the measure: || those his goodly eyes,
    That o'er the files | and musters of the war
    Have glowed like plated Mars, || now bend, | now turn,
    The office and devotion of their view
    Upon a tawny front: || his captain's heart,
    Which | in the scuffles of great fights | hath burst
    The buckles on his breast, || rene[a]g[u]es all temper,
    And is become | the bellows and the fan
    To cool a gipsy's lust.

                                              (_Antony and Cleopatra._)

(Here the double division marks indicate stronger, and the single
lighter, _pauses_--not, as usually in the latter case, _feet_. The
variation of the pause for paragraph effect is here consummate; but the
verse, as its conditions require, is of the severer type.)

(4) Perfection in passion:

    Blow winds, | and crack | your cheeks! | rage! | blow!
    You cat|aracts | and hur|rica|noes, spout
    Till you | have drench'd | our stee|ples, drown'd | the cocks!
    You sul|phurous and | thought-ex|ecut|ing fires,
    Vaunt-cour|iers to | oak-cleav|ing thun|derbolts,
    Singe my | white head! | And thou, | all-shak|ing thunder,
    Smite flat | the thick | rotund|ity o' | the world!
    Crack na|ture's moulds, | all ger|mens spill | at once,
    That make | ingrate|ful man!

                                                         (_King Lear._)

(Every extension taken. Monosyllabic feet either at the first "blow"
and "winds," or the last, and "rage," perhaps at both (an Alexandrine).
Trisyllabic at "-phŭrŏus ānd," "rĭĕrs tō," and "ĭty̆ ō̆'." Redundance
at "-ing thun⋮der." Pause fully played upon as above: enjambment at
"spout"; parenthetic enjambment at "fires.")

(5) Perfection in quiet:

    Our rev|els now | are end|ed. These | our actors,
    As I | foretold | you, were | all spir|its, and
    Are melt|ed in|to air, | into | thin air:
    And, like | the base|less fab|ric of | this vision,
    The cloud-|capped towers, | the gor|geous pal|aces,
    The sol|emn tem|ples, the | great globe | itself,
    Yea, all | which it | inher|it, shall | dissolve
    And, like | this in|substan|tial pa|geant faded,
    Leave not | a rack | behind. | We are | such stuff
    As dreams | are made | of, and | our lit|tle life
    Is round|ed with | a sleep.

                                                       (_The Tempest._)

(Not much trisyllabic--the dreaminess not requiring it. A good deal
of redundance, and enjambment pushed nearly to the furthest by taking
place at "and."[40])

(_f_) Redundance encroaching.

Beaumont and Fletcher:

                    "Oh | thou conqu[e]ror,
    Thou glo|ry of | the world | once, now | _the pity_:
    Thou awe | of na|tions, where|fore didst | _thou fail us_?
    What poor | fate fol|lowed thee, | and plucked | thee on
    To trust | thy sa|cred life | to an | _Egyptian_?
    The life | and light | of Rome | to a | _blind stranger_,
    _That hon|oura|ble war | ne'er taught | a no|bleness_
    Nor wor|thy cir|cumstance | show'd what | _a man was_?
    That ne|ver heard | thy name | sung but | _in banquets_
    And loose | lasciv|ious pleas|ures? to | a boy
    That had | no faith | to com|prehend | _thy greatness_,
    No stud|y of | thy life | to know | _thy goodness_?...
    _Egyp|tians, dare | you think | your high | pyra|mides_
    Built to | out-dure | the sun, | as you | suppose,
    Where your | unworth|y kings | lie rak'd | _in ashes_,
    Are mon|uments fit | for him! | No, brood | _of Nilus_,
    Nothing | can cov|er his | high fame | _but heaven_;
    No pyr|amid | set off | his mem|ories,
    But the | eter|nal sub|stance of | _his greatness_,
    To which I leave him."

                                                     (_The False One._)

(Here it will be seen there are two actual Alexandrines (_three_ if we
allow the full value to "con|queror|") and _twelve_ redundant lines to
_four_ non-redundant! The fire of the poetry fuses this, but cannot
always be counted on, as in the next.)

    (2) If I | had swelled | the sol|dier, or | _intended_
        An act | in per|son lean|ing to | _dishonour_,
        As you | would fain | have forced | me, _wit|ness Heaven_,
        Where clear|est und|erstand|ing of | _all truth is_
        (For men | are spite|ful men, | and know | _no pi[e]ty_).
        When O|lin came, | grim O|lin, when | _his marches_,
                                                       etc., etc., etc.

                                                 (_The Loyal Subject._)

(Which, with its repetition of stumbling amphibrachic ends, is rather

(_g_) Spread of the infection, and complete decay of blank verse from
various causes.

(1) Shirley:

                                  I dare,
    With conscience or my pure intent, try what
    Rudeness you find upon my lip, 'tis chaste
    As the desires that breathe upon _my language_.
    I began, Felisarda, to _affect thee_
    By seeing thee at prayers; thy virtue winged
    Love's arrows first, and 'twere a sacrilege
    To choose thee now for sin, that hast a power
    To make | this place | a tem|ple by | thy in|nocence.
    I know thy poverty, and came not to
    Bribe it against thy chastity; if thou
    Vouchsafe thy fair and honest love, it shall
    Adorn my fortunes which shall stoop to serve it
    In spite of friends or destiny.

                                                      (_The Brothers._)

(Actual _scansion_ quite correct, and therefore not marked throughout.
Redundance not excessive ("innocence" may be taken as such, and not
as making an Alexandrine, if liked); hardly any, and no misused,
trisyllabic feet. But enjambment at "what," "to," "thou," and "shall"
badly managed.)

(2) Suckling:

    Softly, | as death | itself | comes on
    When it | doth steal | away | the sick | man's breath,
    And standers-by perceive it not,
    Have I trod the way unto their lodgings.
    How wisely do those powers
    That give | us hap|piness or|der it!


(A hopeless jumble. The 1st, as a fragment, and 2nd lines are all
right, and the 6th could be completed properly. But 3, 4, and 5--though
3 and 5 _could_ come in with other companions--upset any kind of
continuous arrangement, and 4 would hardly be good anywhere.)

(3) Davenant:

    Rhodolinda doth become her title
    And her birth. Since deprived of popular
    Homage, she hath been queen over her great self.
    In this captivity ne'er passionate
    But when she hears me name the king, and then
    Her passions not of anger taste but love:
    Love of her conqueror; he that in fierce
    Battle (when the cannon's sulphurous breath
    Clouded the day) her noble father slew.


(More hopeless still, and left unscanned for the student's edification.)

(_h_) The Miltonic Restoration.

Early dramatic experiment.

_Comus_ is evidently written under three different influences, which
may be said to be in the main those of Marlowe, Shakespeare, and
Fletcher. The poet often uses Fletcher's heavy trisyllabic endings--

    Bore a bright golden flower, but not | ĭn thĭ̄s sŏ̄il;

and has not infrequent Alexandrines, the most certain of which is--

    As to | make this | rela|tion.
                                    Care | and ut|most shifts.

But he makes the verse more and more free and original, as in the
following extracts:

      Yea, there | where ve|ry des|ola|tion dwells,
      By grots | and ca|verns shagged | with hor|rid shades,
      She may | pass on | with un|blenched maj|esty,
      Be it | not done | in pride | or in | presump|tion.
      Some say | no ev|il thing | that walks | by night,
      In fog | or fire, | by lake | or moor|ish fen,
      Blue mea|gre hag, | or stub|born un|laid ghost,
      That breaks | his mag|ic chains | at cur|few time,
      No gob|lin or |swart fa|ery of | the mine,
      Hath hurt|ful power | o'er true | virgin|ity.
      Do ye | believe | me yet, | or shall | I call
      Anti|quity | from the | old schools | of Greece
      To test|ify | the arms | of chas|tity?

      Hence had | the hunt|ress Di|an her | dread bow,
      Fair sil|ver-shaft|ed queen | for ev|er chaste,
      Wherewith | she tamed | the brind|ed li|oness
      And spot|ted moun|tain-pard, | but set | at nought
      The fri|vŏlŏus bōlt | of Cu|pid; gods | and men
    Feared her | stern frown, | and she | was queen | ŏ' thĕ wōods.
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .

                          Methought it was the sound
    Of riot and ill-managed merriment,
    Such as the jocund flute or gamesome pipe
    Stirs up among the loose unlettered hinds,
    When, for their teeming flocks and granges full,
    In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan,
    And thank the gods amiss.

(The full comments given on previous passages make it unnecessary
to annotate this much. The last passage has the full paragraph


(_a_) Prae-Spenserian:

    Not light | of love, la|dy,
    Though fan|cy do prick | thee,
    Let con|stancy | possess | thy heart:
    Well wor|thy of blam|yng
    They be | and defam|ing,
    From plight|ed troth | which back | do start.
        Dear dame!
    Then fick|leness ban|ish
    And fol|ly extin|guish,
    Be skil|ful in guid|ing,
    And stay | thee from slid|ing,
         And stay | thee,
             And stay | thee!

                     (_Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions_ (1578).)

(Anapæstic substitution (if not definite anapæstic base) arising
doubtless rather from _tune_ than from deliberate prosodic purpose; but
quite prosodically correct, and sure to propagate itself.)

(_b_) Post-Spenserian:

    My bon|ny lass, | thine eye,
                      So sly
    Hath made | me sor|row so--
    Thy crim|son cheeks, | my dear,
                      So clear,
    Have so | much wrought | my woe,

                                                (_Phœnix Nest_ (1593).)

(Pure iambics; effect produced by short "bob" rhymes.)

(_c_) Ben Jonson (strict common measure):

    Drīnk tŏ | me on|ly with | thine eyes
      And I | will pledge | with mine;
    Or leave | a kiss | but in | the cup
      And I'll | not look | for wine.
    The thirst | that from | the soul | doth rise
        Doth ask | a drink | divine;
    But might | I of | Jōve's nēc|tar sip,
        I would | not change | for thine.

(As mostly with Ben, strict iambics, save for the opening trochee,
and something like a spondee in "Jove's nec-." The wonderful effect
which he, or Donne, or the Spirit of the Age, taught to the next two
generations is produced entirely by careful choice and fingering of the
words and rhymes.)

(_d_) Ben Jonson (anapæstic measure):

        See the cha|riot at hand | here of Love!
            Wherein | my La|dy rid|eth.
        Each that draws | is a swan | or a dove,
            And well | the car | Love guid|eth.
        As she goes, | all hearts | do du|ty
                Unto | her beau|ty;
        And enam|oured do wish, | so they might
                But enjoy | such a sight,
        That they still | were to run | by her side
    Th[o]rough ponds, | th[o]rough seas, | whither she | would ride.

("Through," as often, is probably to be valued "thorough," and
"chariot" was generally "chawyot" or "charret." It will be observed
that although this is fine it is slightly laboured. The age was hardly
at ease with the anapæst as yet.)

(_e_) Campion (selections):

            { _English_      Fōllŏw, | fōllŏw,
            { _anacreontic._ Though with | mischief
            {                 Armed like | whirlwind
            {                 How she | flies still.
            { _English_   Constant | to none, | but ev|er false | to me,
  (1)       { _elegiac._  Traitor | still to | love through thy | false
  Classical {                                                      desires,
            {             Not hope | of pit|y now, |nor vain | redress,
            {             Turns my | grief to | tears and
            {                                            re|newed la|ments.
            { _English_   Rose-|cheeked Lau|ra, come;
            { _iambic._   Sing | thou smooth|ly with | thy beauty's
            {             Sil|ent mu|sic, ei|ther other
            {                 Sweet|ly gracing.

            {       Fōllŏw thȳ făir sūn, ŭnhāppy̆ shādŏw!
            {           Thŏugh thōu | bĕ blāck ăs nīght,
            {           And she | made all | of light,
            {       Yet fol|low thy | fair sun,| unhap|py shadow!
  (2)       {
  Natural   { Break now,| my heart, | and die! | O no, | she may | relent--
            { Let my | despair | prevail! O stay, | hope is | not spent.
            { Should she | now fix | one smile | on thee, | where were |
            {                                                      despair?
            {     The loss | is but ea|sy which smiles | can repair;
            {     A stran|ger would please | thee, if she | were as fair.

The student should require little assistance here, odd as some of the
rhythms may seem. But "Rose-cheeked Laura" ought to be _trochaically_
scanned, and will then be _naturally_ "English." Nothing can make the
"English elegiac" harmonious. Note that line 3 of "Break now" _may_ be
anapæstic like 4 and 5:

    Shŏuld shĕ nōw | fĭx ŏne smīle, etc.[42]


(_a_) Tusser (1st ed. 1557; complete, 1573):

    Now leeks | are in sea|son for pot|tage full good,
    And spar|eth the milch | cow and purg|eth the blood:
    These hav|ing with pea|son for pot|tage in Lent,
    Thou spar|est both oat|meal and bread | to be spent.

(Perfectly good, though not very euphonious.)

(_b_) Gifford, H. (1580):

    If I | should write rash|ly what comes | in my train
    It might | be such mat|ter as likes | you not best,
    And ra|ther I would | great sor|row sustain
    Than not | to fulfil | your law|ful request.

(_c_) _Mary Ambree_ (_c._ 1584):

    [When] cap|tains coura|geous whom death | could [not] daunt
    [Did march | to the siege of] the ci|ty of Gaunt,
    They mus|tered their sol|diers by two | and by three,
    And the fore|most in bat|tle was Ma|ry Ambree.

(Percy patched the bracketed words (his copy being evidently corrupt)
in lines 1 and 2. But 3 and 4 are exactly as in the folio; and their
anapæstic base is quite clear. At the same time, it is worth remarking
that these early lines are apt, frequently though not regularly, to
buttress their start on a dissyllabic foot.)


(_a_) Spenser.

The very opening of _Mother Hubberd's Tale_ (1591), quoted above (p.
62) in its stopped aspect, shows the way to enjambment:

    It was | the month | in which | the right|eous Maid,
    That for | disdain | of sin|ful world's | upbraid,
    Fled back | to heaven.

And we have, further, an instance as shocking to "regular" prosodists
as anything in the seventeenth century:

    Whilome, | said she, | before | the world | was civil,
    The Fox | and th' Ape, | _dislik|ing of | their evil
    And hard | estate_.

(_b_) Marlowe--as remarkable in _Hero and Leander_ for this as for
"single-moulding" in blank verse:

                            Where the ground
    Was strewed with pearl, and in low coral groves
    Sweet-singing mermaids sported with their loves
    On heaps of heavy gold.

(_c_) Drayton began with fairly separated couplets; but indulged in
overrunning later, as in _David and Goliath_:

    Grim vis|age war | more stern|ly doth | awake
    Than it | was wont | and _fur|ĭŏusly̆̄
    Her light|ning sword_.

(_d_) Browne:

    It chanced one morn, clad in a robe of grey,
    And blushing oft, as rising to betray,
    Enticed this lovely maiden from her bed
    (So when the roses have discoverèd
    Their taintless beauties, flies the early bee
    About the winding alleys merrily)
    Into the wood, and 'twas her usual sport,
    Sitting where most harmonious birds resort,
    To imitate their warbling in Aprìl,
    Wrought by the hand of Pan, which she did fill
    Half full of water.

(The actual verse-sentence does not end for another half-dozen lines;
but the scansion is so perfectly regular that it seems unnecessary to
mark it. "Aprìl" is quite Spenserian, and has both Latin and French

(_e_) The later seventeenth-century enjambers:

    _Chalkhill._ The rebels, as you heard, being driven hence,
    Despairing e'er to expiate their offence
    By a too late submission, fled to sea
    In such poor barks as they could get, where they
    Roamed up and down, which way the winds did please,
    Without a chart or compass: the rough seas
    Enraged with such a load of wickedness,
    Grew big with billows, great was their distress;
    Yet was their courage greater; desperate men
    Grow valianter with suffering: in their ken
    Was a small island, thitherward they steer
    Their weather-beaten barks, each plies his gear;
    Some row, some pump, some trim the ragged sails,
    All were employed and industry prevails.

                                  (_Thealma and Clearchus_, 2203-2216.)

    _Marmion._ When you are landed, and a little past
    The Stygian ferry, you your eyes shall cast
    And spy some busy at their wheel, and these
    Are three old women, called the Destinies.

                                    (_Cupid and Psyche_, iii. 259-262.)

    _Chamberlayne._ But ere the weak Euriolus (for he
    This hapless stranger was) again could be
    By strength supported, base Amarus, who
    Could think no more than priceless thanks was due
    For all his dangerous pains, more beastly rude
    Than untamed Indians, basely did exclude
    That noble guest: which being with sorrow seen
    By Ammida, whose prayers and tears had been
    His helpless advocates, she gives in charge
    To her Ismander--till that time enlarge
    Her than restrained desires, he entertain
    Her desolate and wandering friend. Nor vain
    Were these commands, his entertainment being
    Such as observant love thought best agreeing
    To her desires.

                                      (_Pharonnida_, IV. iii. 243-256.)

(The same remark applies here as to Browne. Some of these poets are
indeed great "apostrophators," such things as "t'" for "to," "b'"
for "by," and "'s" for "his" being common. But these uglinesses
are generally resorted to in order to attain or keep the strict
decasyllabic. Chalkhill (an actual Elizabethan, if he was anything)
is less shy of at least apparent trisyllabics, as in "bĕĭng drīv|en,"
"ex|pĭăte thēir.|" The double rhyme of "sea" to "they" and "seas" to
"please" is worth noticing; _v. sup._ Rule 34, p. 34.)


(_a_) Spenser (_Mother Hubberd's Tale_), _v. sup._ p. 62.

(_b_) Drayton (_Heroical Epistles_, "Suffolk to Margaret"):

    We all do breathe upon this earthly ball,
    Likewise one Heav'n encompasseth us all;
    No banishment can be to us assigned
    Who doth retain a true resolved mind;
    Man in himself a little world doth bear,
    His soul the monarch ever ruling there;
    Wherever then his body doth remain
    He is a king that in himself doth reign.

(Here all the characteristics of the eighteenth-century couplet may be
found--the central cæsura or split, the balance of the two halves, the
completion of sense in the couplet and almost in the line.)

(_c_) Fairfax (end couplets):

    If fictious light I mix with Truth Divine
    And fill these lines with other praise than Thine.  (i. 2.)

    We further seek what their offences be:
    Guiltless I quit; guilty I set them free.       (ii. 5.)

    Thro' love the hazard of fierce war to prove,
    Famous for arms, but famous more for love.      (iii. 40.)

    In fashions wayward, and in love unkind,
    For Cupid deigns not wound a currish mind.      (iv. 46.)

(Observe here the tendency, not merely to balance, but to positive
antithesis, in the halves.)

(_d_) Beaumont, Sir John:

    The relish of the Muse consists in rhyme:
    One verse must meet another like a chime.
    Our Saxon shortness hath peculiar grace
    In choice of words fit for the ending-place,
    Which leave impression in the mind as well
    As closing sounds of some delightful bell.

(_e_) Sandys.

Compare the openings of _Job_ I. and II.:

    In Hus, a land which near the sun's uprise
    And northern confines of Sabæa lies,
    A great example of perfection reigned,
    His name was Job, his soul with guilt unstained.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Again when all the radiant sons of light
    Before His throne appeared, Whose only sight
    Beatitude infused; the Inveterate Foe,
    In fogs ascending from the depth below,
    Profaned their blest assembly.

(_f_) Waller:

    With the sweet sound of this harmonious lay
    About the keel delighted dolphins play;
    Too sure a sign of sea's ensuing rage
    Which must anon this royal troop engage;
    To whom soft sleep seems more secure and sweet
    Within the town commanded by our fleet.

(_g_) Cowley (_Davideis_):

    Lo! with pure hands thy heavenly fire to take,
    My well-chang'd muse I a pure vestal make.
    From Earth's vain joys and Love's soft witchcraft free,
    I consecrate my Magdalene to thee.
    Lo, this great work, a temple to thy praise
    On polish'd pillars of strong verse I raise--
    A temple where if thou vouchsafe to dwell
    It Solomon's and Herod's shall excel.

(It should be observed on these that in Beaumont, Sandys I., Waller,
and Cowley the separation of the couplets is strictly maintained; in
Sandys II. not. In fact, this passage, but for the rhymes, has almost
the run of Miltonic blank verse. Waller once approaches an initial
trochee or "inversion of accent" in "With the." Here Cowley is pretty
regular. But not far off may be found such a line as--

    Themselves at first against themselves _they excite_;

where he must either have intended "they-ex-" to be elided or have
meant an anapæstic ending of the kind so common in the dramatists his
contemporaries. And he constantly uses (explicitly defending it) the
Alexandrine, as in--

    Like some | fair pine | o'erlook|ing all | th' igno|bler wood,


    Which runs, | and, as | it runs, | for ev|er shall | run on;

while he often employs trochees or spondees. He does not use the
triplet in the _Davideis_, but does elsewhere, and, after Virgil, he
sometimes indulges in half-lines.)


(_a_) Shakespeare (doubtfully?):

    (1) King Pan|dion | he is | dead,
        All thy | friends are | lapped in | lead.

    (2) Let | the bird | of loud|est lay
        On | the sole | Ara|bian tree.

(These distichs from the _Passionate Pilgrim_ will illustrate the
two different forms which the heptasyllable--really an octosyllable
acephalous or catalectic--can take. The catalectic form (1) becomes
trochaic; the acephalous (2), iambic. They can be interchanged, and
either can group with the full iambic dimeter; but, _individually_, it
would spoil (1) to scan it as iambic, (2) to scan it as trochaic. Yet
on "accentual" scansion there is no difference; and some advocates of
recent fancy "stress"-systems maintain that the rhythms are identical!)

(_b_) Shakespeare (almost certainly):

    The cat | with eyne |of burn|ing coal
    Now couch|es 'fore | the mou|se's hole,
    And crick|ets sing | at the ov|en's mouth
    As | the ¦ blith|er ¦ from | their ¦ drouth.

(In this famous and eminently Shakespearian passage from _Pericles_,
the last line, a heptasyllable, goes perfectly with the rest, or
octosyllables, either as acephalous or as catalectic, either as an
iambic fellow or a trochaic substitute.)

(_c_) Shakespeare (certainly):

    And we fairies, that do run
      By the trìple Hecate's team,
    From the presence of the sun
      Follow¦ing | dark¦ness | like a dream,
    Now are frolic: not a mouse
    Shall disturb this hallowed house:
    I am sent with broom before,
    To sweep the dust behind the door.

(From _A Midsummer Night's Dream_. Same as last, except that the
full octosyllable is only reached at the end, and perhaps in line 4.
"Hecat[e]," as often, is dissyllabic.)

(_d_) Browne, W.:

    Be ev|er fresh! | Let no | man dare
    To spoil | thy fish, | make lock | or wear,
    But on | thy mar|gent still | let dwell,
    Those flowers | which have | the sweet|est smell,
    And let | the dust | upon | thy strand
    Become, | like Ta|gus, gold|en sand.
    Let as | much good | betide | to thee
    As thou | hast fa|vour showed | to me.

(Pure octosyllables. There is a catalectic line now and then elsewhere,
but it is an evident exception.)

(_e_) Wither:

    For | in ¦ her | a ¦ grace |there ¦ shines,
    That o'er-daring thoughts confines,
    Making worthless men despair
    To be loved of one so fair.
    Yea, the Destinies agree,
    Some good judgments blind should be,
    And not gain the power of knowing
    Those rare beauties in her growing.

(Pure heptasyllables, taking either cadence, and, when extended, owing
the extension mainly, if not wholly, to the double rhyme. The first
line gives the alternative scansion; but Wither's run is, on the whole,
trochaic, as Browne's is iambic.)


(_a_) See above, § XXIII., for "Drink to me only."

(_b_) Donne(?), Ayton(?), Anon.(?), (C.M.):

    Thou sent'st | me late | a heart | was crowned,
      I took | it to | be thine;
    But when | I saw | it had | a wound,
      I knew | that heart | was mine.

    A boun|ty of | a strange | conceit!
      To send | mine own | to me,
    And send | it in | a worse | estate
      Than when | it came | to thee.

(A capital example of the possibility of rhetorical _addition_ to the
strict foot-system, as in line 2, "I took it || to be thine."[43] For
"conc_ay_t" and "estate" _cf. sup._ § XXV. _sub fin._)

(_c_) Herrick (C.M.):

    Bid me | to live | and I | will live
      Thy Pro|testant | to be;
    Or bid | me love, | and I | will give
      A lov|ing heart to | thee.

(Strongly flavoured, and greatly improved, by trochaic substitution in
first foot.)

(_d_) Marvell (L.M.):

    My love | is of | a birth | as rare
    As 'tis | for ob|ject, strange | and high--
    It was | begot|ten of | Despair
    Upon | Impos|sibil|ity.

(_e_) Lord Herbert of Cherbury (_In Memoriam_ metre):

    For whose | affec|tion once | is shown,
      No long|er can | the world | beguile;
      Who sees | his pen|ance all | the while
    He holds | a torch | to make | her known.

(Great regularity of feet; but already the "circular" motion which
Tennyson was to perfect.)


(_a_) Dryden (1691?):

    While Pan | and fair Sy|rinx are fled | from our shore,
    The Gra|ces are ban|ished, and Love | is no more:
    The soft | god of plea|sure that warmed | our desires
    Has brok|en his bow, | and extin|guished his fires,
    And vows | that himself | and his moth|er will mourn,
    Till Pan | and fair Sy|rinx in tri|umph return.

(These early anapæsts, as noted, are very apt to begin with dissyllabic
feet. But it was no rule: in this same piece, "The Beautiful Lady of
the May," occurs the line:

  _All the nymphs_ | were in white | and the shep|herd in green.

(_b_) Anon. in _Pills to Purge Melancholy_ (1719, but contents often
much older):

    Let us drink |and be mer|ry, sing, dance, | and rejoice,
    With cla|ret and sher|ry, theor|bo and voice.
    The change|able world | to our joys | is unjust,
    All trea|sure's uncer|tain, then down | with your dust!
    On fro|lics dispose | your pounds, shil|lings, and pence,
    For we | shall be no|thing a hun|dred years hence.

(_c_) Prior (1696):

    While with la|bour assid|uous due plea|sure I mix,
    And in one | day atone | for the bus|iness of six,
    In a lit|tle Dutch chaise | on a Sat|urday night,
    On my left | hand my Hor|ace, a nymph | on my right.

(Observe here in "assid[u]ous" and "bus[i]ness" the liberty
of combining adjacent vowels (-_uo_us) and following familiar
pronunciation (_biz_ness) which this light verse especially authorises.


Dryden (complete stanza from "Anne Killigrew" ode):


    Bōrn tŏ | the spa|cious em|pire of | the Nine,
    One would | have thought | she should | have been | content
    To man|age well | that migh|ty gov|ernment;
    But what | can young | ambi|tious souls | confine?
      To the | next realm | she stretched | her sway,
      For Pain|ture near | adjoin|ing lay,
    A plen|teous prov|ince, and | allur|ing prey.
      A cham|ber of | depen|dencies | was framed,
    (As con|querors | will nev|er want | pretence,
    When armed, | to just|ify | the offence,)
    And the | whole fief, | in right | of po|etry, | she claimed.
    The coun|try op|en lay | without | defence;
    For po|ets fre|quent in|roads there | had made,
      And per|fectly | could rep|resent
      The shape, | the face, | with ev|ery lin|eament,
    And all | the large | domains | which the | Dumb Sis|ter swayed;
      All bowed | beneath | her gov|ernment,
      Received | in tri|umph where|soe'er | she went.
    Her pen|cil drew | whate'er | her soul | designed,
    And oft | the hap|py draught | surpassed | the im|age in | her mind.
      The syl|van scenes | of herds | and flocks,
      And fruit|ful plains | and bar|ren rocks,
      Of shal|low brooks | that flowed | so clear,
      The bot|tom did | the top | appear;
      Of deep|er too | and am|pler floods,
      Which, as | in mir|rors, showed | the woods;
      Of lof|ty trees, | with sa|cred shades,
      And pèr|spectives of plea|sant glades,
      Where nymphs | of bright|est form | appear,
      And shag|gy sat|yrs stand|ing near,
      Which them | at once | admire | and fear.
      The ru|ins, too, | of some | majes|tic piece,
      Boasting | the power | of an|cient Rome | or Greece,
      Whose sta|tues, frie|zes, col|umns, bro|ken lie,
      And, though | defaced, | the won|der of | the eye;
      What na|ture, art, | bold fic|tion, e'er | durst frame,
      Her form|ing hand | gave fea|ture to | the name.
      So strange | a con|course ne'er | was seen | before,
    But when | the peo|pled ark | the whole | crea|tion bore.

(88-91, heroics; 92, 93, octosyllables; 94-96, heroics; 97,
octosyllable; 98, Alexandrine; 99, 100, heroic; 101, octosyllable; 102,
heroic; 103, Alexandrine; 104, octosyllable; 105, 106, heroics; 107,
fourteener; 108-118, continuous octosyllables; 119-125, continuous
heroics capped and finished off by 126, Alexandrine. In 97, probably
"th' offence.")


(_a_) Dryden (early non-dramatic):

      Our setting sun, from his declining seat,
    Shot beams of kindness on _you_, not of heat;
    And, when his love was bounded in a few
    That were unhappy, that they might be true,
    Made _you_ the favourite of his last sad times,
    That is, a sufferer in his subjects' crimes.
    Thus, those first favours _you_ received, were sent,
    Like heaven's rewards, in earthly punishment:
    Yet fortune, conscious of _your_ destiny,
    E'en then took care to lay _you_ softly by,
    And wrapped _your_ fate among her precious things,
    Kept fresh to be unfolded with _your_ king's.

(Note recurrent _you_ and _your_ employed like pauses to vary verse.
Otherwise strictly "regular.")

(_b_) Dryden ("heroic"-dramatic type at best):

                                  Fair though you are
    As summer mornings, | and your eyes more bright
    Than stars that twinkle ¦ in a winter's night;
    Though you have eloquence to warm and move
    Cold age ¦ and praying hermits ¦ into love;
    Though Almahide with scorn ¦ rewards my care,--
    Yet, | than to change, | 'tis nobler to despair.
    My love's my soul; | and that from fate is free;
    'Tis that unchanged and deathless part of me.

                                 (_Conquest of Granada_ II., III. iii.)

(Observe how the alternation of central pause, strongly (|) and weakly
(¦) or hardly at all (no mark) emphasised, knits and shades the verse;
and how, in the first line, there is positive enjambment. Yet there is
still no trisyllabic substitution. This type is continued and perfected
in the great satires and didactic pieces for argument and attack, and
in the _Fables_ for narrative. It admits, to relieve monotony, the
Alexandrine (_Hind and Panther_, i. 23, 24))--

    Their corps[e] to perish, but their kind to last,
    So much | the death|less plant | the dy|ing fruit | surpassed;

the triplet (_ibid._ a little further)--

    Can I believe eternal God could lie
    Disguised in mortal mould and infancy,
    That the great Maker of the world could die?

both combined (_Palamon and Arcite_, ii. 560-562)--

    There saw I how the secret felon wrought,
    And treason labouring in the traitor's thought,
    And mid|wife time | the ri|pened plot | to mur|der brought;

and sometimes the fourteener (_Medal_, 94)--

    Thou leapst o'er all eternal truths in thy Pindaric way.

(_c_) Passages from Garth, (1), and Pope, (2) and (3), to illustrate
the mechanical character of the eighteenth-century couplet, the ease
with which it can be shifted from decasyllabic to octosyllabic, and its
peculiar construction of ridge-backed antithetic pause:

    (1) With ~breathing~ fire his pitchy nostrils blow,
    As from his sides he shakes the ~fleecy~ snow.
    Around this ~hoary~ prince from wat'ry beds
    His subject islands raise their ~verdant~ heads.
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Eternal spring with ~smiling~ verdure here
    Warms the mild air and crowns the ~youthful~ year.
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    The vine undressed her ~swelling~ clusters bears,
    The labouring hind the ~mellow~ olive cheers.

                                                    (_The Dispensary._)

(Read, omitting the interlined epithets, and you get perfectly fluent

    (2) First in these fields, I try the _sylvan_ strains,
        Nor blush to sport on Windsor's _blissful_ plains.
        Fair Thames, flow gently from thy _sacred_ spring,
        While on thy banks _Sicilian_ Muses sing;
        Let _vernal_ airs thro' _trembling_ osiers play
        And Albion's cliffs resound the _rural_ lay.

                                                    (_Windsor Forest._)

Now this, in the same way, by the omission of some of the italicised
_gradus_ epithets, becomes--

    First in these fields I try the strains,
    Nor blush to sport on Windsor's plains.
    Fair Thames, flow gently from thy spring,
    While on thy banks [the] Muses sing;
    Let vernal airs through osiers play
    And Albion's cliffs resound the lay.

  (3)         Not with more glories   in th' _ethereal_ plain
                The sun first rises   o'er the _purpled_ main,
                 Than issuing forth   the rival of his beams
           Launch'd on the bosom of   the _silver_ Thames.
  Fair nymphs and well-drest youths   around her shone,
            But ev'ry eye was fix'd   on her alone.
              On her _white_ breast   a _sparkling_ cross she wore,
            Which _Jews_ might kiss   and _Infidels_ adore.
                  Her _lively_looks   a _sprightly_ mind disclose,
                  Quick as her eyes   and as unfixed as those.
                  _Favours_ to none   to all she _smiles_ extends,
                  _Oft_ she rejects   but never _once_ offends.
                  Bright as the sun   her eyes the gazers strike,
                   And like the sun   they shine on all alike.
                  Yet graceful ease   and sweetness void of pride
              Might hide her faults   if Belles had faults to hide.
                    If to her share   some female errors fall,
                   Look in her face   and you'll forget them all.

                                              (_The Rape of the Lock._)

Of course Pope,[44] in the close of the _Dunciad_ and elsewhere, has
passages of the utmost dignity; and the antithetic arrangement is
good for satire. But perhaps the finest passages of this class of
couplet--certainly the finest _with_ the _Dunciad_ close--are the
following, from

(_d_) Johnson (_Vanity of Human Wishes_--end):

    Where then shall Hope and Fear their objects find?
    Must dull suspense corrupt the stagnant mind?
    Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate,
    Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate?
    Must no dislike alarm, no wishes rise,
    No cries invoke the mercies of the skies?
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Yet, when the sense of sacred presence fires
    And strong devotion to the skies aspires,
    Pour forth thy favours for a healthful mind,
    Obedient passions, and a will resigned;
    For love which scarce collective man can fill;
    For patience sovereign o'er transmuted ill;
    For faith that, panting for a happier seat,
    Counts death kind nature's signal of retreat.
    These goods for man the laws of Heaven ordain,
    These goods He grants who grants the power to gain;
    With these celestial Wisdom calms the mind,
    And makes the happiness she does not find.


(_e_) Crabbe ("Delay brings Danger"--end):

    Early he rose, and looked with many a sigh
    On the red light that filled the eastern sky;
    Oft had he stood before, alert and gay,
    To hail the glories of the new-born day:
    But now dejected, languid, listless, low,
    He saw the wind upon the water blow,
    And the cold stream curled onward as the gale
    From the pine hill blew harshly down the dale;
    On the right side the youth a wood surveyed,
    With all its dark intensity of shade;
    Where the rough wind alone was heard to move,
    In this, the pause of nature and of love,
    When now the young are reared, and when the old,
    Lost to the tie, grow negligent and cold--
    Far to the left he saw the huts of men,
    Half hid in mist, that hung upon the fen;
    Before him swallows gathering for the sea,
    Took their short flights and twittered on the lea;
    And near the bean-sheaf stood, the harvest done,
    And slowly blackened in the sickly sun;
    All these were sad in nature, or they took
    Sadness from him, the likeness of his look
    And of his mind--he pondered for a while,
    Then met his Fanny with a borrowed smile.

(Observe, besides the other points mentioned, that trisyllabic feet
practically never occur in Garth, Pope, and Johnson--"wat'ry for
watery," and words like "ether(ea)l," "celest(ia)l," "happ(ie)r," being
_intended_ to take the benefit of elision, though, as a matter of fact,
they _give_ that of extension. Only Crabbe, in "gath_e_ring," may
perhaps not have meant "gath'ring.")


(_a_) Thomson:

                        First the flaming red
    Sprung vivid forth; the tawny orange next;
    And next delicious yellow; by whose side
    Fell the kind beams of all-refreshing green.
    Then the pure blue that swells autumnal skies,
    Etherial played, and then of sadder hue
    Emerged the deepened indigo (as when
    The heavy-skirted evening droops with frost),
    While the last gleamings of refracted light
    Died in the fainting violet away.

(This, from the poem on Newton, is Thomson at his very best in blank
verse, or nearly so. He was, however, too apt to emphasise his phrases
into full stops, producing what Johnson justly called "broken style,"
as thus:

                            On he walks
    Graceful, and crows defiance. In the pond
    The finely-chequered duck, before her train,
    Rows garrulous. The stately sailing swan, etc.)

The trick was pushed to a pitch of absurdity by

(_b_) Glover:

                      Mindful of their charge,
    The chiefs depart. Leonidas provides
    His various armour. Agis close attends,
    His best assistant. First a breastplate arms
    The spacious chest;

and is somewhat noteworthy in Young and others. The reason probably was
a sort of nervous fear lest, in the absence of rhyme, the versification
should not be sufficiently marked. But at length the proper flow was
recovered by

(_c_) Cowper:

      Tīme māde | thee what | thou wast, | kīng ŏf | the woods,
    And time hath made thee what thou art--a cave
    For owls to roost in. Once thy spreading boughs
    O'erhung the champaign; and the nu|mĕrŏus flōcks
    That grazed it stood beneath that ample cope
    Uncrowded, yet safe-sheltered from the storm.
    No flock frequents thee now. Thou hast outlived
    Thy popularity, and art become
    (Unless verse rescue thee awhile) a thing
    Forgotten, as the foliage of thy youth.

                                                       (_Yardley Oak._)

(The spondee "Tīme māde" and trochee "kīng ŏf" are certainly
intentional, whether consciously as such or not. The anapæst "-mĕrŏus
flōcks" may not have been _meant_, for Cowper had not cleared his mind
up about "elision," but is one in fact.)


Analysis of Gray's _Bard_ (the second and third divisions coincide to
the minutest degree):

  I. i.

   1.     "Ruin seize thee, ruthless King!
   2.   Confusion on thy banners wait;
   3. Tho' fanned by Conquest's crimson wing
   4.   They mock the air with idle state.
   5. Helm, nor hauberk's twisted mail,
   6. Nor e'en thy virtues, Tyrant, shall avail
   7. To save thy secret soul from nightly fears,
   8. From Cambria's curse, from Cambria's tears!"
   9. --Such were the sounds that o'er the crested pride
  10.   Of the first Edward scatter'd wild dismay,
  11. As down the steep of Snowdon's shaggy side
  12.   He wound with toilsome march his long array:--
  13. Stout Glo'ster stood aghast in speechless trance;
  14. "To arms!" cried Mortimer, and couch'd his quivering lance.

  I. i. (_Strophe_)

   1. Troch. dim. cat. ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄.
   2. Iamb. dim. acat. ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄.
   3. ditto
   4. ditto
   5 as 1.
   6 and 7. Heroics nearly pure, ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄.
   8 as 2 to 4.
   9 to 13. Heroics
  14. Alexandrine ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄. "Quiv'ring," probably.

  I. ii.

   1.   On a rock, whose haughty brow
   2. Frowns o'er old Conway's foaming flood,
   3.   Robed in the sable garb of woe
   4. With haggard eyes the Poet stood
   5. (Loose his beard and hoary hair
   6. Stream'd like a meteor to the troubled air),
   7. And with a master's hand and prophet's fire
   8. Struck the deep sorrows of his lyre:
   9.   "Hark, how each giant-oak and desert-cave
  10. Sighs to the torrent's awful voice beneath!
  11. O'er thee, oh King! their hundred arms they wave,
  12.   Revenge on thee in hoarser murmurs breathe;
  13. Vocal no more, since Cambria's fatal day,
  14. To high-born Hoel's harp, or soft Llewellyn's lay.

  I. ii. (_Antistrophe_)


  I. iii.

   1.   "Cold is Cadwallo's tongue,
   2.   That hush'd the stormy main:
   3. Brave Urien sleeps upon his craggy bed:
   4.   Mountains, ye mourn in vain
   5.   Modred, whose magic song
   6. Made hugh Plinlimmon bow his cloud-topt head.
   7.   On dreary Arvon's shore they lie
   8. Smear'd with gore and ghastly pale:
   9. Far, far aloof the affrighted ravens sail;
  10.  The famish'd eagle screams, and passes by.
  11. Dear lost companions of my tuneful art,
  12.   Dear as the light that visits these sad eyes,
  13. Dear as the ruddy drops that warm my heart,
  14.   Ye died amidst your dying country's cries--
  15. No more I weep; They do not sleep;
  16.   On yonder cliffs, a griesly band,
  17. I see them sit; They linger yet,
  18.   Avengers of their native land:
  19. With me in dreadful harmony they join,
  20. And weave with bloody hands the tissue of thy line.

I. iii. (_Epode_)

   1. Iamb. dim. brachycat. ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄.
   2.     "         ""
   3. Heroic.
   4, 5, as 1, 2, with trochee substituted in first place.
   6 as 3.
   7. Iamb. dim. acat.
   8. Troch. dim. cat.
   9 to 14. Heroics: the last 4 in quatrain.
  15 to 18. Iamb. dims. arranged in stanza quatrain; internal rhymes
          only in lines 15 and 17.
  19. Heroic.
  20. Alexandrine.

  Rhyme scheme of Strophe        Rhyme scheme of
     and Antistrophe.                Epode.
           _a_                        _a_
           _b_                        _b_
           _a_                        _c_
           _b_                        _b_
           _c_                        _a_
           _c_                        _c_
           _d_                        _d_
           _d_                        _e_
           _e_                        _e_
           _f_                        _d_
           _e_                        _f_
           _f_                        _g_
           _g_                        _f_
           _g_                        _g_


(_a_) Gay:

    The school|boy's desire | is a play-|day,
      The school|master's joy | is to flog,
    The milk|maid's delight | is on May-|day,
       But mine | is on sweet | Molly Mog.

(Remarkable for the improvement, by the redundant syllable in the
odd lines, on the plain anapæstic three-foot quatrain used later by
Shenstone and Cowper, as well as for its leading up to the more obvious
successes of Praed and Mr. Swinburne; _v. inf._ § XLIV.)

(_b_) Gray:

    'Twas on a lofty vase's side
    Where China's gayest art had dyed
      The azure flowers that blow--
    Demurest of the tabby kind,
    The pensive Selima reclined,
      Gazed on the lake below.

(Eleventh-century poets employed the old romance-six, or _rime couée_,
almost more largely than any other metre for general lyrical purposes.)

(_c_) (D. Lewis?):

    And when with envy Time, transport|ed,
      Shall think to rob us of our joys,
    You'll in your girls again be court|ed,
      And I'll go wooing in my boys.

(Another instance of the refreshing and alterative effect of
redundance--in this case on the old "long measure." But even in its
stricter form the century managed "L.M." better than "C.M.," which,
till Blake, was almost always sing-song.)


Percy's _Reliques_, however, taught it something better; though Percy's
own imitations and those of others were often as described above. Yet
soon we find in

(_a_) Chatterton, such adaptations of ballad metre as--

    I ken | Syr Ro|ger from | afar
      Trippynge | over | the lea,
    Ich ask | whie | the lov|erd's son
      Is moe | than mee?

and such equivalenced octosyllabic couplet and stanza as--

    Sĭr Bō|tĕlĭer thēn | hăvĭng cōn|quĕr'd hīs twāyne,
    Rŏ̄de cōn|qŭerŏr ōff | thĕ tōur|nĕyĭng plāyne,
    Rĕcēiv|ĭng ă gār|lănd frŏm Āl|ĭcĕ's hānd,
    Thĕ̄ fāir|ĕst lā|dy̆e īn | thĕ lānde.

But the real Columbus here was

(_b_) Blake, who from 1780 onwards wrote such things as--

    Thĕ wīld | wĭ̄nds wēep
      Ănd thĕ nīght | ĭs ă-cōld;
    Cŏme hī|thĕr, Slēep,
      Ănd my̆ grīefs | ŭnfōld.
    Bŭt lō! | thĕ mōrn|ĭng pēeps
    Ōvĕr | thĕ ēast|ĕ̄rn stēeps,
    Ănd thĕ rūst|lĭng bēds | ŏf dāwn
        Thĕ ēarth | dŏ scōrn.

    Lō! | tŏ thĕ vāult
      Ŏf pā|vè̆d hēaven,
    Wĭth sōr|rŏw frāught,
      My̆ nōtes | ă̄re drīven.
    Thĕy strīke | thĕ ēar | ŏf nīght,
      Māke wēep | thĕ ēyes | ŏf dāy;

    Thĕy măke mad | thĕ rōar|ing winds,
      Ănd wĭth tēm|pĕsts plāy.
    Lĭke ă fīend) | in ă clōud,
      Wĭth hōwl|ĭng wōe
    Ăftĕr nīght | Ĭ dŏ crōwd
      Ănd wĭth nīght | wĭll gō;
    Ĭ tūrn | my̆ bāck | tŏ thĕ Ēast,
    Frŏm whĕnce cōm|fŏrts hāve | ĭncrēased,
    Fŏr līght | dŏth sēize | my̆ brāin
      Wĭth frān|tĭc pāin.

(This cannot be studied too carefully, and is almost a typical example
of sound prosody, orderly without monotony and free without licence.
Every substitution is justified, both on the general principles
expounded throughout this book, and to the ear in each individual case.)


(_a_) Collins (_Ode to Evening_):

    If aught | of oat|en stop | or pas|toral song
    May hope, | O pen|sive Eve, | to soothe | thine ear
        Like thy | own sol|emn springs,
        Thy springs | and dy|ing gales.

(Perfectly regular heroics and sixes; "pastoral" most probably intended
to be "past'ral.")

(_b_) Sayers (Choruses of _Moina_):


    Hail to | her whom | Frea | loves,
        Moina | hail!
    When first | thine in|fant eyes | beheld
        The beam | of day,
    Frea | from Val|halla's | groves
    Mark'd thy | birth in | silent | joy;
    Frea, | sweetly | smiling saw
    The swift-|wing'd mes|senger | of love
    Bearing | in her | rosy | hand
    The gold-|tipt horn | of gods.

(This--which is fairly but not wholly free from the fault noted in
II.--is ordinary iambic and trochaic mixture.)


    Dark, dark | is Moi|na's bed,
    On earth's | hard lap | she lies.
    [Where is | the beau|teous form
        That he|roes loved?]
    [Where is | the beam|ing eye,
        The rud|dy cheek?]
    Cold, cold | is Moi|na's bed,
    And shall | no lay | of death
    [With pleas|ing mur|mur soothe
        Her part|ed soul?]
    [Shall no | tear wet | the grave
        Where Moi|na lies?]
    The bards | shall raise | the lay | of death,
    The bards | shall soothe | her part|ed soul,
    [And drop | the tear | of grief
        On Moi|na's grave.]

(It will be observed that each of the couplets enclosed in square
brackets is simply a blank-verse line, arbitrarily split. This is
probably the result of the effort at rhymeless _stanza_. Observe the
unbroken iambic rhythm--another danger.)

(_c_) Southey (_Thalaba_):

        How beau|tiful | is Night!
    A dew|y fresh|ness fills | the si|lent air;
    No mist | obscures, | nor cloud | nor speck | nor stain
      Brēaks thĕ | serene | of heaven:
    In full-|orbed glo|ry yon|der moon | divine
      Rōlls thrōugh | the dark | blue depths.
        Beneath | her stead|y ray
        The des|ert-cir|cle spreads,
    Līke thĕ | rōund ō|cean, gir|dled with | the sky.
        How beau|tiful | is Night!

(Iambic lines of various lengths with trochaic and spondaic but no
other substitution (there are anapæsts elsewhere). The couplet-six, or
split Alexandrine, is intentional, but Southey expressly avoids split

(_d_) Shelley (_Queen Mab_):

      How wonderful is Death,
      Death and his brother Sleep!
    One, pale as yonder waning moon
      With lips of lurid blue;
    The other, rosy as the morn
      When throned on ocean's wave
      It blushes o'er the world:
    Yet both so passing wonderful!


(_a_) Percy's imitation of equivalence and extension of scheme (_Sir

    Then she | held forth | her lil|y-white hand
      Towards | that knight | so free;
    He gave | to it | one gen|til kiss,
    His heart | was brought | from bale | to bliss,
      The tears | sterte from | his ee.

(Not bad; might have been improved by "_And_ the tears|.")

(_b_) Goldsmith (regularised sing-song):

    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!

(_c_) Southey (quite sound in principle, and not bad in effect; but a
little more poetic powder wanted):

    They laid | her where | these four | roads meet
      Here in | this ver|y place--
    The earth | upon | her corpse | was pressed,
    This post | was driv|en into | her breast,
      And a stone | is on | her face.

(_d_) Coleridge (the real thing in simpler and more complex form):

    It is | an an|cient ma|riner,
      And he stop|peth one | of three--
    "By thy long | grey beard | and glit|tering eye,
      Now where|fore stop'st | thou me?"
        .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Her lips | were red, | her looks | were free,
    Her locks | were yel|low as gold;
    Her skin | was as white | as lep|rosy--
    The night|mare Life-|in-Death | was she,
    Who thicks | man's blood | with cold.
        .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    We list|ened and | looked side|ways up!
    Fear at | my heart, | as at | a cup,
    My life-|blood seemed | to sip!
    The stars | were dim | and thick | the night,
    The steers|man's face | by his lamp | gleamed white;
    From the sails | the dew | did drip--
    Till clomb | above | the east|ern bar
    The horn|èd moon, | with one | bright star
    Within | the neth|er tip.

(The presence and absence of anapæstic substitution here, with its
effect in each case, should be carefully studied.)


Specimens of _Christabel_, with note on the application of the system
to later lyric. (Some have said that in _Christabel_ "the consideration
of feet is dropped altogether," and others, that it "cannot be
analysed," or can only be so by the rough process of counting accents.
Let us go and do it.)

    'Tĭs thĕ mīd|dlĕ ŏf nīght | by̆ thĕ cās|tlĕ clōck,
    Ănd thĕ ōwls | hăve ăwā|kĕned thĕ crōw|ing cōck,
        Tŭ̄--whīt--tŭ̄ whŏ̄o!
    Ănd hārk, | ăgāin! | thĕ crōw|īng cō=ck,
        Hŏ̄w drōw|sĭlȳ | ĭt crēw.|

(A five-lined ballad stanza, freely but regularly equivalenced
with anapæsts. Line 3 may be four monosyllabic feet, or an iambic
monometer--two feet,--according to the value put on the first
note of the owl's cry.) The rest of the piece is _not_ in ballad
stanza, but in octosyllabic couplet, again more or less freely but
regularly equivalenced, and allowing itself occasional licences of
rhyme-order, line-length, etc. Thus the succeeding lines are in
two batches, where the substitution--anapæstic, trochaic, spondaic
or monosyllabic--increases, dwindles, disappears and reappears _ad

    Sĭr Lē|ŏlīne, | thĕ Bā|rŏn rīch,
    Hāth | ă tōoth|lĕss mās|tĭff, whīch
    Frōm | hĕr kēn|nĕl bĕnēath | thĕ rōck
    Mā|kĕth ān|swĕr tō | thĕ clōck,
    Fōur | fŏr thĕ quār|tĕrs ănd twēlve | fŏr thĕ hōur;
    Ēv|ĕr ănd āye, | by̆ shīne | ănd shōwer,
    Sī̆xtēen | shō̆rt hōwls | nŏt ō|vĕr lōud;
    Sō̆me sāy, | shĕ sēes | my̆ lā|dy̆'s shrōud.
      Īs | thĕ nīght | chīlly̆ | ănd dārk?
      Thĕ nīght | ĭs chīl|ly̆, būt | nŏt dārk.
      Thĕ thīn | grāy clōud | ĭs sprēad | ŏn hīgh,
      Ĭt cōv|ĕrs būt | nŏt hīdes | thĕ skȳ.
      Thĕ mōon | ĭs bĕhīnd, | ā̆nd ă̄t | thĕ fūll;
      Ănd yēt | shĕ lōoks | bŏ̄th smāll | ănd dūll.
      Thĕ nīght | ĭs chīll, | thĕ clōud | ĭs grāy:
      'Tĭs ă mōnth | bĕfōre | thĕ mōnth | ŏf Māy,
      Ănd thĕ sprīng | cŏ̄mes slōw|ly̆ ūp | thĭs wāy.

The whole of the rest follows suit, with occasional variations (_not_,
save in one case perhaps, "irregularities"), as, for instance--

    Ă̄nd || in ¦ si|lence ¦ pray|eth ¦ she.
        .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    From || the ¦ love|ly ¦ la|dy's ¦ cheek,

where a triple scansion might appear possible: (1) monosyllabic
beginnings indicated by ||; (2) three-foot lines with anapæstic opening
(|); and (3) the trochaic variation common in seventeenth-century poets
(¦). A famous third line--

    Bēau|tĭfŭ̄l | ĕ̄xcēed|ĭnglȳ,|

decides in favour of (1), for (2) and (3) would exceedingly spoil its
beauty. There is sometimes almost _complete_ anapæstic substitution--

    Săve thĕ bōss | ŏf thĕ shīeld | ŏf Sĭr Lē|ŏlĭne tāll,
    Whĭch hūng | ĭn ă mūr|ky̆ ŏld nīche | ĭn thĕ wāll;

which is still further developed in the spell of Geraldine--

    Ĭn thĕ tōuch | ŏf thĭs bō|sŏm thĕre wōrk|ĕth ă spēll.

(This, in couplet, is a little dangerous.)

_Note on the Application of the "Christabel" System to
Nineteenth-Century Lyric generally._

It is most remarkable, but suggestive to a further extent of the fact
that Coleridge did not entirely comprehend what he was doing, that
_Christabel_, especially its opening stanza, supplies a complete key to
the later nineteenth-century lyrical scansion which (_v. sup._ p. 27)
he and others failed to understand in Tennyson. That opening stanza,
placed side by side with the "Hollyhock Song" (see above again), will
completely interpret it to any one who has eye and ear enough to
mutate the _mutanda_. And when the connection and the interpretation
have once been seized, there is nothing, from Shelley's apparently
impulsive and instinctive harmonies to the most complicated experiments
of Browning and Swinburne, which will not yield to the master keys
of equivalent substitution and varying of line-length, subject to
the general law of rhythmical uniformity, or at least symphonised
change. It has been said, for instance, by the latest and most painful
French student of English prosody, M. Verrier, that in Shelley's
_Cloud_ "traditional metric renounces the attempt" to divide it into
feet. Here is the division, made without its being necessary to think
twice--hardly to think once--about a single article of it:

    I bring | fresh showers | for the thirst|ing flowers,
        From the seas | and the streams;
    I bear | light shade | for the leaves | when laid
        In their noon|day dreams.
    From my wings | are shaken | the dews | that waken
        The sweet | buds ev|ery one,
    When rocked | to rest | on their mo|ther's breast,
        As she dan|ces about | the sun.
    I wield | the flail | of the lash|ing hail,
        And whi|ten the green | plains un|der,
    And then | again | I dissolve | it in rain,
        And laugh | as I pass | in thun|der.

(Base anapæstic, and normal length dimeter; but shortened to three and
two feet, thus--424243434343. The two last three-foot lines catalectic
dimeter, or, to put the same thing in another way, the first threes
plain, the last redundanced. Substitution of iamb or spondee for
anapæst perfectly regular, and (to keep the anapæstic base specially
marked against the iambic) not very much indulged in. "Showers" and
"flowers" as well as probably "shaken" and "waken" used in their
shortened or practically monosyllabic value. Nothing in the least
incalculable, eccentric, or even difficult, on the foot system.)


(The examples given will be found to be all more or less of the
enjambed variety. Not only has the other been much less practised,
owing to reaction from the over-fondness of the eighteenth century
for it, but that century, including the period of throwing back to
Dryden,[46] practically found out all its considerable but limited

(_a_) Leigh Hunt (_Story of Rimini_):

    Āll thĕ | sweet range-wood, flowerbed, grassy plot
    Francesca loved, but most of all this spot.
    Whenever she walk'd forth, wherever went
    About the grounds, to this at last she bent:
    Here she had brought a lute | ānd ă | few books.
    Here would she lie for hours, | ōftĕn | with looks
    More sorrowful by far, yet sweeter too;
    Sometimes with firmer comfort, where she drew
    From sense of in|jŭry̆'s sēlf | and truth sustained,
    Sometimes with rarest indignation gained,
    From meek, self-pitying mixtures of extremes,
    Of hope, and soft despair, and child|lī̆ke drēams,
    And all that promising calm smile we see
    In Nature's face when we look patiently.

(Various substitutions marked, as also in the following.)

(_b_) Keats (_Endymion_):

    At this, from every side they hurried in,
    Rubbing their sleepy eyes with lazy wrists,
    And doubling over head their little fists
    In backward yawns. But all were soon alive:
    For as delicious wine doth, sparkling, dive
    In nectar'd clouds and curls through water fair,
    So from the arbour roof down swell'd an air
    Ō̆dō̆r|ous and | enli|vening; mak|ing all
    To laugh, and play, and sing, and loudly call
    For their sweet queen: when lo! the wreathed green
    Disparted, and far upward could be seen
    Blue heaven, and a silver car, air-borne,
    Whose silent wheels, fresh wet from clouds of morn,
    Spun off a drizzling dew,--which falling chill
    On soft Adonis' shoulders, made him still
    Nestle and turn uneasily about.

(As in the seventeenth-century patterns, not much equivalence:--the
paragraph effect, produced by enjambment and varied pause, being
chiefly relied on to prevent monotony. Later, in _Lamia_, Keats tried,
after study of Dryden, a less fluent pattern, with stop as well as
enjambment, Alexandrine, and triplet.)

(_c_) Browning (_Sordello_):

    As, shall I say, some Ethiop, past pursuit
    Of all enslavers, dips a shackled foot,
    Burnt to the blood, into the drowsy black
    Enormous watercourse which guides him back
    To his own tribe again, where he is king;
    And laughs because he guesses, numbering
    The yellower poison-wattles on the pouch
    Of the first lizard wrested from its couch
    Under the slime (whose skin, the while, he strips
    To cure his nostril with, and festered lips,
    And eyeballs bloodshot through the desert-blast),
    That he has reached its boundary, at last
    May breathe;--thinks o'er enchantments of the South
    Sovereign to plague his enemies, their mouth,
    Eyes, nails, and hair; but, these enchantments tried
    In fancy, puts them soberly aside
    For truth, projects a cool return with friends,
    The likelihood of winning more amends
    Ere long; thinks that, takes comfort silently,
    Then, from the river's brink, his wrongs and he,
    Hugging revenge close to their hearts, are soon
    Off-striding for the Mountains of the Moon.

(Practically a long blank-verse paragraph with the addition of rhyme,
which sometimes almost escapes notice.)

(_d_) M. Arnold (_Tristram and Iseult_):

    The young surviving Iseult, one bright day,
    Had wander'd forth. Her children were at play
    In a green cir|cular hol|low in the heath
    Which borders the sea-shore--a country path
    Creeps over it from the till'd fields behind.
    The hollow's grassy banks are soft-inclined,
    And to one standing on them, far and near
    The lone unbroken view spreads bright and clear
    Over the waste. This cirque of open ground
    Is light and green; the heather, which āll rōund
    Creeps thickly, grows not here; but the pale grass
    Is strewn with rocks, and many a shiver'd mass
    Of vein'd white-gleaming quartz, and here and there
    Dōttĕd with holly-trees and juniper.

(An admirable following of Keats's model; the rhymes not too much
kept out of view, and suggestions of trochaic and spondaic as well as
trisyllabic substitution deftly used. For some strange reason he never
returned to it, but left it for William Morris to develop, completely
and most effectively, in _Jason_ and _The Earthly Paradise_.)

(_e_) Tennyson very seldom tried the couplet, but when he did, as in
"The Vision of Sin," he achieved it magnificently:

    I had a vision when the night was late:
    A youth came riding toward a palace gate.
    He rode a horse with wings, that would have flown
    But that his heavy rider kept him down.
    And from the palace came a child of sin,
    And took him by the curls and led him in,
    Where sat a company with heated eyes,
    Expecting when a fountain should arise:
    A sleepy light upon their brows and lips--
    As when the sun, a crescent of eclipse,
    Dreams over lake and lawn, and isles and capes--
    Suffused them, sitting, lying, languid shapes,
    By heaps of gourds, and skins of wine, and piles of grapes.

(Observe how fine this couplet is, and how _personal_. We have seen how
Keats studied Dryden: this is as if Dryden had studied Keats.)

(_f_) Mr. Swinburne (_Tristram of Lyonesse_):

    Love, that is first and last of all things made,
    The light that has the living world for shade,
    The spirit that for tem|poral veil | has on
    The souls of all men, wo|ven in un|ison,
    One fi|ery rai|ment with all lives inwrought
    And lights of sun|ny and star|ry deed and thought.

(In this splendid metre the characteristics of stopped and enjambed
couplet are to a great extent combined. Considerable anapæstic
substitution to gain speed.)


(_a_) Wordsworth ("Yew Trees"):

                          Beneath whose sable roof
    Of boughs, as if for festal purpose, decked
    With unrejoicing berries--ghostly shapes
    May meet at noontide; Fear and trembling Hope,
    Sīlĕnce | and Foresight, Death the Skeleton
    And Time the Shadow;--there to celebrate,
    As in a na|tural tem|ple scattered o'er
    With altars undisturbed of mossy stone,
    United worship; or in mute repose
    To lie, and listen to the mountain flood
    Murmuring | from Glaramara's inmost caves.

(The student should notice the difference, slight but distinctly
perceptible, from the Miltonic model.)

(_b_) Shelley (_Alastor_):

                        Soft mossy lawns
  Beneath these canopies extend their swells,
  Fragrant with perfumed herbs, and eyed with blooms
  Minute yet beautiful. One darkest glen
  Sends from its woods of musk-rose, twined with jas|mine,
  A soul-dissolving odour, to invite
  To some more lovely mys|tery. Through | the dell,
  Silence and Twilight here, twin-sisters, keep
  Their noonday watch, and sail among the shades,
  Like va|porous shapes | half seen; beyond, a well,
  Dark, gleaming, and of most translucent wave,
  Images all the woven boughs above,
  And each depending leaf, and every speck
  Of azure sky, darting between their chasms,

(There are actually seven lines more before the paragraph comes at once
to a line-end and a full stop in punctuation. Note also the Thomsonian
mid-stops; the Wordsworthian atmosphere (cf. citation above); the
actual or suggested trisyllables; the actual redundance in "jas|mine,"
and the suggested one in "chas|m.")

(_c_) Browning--early (_Pauline_):

    Sun-treader!--life and light be thine for ever!
    Thou art gone from us; years go by, and spring
    Gladdens, and the young earth is beautiful,
    Yet thy songs come not, other bards arise,
    But none like thee: they stand, thy majesties,
    Like mighty works which tell some spirit there
    Hath sat regardless of neglect and scorn,
    Till, its long task completed, it hath risen
    And left us, never to return, and all
    Rush in to peer and praise when all in vain.
    The air seems bright with thy past presence yet,
    But thou art still for me as thou hast been
    When I have stood with thee as on a throne
    With all thy dim creations gathered round
    Like mountains, and I felt of mould like them,
    And with them creatures of my own were mixed,
    Like things half-lived, catching and giving life.

(Wordsworthian-Shelleyan, but with a greater touch of dramatic
soliloquy in it. Redundance, but no trisyllabics.)

(_d_) Browning--later (_Mr. Sludge_, "_The Medium_"):

                                  O|ver the way
    Holds Captain Sparks his court:| is it bet|ter there?
    Have you not hunting-stories, scalping-scenes,
    And Mex|ican War | exploits to swallow plump
    If you'd be free | o' the stove-|side, rocking-chair,
    And tri|o of af|fable daugh|ters? Doubt succumbs!
        .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Yet screwed him into henceforth gulling you
    To the top | o' your bent,|--all out of one half-lie!

(This unhesitating trisyllabic substitution sometimes reaches the very
dangerous adjustment of trochee-anapæst, as in--

    Gūilty̆ | fŏr thĕ whīm's | sā̆ke! Gūil|ty̆ hĕ sōme|how thinks.

  _The Ring and the Book._)

(_e_) Tennyson--early (_Lover's Tale_):

    Glēams ŏf the water-circles as they broke,
    Flīckĕred | like doubtful smiles about her lips,
    Qūivĕred | a flying glory in her hair,
    Lēapt lĭke a passing thought across her eyes.
    And mine, with one that will not pass till earth
    And heaven pass too, dwell on _my_ heaven--a face
    Most starry fair, but kindled from within
    As 'twere with dawn.

(Substitution trochaic only, except for "heaven"--always ambiguous in

(_f_) Tennyson--standard middle (_Ulysses_):

      There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
    There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
    Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me--
    That ever with a frolic welcome took
    The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
    Free hearts, free foreheads--you and I are old;
    Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
    Death closes all: but something ere the end,
    Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
    Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
    The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
    The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
    Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
    'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
    Push off, and sitting well in order smite
    The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
    To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
    Of all the western stars, until I die.
    It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
    It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
    And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
    Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

(Verse-paragraph completely achieved by variation of pause and
different weighting of line, with, again, little or no trisyllabic

Tennyson--later (_The Holy Grail_):

      "There rose a hill that none but man could climb,
    Scarr'd with a hundred wintry wa|tercourses--
    Storm at the top, and when we gain'd it, storm
    Round us and death; for ev|ery mo|ment glanced
    His silver arms and gloom'd: so quick and thick
    The lightnings here and there to left and right
    Struck, till the dry old trunks about us, dead,
    Yea, rotten with a hundred years of death,
    Sprang into fi|re: and at | the base we found
    On either hand, as far as eye could see,
    A great black swamp and of an evil smell,
    Part black, part whiten'd with the bones of men,
    Not to be crost, save that some ancient king
    Had built a way, where, link'd with many a bridge,
    A thousand piers ran into the great Sea.
    And Ga|lahad fled | along them bridge by bridge,
    And ev|ery bridge | as quickly as he crost
    Sprang into fire and vanish'd, tho' I yearn'd
    To fol|low; and thrice | above him all the heavens
    Open'd and blazed with thunder such as seem'd
    Shoutings of all the sons of God: and first
    At once I saw him far on the great Sea,
    In silver-shining armour starry-clear;
    And o'er his head the Holy Vessel hung
    Clothed in white samite or a lu|minous cloud.
    And with exceeding swiftness ran the boat,
    If boat it were--I saw not whence it came.
    And when the heavens o|pen'd and blazed | again
    Roaring, I saw him like a silver star--
    And had he set the sail, or had the boat
    Become a living creature clad with wings?
    And o'er his head the Holy Vessel hung
    Redder than any rose, a joy to me,
    For now I knew the veil had been withdrawn.
    Then in a moment when they blazed again
    Opening, I saw the least of little stars
    Down on the waste, and straight beyond the star
    I saw | the spiri|tual cit|y and all | her spires
    And gateways in a glory like one pearl--
    No larger, tho' the goal of all the saints--
    Strike from the sea; and from the star there shot
    A rose-red sparkle to the cit|y, and there
    Dwelt, and I knew it was the Holy Grail,
    Which never eyes on earth again shall see."

(Paragraph still more ambitious and elaborate, with much trisyllabic
substitution and some redundance.)


(_a_) Keats (_Eve of St. Mark_):

    Upon a Sabbath day it fell;
    Twice holy was the Sabbath-bell,
    That called the folk to evening-prayer;
    The city streets were clean and fair
    From wholesome drench of April rains;
    And on the western window-panes
    The chilly sunset faintly told
    Of unmatured green valleys cold,
    Of the green thorny bloomless hedge,
    Of rivers new with spring-tide sedge,
    Of primroses by sheltered rills,
    And daisies on the aguish hills.
    Twice holy was the Sabbath-bell:
    The silent streets were crowded well
    With staid and pious companies,
    Warm from their fire-side orat'ries,
    And moving, with demurest air,
    To even-song and vesper prayer.
    Each archèd porch, and entry low,
    Was filled with patient folk and slow,
    With whispers hush, and shuffling feet,
    While played the organ loud and sweet.

(_b_) Morris (_The Ring given to Venus_):

    By then his eyes were opened wide.
    Already up the grey hillside
    The backs of two were turned to him:
    One, like a young man tall and slim,
    Whose heels with rosy wings were dight;
    One like a woman clad in white,
    With glittering wings of many a hue,
    Still changing, and whose shape none knew.
    In aftertime would Laurence say
    That though the moonshine, cold and grey,
    Flooded the lonely earth that night,
    These creatures in the moon's despite
    Were coloured clear, as though the sun
    Shone through the earth to light each one--
    And terrible was that to see.

(Here the effect is entirely achieved by dividing the couplets, with
full stops or strong pauses at the end of the first line, and running
the sense of the second into the first of the next; by considerable
variations of internal pause, and by placing emphatic or brightly
coloured words at different spots. Equivalence is practically limited
to such things as "glittering," "aguish," "many a," etc., where it is
at minimum strength.)


(_a_) Drayton (_Polyolbion_):

    Whenas the pliant Muse, with fair and even flight,
    Betwixt her silver wings is wafted to the Wight,--
    That Isle, which jutting out into the sea so far,
    Her offspring traineth up in exercise of war;
    Those pirates to put back, that oft purloin her trade,
    Or Spaniards or the French attempting to invade.
    Of all the southern isles she holds the highest place,
    And evermore hath been the great'st in Britain's grace.
    Not one of all her nymphs her sovereign fav'reth thus,
    Embracèd in the arms of old Oceanus.
    For none of her account so near her bosom stand,
    'Twixt Penwith's furthest point and Goodwin's queachy sand.

(_b_) Browning (_Fifine at the Fair_):

    O trip and skip, Elvire!       Link arm in arm with me!
    Like husband and like wife,    together let us see
    The tumbling troop arrayed,    the strollers on their stage,
    Drawn up and under arms,       and ready to engage.

(Printing of lines disjoined to show the _extra_ stress which Browning
lays on the middle pause, and which, though not universal, is general
throughout the poem. The case is rather the other way with Drayton.
He _observes_ the pause, which is indeed the law of the line; but he
does not seem to avail himself of it much as a prosodic or rhetorical


_The Dying Swan_ of Tennyson, scanned entirely through to show the
application of the system. (It brings out a scheme of _dimeters_ wholly
iambic at the lowest rate of substitution, wholly anapæstic at the
highest, mixed between. A few instances occur of the other usual and
regular licences--trochaic and spondaic substitution, monosyllabic feet
(_or_ catalexis) and one or two of brachycatalexis, three feet instead
of four. And it is to be specially noted that the poet uses these, not
at random, but so as to swell and raise his rhythm, proportionately
and progressively, from the slow motion and scanty syllabising of the
opening scene-stanza to the "flood of eddying song" at the close. This
process is entirely unaccounted for on the bare "four-stress" system.)


    Thĕ plāin | wă̄s grāss|y̆, wīld | ănd bāre,
    Wīde, wīld, | ănd ō|pĕn tō | thĕ āir.
    Whīch | hăd būilt | ŭp ēv|ĕry̆whēre
      Ăn ūn|d̆er-rōof | ŏf dōle|fŭl grāy.
    Wĭth ăn īn|nĕr vōice | thĕ rīv|ĕr rān,
    Ădōwn | ĭt flōat|ĕd ă dȳ|ĭng swān, |
        Ănd lōud|ly̆ dīd | lămēnt.
      Ĭ̄t wă̄s | thĕ mīd|dlĕ ōf | thĕ dāy.
    Ēvĕr | thĕ wēa|ry̆ wīnd wĕnt ōn,
        Ăn]d tōok | thĕ rēed-|tōps ā̆s |ĭt wēnt.


    Sŏ̄me ¦ blŭ̄e | pēaks ¦ ĭ̄n | thĕ dīs|tănce rōse,
    Ănd whīte | ăgāinst | thĕ cōld-|whīte skȳ,
    Shŏne ōut | thĕir crōwn|ĭng snōws.
      Ŏne wīl|lŏw ō|vĕr thĕ rīv|ĕr wēpt,
    Ănd shōok |thĕ wāve | ăs thĕ wīnd | dĭd sīgh;
    Ăbōve | ĭn thĕ wīnd | wăs thĕ swāl|low,
        Chās¦ĭng | ĭtsēlf | ăt ĭts ōwn | wīld wīll,
        Ănd fār | thrŏ' thĕ mār|ĭsh grēen | ănd stīll |
        Thĕ tān|glĕd wā|tĕr-cōur|sĕs slēpt,
    Shŏt ō|vĕr wĭth pūr|plĕ ănd grēen, | ănd yēl|low.


    Thĕ wīld | swă̄n's dēath-|hy̆mn tōok | thĕ sōul
    Ŏf thāt | wāste plāce | wĭth jōy
    Hīddĕn | ĭn sōr|rŏw: ăt fīrst | tŏ thĕ ēar
    Thĕ wār|blĕ wăs lōw, | ănd fūll | ănd clēar;
    Ănd flōat|ĭng ăbōut | thĕ ūn|dĕr-skȳ,
    Prĕvāil|ĭng ĭn wēak|nĕss, thĕ cōr|ŏnăch stōle
    Sōme|tĭmes ăfār, | ănd sōme|tĭmes ănēar;
    Bŭt ănōn | hĕr āw|fŭl jū|bĭlănt vōice,
    Wĭth ă mū|sĭc strānge | ănd mān|ĭfōld,
    Flōw'd fōrth | ŏn ă cār|ŏl frēe | ănd bōld;
    Ăs whēn | ă mīht|y̆ pēo|plĕ rĕjōice
    Wĭth shāwms, | ănd wĭth cȳm|băls, ănd hārps | ŏf gōld,
    Ănd thĕ tū|mŭlt ŏf thēir | ăcclāim | ĭs rōll'd
    Thrŏ' thĕ ō|pĕn gātes | ŏf thĕ cī|ty̆ ăfār,
    Tŏ thĕ shēp|hĕrd whŏ wātch|ĕth thĕ ē|vĕnīng stār.
    Ănd thĕ crēep]|ĭng mōss|ĕs ănd clām|bĕrĭng wēeds,
    Ānd thĕ wīl|lŏw-brān|chĕs hōar | ănd dānk,
    Ănd thĕ wā|vy̆ swēll | ŏf thĕ sōugh|ĭng rēeds,
    Ănd thĕ wāve-|wōrn hōrns | ŏf thĕ ēch|ŏĭng bānk,
    Ănd thĕ sīl|vĕry̆ mār|ĭsh-flōwers | thăt thrōng
    Thĕ dē|sŏlăte crēeks | ănd pōols | ămōng,
    Wĕre flōod|ĕd ō|vĕr wĭth ēd|dy̆ĭng sōng.

This piece, with the "Hollyhock" (_v. sup._ p. 27), Blake's "Mad Song"
(§ XXXV.), Shelley's "Cloud" (note, p. 100), and the _Christabel_
selections (§ XXXVIII.), will almost completely exemplify substitution
in lyric. But the germ is far older--in Shakespeare, in "E.I.O.," and
even in pieces earlier still.


This remarkable measure illustrates, with especial appositeness, the
natural history of metrical evolution, and so may be dealt with more
fully as a specimen. There can be little doubt that its original, or
the earliest form to which it can be traced, is the split Alexandrine
or three-foot iambic, which appears in the French of Philippe de Thaun,
and in several English poems, such as the _Bestiary_, translated from

    After | him he | filleth,
    Drageth | dust with | his stert,

and as even _King Horn_. But this gives far too little room in
English; and the rhymes, when rhyme is introduced, come too quick.
Substitution of trisyllabic feet remedies both faults; while the actual
six, with _interchanged_ rhyme, gives beautiful work, though the lines
are still rather short:

    With lon|gyng y | am lad,
    On mol|de I wax|e mad,
      a maid|e mar|reth me;
    Y grede, | y grone, | un-glad,
    For sel|den y | am sad
      that sem|ly for | te se;
      Levedi, | thou rew|e me,
    To rou|the thou havest | me rad;
    Be bote | of that | y bad,
      My lyf | is long | on the.
       (Wright's _Specimens of Lyric Poetry_, No. vii.)

This shortness kept it back, more especially when the fear of _mainly_
trisyllabic measures came in after the fifteenth-century anarchy. But
as soon as that fear disappeared, and the anapæst forced itself into
general use, logic, assisted by tune, suggested a cutting down of the
popular dimeter or four-foot anapæstic line to three. This, for a long
time, maintained itself in strict literature without much variety
of structure, as, at different times, is shown by Shenstone in the

    Since Phyl|lis vouchsafed | me a look,
      I nev|er once dreamt | of my vine;
    May I lose | both my pipe | and my crook,
      If I know | of a kid | that is mine;

and by Cowper in the still better known "Alexander Selkirk" lines--

    I am mon|arch of all | I survey,
      My right | there is none | to dispute:
    From the cen|tre all round | to the sea
      I am lord | of the fowl | and the brute;

and in "Catherina"--

    She came-- | she is gone-- | we have met,
      And meet | perhaps nev|er again:
    The sun | of that mo|ment is set
      And seems | to have ris|en in vain.

Now, though these lines are pretty, they are exposed to the charge
of being pretty sing-song, and monotonous jingle. But this had, long
before Cowper, been to a great extent remedied, though for comic
purposes only or mainly, in such things as Gay's "Molly Mog," quoted
above, and Chesterfield-Pulteney's

    Had I Hanover, Bremen, and Ver|den,
      And likewise the Duchy of Zell,
    I would part with them all for a far|thing,
      To have my dear Molly Lepell!

(Pronounce "Verden" with the proper English value of _er_, and give
"farthing" its then correct form of "farden," and the rhyme will be

What it was that made Byron take this up for a serious purpose in the
lines to Haidee (before _Don Juan_) is not, I believe, known:

    I en|ter thy gar|den of ro|ses,
      Belov|ed and fair | Haidee,
    Each morn|ing where Flo|ra repo|ses,
      For sure|ly I see | her in thee.

The gain here, from the redundant syllable and double rhyme in the odd
lines, and from a rather more frequent use of _dissyllabic_ feet to
prevent monotony, is immense. Praed adopted the measure, and improved
it still further, in his admirable "Letter of Advice":

    Remem|ber the thrill|ing roman|ces
      We read | on the bank | in the glen;
    Remem|ber the suit|ors our fan|cies
      Would pic|ture for both | of us then.
    They wore | the red cross | on their shoul|der,
      They had van|quished and par|doned their foe--
    Sweet friend, | are you wi|ser or cold|er?
      My own | Aramin|ta, say "No!"

And then Mr. Swinburne had the probably final inspiration of shortening
the last line to two feet (or an anapæstic monometer), with an
astonishing result of added and finished music:

    Though the ma|ny lights dwin|dle to one | light,
      There is help | if the heav|en has one,
    Though the skies | be discrowned | of the sun|light,
      And the earth | dispossessed | of the sun,
    They have moon|light and sleep | for repay|ment
      When, refreshed | as a bride | and set free,
    With stars | and sea-winds | in her rai|ment,
          Night sinks | on the sea.


(_a_) Tennyson (_The Lotos-Eaters_):

    For they | lie be|side their | nectar, | and the | bolts are | hurl'd
    Fār bĕ|lōw thĕm | īn thĕ | vāllĕys, | ānd thĕ | clōuds ăre | līghtly̆ |
    Round their golden houses, girdled with the gleaming world,
    Where they smile in secret, looking over wasted lands,
    Blight and famine, plague and earthquake, roaring deeps and fiery
    Clanging fights, and flaming towns, and sinking ships, and praying

(Trochaic six- and seven-foot lines, always hypercatalectic, or, in
stricter language, trochaic trimeters hypercatalectic and tetrameters

At the close the poet avails himself of the iambic alternative which is
so effective, and has a pure fourteener:

    Ŏ̄ rēst | yĕ, brō|thĕr mā|rĭnērs, | wĕ wīll | nŏt wān|dĕr mōre. |

(There is no trisyllabic substitution.)

(_b_) Tennyson (_Maud_):

    Cōld ănd clēar-cŭt fāce, why̆ cōme yŏu sŏ crūelly̆ mēek,
    Brēakĭng ă slūmbĕr ĭn whīch āll splēenfŭl fōlly̆ wăs drōwn'd,
    Pāle wĭth thĕ gōldĕn bēam ŏf ăn ēyelăsh dēad ŏn thĕ chēek,
    Passionless, pale, cold face, star-sweet on a gloom profound;
    Womanlike, taking revenge too deep for a transient wrong
    Done but in thought to your beauty, and ever as pale as before
    Growing and fading and growing upon me without a sound,
    Luminous, gemlike, ghostlike, deathlike, half the night long
    Growing and fading and growing, till I could bear it no more,
    Bŭt ărōse, and all by myself in my own dark garden ground,
    Listening now to the tide in its broad-flung shipwrecking roar,
    Now to the scream of a madden'd beach dragg'd down by the wave,
    Walk'd in a wintry wind by a ghastly glimmer, and found
    Thĕ shīning daffodil dead, and Orion low in his grave.

(A rather deceptive metre; for which reason foot-division has been
postponed above.) It may look at first sight like a trochaic run, but
this will be found not to fit. Then hexameters of the _Evangeline_
type, with a syllable cut off at the end, suggest themselves; but it
will be seen that some openings make this very bad. It is really a
six-foot anapæst with the usual allowance of iambic substitution and of
monosyllabic ("anacrustic") beginning, as thus:

    Cold | and clear-|cut face, | why come | you so cru|elly meek,
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    But arose, | and all | by myself | in my own | dark gar|den ground,
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    The shin|ing daf|fodil dead,| and Ori|on low | in his grave.

(_c_) Tennyson (_Voyage of Maeldune_):

    And we came | to the Isle | of Flowers: | their breath | met us out |
                                                               on the seas,
    For the Spring | and the mid|dle Sum|mer sat each | on the lap |
                                                             of the breeze;
    And the red | passion-flower | to the cliffs, | and the dark-|blue
                                                          clem|atis, clung,
    And starr'd | with a myr|iad blos|som the long | convol|vulus hung.

(Same metre, but almost purely anapæstic; the central pause frequently

(_d_) Tennyson (_Kapiolani_)

    When ¦ from the | ter¦rors of | Na¦ture a | peo¦ple have | fash¦ioned
                                     and | wor¦ship a | spir¦it of | E¦vil.

(Apparently intended for a dactylic _octometer_. Like all these things
in English, it probably goes better as anapæstic with anacrusis and
hypercatalexis. See dotted scansion.)

(_e_) Browning (_Abt Vogler_):

    Would ¦ that the | struc¦ture | brave, ¦ the | man¦ifold | mu¦sic I |
      Bid¦ding my | or¦gan o|bey, ¦| call¦ing its |keys ¦ to their | work,
    Claim¦ing each | slave ¦ of the | sound ¦ at a | touch, ¦ as when |
                                                          So¦lomon | willed
      Ar¦mies of | an¦gels that | soar, ¦| le¦gions of | de¦mons that |
    Man, brute, ¦| reptile, ¦| fly, ¦|| alien ¦ of | end ¦ and of | aim,
      Ad¦verse | each ¦ from the | oth¦er, | hea¦ven-high ¦ hell-¦deep
    Should rush ¦ into sight ¦ at once ¦ as he named ¦ the ineff¦able name,
      And pile ¦ him a pal¦ace straight, ¦ to plea¦sure the prin¦cess he

(Note the alliteration.)

At first, as you read this, you can, if your ears are accustomed
to classical metres, have no doubt about the scheme. It is simply
the regular elegiac couplet "accentually" rendered in English, with
the abscission of the last syllable of the hexameter--a catalectic
hexameter and a pentameter acatalectic. For the first four lines of
the first octave there is no doubt at all. But when you get on to
the second half you are pulled up. In the fifth and sixth lines the
pentameter seems to have got to the first place, and the seventh is
no more a hexameter than the eighth is its proper companion. For a
moment you may fancy that this was intended--that the poet meant
octaves of two different parts. But when you look at the other stanzas
you will find that this is by no means the case. Truncated elegiac
cadence appears, reappears, disappears in the most bewildering fashion,
till you recognise--sooner or later according to your prosodic
experience--that it was only simulated cadence after all, a sort of
leaf-insect rhythm, and that the whole thing (as marked by the dotted
scansion lines) is in six-foot anapæsts equivalenced daringly, but
quite legitimately, with monosyllabic and dissyllabic feet.

(_f_) W. Morris ("The Wind"):

    Ah! | no, no, | it is no|thing, sure|ly no|thing, at all,
    On|ly the wild-|going wind | round | by the gar|den wall,
    For the dawn | just now | is break|ing, the wind | begin|ning to fall.
          _Wind, wind, | thou art | sad, art | thou kind?
          Wind, | wind, | unhap|py! thou | art blind,
          Yet still | thou wan|derest | the lil|y-seed | to find._

(First three lines six-foot (trimeter) anapæsts with full substitution.
Refrain a graded "wheel" of four, four _or_ five, and six iambic feet.)

(_g_) Morris (_Love is Enough_):

    Such words shall my ghost see the chronicler writing
    In the days that shall be--ah!--what would'st more, my fosterling?
    Knowest thou not how words fail us awaking,
    That we seemed to hear plain amid sleep and its sweetness.

(Intentionally irregular "accentual" lines, but with an anapæstic
or amphibrachic "under-hum." There is a good deal of alliteration
elsewhere, and some here.)

(_h_) Morris (_Sigurd_ metre, but the actual example from _The House of
the Wolfings_):

    Thou sayest it, I am outcast: || for a God that lacketh mirth
    Hath no more place in God-home || and never a place on earth.
    A man grieves, and he gladdens, || or he dies and his grief is gone;
    But what of the grief of the Gods? and || the sorrow never undone?
    Yea, verily, I am the outcast. || When first in thine arms I lay,
    On the blossoms of the woodland || my godhead passed away;
    Thenceforth unto thee I was looking || for the light and the glory of
    And the Gods' doors shut behind me || till the day of the uttermost
    And now thou hast taken my soul, thou || wilt cast it into the night,
    And cover thine head with the darkness || and cover thine eyes from the
    Thou would'st go to the empty country || where never a seed is sown,
    And never a deed is fashioned || and the place where each is alone;
    But I thy thrall shall follow, || I shall come where thou seem'st to
    I shall sit on the howe that hides thee, || and thou so dear and nigh!
    A few bones white in their war-gear, || that have no help or thought,
    Shall be Thiodolf the Mighty, || so nigh, so dear--and nought!

(A splendid construction from older and newer examples. Strongly
stressed, strictly middle-paused, but perfectly regular anapæstic
sixes, with substitution _and a hypercatalectic syllable or half foot
at the pause_.)

(_i_) Mr. Swinburne (_Hesperia_ and _Evening on the Broads_).

The first line of _Hesperia_ is practically a Kingsleyan hexameter (_v.
inf._) of the very best kind--

    Out | of the gold|en remote | wild west | where the sea |
                                                        without shore | is;

while the second--

    Full of the sunset and sad ¦ if at ¦ all with the fulness of joy,

is a pentameter of similar mould, with the centre gap cunningly filled
in by the two short stitches "if at," capable, as you see below in

    Thee I beheld as bird ¦ borne ¦ in with the wind from the west,

of being duly equivalenced with one long stitch, like "borne." Yet
the second line is capable also of being scanned exactly as the
first--anacrusis and five anapæests--but without the final redundance
or hypercatalexis; and in other long lines you will find that the
principle of equivalence is preserved throughout--that two shorts, as in

    Ăs ă wind | blows in | from the au|tumn that blows | from the re|gion
                                                                of stories,

defeat the hexametrical movement, and pull off the mask at the
beginning, though it returns at the end. The metre is really anapæstic
throughout. And in _Evening on the Broads_ the poet has carried this
further still, providing in some cases regular apparent elegiacs:

    O|ver the ¦ sha|dowless ¦ wa|ters a¦drift | as a ¦ pin|nace ¦
                                                                 in per|il,
      Hangs | as in ¦ hea|vy sus¦pense || charged | with ir¦re|solute ¦

(_j_) Mr. Swinburne (_Choriambics_):

    Lōve, whăt | āiled thĕe tŏ lēave | līfe thăt wăs māde | lōvely̆ wĕ
                                                     thōught | wĭth lōve?--

(_k_) Mr. Swinburne (other long anapæstic and trochaic measures):

    If again | from the night | or the twi|light of a|ges Aris|tophanes |
                                                               had ari|sen.
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    That the sea | was not love|lier than here | was the land, nor the
                      night | than the day, | nor the day | than the night.
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Night is | utmost | noon, for|lorn and | strong, with | heart a|thirst
                                                             and | fasting.
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Till the dark|ling desire | of delight | shall be far, | as a fawn |
                         that is free | from the fangs | that pursue | her.

(These are respectively seven-foot anapæsts with redundance
(anapæstic tetrameter catalectic); ditto eight-foot (tetrameter
acatalectic); trochaic tetrameter acatalectic; and anapæstic tetrameter
hypercatalectic (eight feet and a half).)


(To illustrate the strict octave and sextet pattern with final rhymes
adjusted on the Italian pattern.)

Dante Rossetti:

    Under the arch of Life, where love and death,
      Tērrŏr and mys|tĕry̆, gūard | her shrine, I saw
      Beauty enthroned; and though her gaze struck awe,
    I drew it in as simply as my breath.
    Hers are the eyes which, over and beneath
      The sky and sea, bend o'er thee--which can draw
      By sea, or sky, or woman, to one law
    Thĕ ăllōt|ted burden of her palm and wreath.

    This is that Lady Beauty, in whose praise
      Thy voice and hand shake still--long known to thee
        By flying hair and flut|tĕrĭng hēm |--the beat
        Fōllŏwĭng | her daily of thy heart and feet.
      How pas|sĭonătelȳ | and irretrievably
    In what fond flight, how many ways and days!


(_a_) Earlier (Elizabethan):

    All travel|lers do | gladly re|port great | praise of U|lysses,
    For that he | knew many | men's man|nĕrs and | saw many | cities.

                  (Watson, ap. Asch. _Schoolmaster_, p. 73, ed. Arber.)

    But thē | Queene in | meane while | carks quan|dare deepe | anguisht,
    Her wound | fed by Ve|nus, with | firebayt | smoldred is | hooked:
    Thee wights | doughtye man|hood, leagd | with gen|tilytye | nobil,
    His woords | fitlye | placed, with his | heunly | phisnomye | pleasing,
    March throgh her | hert mas|tring, all in | her breste deepelye she |

                         (Stanyhurst, _Æn._ iv. 1-5, ed. Arber, p. 94.)

    What might I | call this | tree? A | Laurell? | O bonny | Laurell.
    Needes to thy | bowes will I | bow this | knee and | vayle my bo|netto.

                    (Harvey in letter to Spenser, _Eliz. Crit. Essays_,
                     ed. Gregory Smith, i. 106.)

    See yee the | blindefold|ēd pretie | god, that | feathered | archer
    Of lo|vērs mise|ries || which maketh | his bloodie | game.

                          (Spenser in letter to Harvey, _ibid._ i. 99.)

(All these tried to _accommodate_--though sometimes rather
roughly--English pronunciation to such of the rules of Latin quantity,
by "nature" and "position," as could be applied. Some of them even
tried to make general rules for English quantity. But the wiser, from
Ascham to Campion, admitted that dactylic rhythm was difficult, if not
impossible, to keep up in our language.)

(_b_) Later Georgian and Victorian.

(1) Coleridge (Specimen _c._ 1799?):

    In ¦ the hex|am¦eter | ri¦ses the | foun¦tain's | sil¦very | col¦umn;
    In ¦ the pen|ta¦meter | aye || fall¦ing in | mel¦ody | back.

(A very fair attempt, but already showing the natural tendency of the
lines, when _poetically_ rhythmed, to anapæstic--the dotted--scansion.)

(2) Southey (_Vision of Judgment_):

    'Twas at that | sober | hour when the | light of | day is re|ceding
    And from sur|rounding | things the | hues wherewith | day has a|dorned
    Fade like the | hopes of | youth, till the | beauty of |
                                                        each has de|parted.

(Anapæstic run avoided with some skill, save now and then; but at the
cost of weak beginnings, frequent, and admitted, substitution of
trochaic for spondaic effect, and, above all, as in line 1, an ugly
rocking-horse division into three batches of two feet each instead of
the proper 2-1/2 + 3-1/2 or 3-1/2 + 2-1/2.)

(3) Longfellow (_Evangeline_):

    Long with|in had been | spread the | snow-white | cloth on the | table;
    There stood the | wheaten | loaf, and the | honey | fragrant with |
                                                              wild flowers;
    There stood the | tankard of | ale and the | cheese fresh | brought |
                                                          from the | dairy;
    And at the | head of the | board the | great arm-|chair of the |
    Thus did Ev|angeline | wait at her | father's | door as the | sunset
    Threw the long | shadows of | trees o'er the | broad am|brosial |
    Ah! on her | spirit with|in a | deeper | shadow had | fallen.

(A popular, tunable sort of rhythm, obtained by a very large proportion
of dactyls--often really giving (and always when really good) the
anapæstic effect,--unhesitating adoption of trochees and even pyrrhics
for spondees, and not seldom the Southeyan split at feet 2 and 4. An
essentially _rickety_ measure.)

(4) Clough--earlier (in the _Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich--Evangeline_
type, but with more spondees and spondaic endings):

    I was quite | right last | night, it | is too sōon, tōo | sudden.

(5) Later he attempted English "quantitative" things of this kind:

    Tō thĕ păl|āte grāte|ful; more | luscious | were not in | Eden;


    Unto the | sweet flut|ing, girls, of a swarthy shĕphērd.

This deliberate _neglect_ of pronunciation ("pălāte" for "pālăte,"
"shĕphērd" for "shēphĕrd") has, in the last half-century or so,
developed itself into a still more deliberate crusade _against_
pronunciation; it being supposed that a conflict of accent and quantity
has something attractive about it. Thus the late Mr. Stone wrote as a

    Is my | weary tră|vāil[47] end|ēd? Much | further is | īn store.

(6) On the other hand, Kingsley's _Andromeda_--the best poem of
some length intended for English hexameters--is clearly, though not
consciously, anapæstic, as thus:

    O|ver the moun|tain aloft | ran a rush | and a roll | and a roar|ing
    Down|ward the breeze | came malig|nant and leapt | with a howl |
                                                             to the wa|ter,
    Roar|ing in cran|ny and crag | till the pil|lars and clefts |
                                                             of the ba|salt
    Rang | like a god-|swept lyre.

And Mr. Swinburne did the same thing (see above) consciously.


(_a_) Sapphics (Watts):

    When the | fierce North-|wind with his | airy | forces
    Bears up | the Bal|tic to a | foaming | fury,
    And the | red light|ning with a | storm of | hail comes
          Rushing a|main down.

This illustrates--as do the pieces which it, beyond all doubt,
patterned, though in succession rather than directly (Cowper's "Hatred
and Vengeance," Southey's "Cold was the Night Wind," and Canning's
triumphant parody of this latter, the "Needy Knifegrinder")--the
unyokeableness of classical metres--when not merely iambic, trochaic,
or anapæstic--to English rhythm. The proper run of the Sapphic line is--

    tumti-tumtum-tumtity-tumti-tum {-ti

but this constantly in English, though not so much in the first line as
elsewhere, changes itself into

              { -tum
  tumtity-tum {      || tumtiti-titumty.
              { -ti

Mr. Swinburne has got it right, but only as a _tour de force_, and, as
in line 2, not always quite certainly.

  Saw the | white im|placable | Aphro|dite,
  Saw the | hair un|bound and the | feet un|sandalled
  Shine as | fire of | sunset on | western |waters,
            Saw the re|luctant.

But Southey and Canning always suggest the wrong:

    Shē hăd nŏ ¦ hōme, thē̆ ¦ wōrld wăs ăll ¦ bĕfōre hĕr,


    Stōry̆, sĭr? ¦ Blēss yŏu! ¦ Ī hăve nŏne ¦ tŏ tēll yŏu;

(_b_) Alcaics (Tennyson):

    O migh|ty-mouthed | in|ventor of | harmonies,
    O skilled | to sing | of | Time or E|ternity,
      God-gift|ed or|gan-voice | of Eng|land,
        Milton, a | name to re|sound for | ages.

(Correct, but not natural.)

(_c_) Hendecasyllabics (Coleridge):

    Hear, my be|loved, an | old Mi|lesian | story!--
    High, and em|bosom'd in | congre|gated | laurels,
    Glimmer'd a temple upon a breezy headland;
    In the dim distance, amid the skiey billows,
    Rose a fair island; the god of flocks had blest it.

(These very pretty lines exhibit a most curious instance of the
unconscious force of the prosodic genius of a language. Coleridge was a
good classical scholar, and quite enough of a mathematician to know the
difference between 11 and 12. Yet every one of these _hendeca_syllabics
will be found to be a _dodeca_syllabic; the poet having substituted
(as in English prosody is quite allowable) an initial dactyl for the
dissyllabic foot of the original metre. Once more this shows the
English _impatience_ of classical form.)

(_d_) Hendecasyllabics (Tennyson):

    O you chorus of indolent reviewers,
    Irresponsible, indolent reviewers,
    Look, I come to the test, a tiny poem
    All composed in a metre of Catullus.
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Hard, hard, hard is it, only not to tumble,
    So fantastical is the dainty metre.

A triumph, but a criticism as well, as its own ending shows:

    As some rare little rose, a piece of inmost
    Horticultural art--

or "_versi_cultural" rather.

(_e_) Galliambics.

These have been tried splendidly by Tennyson in _Boadicea_,
interestingly by Mr. George Meredith in _Phaethon_, unsuccessfully by
the late Mr. Grant Allen in his version of the _Atys_ of Catullus. But
the metre is not quite plain sailing even in Greek and Latin, and it is
therefore better to leave it alone here and return to it in Glossary.


(_a_) Triolet:

    Rose kissed | me to-day.
      Will she kiss | me to-mor|row?
    Let it be | as it may,
    Rose kissed | me to-day.
    But the plea|sure gives way
      To a sa|vour of sor|row;--
    Rose kissed | me to-day,--
      _Will_ she | kiss me to-morrow?

(_b_) Rondeau:

    With pipe and flute the rustic Pan
    Of old made music sweet for man;
      And wonder hushed the warbling bird,
      And closer drew the calm-eyed herd,--
    The rolling river slowlier ran.

    Ah! would,--ah! would, a little span,
    Some air of Arcady could fan
      This age of ours, too seldom stirred
              With pipe and flute!

    But now for gold we plot and plan;
    And from Beersheba unto Dan,
      Apollo's self might pass unheard,
      Or find the night-jar's note preferred;--
    Not so it fared, when time began,
              With pipe and flute!

(The number of lines in a rondeau is not immutable, nor is it in a
rondel, where the principle is the return of whole lines as in the
triolet, but, since the poem is longer, giving room for more _not_
repeated matter.)

(_c_) Ballade:

    Ship, to the roadstead rolled,
      What dost thou?--O, once more
    Regain the port. Behold!
      Thy sides are bare of oar,
      Thy tall mast wounded sore
    Of Africus, and see,
      What shall thy spars restore?--
    Tempt not the tyrant sea!

    What cable now will hold
      When all drag out from shore?
    What god canst thou, too bold,
      In time of need implore?
      Look! for thy sails flap o'er,
    Thy stiff shrouds part and flee,
      Fast--fast thy seams outpour,--
    Tempt not the tyrant sea!

    What though thy ribs of old
      The pines of Pontus bore!
    Not now to stern of gold
      Men trust, or painted prore!
      Thou, or thou count'st it store
    A toy of winds to be,
      Shun thou the Cyclads' roar,--
    Tempt not the tyrant sea!


    Ship of the State, before
      A care, and now to me
    A hope in my heart's core,--
      Tempt not the tyrant sea!

(All these examples are Mr. Austin Dobson's, and inserted here by his
kind permission. It will be observed that the _lines_ follow general
English prosodic rules. It is only the stanza that is borrowed.)


(_a_) M. Arnold (_The Strayed Reveller._ Words printed exactly as
original, except the added "_and_"; the also added brackets show the
unconscious decasyllabism):

    [Ever new magic!
    Hast thou then lured hither,]
    [Wonderful Goddess, by thy art,
    The young], [languid-eyed Ampelus,
    Iacchus' darling--]
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    [They see the Indian
    Drifting, knife in hand,]
    [His frail boat moor'd to
    A floating isle thick-matted]
    [With large-leaved [_and_] low-creeping melon-leaves,]
    [_x_] And the dark cucumber.
    [He reaps, and stows them,
    Drifting--drifting;--round him,
    [Round his green harvest-plot,
    Flow the cool lake-waves,]
    [_y_] The mountains ring them.

(Here the first piece is three pure decasyllables, with redundance,
cut into five. The second requires only the addition of the italicised
"and" to make it a complete blank-verse passage with two shortened
lines or half-lines, _x_ and _y_, of the kind common in Shakespeare.
The poem is crammed with shorter stanza-pieces of the same kind.)

(_b_) Mr. Henley ("Speed." Printed as original and as prose):

    Roads where the stalwart
    Soldier of Cæsar
    Put by his bread
    And his garlic, and girding
    [His conquering sword
    To his unconquered thigh,]
    Lay down in his armour,
    And went to his Gods
    By the way that he'd made.

        Roads where the stalwart soldier of Cæsar put by his
        bread and his garlic, and girding [his conquering sword
        to his unconquered thigh,] lay down in his armour, and
        went to his Gods by the way he had made.

(The decasyllable is not quite avoided even here, as in the bracketed
phrase. But the main point is that the thing reads perfectly well as
prose, with no obvious suggestion of metre at all.)


Some measures of recent poets have been objected, or at least proposed,
as offering difficulties in respect of the system of this book. It has
therefore seemed well to scan them here.

(_a_) Frederic Myers (_St. Paul_):

    Yēs, wī̆th|out ¦ cheer | of ¦ sis|ter ¦ or | of ¦ daugh|ter--
      Yēs, wī̆th|out ¦ stay | of ¦ fa|ther ¦ or | of ¦ son--
    Lōne ō̆n | the land | and home|less on | the water
      Pāss Ī̆ | in pa|tience till | the work | be done.

(There is nothing very peculiar or at all original in this, though it
was probably now first used continuously for a poem of some length.
It is only decasyllabic quatrain with uniform redundance in the first
and third lines, and a strong inclination to trochaic opening, which
in its turn suggests a primary dactyl and trochees to follow, as an
alternative (see dotted scansion). Examples of it anterior to Myers
may be found--commented on in the larger _History_ (vol. iii. 481)--in
_Zophiel_, very likely known to Myers, as he was much connected by
family friendship with the Lake School; in the famous poem

    From the lone sheiling on the misty island,

the authorship of which has been so much contested; and in Emily
Bronte's _Remembrance_ (see again vol. iii. of _Hist. Pros._ p. 378),
of which he cannot possibly have been ignorant.[48] His own share in
the matter would seem to have been limited to the persevering adoption
of it in an unvaried form. Whether this be an advantage or not is a
question of taste: the prosodic description of the metre is clear and
in no way recondite.)

(_b_) Ernest Dowson (_Cynara_) [_Non sum qualis eram_, etc.]:

    Last night, | ah! yes|ter night | betwixt | her lips | and mine
      There fell | thy sha|dow, Cy|nara! | thy breath | was shed
    Upon | my soul | between | the kiss|es and | the wine,
    And I | was de|solate, | and sick | of an | old passion;
        Yea, I | was de|solate | and bowed | my head.
    I have | been faith|ful to | thee, Cy|nara, in my fashion.

(Sextet of Alexandrines with decasyllable (or brachycatalexis) in the
5th line, and with hypercatalexis, redundance, or double rhyme in the
4th and 6th. An original collocation, so far as I know, but nothing
new or strange in principle. The actual poem is a rather beautiful
one; but how much is contributed to the beauty by the special metre is
another question. At any rate, once more, it has no difficulties for

(_c_) The universally known passage in _Macbeth_--

    To-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow,

with the following lines, has also been proposed as a _crux_. But this
must have been a not very brilliant joke; and it would be an insult to
the student to scan the passage. It is one of the finest specimens
of Shakespearian equivalence and "fingered" blank verse, but offers
no more difficulties, on the system of this book, than any couplet
of Pope or any verse of the "Old Hundredth." On the other hand, many
passages of Shakespeare may not illegitimately puzzle the student if
he does not realise that, although (it is believed) every line which
is not corrupt can be scanned on our system, every line is by no means
an exact five-foot. In accordance with the best English practice,
older and newer, Shakespeare does not scruple to _extend_ his lines
to Alexandrines, and even to fourteeners, while the exigencies of
drama entitle him to use lines of _less_ than five full feet. _But all
these--the fragments as well as the extended lines--obey the general
law of iambic arrangement with substitution in individual feet._ Thus
in Lady Macbeth's invocation of the Spirits of Evil (I. v. 49)--

    And take | my milk | for gall, | you mur|dering min|isters,

is a regular Alexandrine. Her husband's hallucination--

    I see thee yet, in form as palpable
    As this | which now | I draw,

stops in the second line at the third foot. Different lines of the
ghost's great speech in _Hamlet_ (I. v. 42-91) show the Alexandrine--

    O, hor|rible! | O, hor|rible! | most hor|rible!

and a fragment of two feet and a half--

    All my | smooth bo|dy.

If studied in this way, even the scenes where short speeches of the
conversational kind form the staple will be found to piece themselves
together perfectly well in continuous scansion.


[31] More will be found on this and the origin of other metres in Bk.

[32] Or possibly

    Hwi nul|tu fa|re to | Nor[e]weie,

which is more likely as to "farè" ("farè[n]"), and looks forward to the
fashion in which we now say "Norway," but "Gall_o_way." The remark will
extend to not a few other scansions.

[33] For origin and explanation see Glossary.

[34] See again Bk. IV. for fuller information on this.

[35] The MS. has the contraction "Sēn."

[36] As in "hips and haws."

[37] From Spenser onward the spelling is modern.

[38] Spenser here takes (as he sometimes continued to do even in
_F. Q._) the liberty of shifting the rhyming syllable. There is no
doubt that this is not a good liberty. But in struggling out of the
fifteenth-century slough Wyatt was constantly driven to it, and it
was not till the seventeenth that poets recognised the fact that the
easement was more of a disfigurement than it was worth.

[39] "Fallen" is pretty certainly "fall'n."

[40] For more on Shakespeare's blank verse see the close of this
chapter and the next Book.

[41] For _Paradise Lost_, _Paradise Regained_, and _Samson Agonistes_,
_v. inf._ Book II.

[42] For scanned examples of Shakespeare's complete prosodic grasp in
lyric, _v. inf._ pp. 182-3.

[43] See Glossary, "Musical and Rhetorical Arrangements."

[44] For more on the differences of his couplet and Dryden's, see next

[45] Unrhymed termination as far as end-syllable goes.

[46] See next Book.

[47] I regret that in my larger _History_ (iii. 430-431) I did not
notice the misprint of "travel"; metrically, however, it makes no real

[48] In fact, there are even much older examples, as in Cleveland's
_Mark Antony_ and some things of Dryden's, on one of their possible
scansions, see _Hist. Pros._ III. chap. iii.





[Sidenote: Relations of "Old" to "Middle" and "New" English]

The main fact, at once central and fundamental--a pivot whereon the
whole structure at once rests and turns,--which it is necessary to
understand in order to understand English prosody, is connected
with--is indeed one side or case of--the other fact of the history
of English language and English literature. So far as is known to
the present writer, no other language and no other literature stand
in precisely the same condition, as regards the relation of their
technically "Old," "Middle," and "New" or "Modern" forms. The relation
of what is called "Old" French to Modern is not that of "Old" English
to Modern, but rather that of "Middle," if not a closer one still. And
though "High" and "Low" German have had their various stages separated
for philological purposes, the Continental Teutonic dialects have
never undergone anything like the process of modification by Romance
influence, older and younger, popular and literary, which turned
Anglo-Saxon into English between the eleventh and the thirteenth

[Sidenote: generally,]

This process was one not so much--if indeed it was one at all--of
conscious borrowing: it was one not so much of deliberate imitation
(though there was much of that in a way) as one of actual physical
impregnation, fertilising, blending, which resulted in a true and
permanent "cross" or "hybrid perpetual," possessing and exercising the
faculties of self-development and self-propagation.

[Sidenote: and in prosody.]

In perhaps no way were these faculties more strikingly and remarkably
exercised and illustrated than in regard to prosody; and it must,
unluckily, be added that in no instance has their exercise been more
frequently and more fatally misconstrued. The present writer begins
a fresh attempt to set forth what really happened with the following
encouragement--in the way of a reviewer's sentence on his earlier and
larger effort--before his eyes: "Mr. S.'s contention is that A.S.
prosody died out, and that English prosody is entirely drawn from the
Latin, with the aid of French and Provençal." Now the "contention"
of the _History of English Prosody_ is as directly and deliberately
bent _against_ this doctrine as against Dr. Guest's theory, that the
principles of Anglo-Saxon prosody have governed English throughout
its course. These "falsehoods of extremes" appear to have more lives
than a cat, if not as many heads as a hydra; and their main principle
of vitality no doubt is that it is possible to put them in plump
plain-looking phraseology "which the Beaver can well understand." What
did actually happen was far less simple; but the attempt to explain it
must once more be made.

[Sidenote: Anglo-Saxon prosody itself.]

As to what Anglo-Saxon prosody itself was, although, as in all these
matters, there are minor dissidences among the authorities, the main
arrangement is sun-clear. There is practically only one line; though
(and the fact is of inestimable importance, and when once really
understood will carry the understander through to the very present day)
the syllabic lengths of that line may differ largely even in normal
cases, and to an at first sight almost irrational degree in what are
called the "extended" varieties.

This normal line in its most normal condition--neither cut short nor
drawn out--consists usually of about nine or ten syllables. These are
not arranged so as to produce a definite foot-rhythm, though there is
a general suggestion of the trochee. And attempts (not to be spoken
of with anything but encouragement and wishes for their success, if
with some doubt as to its attainment) have been made to assign, in all
cases, definite division into associations of syllables which might be
called "feet." Other features are unmistakable and incontestable. There
is always a sharp middle division--so strong that the lines may be,
and often are, printed as halves. There are always more or fewer (most
frequently two in the first half and one in the second) _alliterated_
syllables (one consonant or any vowel). And these syllables, with
occasionally another or so, are usually _accented_, but divided from
each other by a certain or uncertain number of _unaccented_ ones. The
proportion and arrangement of these fall into the controverted things;
and the _extension_ of the normal line is a point only of indirect
importance, though of very great importance indirectly, here. The
attempts which have been made to trace ballad metre, nursery-rhyme
metre, etc., to A.S. originals are also outside our limits. To the
present writer they appear to be hopelessly vitiated by two absolutely
certain facts: (1) that we do not know how Anglo-Saxon was pronounced;
(2) that its pronunciation, whatever it was, must have been radically
affected by the changes which made it into Middle English. But four
cardinal points remain, of such importance that they cannot be too
attentively studied or too constantly remembered. They are these:
that the oldest English prosody rested on (1) a system of hard and
fast middle pause; (2) alliteration, distributed over the whole line;
(3) accented and unaccented syllables, the former usually knit to the
alliteration in some kind of sub-combination; but (4) that the laws
of this combination, and the principle on which the sub-combinations
could be substituted, omitted, or multiplied, were of the freest
description. It is said, and it can well be believed, that they forbade
some things. It is certain that they permitted very many, combining
the freest _substitution_ in the same line, of the kind observable in
the Latin and Greek hexameter or trimeter, with an apparent variety of
lengths, in different lines, hardly inferior to that of a Greek chorus
or ode.

[Sidenote: Prosody of the Transition to to Middle English]

This prosody governed English verse from a time certainly anterior to
the existence of any "English" nationality to about 1000 A.D., the
great bulk of the production resulting under it being considerably
older than the last-named date. At or about that date, certainly
before the "Conquest," it began to be subjected to devitalising and
disintegrating influences, not necessary to be discussed in detail
here. The important fact is that from _c._ 1000 to _c._ 1200 the
existing amount of Old English verse is very small indeed; and that,
even in the few existing probably dated examples, singular changes
begin to exhibit themselves. In the "Rhyming Poem" (before 1000?)
the introduction of the element indicated in the title completely
revolutionises the system.[50] In the "Grave Poem" (_c._ 1100?) a new
element of rhythm appears, the tendency being, here and henceforth,
to substitute iambic, varied by anapæestic, cadence for the general
trochaic run, and to associate two lines or four halves in a kind of
quatrain.[51] In the remarkable fragments of St. Godric (1150?) rhyme,
which does not appear in the "Grave Poem," assists the rhythmical
tendency of this latter to make a new music;[52] and the well-known
"Canute Song"[53] chimes in. While if the "Paternoster" be really of
the twelfth century, as some have said, there are in it iambic dimeter
couplets[54] of a kind which never, by any chance, suggests itself in
the whole corpus of Anglo-Saxon poetry proper.

This couplet is neither more nor less than a pair of iambic dimeters or
"four-accent ['-beat'] lines in rising stress," shortened occasionally
to seven syllables instead of eight, probably from the first also
admitting extension, _not_ by addition of feet, but by substitution of

[Sidenote: Contrast in Layamon.]

Two couplets, or two batches of short (half) lines, from Layamon will
show the difference at once and unmistakably to any one who possesses
an ear:

    Eorles ¦ ther com¦en ||
    riche ¦ and wel ¦ idone.
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Thă ān|swĕrē|dĕ Vōr|tĭgēr
    Ŏf ēl|chĕn vū|ĕl hē | wĕs wēr.

The first distich, it will be observed, is a loose and broken-down
one on the schemes of perfect O.E. verse. There is hardly any real
alliteration, and the accented syllables are clumsily placed and
valued. But the thing does retain, and that pretty sufficiently, the
strong centre pause, and the folding-back swing of the two halves,
like those of a flail or a pair of lemon-squeezers, which are the
real characteristics of O.E. or A.S. verse. It is not itself "riche"
versification; it is not "wel idone"; but you cannot mistake it for
anything but what it is.

With the other you have got into a new world. There _is_ alliteration
here; but it has nothing on earth to do with the construction and run
of the verse. There is what you may call accent if you insist upon
it; but it is quite differently and much more regularly arranged,
constituting, moreover, a rhythm perfectly distinct to the ear. There
are two halves; but the second half is not so much a completion as a
repetition. And instead of the strong middle break--a break and nothing
else--the halves are tipped with _rhyme_--a division which, if they
were printed straight on, you would not notice till you got to the end
of the second, and which requires very little (hardly any) stop of the
voice, while the breach of the old couplet insists on this.

[Sidenote: Examinations of it--Insufficient.]

Now the question legitimately suggests itself, "Why is this strange
contrast present?"--a contrast which, it should be added, is not only
present but _omnipresent_ in this great poem of 30,000 (half) lines
in all forms, from something quite near the old A.S. line, through
things farther from it, to imperfect forms of the new couplet and so
to perfect ones. One answer is as follows: "This couplet was already
established in _French_ literature--in fact in the very French
literature (Wace) which formed part of Layamon's originals. Moreover,
it exists also in _Latin_--the Latin of the hymns with which the priest
Layamon must have been perfectly familiar. When, therefore, it appears,
he is simply imitating it with more or less success." Now the facts
of this answer, as far as they go, are indisputable. The octosyllabic
couplet, though not so old as the decasyllabic _line_ in O.F., is
very old, and by Layamon's time had been written very largely indeed.
Octosyllabic lines, both of iambic and trochaic cadence, form the very
staple of the Latin hymns; and both in Latin (earlier far) and in
French, after a period of assonance, rhyme had thoroughly established

So far, so good; but it is to be hoped that intelligent minds will
perceive an occurring difficulty. If this selection of metre is an
elaborate attempt to imitate French or Latin, or both, why are its
results so extraordinarily _sporadic_? One could understand the
presence of many imperfect lines and couplets; it might even be
surprising that in a first attempt there should be such good ones as
that above quoted. But how could the man, in an actual majority of
cases, produce stuff like the other distich quoted, and many more
unrhythmical still, which are not even _attempts_ at the iambic
couplet--which have no connection whatever with it?

[Sidenote: Sufficient.]

No; an explanation at once more subtle and more natural is wanted; for
it is a great mistake to think that the subtler is necessarily the less
natural. Does not this immense mass of apparently confused experiment
suggest that the language itself has passed into a new rhythmical
atmosphere?--that two different metrical systems, one dropping and
dying off ever fainter to the ear, the other becoming clearer and
clearer to it, were sounding in Layamon's brain? Sometimes he writes
under one influence; sometimes under the other; more frequently under
confused echoes of both. Such a set of causes would produce exactly
such a set of results.

Nor is it of the slightest relevance, as an objection, to say that
the total number of new Romance _words_ in Layamon is very small--a
couple of hundred perhaps in both forms of the poem taken together.
You do not necessarily require one Romance word to fashion the most
complicated metres of Tennyson and Mr. Swinburne. The point is, "What
was the general _rhythm_, and what were the means of obtaining it,
which sounded most gratefully in English ears at the opening of the
thirteenth century and onwards?"

The facts, if they, as they too seldom have been, are carefully
arranged and impartially considered, answer this further question as
clearly as any reasonable person can desire.

We possess a relatively considerable number of poems composed probably
between 1200 and 1250. The most important of these are, besides
Layamon's _Brut_ itself, the _Ormulum_, the _Poema Morale_ or _Moral
Ode_, the _Orison of Our Lady_, a _Bestiary_, the _Proverbs of Alfred_
and of _Hendyng_, the _Love-Rune_ and other minor pieces, the Middle
English _Genesis and Exodus_, and _The Owl and the Nightingale_.

[Sidenote: Other documents.]

Hardly two of these are in the same metre, at least in the same form
of the same metre, and none of them exhibits exactly the same curious
blend of old and new as that which appears in the _Brut_. But, for that
very reason, they enforce the same general lesson--for they do enforce
it--in the most striking and conclusive way possible. That lesson is,
as we saw, that the new _language_ of English was seeking in every
possible way for a new _prosody_ of English, and was finding it under
several and special forms of experiment, but in the same general spirit.

[Sidenote: The _Ormulum_.]

Orm--evidently, from his punctilio about spelling,[55] a man curious
and particular about details--adopts the French principle of absolute
syllabic uniformity; though he does not accept any of the actually
existing French metres, and rejects--possibly to save trouble, possibly
as thinking them unsuitable to his sacred subject--both assonance and
rhyme. He writes--in the strictest and most humdrum iambic cadence,
as of the least-inspired French or Latin poetry--"fifteeners" or
combinations of eights and _sevens_. Of the old long-lined stave he
has kept no positive quality but its centre pause, and hardly any
important negative one save its rhymelessness. Of the new metre, he
has aimed at--he has certainly reached--nothing but its foot-division
and consequent rhythm. But he has got these in the most pronounced,
if hardly in the most attractive, form. Except for the odd syllable,
we are here already in full presence of the jog-trot ballad and hymn
"common measure" of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Nay,
this odd syllable itself is of great interest, for it reappears in the
_sung_ "breath" or "grunt"--"a":

    Your sad one tires in a mile-a, etc.

[Sidenote: The _Moral Ode_ and the _Orison of Our Lady_.]

Opinions may differ slightly on the question whether this _fif_teener
is actually the same as the _four_teener which later became so common,
and which directly engendered the common measure itself; or whether
the two were independent attempts to _metricise_ the old long line.
It is of course clear that, as final _e_'s dropped off, fifteen
would become fourteen in any case. But in two of the poems mentioned
above, the _Moral Ode_ and the _Orison of Our Lady_, although the
first-named has many fifteeners, and the last is highly irregular,
the set towards iambic seven-foot rhythm is well marked. And there
are two still more interesting things about these two poems. We have
several versions of the _Poema Morale_ which have been arranged--_not_
on prosodic grounds--in order of chronological sequence. And it is in
the highest degree noteworthy that the latest of these forms, like
the later version of Layamon, exhibits remarkable touches of prosodic
_melioration_. It is still more important that among the irregular and
experimental varieties of the _Orison_ actual iambic _decasyllables_,
and, what is more, something like the decasyllabic couplet, make their
appearance nearly two centuries before Chaucer.[56]

[Sidenote: The _Proverbs of Alfred_ and _Hendyng_.]

These remarkable lessons in comparison are repeated, with the usual and
invaluable confirmation of variety, in the curious documents called
respectively the _Proverbs Alfred_ and the _Proverbs of Hendyng_.
The relation, in point of matter, of the latter to the former, and
of the former itself to a possible A.S. collection made by the king,
or under his auspices, need not concern us. It is enough that our
existing _Proverbs of Alfred_ are M.E. in language and early thirteenth
century in date; while those of "Hendyng" are perhaps half a century
younger. These latter are slightly more modern in language; but this
is accompanied by, and no doubt not a little directly connected
with, still greater modernisation of form. The earlier rehandler (or
some of the rehandlers, for the work is pretty certainly not of one
only) evidently stuck as near as he could to his original--words
and all. But he was, or they were, in Layamon's state--only more
so. Rhyme appears fitfully; regular iambic and trochaic rhythm more
fitfully; alliteration most fitfully of all. The various sections
are stanza-bundles of short lines or half lines, which, taken singly
and printed straight on, might tempt no very hasty, ill-informed, or
unintelligent reader to regard them as sheer prose, with an irregular
sing-song and jingle here and there. On the other hand, the _Proverbs
of Hendyng_ are unmistakable English verse, the stanza called in French
_rime couée_, from the Latin _versus caudatus_ (afterwards common and
famous as the six-line stanza in which a very large proportion, if not
the majority, of our romances are written). It is a combination of
eight- and six-syllabled lines arranged 8, 8, 6, 8, 8, 6, and rhymed
_aabccb_; the rhythm being regularly iambic, and the whole differing
in no respect from similar verse of the nineteenth century, and in
only one respect from such as Gray's "Cat" ode in the eighteenth. And
that one is priceless, for it is the appearance of substitution--the
great English characteristic which separates our verse from its French
patterns--if patterns they were--which the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries unwisely gave up, for which Shenstone pleaded,[57] and
which Chatterton, and Blake, and Southey, and Coleridge restored.
Monosyllabic and trisyllabic feet, as shown in the examples,[58] are
freely employed; and the result is that a double advantage is secured.
The actual shapelessness of one direct parent, the broken-down A.S.
versicle, is effectually cured: there is no possibility of mistaking
_this_ composition for prose. The possible monotony and sing-song of
the other--the regular syllabic French model, long afterwards parodied
and exposed immortally in Chaucer's _Sir Thopas_--is avoided likewise.
There is a little assonance, but for the most part quite regular and
satisfactory rhyme. There is effective correspondent rhythm, resulting
from feet clearly marked, but, as has been said, boldly handled in
the English, not the French or Low Latin manner. The stanza is well
kept, though the substitution prevents its being a mere mechanic
reproduction. In short, there is freedom, and there is order.

[Sidenote: The _Bestiary_.]

Not less worthy of study is the _Bestiary_.[59] Here the direct origins
are fortunately known and are of the utmost importance. The ultimate
one is the Latin of Thetbaldus in "Leonine" hexameters--that is to say,
hexameters with, in this case not very complete or regular, but still
unmistakable, rhyme at the cæsura and the end. This gives something of
a ready-made correspondence to the old A.S. line with its middle break,
and, at the same time, suggests rhyming halves. But there was also at
hand a _French_ bestiary by Philippe de Thaun, where the writer, taking
the other already established hexameter-trimeter of his own literature,
the Alexandrine, breaks _it_ into regular six-syllabled couplets. The
Englishman, whoever he was, endeavours to follow this arrangement, and
perhaps something more. He has got the six-syllable line and couplet in
his ear; he has got even a sort of notion of stanza in addition, and he
now and then hears rhyme. But he is a very rough verse-smith, in the
_Proverbs of Alfred_ stage or near it, and he is perpetually hitting
and missing cadences and constructions which were not to be perfected
for long, but half developed--queer creatures rearing themselves from
the earth like those in the old woodcuts of the Creation. He has more
variety than Layamon, and sometimes more music than the _Alfred_ man;
but with them he provides the great museum of examples of English verse
in the first stage of making.

[Sidenote: Minor poems.]

Every now and then, too, he provides us with something that is not
rough at all, as in the passage appended,[60] which is perfect
modern English rhythm and goes to a well-known carol tune. And of
this more perfect craftsmanship, in forms precise enough to bring
out the qualities and capacities of the new prosody, the minor and
miscellaneous poems of the thirteenth century supply ample and varied
instances. There is Romance-six, probably earlier than the _Proverbs
of Hendyng_; "fourteener" metre, more polished than that of the _Moral
Ode_; and, best of all, the beginning, in the _Love-Rune_,[61] of the
great alternately rhymed octosyllabic quatrain, the "long measure"
("common," or the split fourteener, was to be a little later) of
a myriad hymns and secular pieces since. This long measure is in
some ways more advanced than almost anything of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries, displaying equivalence, admitting internal
rhyme[62]--prophesying, through Chatterton and Blake, the Great
Instauration of Coleridge, Southey, and Scott.

But we must complete this group by what are perhaps its most important,
though not its earliest members, the two great examples of the
octosyllabic line itself in its simplest couplet form. It may almost be
said that _Genesis and Exodus_ (the M.E. not the A.S. paraphrase) and
_The Owl and the Nightingale_ are sufficient between them to teach all
the main secrets of English prosody. They are certainly sufficient to
show what it is and what it is not.

[Sidenote: _The Owl and the Nightingale_ and _Genesis and Exodus_.]

We have seen how this couplet emerges in the _Brut_ of Layamon, and how
it there presents itself as a "transient and embarrassed" alternative
to mostly broken-down and shapeless pairs of something like the old
half-line. In the two poems just mentioned it is not transient, but
abides; nor is it in the least embarrassed. It has quite shaken off its
dilapidated companions, and abides in its own house. But that house is
a house of two wings or two fronts. The one which the author of _The
Owl and the Nightingale_ prefers approximates in its verse-building
to the French system of architecture, and is, if not rigidly uniform
in syllabic arrangement (and especially patient as the metre always
has been since of limitation to _seven_ with a consequent hint of
trochaic rhythm), yet almost rigidly iambic _or_ trochaic in run. The
other, of which _Genesis and Exodus_ is the main occupant, admits,
with the utmost freedom, that principle of trisyllabic (if not also
monosyllabic) equivalence into which the old liberty of Anglo-Saxon had
transformed itself under the sufficient but not tyrannical pressure
of the new foot prosody. And it presents an almost perfect specimen
of the metre which Spenser (whether intentionally or not) employed in
parts of the _Shepherd's Calendar_, and which Coleridge, more than 500
years later, believed himself to have invented, and explained in a very
insufficient manner.

[Sidenote: Summary of results to the mid-thirteenth century.]

It is upon the understanding which the student attains and upon the
interpretation which he makes or accepts of the group of pieces from
the _Brut_ to _Genesis and Exodus_, which have just been discussed,
that this student's whole conception of English prosody will depend.
Unfortunately, he will not find such authorities as have delivered
themselves on the subject by any means unanimous; more unfortunately
still, it must be said here, he will find most of them inadequate, and
not a few positively wrong. In another part of this book some account
of the more usual theories is given. It is enough to say here, that
neither the system which regards this verse as consisting of a certain
number of "stressed" syllables and a certain or uncertain number of
"unstressed," nor that which would regard some of it as following
old English, some new French models, appears to fit the actual facts
or explain their actual consequences. To assign the "equivalenced"
varieties to a northern, the "unequivalenced" to a southern origin,
may or may not be in accordance with historical and geographical fact,
but is prosodically irrelevant. To be content with discovering actual
or possible _particular_ foreign models for each metre may not be
useless (something on the subject will again be found elsewhere in
this volume), but will be inadequate, and may be misleading, if the
_general_ phenomena are not examined or if their lesson is not learnt.

It should not be hard to learn for any one who will patiently consider
the facts narrated in this chapter, the dates (as far as they are known
or guessed), and the scanned examples given in the text, the notes,
and the general survey. It will be strange if he does not perceive
that there is here something much more than a mere regularising of
accentual verse with the addition of rhyme, something much more than a
mere imitation of French and Latin models, like the frequent attempts
at English hexameters, or those at English ballades and rondeaux
which were revived some thirty years ago; above all, something not in
the least adequately described by the phrases "adopting the French
principles of prosody," "following the rhythm of the foreigner," and
so forth. If, as he should,[63] he possesses some knowledge of Latin
verse, classical and mediæval, some of French, a little (the more the
better) of Old English, and as much as possible of Modern; if he will
allow this knowledge to settle and clarify his observation of this
Middle English verse of the latest twelfth and the first half of the
thirteenth century, without allowing arbitrary theories of any kind
to interfere, it seems almost impossible that he can fail to see what
was going on. The prosody of English was changing from accent and
alliteration to feet and rhyme; but it was not following French, or the
general run of mediæval Latin, in adopting syllabic uniformity as a
rule; and it was, in a large number, if not the majority of instances,
allowing the substitution of equivalent feet (especially anapæsts for
iambs) exactly as some, but not all, classical metre had allowed it.

Another point with which the student cannot familiarise himself too
early, and one which he will find rarely or never insisted on in works
dealing with English prosody, is that this apparent irregularity of
foot arrangement brings out the existence, the importance, and, so to
speak, the _personality_ of the feet themselves, in a way impossible
of achievement when a uniform number of syllables is insisted on in a
line, and when "accent," "stress," or whatever the emphasising agent be
called or considered, is restricted wholly or as much as possible to
exactly corresponding places in that line. This monotony may sometimes
seem to soothe, but in reality only deadens the susceptibility of the
ear, and that ear comes to recognise only, if not only to demand, such
coarser stimulus as that given by strong and more or less uniform
centre-pause, as the sharp snap or clang of the concluding rhyme,
and as rhetorical, not strictly poetical, emphasis placed on special
points, especially by the aid of antithesis. On the other hand, the
slight effort necessary to recognise the unity of the equivalent feet,
under their diversity of substitution, demands and begets an active
sensitiveness, which very soon yields positive, keen, and varied
delight. No modern poetry can vie with English in the possession and
provision of this, and those who neglect it deprive themselves of one
of the greatest privileges of an Englishman.

But it is, of course, not contended that perfection in so difficult
and exquisite an accomplishment was, or could have been, attained at
once. The prosody, like the language, had to "make itself," to "grow,"
and, even more than the language, it had not merely to grow like a
vegetable, but to make itself by animated, if often unconscious,
efforts. Had things been otherwise it would have been far less
interesting. As it is, there is not one of the imperfect efforts which
have been briefly reviewed here that is not a "document in the case," a
step in the progress, a fresh attempt of the bird to chip the shell and
get clear of the fragments.

[Sidenote: The later thirteenth century and the fourteenth.]

These documents, speaking approximately, have brought us to, and
perhaps a little beyond, the middle of the thirteenth century.
Philologists and palæographers do not give us much as dating from the
latter part of that century, or at least from the third quarter of
it. But towards the close, and onwards to the supposed birth date of
Chaucer (1340), we have an ever-increasing mass of interesting material
continuing the demonstration just given. At an uncertain period (not
impossibly close to that birth itself) we find also a new phenomenon
of a general kind and of first-rate importance; and in the last half
or, say, the last third of the century we come, not only to Chaucer
himself, but to two other poets, lesser than himself as masters of
form, but by no means small in that respect, and contrasted with him in
it after a really marvellous fashion.

[Sidenote: Robert of Gloucester.]

We can give less individual attention to the first-named group of
documents; but as a matter of fact they require less, and sub-group
themselves. At the close of the thirteenth century we have a body of
verse, the whole of it sometimes ascribed by guess-work, part of it
ascribed with certainty, and yet more not without probability, to
Robert of Gloucester. This work, consisting of a _Chronicle_ and of
many _Saints' Lives_, is entirely written in fourteener (or, when there
is a final _e_, fifteener) couplets of the same general stamp as those
which we have seen in the _Moral Poem_, but differentiated from those
of the _Ormulum_ by the admission of equivalence. They are, however,
much more advanced than even the latest version of the _Poema Morale_;
and the writer, or writers, can make them into a capital narrative
vehicle, distinctly indicating, if not freely expressing, the further
resolution into the ballad metre of eight and six.

But this craving for narrative in verse did not confine itself to a
single vehicle; indeed, in probably a very great majority of instances,
it preferred another, or two others, with which we are also acquainted,
and further varieties still which we have not yet seen, but which
show, unmistakably, the advance in prosodic aptitude. The great body
of narrative verse, known as "the Romances," begins to date from the
end of the thirteenth century--a few, such as _Havelok_ and _Horn_, are
certainly earlier than the fourteenth; by the end of the first third,
if not of the first quarter, of this latter, a very large number were
as certainly in existence.

[Sidenote: The Romances.]

Now probably the whole of these Romances were more or less directly
imitated from French originals, nearly all of which we actually
possess; but it is extremely remarkable that they by no means always
followed the metre of those originals, and that when they did they
took considerable liberties with it. That metre was almost invariably
Alexandrine or decasyllabic, in long batches not couplets, or
octosyllabic in couplet. Of the two probably oldest of ours, _Havelok_
and _Horn_, the first does attempt this octosyllabic couplet, but
treats it in a very rough and independent fashion, something in the
_Genesis and Exodus_ line, while _King Horn_ seems to favour something
like what we observe in part of the English _Bestiary_ and the whole
of the French one--a split Alexandrine or six-syllabled couplet. Very
soon the _rime couée_ or Romance-six (which had not been a staple
romance-metre in French) appears, and occasionally more elaborate
stanzas still, such as the complicated arrangement of _Sir Tristrem_.
Those writers who prefer couplet improve upon _Horn_ and _Havelok_,
but they follow _Genesis and Exodus_ much more than _The Owl and the

Indeed, some of them develop this couplet in a manner possessing almost
infinite "future." They not merely follow the writer of _Genesis and
Exodus_ in substituting trisyllabic, if not also monosyllabic, feet
for dissyllabic to the number of _four_, but some of them develop
hints, which may be found in that composition, by extending the actual
foot-length of the line to _five_, and sometimes repeating this in an
actual "heroic" pair. Whether this was in some, or even at first in
all, cases accidental, does not really matter. The decasyllable or
five-foot line was already existent in great masses of French poetry,
though not in single couplets; it was natural that, occasionally, more
room should be wanted than the octosyllable provides; and there is the
undoubted fact that, in more than one other European language, ten, or
according to the structure of the particular tongue, eleven syllables
were suggesting themselves as the most convenient size. The fourteener
was so long as to invite breaking up quite early; the Alexandrine
has never naturalised itself for continuous use in English; and the
octosyllable, though its early appearance, the wealth of models for
it, and its ease, fostered and sustained it, had the already mentioned
drawback of lack of _content_. It was certain that, in a language which
was showing itself so fortunately free from hide-bound qualities,
the decasyllable would establish itself. It has been usual to say
that, in couplet at any rate, Chaucer "took it from the French." As
a matter of actual practice he may have done so; but in the order of
nature and thought it was not in the least necessary for him to do it.
Indeed, it would be almost literally true[64] to say that English had
decasyllabic couplet before French--that it was an English invention.

[Sidenote: Lyrics.]

For the time, however, the octosyllable was the staple for narrative,
varied to no mean extent by the stanzas already described; while these
stanzas, often of the most elaborate and complicated descriptions,
were adopted from French (and perhaps Provençal) or extemporised
by the taste and fancy of the writers. One famous collection[65]
indicates the school of which our poets were scholars by alternating
French poems with English. But this very collection shows amply that
these same writers refused to undergo the syllabic constraints of
French, and held to what were to be always the real, if frequently the
unrecognised and sometimes the denied, principles of the New English
in verse--that is to say, the constitution of the line by feet, _not_
syllables--and the consequent possibility of obtaining equivalent lines
by the substitution of feet, varying in syllabic constituence, but
interchangeable in metrical value. Some examples of all these things
will be found in the Scanned Conspectus; the student should search the
books named in the notes for more, which he will find in the fullest
abundance. What is important is that by this study he may and should
discover the real and too commonly misunderstood relation of Chaucer to
precedent English verse.

There is, however, another fact of the fourteenth century which it is
not less important for him to recognise, and which also has been too
often misunderstood, or at least not put in its proper place. This is
the revival of alliterative-accentual verse.

[Sidenote: The alliterative revival.]

As there are few things, in treating prosody, of greater weight than to
keep carefully before the student the difference between controversial
and uncontroversial points, it should be said at once that "revival" is
not quite one of the latter. There have been some who have taken it
for granted that the alliterative-accentual form _never_ ceased out of
the land. It may be so; there is even a sort of antecedent plausibility
about the notion. But the important historical fact is that no such
verse apparently exists of a probable date between about 1250 (the
later form of Layamon itself, much further encroached upon by metre
and rhyme) and about 1350. Somewhere about this latter time it does
reappear; and before very long has its chief pure representative in
Langland, at the same time as metre has _its_ chief pure representative
in Chaucer.

But this reappearance is conditioned and qualified by a very remarkable
fact. There is, as has just been said, pure alliterative verse. It
is not, indeed, an exact representation of the old A.S. line. It is
somewhat longer than the shorter forms of that line, and very much
shorter than the "extended" variety. In some cases, especially in the
later examples, the alliteration is richer, extending to four, five,
or even six syllables. Most noteworthy of all is the substitution, in
the general rhythmical run, of anapæstic-iambic for trochaic basis--a
fact the importance of which, in the general history of the morphology
of English poetry and of the change from A.S. to M.E., cannot be

But it is also worthy of the most careful remark that, in a relatively
large number of instances, the alliterative-accentual system is
apparently unable to rely upon itself. It is tempted or driven to
borrow metre, or rhyme, or both. Of the two best pieces in the
alliterative division, outside _Piers Plowman_, _Gawain and the Green
Knight_ combines, with an unrhymed body or _tirade_, a rhymed "bob and
wheel" in every stanza; while _The Pearl_, though alliterated almost to
the highest possible strength, is strictly metrical and strictly rhymed
throughout. Others form their stanzas of lines roughly rhythmed but
fairly well rhymed.

[Sidenote: The later fourteenth century.]

By the last quarter of the fourteenth century, therefore, there were
in England two contrasted and in a way rival, but, as has been said,
overlapping, systems of versification: one a sort of atavistic
revival, the other the result of a process--_two_ centuries old to a
certainty, and probably nearer _four_--of blending the characteristics
of Low Latin and French prosody with those of Old English.

In the three chief poets of the later fourteenth century (Chaucer,
Gower, and Langland) we have three object lessons as to the results
of this process, which could not have been improved if the course
of events had been exclusively devoted to the task of making these
results, and the process itself, clear to the student. They had best be
taken in reverse order.

[Sidenote: Langland.]

Langland represents, in the greatest perfection that can reasonably
be expected, the attempt to preserve, or revert to, verse arranged
without rhyme, without metre in the strict sense, and depending for
its separation from prose upon alliteration, accent, and strong middle
pause. In spite of himself, and in consequence of the state of the
language, actually metrical lines--decasyllables, Alexandrines, and
fourteeners--do appear; but, as a rule, he avoids them either with
singular skill or with remarkable luck, and on the whole achieves
a consistent medium, not so much dominated as permeated by a sort
of anapæstic underhum of rhythm, but otherwise maintaining its
independence. Being possessed of great literary and even distinctly
poetical genius, he makes it a by no means unsuitable vehicle for
his tangle of apocalyptic dreams, and no ill one for the occasional
passages of a more mundane description which he interlards. But it is
deficient in beauty, if not in vigour; it is clearly unsuited for many
of the subjects of poetry; and to any one acquainted with metre and
rhyme it constantly suggests the question and complaint, "_Why_ are we
to be deprived of these already-won beauties and conveniences, and cut
off with this rough makeshift?"

[Sidenote: Gower.]

As Langland represents the purely accentual division or phase of
English prosody at this time, so does Gower represent the almost
purely syllabic. He uses, with insignificant exceptions,[66] the old
octosyllabic couplet; but he comes closer than any other English
writer of the Middle English period to the strict French model. He
does not, like his forerunners, and like even Chaucer, allow himself
the seven-syllable line as a variation; and though he does, by the
admission of those who are opposed to the system of this book,
occasionally admit an "extrametrical syllable," and, according to that
system, much oftener a trisyllabic foot, this interferes little with
the general uniformity of his verse-run. Almost the only variations
that he relies upon are frequent initial trochees an occasional
balanced arrangement of the halves of the line--

    The cloth was laid, the board was set--

contrasted with less strongly marked pauses, and especially a device
whereby a full stop comes at the first line of two couplets separated
by another, so that a sort of _In Memoriam_ quatrain effect, with first
and last lines blank, is obtained, as thus:

    Hew down this tree and let it fall,
    The leavès let defoul in haste,
    And do the fruit destroy and waste,
    And let offshredden every branch.

To this the present writer would add distinct trisyllabic feet where
others see slur, as in--

    The weath|er was mer|ry and fair | enough.

The result, especially with syncopation of these trisyllables, is what
some call "pre-eminent smoothness" of metre, others dominant monotony.
The metre had proved itself of old well suited for actual narrative,
and, as Gower can tell a story, when he has a good one to tell, the
effect, as in the passages about Nebuchadnezzar, Medea, Ceyx and
Alcyone, Rosiphelè, the "Trump of Death," and other persons and things,
is quite excellent. But in the didactic and conversational parts it is
often terribly tedious and lamentably limp.

[Sidenote: Chaucer.]

Thus Langland, from yet another point of view, represents the rejection
of the new English prosody altogether or as far as possible, and Gower,
the timid imitation of French. Chaucer, on the other hand, despite his
undoubted attention to French and Italian models, is in the direct line
which we have been tracing, and represents, if not completely, yet to
a very large extent, at once the development and the perfecting of the
processes which we have described. It has indeed been urged by some
that Chaucer probably knew nothing, or very little, of _English_ poetry
before his own day. But while, on the one hand, this is quite unproven,
and not a little improbable, those who urge it do not seem to see that,
even if it were so, it is comparatively irrelevant. It is not in the
least necessary to suppose that Chaucer must have borrowed the Vernon
MS. or another like it, carried it home to the rooms above Aldgate,
"stirred the fire and taken a drink" as Henryson did later with his
own _Troilus_, and then, after discussing to himself principles of
versification, have decided that this was to be followed, that to be
avoided, that again to be perfected and carried further. The main and
undoubted facts remain that Chaucer was an Englishman of 1340(?)-1400;
that he was the greatest Englishman of letters of his time; that he
spoke and wrote the English language, and that thus, by what he would
himself have called "the law of kind," he entered into the inheritance
of all that had been done in this English matter by Englishmen for
generations beforehand. As a matter of fact, there is plenty of
evidence destructive of the contention referred to. He had read the
Romances, or he could not have written _Sir Thopas_; he knew the
alliterative poems, or he could not have made the famous reference to
_rum ram ruf_ in the Prologue to the _Parson's Tale_, which Gascoigne
caught up. It is odd if he had not heard (even if he had not read) the
plays that folk like his own Absolon played "upon a scaffold high."
But, as has been said, it does not matter.

[Sidenote: His perfecting of M.E. verse.]

For his work is there, and it is incontestably--whatever its author
had read or not read--the logical and biological continuation
and perfecting of all that had gone before from Godric and the
_Paternoster_. He begins with the fluent octosyllable and the melodious
and usefully stringent rhyme-royal, as well as other more or less
elaborate stanzas. He communicates to the couplet[67] a greater
combination of order and variety than it had ever known in English;
he makes of the stanza,[68] in the case of rhyme-royal, the most
perfect formal arrangement of verse that English had yet seen. Later
he takes up,[69] very probably because he had written so many separate
examples of it in rhyme-royal itself at the close of each stanza, the
_decasyllabic_ couplet, and makes of that something greater still--a
metrical instrument or vehicle escaping at once the scanty content and
slightly insignificant bearing of the octosyllable, the elaborateness
and rather melancholy quality of rhyme-royal. In doing this it is
inevitable that, as Spenser did in parallel case afterwards, he should
lean rather towards precision than towards great laxity and luxuriance
of form; for things needed order. But he sets the example of that
variation of pause in rhyme-royal which was fortunately taken as a
rule, and which preserved for English one of the very greatest means
of metrical achievement. In the octosyllable he reproduced knowingly,
and with definite apology, that "failing of a syllable" which gives
acephalous or trochaic alternation, and which all the greatest masters
of the metre, except (following Gower) William Morris, have imitated.
And he broke up the lines very largely by conversation-fragments, by
putting full stops at the end of the first line of a couplet, and by
making a whole paragraph end at the same place.

[Sidenote: Details of his prosody.]

But next to his provision of a perfectly finished stanza--in other
words, of a complete, and _pro tanto_ final, prosodic result--in
rhyme-royal, the most important thing done by Chaucer in this
department was the arranging and setting on foot of the decasyllabic
couplet, which he began well in the _Legend of Good Women_, but carried
on much better in the _Canterbury Tales_. Not half of his actual
achievement here, and a very much smaller part of his promise and
stimulus for the future, can be perceived by those who limit him to
the decasyllable as such by devices of elision and syncope; still less
by those who would have his varieties of line exactly to represent
variations of the French decasyllable. The former proceeding is
inadequate and defacing; the latter practically impossible, except as a
bare and barren matter of arithmetic. You cannot imitate the prosodic
effect of one language in another, even though you take the exact
number of syllables and (as far as you can) divide the words, arrange
the accents, etc., with the most slavish copying. The result will laugh
at you prosodically; and while it is very unlikely to give you anything
similar, it is nearly certain to give you something quite different.[70]

When Chaucer's verse in "heroic" or "riding rhyme" is examined,
simply on its own merits and without regard to arbitrary theories of
pronunciation, but with all necessary remembrance of the value of the
final _e_, etc., it is seen to follow, in every respect, the general
principles which we have seen evolving themselves in all English
poetry hitherto, subject only to the general reforming or regimenting
tendency which has been noticed. The normal line is beyond all question
five-foot iambic, or decasyllabic with short and long syllable
alternately. But there are a few instances[71] of so-called acephalous
lines where the first syllable seems to have been missed--where, at any
rate, there are only nine to account for, and where you consequently
have to choose between a monosyllabic foot in the first place or
trochaic cadence throughout. There is little doubt in the mind of the
present writer that if these lines (which, after all, are very few)
were deliberately written and meant to be kept, the reason of their
existence was a false analogy with the octosyllable, where, as we have
said, such acephalous lines, trochaic and heptasyllabic, do occur,
and where they produce not only no ill, but a positively good effect.
Unluckily the cutting down does _not_ produce a good effect in the
larger couplet; and if trochaic rhythm is permitted--in other words,
if the missing syllable is shifted from the beginning to the end--it
produces a very bad one. But they are, as has been said, in very small
proportion, though there are too many of them to be simply "mended" out
of existence.

Proceeding, we find, in a far larger number of instances, not a defect
but an excess of syllables. As far as these syllables are found at
the end of the line (in great measure caused by the final _e_) there
is no difficulty and no dispute about them. They are allowed by
everybody; and they come under that general law of almost (not quite)
all prosodies which makes the final place of a line one of liberty.
But it is different with those which come _within_ the line, and with
apparent extensions beyond the eleventh syllable. Many, perhaps most,
prosodists would shut their eyes to the latter, regarding them as
mere extra-redundances, and explain away those which occur within the
line by elision before a vowel, by syncope or crasis or the like (see
Glossary) when they come before a consonant.

To the present writer these devices and shifts appear unnecessary,
discordant, the reverse of natural, and alike the consequence and the
cause of prosodic error. With regard to _hiatus_ (_i.e._ the actual
contact of vowels) it has to be fully admitted that there is a strong
tendency in MSS. to sink one of them and to write not merely "tharray"
for "the array," but even "in thalyghte" for "in thee alyghte." The
habit continued for a long time, and we find even in Wyatt and Surrey
"tembrace" for "to embrace" and so forth. But it is important to
observe first that this habit is not constant, as we should expect
it to be if it represented a definite and reasoned wish always to
reduce two such syllables to one; and further, that it will not affect
the other cases of syllables, such as the last of "Heav_e_n" (which,
however, pretty certainly _was_ monosyllabic at this time and later),
"ev_e_r" the _-eth_ of the third person singular and plural, _y_ in
"many a," _i-_ in scores of words, and the like.

To the present writer, once more, it is certain, and even indisputable,
that whether Chaucer deliberately used trisyllabic feet or not, there
are trisyllabic feet by nature and poetic right in Chaucer, for any one
who chooses them. And he is of opinion, though not so strongly, that
Chaucer allowed himself an occasional Alexandrine or twelve-syllabled
line,[72] just as preceding writers had allowed themselves occasional
ten-syllabled lines in octosyllabics. What is once more certain,
and almost indisputable, is that his lines can be so scanned with
euphonious effect, and that similar phenomena manifest themselves all
the way up to his time.

Of his rhymes nothing necessarily need be said here. He often avails
himself for rhyme, as well as for rhythm, of the choice between
Teutonic and Romance accent--the former always seeking the beginning of
the word, the latter generally the end. This was hardly even a licence
at his period.

One much-vexed point it is, however, impossible to omit, though far
more, in every sense, has been made of it than it is worth. It occurred
many years ago to a distinguished scholar, the late Mr. Bradshaw of
Cambridge, to make a test out of the rhyme of y and ye, which, he
thought (despite a famous example in _Sir Thopas_[73]), never occurs in
the work unquestionably Chaucer's. To the present writer the occurrence
of the rhyme in _Sir Thopas_ closes the question, and he would have
much to say against the establishment of the test, even if _Sir Thopas_
were acknowledged as not Chaucerian. But from the strict point of
view of this book the whole thing is really irrelevant. It does not
matter to us _who_ wrote certain pieces of English poetry, but what
the characteristics of those and other pieces of English poetry are.
The student of prosody may and should note that in some pieces of this
period the rhyme of _y_ and _ye_ certainly does occur, that in others
it apparently does not; but beyond this he need not, and, as a student
of prosody, should not, go.


[49] Running illustrations of the following chapters will be found
in the preceding Scanned Conspectus, but additional ones will be
supplied in notes when necessary. It may not be superfluous to call the
student's special attention to this chapter. All correct appreciation
of English prosody depends upon the facts contained in it; and while
the ignoring or mistaking of these facts is fatal, it has unfortunately
been too common.


    Werig winneth: widsith onginneth
    Sar ne sinneth: sorgum cinnith
    Blæd his blumith: blisse linnath
    Listum linneth: lastum ne linneth.

[51] _V. sup._ Scanned Survey II.

[52] _V. sup._ Scanned Survey III.


    Merie sungen the muneches binnen Ely
    Tha Cnut ching rew therby.
    Roweth cnihtes neer the land
    And here we thes muneches sang.


    Vre feder thet in heouene is,
    That is al soothful iwis.
    Wee moten to theos weordes iseon
    Thet to liue and to saule gode beon.
    Thet weo beon swa his sunes iborene
    Thet he beo feder and we him icorene
    Thet we don alle his ibeden
    And his wille for to reden.

[55] In doubling the consonant after a short vowel-sound.

[56] Examples of all this will be found in the Scanned Survey and in
the Glossaries and Form-lists of Book IV.

[57] For more on all this see Scanned Conspectus and next Book.


    Thus queth Alured.
    Wis childe is fader blisse.
    If hit so bi-tideth
    that thu bern ibidest,
    the hwile hit is lutel
    ler him mon-thewes
    than hit is wexynde;
    hit schal wende thar to.
    the betere hit schal iwurthe
    euer buuen eorthe,
    ac if thu him lest welde
    werende on worlde
    lude and stille
    his owene wille.

    Mon that wol of wysdam heren,
    At wyse Hendyng he may lernen,
      That wes Marcolues sone;
    Gode thonkes and monie thewes
    Forte teche fele shrewes;
      For that wes ever is wone.
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Wis mon halt is wordes ynne,
    For he nul no gle begynne
      Er he have tempted is pype.
    Sot is sot, and that is sene,
    For he wol speke wordes grene
    Er then hue buen rype,
      "Sottes bolt is sone shote,"
    Quoth Hendyng.

[59] _Latin._

    Nam leo stans fortis super alta cacumina montis,
    Qualicunque via vallis descendit ad ima,
    Si venatorem per notum sentit odorem,
    Cauda cuncta linit quae pes vestigia figit.


    Uncore dit Escripture
    Leuns ad tele nature,
    Quant l'om le vait chazant,
    De sa cue en fuiant
    Desfait sa trace en terre,
    Que hom ne l' sace querre;
    Ceo est grant signefiance,
    Aiez en remembrance.


    The leun stant on hille,
    And he man hunten here,
    Other thurg his nese smel
    Smake that he negge,
    Bi wile weie so he wile
    To dele nither wenden,
    Alle hise fet-steppes
    After him he filleth,
    Drageth dust with his stert
    Ther he [dun] steppeth,
    Other dust other deu,
    That he ne cunne is finden,
    Driueth dun to his den
    Thar he him bergen wille.


    All is man so is this erne [eagle],
      Would[è] ye now listen,
    Old in his[è] sinn[e]s derne [dark],
      Or he becometh Christen.

The spelling is designedly modernised, but very slightly.


    Maid[è] here thou mightst behold
      This world[è]s love is but o res [a race],
    And is beset so fele-vold [manifoldly],
      Fick|le and frack|le [frail] and wok | and les [weak and false].


    Und|er mould | they li|eth [plural] cold
    And fal|loweth [groweth yellow] as | doth mead|ow grass.

[63] It is sometimes asked by persons who should know better, "What
has _English_ prosody to do with these mostly un-English things?"
The answer is simple--that these un-English things went largely, and
essentially, to the making of English prosody.

[64] The poem commonly reputed as the oldest in French, _St. Eulalia_,
is in something very like it, but was not followed up.

[65] MS. Harl. 2253. Published by Thomas Wright for the Percy Society
(London, 1847) as _Specimens of Lyric Poetry_.

[66] The rhyme-royal decasyllables of the "Supplication," or "Letter to
Venus and Cupid," at the close of the _Confessio_, and of the poem "In
Praise of Peace."

[67] In the disputed _Romance of the Rose_, and the undisputed _Death
of Blanche_, and the somewhat later _House of Fame_.

[68] The _Parliament of Fowls_, _Troilus and Criseyde_, etc.

[69] First in the _Legend of Good Women_ and then in the _Canterbury

[70] These words are written, not merely on general principles, but
from long and extensive knowledge of French fourteenth-century poetry.

[71] Such as the well-known

    Twen|ty ¦ bok|ès ¦ clad | in ¦ black | or ¦ red

of the Oxford clerk.


    Westward | right swich, | ano|ther in | the op|posite.

                                               (_Knight's Tale_, 1036.)

    And said, | O deer|e housbond|e, be|nedi|citee!

                                          (_Wife of Bath's Tale_, 231.)

    Doth so | his ce|rimo|nies and | obei|saunces,
    And ke|peth in | semblant | all his | obser|vaunces.

                                           (_Squire's Tale_, 515, 516.)

[73] "Sir Guy," which cannot have an _e_, and "chivalrye," which must
have one.



[Sidenote: Causes of decay in Southern English prosody.]

It might be supposed, especially in face of the unquestionable
reputation which Chaucer had attained before his death--and which he
maintained undisturbed, and hardly approached, for the entire period
until Spenser's birth,--that his prosodic work, once done, would have
been done once for all; that in points of form, though individual
inferiority of poetic gift might show itself, there could be no great
technical falling off. To think this, however, would be to ignore--as,
in fact, men too usually do ignore, and have ignored--the necessary and
intricate connection between language and prosody. Chaucer had raised
the state of English versification to the highest point possible in
his time; in fact, there are reasons for saying that he had screwed
it up beyond the level possible to ordinary men. To mention nothing
else, the exactness, and at the same time the rhythmical variety of
his verse, depend on two special points--the valuing of the final
_e_ and the optional but carefully selected shift from French to
English accentuation.[74] We know that, even in the mouths and on the
pens of his own contemporaries, the _e_ was breaking down, and that
it "went" more and more during the fifteenth century; and we know
likewise, though less certainly, that though, even at the close of
the period with which we are dealing, French accentuation was still
permissible to poets, an English standard was gradually establishing
itself, violation of which was disapproved.[75] Moreover, the fact
remains undeniable that the poetic quality of the followers of
Chaucer, in Southern English of the literary kind, was low to a point
unprecedented, and never yet again reached since.

The progress of prosody between Chaucer and Spenser divides itself,
sharply but unequally in point of time, between a longer space (about
a century and a quarter) from Chaucer to poets like Hawes, Skelton,
and Barclay; a shorter (of about half a century or less) from Wyatt to
Spenser. In the first division a subdivision--of matter, not time--has
to be made between the literary poets in Southern English, the Scottish
Chaucerians from James the First to Douglas or Lyndsay (if not even
to Montgomerie, who died later than Spenser himself), and the ballad,
carol, and other folk-song writers of the fifteenth century.

[Sidenote: Lydgate, Occleve, etc.]

The history of the first division is the history of the breakdown
just referred to. Except in the so-called _Chauceriana_--pieces such
as "The Cuckoo and the Nightingale," "The Flower and the Leaf," "The
Court of Love," etc., once attributed to Chaucer himself, but cast
out on various kinds of evidence ranging from practically conclusive
to very doubtful--and sometimes even in such poets as Lydgate and
Occleve, who for no very small portion of their lives were Chaucer's
own contemporaries, downwards, seem to be struck with metrical palsy or
metrical blindness. Examples, given in the Scanned Conspectus above,
will show the way in which they confuse different metres, vary the
lengths of their lines not by intentional substitution but by sheer
muddlement, violate rhythm and cadence--turn, in fact, the perfect
harmony of their master into a cacophony which is not even prosaic.
Sometimes, especially in Occleve, by rigid counting of syllables, they
escape worse blunders, though they seldom make real music. Generally,
even this resource fails them, and there is no worse chaos than in
Hawes, one of the latest and not one of the least of them; while
Skelton, perhaps the acutest intelligence of all, takes refuge in
frank, _not_ clumsy, and intentional doggerel.

[Sidenote: The Scottish poets.]

To this spectacle of disorganisation and decay the Scottish followers
of Chaucer (who, generally with acknowledgment as eager and hearty as
that of their English comrades, take him for their master) present
what may at first sight seem an astonishing and almost unintelligible
contrast. With final _e_'s allowed for (or in case of necessity touched
in), the _Kingis Quair_, traditionally ascribed, and never with solid
reason denied, to James the First, is a piece of rhyme-royal as soundly
constructed, and as well fitted and polished, as if it were Chaucer's
own. Henryson, in his following of Chaucer's _Troilus_, and in his
other poems, never breaks down in metre, but handles every form that
he touches with equal precision and charm. Even more may be said of
Dunbar, whose lyrics possess the peculiar grace only given by metrical
accomplishment, who can manage alliterative metre more smoothly than
Langland and with not less vigour, and who, if he wrote the "Friars
of Berwick," is, next to Chaucer himself, the greatest master of the
early (Middle English) heroic couplet. Of the verse-chroniclers,
Wyntoun, though not very poetical, uses octosyllabic couplet, with not
infrequent equivalence, effectively enough, and Blind Harry writes
very strict decasyllabic couplet with cæsura at the fourth syllable,
after the French model. The earlier sixteenth-century writers, Douglas
and Lyndsay, if not perhaps quite impeccable, appear so beside Hawes
and his fellows; while the two latest strictly Scots poets, Scott and
Montgomerie, manage most complicated measures--reminding us of early
French and Provençal, or of those of the English fourteenth century in
lyric and drama--with unerring accuracy and finished grace. Of this
strange contrast the simple fact of writing in a different dialect,
requiring more care in imitation, may supply some explanation; the
other fact, that this dialect was rather a literary convention than
a vernacular speech, some more; and the higher quality of individual
genius, more still; but a margin of surprise remains.

[Sidenote: Ballad, etc.]

It is difficult to say whether that margin is reduced or widened by
the fact that a contrast, almost as striking, is found between the
English literary poetry of the period and the "folk-song," sacred and
profane. It is probable that the bulk of our older ballads date from
the earliest fifteenth century or the very close of the fourteenth. The
latter would seem to be true of the "Robin Hood" ballads; the former is
pretty certainly true of "Chevy Chase." We have also from the fifteenth
century a large body of carols, or sacred poems for singing.

Now in these, though they naturally vary much in poetic merit and in
prosodic accomplishment, it is remarkable that this latter scarcely
ever falls to the level of the worst literary poetry, and never falls
in exactly the same way. The ballad-writers invariably, and the
carol- and hymn-writers very commonly, preserve the English licence
of equivalence in the fullest fashion; and this seems to relieve
their motion of the staggering and fatal cramp which rests on their
superiors in formal literary rank. They sing naturally: they do not
aim at, and break down in, a falsetto. Although it would be impossible
to have anything in a worse condition, as far as copying goes, than
our oldest version of "Chevy Chase," its natural ballad motion carries
it safe through all the corruptions and defacements; the sacred song
of "E.I.O." is admirable metre; the Carol of the Virgin, "I sing of
a maiden," is matchless in quiet metrical movement; and the famous
"Nut-brown Maid," which is certainly not later than this century,
deserves the same praise in more rapid melody.

These compositions, however, though they did a precious office
in preserving the true principles of English prosody, could not
exercise immediate influence; and the disorganising of literary
versification was no doubt partly cause and partly consequence of the
continuance of the alliterative revolt which did not die till after
Flodden--indeed, not till after Musselburgh (Pinkie). But, indirectly,
this revolt encouraged fresh developments of English metre itself.
The old fourteener had taken new and lively form in such pieces as
_Gamelyn_[76] (late fourteenth century) and _Beryn_ (middle fifteenth),
and through it and other things--the musical adaptations of songs
and hymns and the like--there was arising, in dramatic literature
especially, a disorderly, imperfect, but very important notion of
wholly "triple-timed" or anapæstic metre. In fact, it is not excessive
to regard the English fifteenth century as a period when all elements
of prosody were thrown into a sort of cauldron, sack, sieve, or
lucky-bag, in which, as according to the different metaphors suiting
these objects, they were to be boiled down, shaken together, sifted
out, and taken as fortune would have it, to supply the stock of a new
venture in more orderly and polished verse-manufacture when actual
speech had settled itself once more.

[Sidenote: Dissatisfaction and reform.]

At what period, in what manner, and by what persons exactly, conscious
discontent with this confusion and dilapidation was made manifest,
is not known. That it was felt consciously about the middle of the
sixteenth century we do know positively from a passage in the _Mirror
for Magistrates_; and later still we find the precepts of Gascoigne
virtually, if not always expressly, directed against it. But, as has
been hinted, even Skeltonic evinces an earlier attempt to escape
from it in practice as far back as the first quarter of the century;
while, at an uncertain time for first efforts, during the second, and
then ever increasingly during the third, till the death of Gascoigne
himself, poetical practice proclaims the fact, even more emphatically
than any preceptist rules of criticism could do. Indeed, there has
hardly ever been any mistake, and it is difficult to think that by
persons possessed of ears and eyes any could be made, about the
surprising revolution manifest in the verse of Sir Thomas Wyatt, and
of his younger disciple, Henry Howard, known by his courtesy title as
the Earl of Surrey. Instead of the weltering and staggering discords
of the poets from Lydgate onward, we come back to verse almost as
clear, regular, and harmonious as Chaucer's, though with a much more
modern pronunciation and accent, to which it occasionally seems to
have some difficulty in reconciling itself. The final _e_ has in most
cases disappeared, though it is probably there in a few cases, and in
a few others has settled itself into _y_.[77] The inordinate variety
of syllables in the line, not explicable by any trisyllabic foot, is
reformed. Indeed, the need of the reform is so strongly felt that the
poets run into the opposite error--salutary for the time--of excessive
syllabic uniformity.

[Sidenote: Wyatt and Surrey.]

There can be no question that Wyatt, and, through or after him, Surrey,
were enormously helped, if not originally stimulated to reform, by
the existence of new, exact, and attractive foreign models derived,
at any rate originally, from a new language. French had hitherto been
almost the only source of such models, and it had lost its virtue--not
least perhaps because _ballades_ and other formal devices, though
excellent in themselves, had been practised all through the period of
disorganisation. Italian supplied, in the sonnet, _terza rima_, and
blank verse, fresh models, in the attempt to imitate which precision
of syllabic and rhythmical arrangement almost inevitably enjoined
itself. To write either sonnet or _terza_ in shuffling doggerel would
destroy the particular form; to write blank verse in such a way (as was
actually shown a hundred years afterward by the later "Elizabethan"
dramatists) is to lose _all_ form; so that the instinct of preservation
kept the new experimenters right. Precisely why they adopted another
form which is not Italian at all--the poulter's measure of alternate
Alexandrine and fourteener--is not so easy to decide; but it may very
reasonably be taken to be an attempt to regularise two of the shapes
to which the doggerel of the time and its predecessor most nearly
approximated. It is not a very good form (though when it splits up
into "short measure" it has some merits), and even in the hands of two
such poets as Wyatt and Surrey it is terribly sing-song. But this very
sing-song carried regularity with it. Of the imported measures _terza_
has never suited English very well, though numerous attempts have been
made at it by poets sometimes of supreme quality. On the other hand,
the sonnet--not the commonest Italian form at first, but that also
later--has made itself thoroughly at home; and blank verse--not much
more of a success in Italian itself than _terza_ in English--has, in
English, grown to be one of the greatest metres in the world's prosodic

It should be at once seen that these processes of reform involved an
almost inevitable--a certainly very natural--"drawing-in of the horns"
of verse, which was positively beneficial in practice, but which led
to rather disastrous mistakes in theory. On the one hand, so far as
Italian admits of foot-distribution, it is distributable only into
dissyllabic feet in the metres affected.[78] On the other, the utter
disorganisation of English verse which had prevailed might well seem
to have been caused by the neglect to observe accurate division into
such feet--a division which, in our language, will always chiefly
favour the iamb, or foot with the first syllable short and the second
long. Accordingly we find that in Wyatt and Surrey themselves; in
their companions when (long after the death of the first, and nearly
a decade after that of the second) their work came to be published in
_Tottel's Miscellany_; in the huge rubbish-heap of the _Mirror for
Magistrates_ with its one pearl of price in Sackville's contributions;
and in the poets of the third quarter of the sixteenth century--George
Turberville and Gascoigne himself--this iambic rhythm is omnipresent,
though the line-length and other combinations may be largely variable.
There is, it is true, one remarkable exception in the Georgic poet
Tusser, who uses frequent and accurate anapæst; but the nature of
his subject, the homeliness of his diction, and the character of his
intended readers, may have been thought to put him out of strictly
poetical consideration. When Gascoigne--merely as narrating and
regretting a fact, _not_ announcing, as some have erroneously thought,
a principle--stated the limitation, his fact was for the most part a
fact, and had been so for more than a generation.

[Sidenote: Their followers.]

It would, however, be a gross mistake in criticism, as well as a piece
of unpardonable ingratitude, to find fault with these poets for their
prosodic limitation. It was their business to limit and be limited--to
substitute, at whatever cost of temporary restriction of freedom, order
for the abominable disorder of the preceding century, rhythm for its
limping or staggering movement, harmonious and well-concerted metrical
arrangement for its hubbub of halting verse or scarcely more than even
half-doggerelised prose. And they did this. When, as in the cases of
Wyatt, Surrey, and Sackville, they were men of real and genuine poetic
gift they did much more; though the two first were still hampered by
the uncertainty of pronunciation. From this Sackville is comparatively
free; though the deliberate archaism in him no doubt assists this
freedom, and may have suggested something similar to Spenser. Even
Turberville and Gascoigne, though their strictly poetic powers are
less, manage to produce, by no means seldom, sweet and harmonious
measures. And all do the inestimable work of drilling, regimenting, and
preparing the raw and demoralised state of English prosody so that it
may be ready to the hands of a real master and commander.

[Sidenote: Spenser.]

Such a master and commander duly presented himself in Spenser.
Naturally enough--and even commendably enough on the principle of
proving all things and holding fast that which is good--he spent a
little time on classical "versing"; only to give it up so completely
that (as is not the case with his friend Sidney) no single example of
it, or of any approach to it, occurs in his actual poetical works.
He must have spent much more on experiments in English verse proper,
before the ever-famous and admirable _Shepherd's Calendar_ appeared in
the winter of 1579-80.

[Sidenote: The _Shepherd's Calendar_.]

For poetical excellence, combined with prosodic regularity, there had
been nothing like this since Chaucer; for poetical excellence combined
with prosodic variety it may be questioned whether Chaucer himself--his
whole work being set against this novice's essay--can show anything
equal. Spenser had not yet ventured to publish (though it is more than
probable that he had sketched it out[79]) his immortal stanza, and he
did not issue till later any exact and complete followings of Chaucer's
riding rhyme. But he uses (the exact order is for special reasons not
followed) a very fine six-line stanza (decasyllables rhymed _ababcc_);
slightly altered Romance-six with fresh substitution and redundance in
the short lines; various stanzas much "cuttit and broken" (_i.e._ of
very varied line-length and rhyme-order); the Chaucerian octave; common
ballad measure; and another metre, much discussed and not universally
agreed upon, but, on the more probable interpretation of it, one of the
most interesting in the whole history of English poetry.

This arrangement, which is found in the "February," "May," and
"September" pieces, but most characteristically in the part of
"February" devoted to the tale of "The Oak and the Brere" (Briar),
has been thought by some to be evidence that Spenser misunderstood
Chaucer's "riding rhyme" owing to the disuse of the final valued
_e_ and other changes, these pieces presenting the result of the
misconception. Unfortunately for this notion, the pieces themselves
contain large numbers of consecutive decasyllabics perfectly well
filled and rhythmed; while Spenser later wrote another piece, _Mother
Hubberd's Tale_, which is in impeccable "riding rhyme" from first
to last. He is also, not merely in his later work, but in the other
nine-twelfths of the _Calendar_ itself, an equally impeccable master
of every rhythm and metre that he tries, so that it is practically
inconceivable that he should here have been stumbling blindfold, or
wandering aimlessly, between perfect decasyllabic couplets, perfect
octosyllabic couplets, and doggerel anapæstic lines inconsistent with
both. On the other hand, there had been in English, as we have seen,
from _Genesis and Exodus_ downwards, a variety of octosyllabic couplet
which had admitted anapæstic equivalence freely, which reappeared in
the Romances, and which, though not favoured by Chaucer or Gower or
their immediate followers, had persevered in various places down to
Spenser's own time. It seems to the present writer, as it did to Gray a
hundred and fifty years ago, and has to many others since _Christabel_,
though Coleridge himself strangely did not notice it, that Spenser here
followed his elders, and anticipated Coleridge himself, in choosing
equivalenced octosyllable to vary his non-equivalenced decasyllable.
And on this theory we have in _Genesis and Exodus_, the _Shepherd's
Calendar_, and _Christabel_, the three main piers of a great bridge
which unites the earliest and the latest ages of English prosody, and
which carries that prosody's most vital and differential principle.

[Sidenote: The _Faerie Queene_.]

The result, however, of Spenser's experiments was that, for his chief
poem the _Faerie Queene_, he chose none of the metres in which he
had thus experimented, nor any which had been previously employed by
poets, English or other, but invented (the possible stages of the
invention being given elsewhere) the magnificent Spenserian stanza of
eight decasyllables and an Alexandrine. With this he got more room
than in either rhyme-royal or the octave--an unsurpassed medium for
the individual descriptive effects in which he delighted, and yet one
which could combine itself (for the purpose of larger description or of
narrative) into most attractive sequence. He did not, however, confine
himself to this in his later poems, but showed himself a master, not
merely of the octave in both its forms and of the couplet, but also of
two extensive verse combinations more elaborate than the Spenserian
itself, but less original, and both really suggested, as the Spenserian
was _not_, by Italian. The first was the sonnet, which, after the
successors of Wyatt and Surrey had been apparently afraid to venture
on it, had been taken up by Sidney and Watson probably about the same
time that he was himself at work upon his _Calendar_, and in which he
did very beautiful things. The other was the still more extensive and
complicated arrangement, suggested no doubt by the Italian _canzone_,
which he employed in the _Epithalamion_ and _Prothalamion_--stanzas of
unequal line-length and intertwisted rhyme-order which sometimes extend
to a score of lines or thereabouts.

Spenser did not, after the _Shepherd's Calendar_, attempt the lighter
kind of lyric, nor anything in trisyllabic measures; while he seems
distinctly to eschew trisyllabic substitution in others, though
it appears sometimes. But this was, in fact, a condition of his
completing, and informing with full poetic spirit, the prosodic reform
of the second and third quarters of the century. He left English
poetry once more provided--and indeed had furnished it long before
his too early death--with a perfect form of verse, and with a nearly
perfect form of poetic diction. This diction, which was almost as
much his own work as his stanza, was at the time, and has been since,
much misunderstood. Ben Jonson called it "no language"--an insidious
proposition which, under the truth that it is no language that was at
the time, had been before, or has since been the living speech of any
person or group, conveys the falsehood that it is therefore unfit for
poetry. It is probable that Chaucer's was, though slightly mixed, much
nearer the actual language of his own time, and for that very reason
it grew obsolete, and, until it was studied from the antiquarian point
of view, carried the verse with it. Spenser's blend of actuality,
archaism, dialect, borrowings from French and Italian, and the like,
provided a literary medium which, though parts of it too have become
antiquated, has as a whole provided patterns for all subsequent poets.
The most disputable of his devices, though it has a certain quaint
charm of its own, is what is called his "eye-rhyme"--a system of
altering the spelling of some words so that they may not only sound
alike on the voice but look alike on the page.


[74] These are certain and incontestable. The present writer would
add the sprinkling of trisyllabic feet, Alexandrines, etc.--even more
difficult for clumsy followers to imitate successfully.

[75] As by Gascoigne (_v. inf._).


    Litheth and lesteneth · and herkeneth aright,
    And ye schulle here a talking · of a doughty knight;
    Sire Johan of Boundys · was his righte name,
    He cowde of norture enough · and mochil of game.
    Thre sones the knight hadde · that with his body he wan;
    The eldest was a moche shrewe · and sone he bigan.
    His bretheren loved wel here fader · and of him were agast,
    The eldest deserved his father's curse · and had it at the last.
    The goode knight his fader · livede so yore,
    That deth was comen him to and handled him full sore.
    The goode knight cared sore · syk ther he lay,
    How his children scholde · liven after his day.
    He hadde ben wyde-wher · but no housband he was,
    Al the lond that he hadde · it was verrey purchas.
    Fayn he wolde it were · dressed among hem alle,
    That ech of hem hadde his part · as it might falle.

                                                     (_Gamelyn_, 1-16.)

(Here l. 8, with the almost certain _crasis_ of "theldest," is a
pure iambic fourteener. Elsewhere there are monosyllabic beginnings,
contractions of whole or half feet, and great apparent "irregularity,"
but at the same time nearer and nearer approach to the anapæstic
dimeter, which was to become so popular.)

[77] _I.e._ forms like "hugy" (Sackville), "bleaky" (Dryden), and
"paly" (Coleridge). These forms somehow identified themselves with the
artificial poetic diction of the eighteenth century, and have, since
the early part of the nineteenth, been rather eschewed by poets.

[78] Or, rather, as any one may see from different editions of Dante,
the trisyllables which do occur are almost always capable of being
"slurred up."

[79] The scheme of the _Faerie Queene_ was sent to Harvey soon



The high and (it is believed) thoroughly well-deserved praise bestowed
upon Spenser at the close of the last chapter must not lead the
student to suppose that Spenser worked alone, that he was the sole
restorer and perfecter of English prosody at this time, or even that
his work included all that was necessary or desirable. That work,
as has been pointed out, tended towards the complete restoration of
regular and at the same time thoroughly musical and spirited verse,
but it kept--except in the early experiments of the _Shepherd's
Calendar_--to the regular side, avoiding much trisyllabic substitution
as well as "triple time" generally, and eschewing, likewise, strictly
lyrical movements save of the stateliest kind, very much "broken and
cuttit"[80] verse, and the like.

As regards pure triple or anapæstic measures, no great advance was
made until nearly the close of this present period, though a few
isolated attempts can be quoted. But the principle of trisyllabic
substitution was secured, once for all, by the development of blank
verse, and the variation of lyric was fully maintained by the practice
of a hundred poets, from the contributors, sometimes quite obscure,
to the _Miscellanies_ which came later than _Tottel_, through Sidney
and others of the first great Elizabethan division, through Drayton
and many more of the second, down to the famous group of "Caroline,"
"Cavalier," or "metaphysical" poets who were contemporary with Milton.

[Sidenote: Blank verse.]

And first of blank verse.

[Sidenote: Before Shakespeare.]

The earliest examples of this great metre in Surrey were, naturally
enough, very exact in syllabic length and somewhat monotonous in
arrangement and effect. Deprived of the warning bell of rhyme, and
having nothing but the structure of the verse itself to rely upon, the
poet was almost inevitably tempted to make very sure of that structure
by moulding it singly, and ensuring a distinct stop at the close. This
rather aggravates than relieves itself in the satiric blank verse of
Gascoigne (_The Steel Glass_) and the dramatic blank verse of Sackville
and Norton (_Gorboduc_); while when the immediate predecessors of
Shakespeare, called the University Wits (Marlowe, Peele, Greene, and
the rest), took up the vehicle for general theatrical practice, they
never completely got clear of the same fashion--which Shakespeare
himself adopted in his earliest attempts. Admiration, just in itself,
for Marlowe has made some try to discover in him, and perhaps also in
Peele (where there is really a little more of it), the trisyllabic
substitution, the variation of pause, and the overrunning of sense
and rhythm from line to line, which are necessary to break up this
"single-mouldedness." But, except as to a very few passages where
actual passion melts the ice, they deceive themselves. In the couplet
(_v. inf._) Marlowe did arrive at enjambment; in blank verse, hardly
ever. The beauty of such verse as his in the more majestic, as Peele's
in the sweeter kind, can hardly be exaggerated, but neither has yet got
complete command of all means of achieving beauty.

The three chief means which they, on the whole, missed, and over
which Shakespeare (profiting by their advance as far as they made it)
gradually gained the mastery, have been indicated as the overrunning of
the line, the variation of the pause, and, above all, the employment of
trisyllabic feet. We can see Shakespeare step by step attaining these,
as well as the more doubtful and dangerous redundant syllable, which
in his last stage he rather abused, and which Beaumont and Fletcher
and later dramatists were to abuse still more. All these means,
but especially the three first (for redundance is compatible with
single-mouldedness), break up the single-moulded line, and substitute
for it (except in cases where it is specially wanted) the verse-clauses
and verse-paragraphs, which it is the glory of Shakespeare to have

[Sidenote: In him,]

In his certainly earliest plays--_The Comedy of Errors_, _Titus
Andronicus_, _The Two Gentlemen of Verona_, _Love's Labour's Lost_
to some extent--single-mouldedness still appears strongly. But there
are exceptions even in them; and these exceptions gradually pervade,
mellow, and diversify the prosodic composition, till it attains
the perfect accomplishment of _As You Like It_ and _Hamlet_. Yet a
fifth peculiarity and innovation--the lengthening and shortening of
lines--though it may have originally been a mere easement or liberty,
and is often much abused by other dramatists, becomes in Shakespeare's
hands a fresh instrument of concerted music--the frequent regular
Alexandrines relieving the decasyllable by direct contrast, and
fragments being generally (_v. sup._) so arranged as to give genuine
fractions of the normal scansion itself.

[Sidenote: and after him in drama.]

Practically all the secrets and all the accomplishments shown--perhaps
all the accomplishments possible--at this period are to be found
in Shakespeare. The differences of the other dramatists are rather
rhetorical than strictly prosodic; and the efforts sometimes made to
construct special prosodies for them are mostly lost labour. Beaumont
and Fletcher (who seem, from uncertain but pretty strong evidence, to
have actually collaborated with Shakespeare in the _Two Noble Kinsmen_)
develop his latest mood--that where, as in _Cymbeline_, _The Winter's
Tale_, and _The Tempest_, there is much redundance.[81] They carried
it much further than he did, and undoubtedly too far; though the
great poetical power which both possessed saved them. On the other
hand, Ben Jonson, all whose tastes were classical (_i.e._ in favour
of restriction and order), adopted a rather hard and limited, though
rhetorically fine, fashion of blank verse. On the others it would be
unprofitable to enlarge much here. Massinger is perhaps interesting as
working with the most obviously _literary_ eye on his predecessors--a
tendency which is continued in Shirley. But in the latter there is
some, if not much, of a special degeneration which by Shirley's own
later days had nearly destroyed dramatic blank verse itself, and which
was only arrested by the substitution for it of the "heroic" couplet,
as used in the plays called by the same name.

[Sidenote: Its degeneration.]

This degeneration, which is most evident in Davenant and Suckling, but
which appears to some, though not to a great extent, in Shirley, and
in most others of the play-writers up to the closing of the theatres,
should be carefully compared with the initial stage of the measure in
English. Then, as we saw, the absence of the guiding and preserving
influence of rhyme made writers especially and excessively careful
of exact syllabisation, of punctilious though monotonous rhythm,
and of meticulous separation of one line from another. So also we
have seen that, in the second or great period, the restrictions were
loosened--that Shakespeare, preserving perfect metrical harmony,
substituted an ordered licence for them all. But even he perhaps a
little latterly, and his followers Beaumont and Fletcher much more,
exceeded in the redundant syllable. The third generation, though
including, as in the three cases specially mentioned above, men of
no small poetic talent, made the common, the apparently inevitable,
but the disastrous mistake of considering beauty not merely as
directly connected with apparent irregularity, but as to be secured by
irregularity itself. Much of their blank verse is extremely blank, but
not verse at all; nor yet prose, but an awkward hybrid. Not a little
is prose pure and simple. It is scarcely surprising that, after the
Restoration, the metre should have been regarded as "too mean even for
a copy of verses," and discarded, for more than a few years, in drama
itself. Except the broken-down rhyme-royal of the fifteenth century
(to which it bears a striking resemblance without the excuse there
available) there is no more really disgraceful department of English

[Sidenote: Milton's reform of it.]

At the very time, however, when this disorganisation of dramatic blank
verse was at its worst, and when it had as yet only been used on the
rarest occasions for any other purpose, its great restorer began,
though he did not for a long time continue, the process of restoration.

[Sidenote: _Comus._]

Milton's _Comus_ (1634) exhibits him as a student, and consequently
an imitator, of all the three preceding schools, excepting the
contemporary degradation, which was impossible to such a born master
of harmony. He has now caught, and often directly reproduces, the
single-moulded line of Marlowe; and, on the other hand, he is almost
equally inclined to the excessively redundanced endings of Beaumont
and Fletcher, even to the extent of frequently making the last foot an
anapæst.[82] Yet he not seldom closely approaches Shakespeare himself
in the varied modulation, without excessive laxity, of his lines, and
in the weaving of them, through overlapping, presence, absence and
shifting of pause, and the like, into a verse paragraph. He inserts
Alexandrines, but does not use verse-fragments much. And he begins a
process--of which he was to be the greatest master--of adding to the
colour, and enhancing the form, of lines by striking and important
words, especially proper names. But fine as the blank verse of _Comus_
is, it is, when we compare it with the lyrical close of the piece
itself, evidently in the experimental stage. And it does not show the
complete and assured command which is visible in the octosyllables and
mixed lyrics.

[Sidenote: _Paradise Lost._]

When, later, he once more employed blank verse (and this time blank
verse only) in _Paradise Lost_,[83] there was nothing of experiment
left in it. The system, in whatever way it may be interpreted, is
quite obviously one which the poet has completely mastered, and which
he is using without the slightest doubt or difficulty. It has given
the pattern for all narrative, in fact for all non-dramatic, blank
verse since; it established, though not quite at once, the measure as
one of the great staples for this general use; and though there have
been times at which it was not generally popular, and persons by whom
it was heartily disliked, there has been a sort of general consensus,
sometimes grudging, but oftener enthusiastic, that it is one of the
greatest achievements of English poetry.

It is therefore inevitable that the partisans of the various systems
of that poetry on its formal side, of which accounts were given in the
beginning of this _Manual_, should all try to vindicate it for their
own views. Attempts are still made (though chiefly by foreigners who
naturally cannot bring the necessary ear) to reduce _Paradise Lost_ to
a strict decasyllabic arrangement, no extra syllables being allowed at
all. This, of course, is merely hideous, and involves numerous crass
absurdities, such as the reduction of, "so oft" to "soft."[84]

[Sidenote: Analysis of its versification, with application of different

The accentualists, as such, are not driven to equal straits unless they
choose; indeed, though accentual prosody can never give an adequate
account of Milton's verse, there is no reason why it should not give a
partially correct one. If any one says that Milton employs a verse of
five accents--these usually occurring at the even places of a normal
line, but not infrequently varied in position, sometimes separated by
more than one unaccented syllable, but usually by one only--he will
give, in his own language and with his own limitations, a correct,
though scanty and jejune, account of the thing. He will, however, in
most cases be found going on, and entering upon very disputable matter.
He will notice "licences," and will, in some cases, be inclined to
deplore, or even denounce, the variation of accent just noted. He
will also, in most cases, be found declining to accept the unaccented
syllables as they stand--indeed he has no machinery ready for doing so
without making them a disorderly crowd,--and will endeavour to dispose
of them by some process of "elision," inventing extremely ingenious,
but mostly arbitrary and sometimes self-confessedly inadequate,
specifications of the employment of this. If he is of the class of
accentualists who prefer the term "stress" and its applications, he
will probably go much further still, and allow, or insist upon, the
widest variation in the number of stresses, lines of five being indeed
the average, but four, three, and, in some extreme cases, even two,
being allowed.[85] Further intricate subdivisions will be found between
believers in these theories who, while ruling out syllables from
_scansion_ by an elaborate system of metrical fictions, maintain that
they are not to be dropped in _pronunciation_, and others who, as most
people did unhesitatingly in the eighteenth century, as many did in
the earlier nineteenth, and as a few boldly and consistently do still,
drop the pronunciation altogether, spelling and pronouncing, as well as
scanning, "am'rous," "om'nous," "pop'lar," "del'cate," and the like.

The foot system, on the other hand, as it always does, accepts Milton's
verse exactly as it stands, takes no kind of liberty with it, and
merely strives to discover its characteristics. This system finds (with
the exception of a very few daring experiments, no one of which can
be called wrong in principle, though there may be different opinions
about the success of some of them in practice) nothing different from
the general laws of English verse, as observed at all its best periods,
and as visible, if only in the breach of them, at all, best and worst.
Milton's normal line is a five-foot iambic:

    ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄

But for these iambics he will substitute trochees or anapæsts,
sometimes perhaps tribrachs, very freely; and his use of the trochee
for this purpose is more lavish and more audacious than that of any
other English poet, so much so that he will allow two to follow each
other at the opening of the line, and frequently adopts a choriambic
ending by placing one at the fourth foot. On the other hand, he seldom
has the final anapæst which we found in _Comus_, or perhaps the
Alexandrine, though sometimes there are fractional lines. By dint of
these variations--of which the trisyllabic (generally anapæstic) foot
is the most frequent, the most successful, and, despite objections, the
most certain--he attains great variety in his line, which he increases
and utilises, for one great purpose, by the same devices of pause,
diction, etc., formerly noticed in _Comus_, but in a more accomplished
manner and to a higher degree.

The purpose is this, that by these, by equally elaborate and
extraordinarily successful variation of the pause, by devices of
diction, and by the use of brilliantly coloured and heavily weighted
proper names and of others, he may construct a verse-paragraph similar
to that which Shakespeare had already accomplished, but without the
special characteristics of spoken verse. He altered his methods a
little--though perhaps not so much as has been sometimes thought--in
_Paradise Regained_, and still more in _Samson Agonistes_, where,
however, the renewed dramatic intention has to be considered. And,
on the whole, especially when taken in combination with his master
Shakespeare, he established not merely the freedom and order of blank
verse itself, but the whole principle of equivalent substitution in
English prosody.

[Sidenote: Stanza, etc., in Shakespeare,]

But it was not in blank verse only that Shakespeare and Milton played,
in prosody, almost more than the part which they played in poetry
generally. In their other work it is quite as true of them that, from
it, all the principles of English versification could be derived by
intelligent study. Shakespeare's early long poems, _Venus and Adonis_
and the _Rape of Lucrece_--the one in the six-line stanza, the other
in rhyme-royal--rank as the greatest stanza-verse of the last decade
of the sixteenth century except Spenser's; while his _Sonnets_ are,
not merely for their poetic spirit, the greatest in the English form,
exhibiting remarkable individuality in the arrangement of the three
quatrains, and an unmatched power of bringing the last couplet to
bear suddenly, with the utmost prosodic as well as poetic effect. The
largely shortened octosyllabic couplets, scattered about his plays
and among the smaller (some of them technically "doubtful") poems,
show equal mastery of that form, and have indeed inspired Fletcher,
Wither, Milton, and all practitioners of it since. But the songs in
the plays are, next to his blank verse, his greatest prosodic triumph.
He has got in them all the contemporary variety and much more than
the usual contemporary freedom, so that such pieces as those in _The
Tempest_,[86] in _Much Ado About Nothing_, and in _As You Like It_[87]
might, had they been attended to and understood, have saved the early
critics of Tennyson and some other nineteenth-century poets from
blunders about the "irregularity," "discord," "un-English character,"
etc., of their versification. t | sprītes, thĕ | būrthĕn | bear. Hārk,
| hārk! | Bŏ̄w-wōw. | Thĕ wātch-|dŏgs bārk: Bŏ̄w-wōw. P/

(Alternate trochaic and iambic rhythm capable of being made all iambic
by starting with monosyllabic feet: "Cōme" | "Cōurt-" | "Fōot" | etc.
Monosyllabic equivalence in "Hark, hark!" to "The watch-|dogs bark.")]

[Sidenote: in Milton,]

Except in this last respect (for he does not much indulge in
triple-timed measures), Milton's examples are as striking, while
they are more numerous. In grave stanza of purely iambic cadence
but varied line-length, the ode on the _Nativity_ is unsurpassed
in our poetry. The octosyllabic couplets (with catalexis) of the
_Arcades_, _L'Allegro_, and _Il Penseroso_, and the already-mentioned
latter part of _Comus_, stand at the head of their class. _Lycidas_,
which is written in lines mainly decasyllabic, though sometimes of
different length, arranged (except in the last stanza) on no identical
principle, is a practically unique combination of rhyme and blank
verse--the ends being sometimes left unrhymed, but generally rhymed,
though on an apparently irregular system which never violates harmony,
but makes--first each paragraph and then the whole poem--a piece of
concerted music, a definite prosodic symphony or sonata. And lastly,
the choruses of _Samson Agonistes_, when he had returned to rhyme,
apply this system on more extensive principles[88] still, occasionally
attempting quite new measures,[89] and getting the utmost possible
result out of large variation of line-length in the same or in mixed
cadences. Some of the experiments are less successful than others,
and, on the whole, _Samson_ displays a _harder_ style of verse than
the earlier poems; but it is equally important as exhibiting the true
principles of English prosody. Indeed, when Milton had published it, he
may be said to have closed the formative period of our versification,
not in the sense that he had not left infinite things to be done,
but that he had, after Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakespeare, almost
completely indicated the principles of doing them.

[Sidenote: and others.]

But these principles had been illustrated by others during the lifetime
of the two,[90] after fashions which even the most summary account
of English prosody cannot leave unnoticed; and these fashions, with
some general phenomena of this double lifetime, not always specially
noticeable in Shakespeare and Milton themselves, must be indicated. The
performances of these two "primates"--the one in the English, the other
in the Italian form of the sonnet--make it unnecessary to say more of
that form, though it was very largely practised in the last decade of
the sixteenth century, and beyond all doubt helped much to discipline
verse generally. And the same is true of the octosyllabic couplet,
which, however, was very beautifully practised by the Jacobean poets
Browne, Wither, and others. But more must be said of the stanza, of
the decasyllabic couplet, the fortunes of which in this time were most
momentous (and which, as it happens, was only occasionally practised
by Shakespeare,[91] scarcely at all by Milton[92]), and of the various
forms, so far as their multiplicity does not forbid, of lyric.

The novelty, splendour, and apparent difficulty of the Spenserian seem
to have imposed on contemporaries to such an extent as to prevent them
from copying it in typical form at all; while many years passed before
it was attempted in slightly altered forms.[93] The favourite stanza
in the later years of Elizabeth was the octave, chiefly in the Italian
form, which was very largely written by Drayton, by Daniel, and many
others, including Edward Fairfax in his very influential translation of
Tasso. Rhyme-royal fell especially out of favour, though Milton used
it in his early days, and Sir Francis Kynaston wrote a long poem in
it as late as 1648. The decasyllabic quatrain, alternately rhymed, was
used by Davies and others. Yet not merely Ben Jonson (_v. inf._) but
Drayton himself expressed weariness of the stanza generally, and this
undoubtedly grew, though it continued to be used. The new favourite was
the decasyllabic couplet.

[Sidenote: The "heroic" couplet.]

It has been said that this couplet, despite its splendid success, and
the abundance of varied model for it in Chaucer, was not much used
(and never used well save perhaps in _The Friars of Berwick_) by his
successors. It acquired, however, without any clearly traceable cause,
a considerable hold on the early drama; and, when it was ejected from
this, it revenged itself by turning the stanza out to a large extent
in non-dramatic verse. Drayton, in the passage referred to, speaks of
the attraction of "the _gemell_," _i.e._ "the _twinned_ line," and
practised it not a little. Jonson, we are told, thought couplets (made
in a fashion the specification of which is unfortunately not clear)
"the bravest sort of verses." He did not, however, write them very
largely; but Drayton did. And while Marlowe set a magnificent example
in _Hero and Leander_, and others employed the measure independently,
the same sort of influence in its favour, which was noticed formerly as
exercised in Chaucer's case by the final couplets of rhyme-royal, was
beyond all question now exercised afresh by those of the fashionable
_ottava_. In fact, the already-mentioned _Tasso_ of Edward Fairfax
(1600) is one of the recognised originals of a particular form--the
stopped or self-ended couplet. This the octave, like the English
sonnet, which doubtless had influence too, especially encourages.
Drayton and others wrote as Chaucer, we saw, had written, almost
indifferently in both kinds, at least so that neither has marked
and dominant character. But Marlowe, in striking contrast to his
blank-verse practice, decidedly preferred, and practised exquisitely,
the opposite or "enjambed" variety.

[Sidenote: Enjambed]

By degrees, however, there grew up in the seventeenth century what
has been perhaps not incorrectly described as a "battle of the
couplets"--certain poets definitely employing one form, others the
other; while in at least one case[94] the preference is distinctly
and combatively avowed. As a sect, clearly marked, the enjambers
or disciples of Marlowe are the older. Their most distinguished
representatives are, in the earlier part or first quarter of the
century, William Browne, George Wither--who in the piece called
_Alresford Pool_ produced one of the most beautiful separate examples
of the kind,--a rather mysterious person named John Chalkhill, to
whom Izaak Walton was godfather and usher; in the second and at the
beginning of the third, the dramatist Shakerley Marmion and William
Chamberlayne. The latter's poem of _Pharonnida_[95] is the longest
example of the style, and in flashes and short passages the most
poetical of all; but it also exhibits the defects of that style most
flagrantly. These defects come from the fact that the poet--allowed to
neglect his rhyme as a warning bell of termination of something, and
to use it as a mere accompaniment--allows his clauses and sentences to
run into a sometimes quite bewildering prolixity, and very frequently
neglects even that modified restriction of the line itself to some
distinct form and outline which both good blank verse and this form
of couplet equally require. The result, assisted by the ugly fancy
of the time for apostrophated elisions, sometimes comes near to the
contemporary degradation of blank verse itself which has been mentioned.

[Sidenote: and stopped.]

There can be no reasonable doubt that these excesses and defects
stimulated attention to the stopped form of the couplet; and as little
that this attention was, though not unmixedly, decidedly beneficial to
English verse. It was becoming, and had soon become, desirable, not
merely that such things as this excessive enjambment in couplet and
as the degeneration of blank verse should be corrected, but that the
valuable and indeed inestimable assertion of the right to trisyllabic
substitution which blank verse had once more brought out, and which
was prompting the use once more of purely or mainly trisyllabic
_measures_, should be met, and for a time at any rate restrained, by
the counter-assertion of the necessity of rhythmical smoothness and
regularity. The language--though there is no reason to believe that the
general pronunciation of Shakespeare's time was so different from ours
as some have thought--was still going through changes of accent and
the like; and, as yet, general notions on prosody were rare, for the
most part very ignorant of the actual history of English poetry, and
as a rule badly expressed. In these circumstances it is not surprising
that the form--even the music--of the stopped and as nearly as possible
normal decasyllabic couplet should appeal to many. The accepted growth
of it is marked traditionally by the names of Fairfax, Sandys, and,
above all, Waller, from whom Dryden (not to be noticed in detail till
the next chapter) derived his pattern. But the clearest notion both of
the principles and of the attraction of the form is to be obtained from
the lines of Sir John Beaumont, quoted and discussed elsewhere.

For the present, however, the stopped couplet--even as such, and in
comparison with its rival--was struggling not so much for mastery as
for recognition, and Ben Jonson's idea of its being (if he really
thought so) "the bravest of all" was nowhere near general acceptance.
In particular, the production of lyric between Spenser's time and the
Restoration--if not even considerably later--was immense in quantity,
almost unique in variety, and never surpassed in poetical merit, though
until late in the period it mostly, except in Shakespeare and a few
others, confined itself to dissyllabic feet.[96]

[Sidenote: Lyric.]

The poetical miscellanies of the later Elizabethan time, and the
lyrical work of Sidney, Drayton, Jonson, Campion, and many others,
brought out the song capacity of English as it had never been brought
out before; and in the later portion of the period the poets specially
known as "Caroline"--that is to say, of the period of Charles the
First, with a smaller but remarkable contingent from the earlier days
of his son--Herrick, Carew, Crashaw, Vaughan, Stanley, King, and almost
dozens of others down to Rochester, Sedley, and Afra Behn--tried almost
infinite varieties of line-length and line-adjustment with delightful
results. And it is specially to be noticed that this lyric never broke
down as couplet and blank verse were doing--that it always retained the
tradition of metrical harmony which Wyatt and Surrey had reintroduced
into English literary poetry, and which Spenser had perfected.


[80] A phrase of King James (VI. of Scotland and I. of England); _v.
inf._ Bks. III. and IV.

[81] That, reversing the order, Shakespeare borrowed this from them,
is a recent notion, extremely difficult to reconcile with external
evidence, and going in the very teeth of internal.

[82] Not, of course, that this is not sometimes most successful, as in

    And flashing round and round and whirled | _in an arch_,

but that it is dangerous, and if often used would be intolerable.

[83] Published in 1667, and so more than thirty years after _Comus_.
But perhaps begun at least fifteen years earlier.

[84] To give a thoroughly satisfactory discussion of Milton's prosody
would need space quite out of proportion here. The writer has done what
he could, in this direction, in the long chapter devoted to the subject
in his larger _History_. But some examples, illustrations, and parallel
scannings under different systems may be added to the text of this
_Manual_. And first in regard to printing:

(_a_) In the printed _Paradise Lost_ the line

    Above _th' A_onian mount, while it pursues

appears with the apostrophe; but below--

    Delight thee more, and Sil_oa_'s brook that flowed--

has no attempt to indicate elision by printing.


    And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer--

if this is to be made strictly dissyllabic, we must pronounce "spir't,"
though not so printed; but, a little lower--

    Innu|mera|ble force | of spir|its armed

absolutely requires the full value.


    Sing, Hea_v'n_ly Muse, that, on the secret top

favours the idea that Milton, as most Elizabethans certainly did,
thought "Heaven" a monosyllable. But compare line 297--

    On Hea|ven's a|zure; and | the tor|rid clime.

(_d_) Note, too, words like "ominous," "popular," "delicate," printed
without attempt to apostrophate, though the middle syllabic makes a
trisyllabic foot.

Again, consider the comparative euphony of the following lines:


    Of glo|ry̆ ŏbscūred | ăs whēn | thĕ Sūn | nĕw rīsĕn,


    Of glor|y̆obscūred, | etc.


    The form | attempt|ing. Where|fŏre dŏ Ī | ăssūme,


    Thĕ̄ fōrm | ăttēmpt|ĭng. Whēre|fŏre d'Ī | ăssūme,


    The form | attempt| Wherefore | do I | assume,

with the "-ing" sunk or swallowed somehow "extrametrically."


    Thĕ ănĭ|măl spĭrĭts | thăt frōm | pŭ̄re blōod | ărīse,


    Th'ănĭ|măl spīr'ts | thăt frōm | pŭ̄re | blōod | ărīse.


    Bĕcāuse | thŏu hăst hār|kĕned tō | thĕ vōice | ŏf thy̆ wīfe,


    Because | thou'st har|kened to | th' vōice ō̆f | thy wife.

[85] With possible extension to _eight_, and (for aught I can see on
the system) to _ten_.


    Cōme ŭn|tō thĕse | yēllŏw | sānds,
      Ănd thēn | tăke hānds:
    Cōurtsĭed | whēn yŏu | hāve ănd | kiss'd
      Thĕ wīld | wā̆ves whīst,
    Fōot ĭt | fēatly̆ | hēre ănd | thēre;
    Ā̆nd, swĕ̄e


        Ūn|dĕr thĕ grēen|wō̆od trēe
        Whŏ lōves | tŏ līe | wĭth mē,
        Ănd tūne | hĭs mēr|ry̆ nōte
        Ŭ̄ntŏ | thĕ swēet | bĭ̄rd's thrōat,
    Cŏme hī|thĕr, cŏme hī|thĕr, cŏme hī|ther:
        Hēre | shăll hĕ sēe
        Nŏ ēn|ĕmȳ
    Bŭt wīn|tĕr ānd | rō̆ugh wēather.

("Ūndĕr | thĕ grēen-" and "Hē̆re shā̆ll | hĕ sēe" would scan equally
well in themselves, but line 5, "Come hither," gives the anapæstic hint
and key. "Nō | ĕnĕmȳ" is possible.)


    _Oct., Iamb., {This, this | is he; | softly | awhile;
      and Troch._ {Let us | not break in up|on him.
    _Dec._ O change | beyond | report, | thought, or | belief!
    _Alex._ See how | he lies | at ran|dom, care|lessly | diffused,
    _Hexasyl._ With lan|guished head | unpropt,
    _Hexasyl. hyperc._ As one | with hope | aban|doned,
    _Hexasyl. hyperc._ And by | himself | given o|ver,
    _Oct._ In sla|vish hab|it, ill-fit|ted weeds |
    _Tetrasyl._ O'er-worn | and soiled.
    _Alex._ Or do | my eyes | misre|present? | Can this | be he?
    _Oct. cat._ That he|roic, | that re|nowned,
    _Dec._ Irre|sisti|ble Sam|son whom, | unarmed,
    _Alex._ No strength | of man | or fier|cest wild | beast could |
    _Alex._ Who tore | the li|on as | the li|on tears | the kid;
    _Dec._ Ran on | embat|tled ar|mies clad | in iron,
    _Hexasyl._ And, wea|ponless | himself, |
    _Alex._ Made arms | ridi|culous, | useless | the for|gery
    _Dec._ Of bra|zen shield | and spear, | the ham|mered cuirass,
    _Dec._ Chalyb|ean-tem|pered steel | and frock | of mail
    _Hexasyl._ Ada|mante|an proof:

Hardly anything here needs remark, except the use made of the old
catalectic octosyllable beloved from _Comus_ days, with its trochaic
cadence, and that of half-Alexandrines or hexasyllables. There is only
one monometer, towards the centre or _waist_ of the scheme ("O'er-worn
and soiled").


    Ōh, hōw | cōmely̆ ĭt | īs, ănd | hōw rĕ|vīvĭng,
    Tō thĕ | spīrĭts ŏf | jūst mĕn | lōng ŏp|prēssĕd,
    Whēn Gŏd | īntŏ thĕ | hānds ŏf | thēir ŏp|prēssŏr
    Pūts ĭn|vīncĭblĕ | mīght.

(Catullian hendecasyllable?)

[90] Milton was eight years old when Shakespeare died, and their
combined lives, 1564-1674, more than cover the whole "major"
Elizabethan period, 1557-1660, except part of its incipient stage,

[91] As a variation to blank verse.

[92] Some quite boyish things, a beautiful passage of the _Arcades_,
and a few couplets in _Comus_ are the exceptions.

[93] By the two Fletchers, Giles reducing it to an octave _ababbccc_
and Phineas to a septet _ababccc_.

[94] That of Sir John Beaumont (_v. sup._ p. 78 _et inf._ Book III.).

[95] This, like Marmion's _Cupid and Psyche_, Chalkhill's _Thealma
and Clearchus_, and other pieces exemplifying the form, is a
verse-_romance_, a kind for which that form has special, though
dangerous, adaptation.

[96] The continuous anapæst appears, after Tusser, in Elizabethan
poetry chiefly in popular ballad; and it is only about 1645 that
literary poets, like Waller and Cleveland, take it up.



[Sidenote: Recapitulation.]

It is desirable, if not absolutely necessary, at this point (_circa_
1660, which, though not in strict number of years or centuries, is in
fact the central stage of English prosody) to halt and recapitulate
what had been done since the formation of Middle English by the
influence of Latin and French upon Old. The conditions of the blend
having necessitated a new prosody, that prosody was, as was natural,
slowly elaborated; but the lines which it was to take, in consequence
of the imposition of strict form upon a vigorous and strongly
characterised but rather shapeless material, appeared almost at once.
Metre replaced the unmetrical rhythm of Anglo-Saxon; but this metre had
to take forms greatly more elastic than the strict syllabic arrangement
of French, and differently constituted from the also mainly syllabic
arrangement of Lower Latin. And so, in the verse of the thirteenth and
earlier fourteenth century, a foot-system, with allowance of equivalent
substitution, makes its appearance--roughly, but more and more clearly.
Nor is this at all affected by the alliterative revival of the
last-mentioned period, which partly makes terms with metre and rhyme,
partly pursues its own way--to reach its highest point with Langland,
and to die away soon after the close of the fifteenth century. At
the very same time with Langland himself, the pure metrical system
is brought to its highest perfection by Chaucer. But this perfection
depends on a state of the language which is "precarious and not at all
permanent," and in the fifteenth century English metre, as far as the
Southern and main division of the language is concerned, falls, to a
great extent, into anarchy.

From this anarchy it is rescued, no doubt, as a general determining
influence by the settling once more of pronunciation, but directly
and particularly by the efforts of Wyatt, Surrey, and their minor
successors from 1525 to 1575. Then Spenser comes, and performs
almost more than the work of Chaucer, inasmuch as his material is
more trustworthy and has fewer seeds of decay in it. He, like his
predecessors, recoiling from the frightful disorder of the preceding
century, inclines, save in his earliest work, to a rather strict form
of verse, mostly dissyllabic. But the mere exigencies of the stage, the
nature of blank verse itself when once established, and the genius of
Shakespeare, restore there the liberty of trisyllabic substitution, and
the influence of music helps to bring in trisyllabic measures--"triple
time"--as such. In Shakespeare first the whole freedom, as well as
nearly the whole order, of English prosody discovers itself. But
this freedom is pushed by others to licence, and blank verse becomes
practically as ruinous a heap as the rhyme-royal of the fifteenth
century, with one form of decasyllabic couplet keeping it company, if
not quite in actual cacophony, at any rate in disorderly slackness.
Then Milton restores blank verse to almost all the freedom and more
than the order of Shakespeare, infusing also into all the other
metres that he touches this same combination; so that in these two
practically everything is reached. But poetic fervour dies down; blank
verse becomes for a time unpopular; the age calls for the more prosaic
subject-kinds of verse--satire, didactics, etc.; prevailing standards
of prosody are strictly regulated to an accomplished but decidedly
limited "smoothness." The results of this, with a few exceptions
reserved, we are to see in the present chapter.

[Sidenote: Dryden's couplet]

It was fortunate that the poet under whom this "Reign of Order" was
introduced, was one who had in himself a certain irrepressible vigour
and _verve_, which would not tolerate mere monotony. John Dryden wrote
most of his most famous poems in the couplet, and in a stopped form
of it; but he did not confine himself thereto, using also the heroic
quatrain (which he made an exceedingly fine measure); "Pindarics" (of
which the same may be said); occasional, though few, octosyllabics;
and lyrical measures of the most varied kind, both dissyllabic and
trisyllabic, which sometimes do not fall far short of all but the very
best work of the preceding generation. His couplet itself, moreover,
was not quite rigidly stopped; and even if it had been, was so
largely varied by the licences of triplet, Alexandrine, and sometimes
these two combined, that the purely or mainly mechanical effect with
which his successor Pope is charged, and which is undoubtedly to be
observed in that successor's imitators, does not impress itself. Even
had these devices (which may be said themselves to have something
mechanical about them) not been present, the extraordinary nerve and
full-bloodedness of Dryden's verse would have been almost if not quite
sufficient to remove the reproach. The antithetic yet never snip-snap
explosion of his distichs; the way in which they fling themselves
against the object; the momentum given to them by striking words
strikingly placed, ingenious manipulation of pause, unexpected and
exciting turns of phrase--are unprecedented. His prosody may be called
a somewhat rhetorical prosody, but it is the very highest of its own
kind. It exercised strong and good influence over the whole classical
period with which we are dealing in this chapter; a little after the
middle of the eighteenth century it effected a diversion from the too
monotonous limitation of Pope; and in the very hey-day of the Romantic
movement it taught new devices, and revealed new sources of prosodic
beauty, to Keats.

Great, however, as are the merits of this couplet verse of Dryden's,
and incomparably well as it is adapted for argument, satire,
exposition, and other things somewhat extra-poetical in themselves,
there is something artificial in its limitations. And it is a matter
of experience, that when you make artificial rules for a game, this
artificiality always tends to make itself more artificial. Moreover,
it is not only fair, but important, to allow that Dryden's licences
of triplet and Alexandrine (in the latter case sometimes extended
even to a fourteener) require ability and judgment, equal to his own,
to prevent mismanagement of them. In clumsy hands something almost
as amorphous as the broken-down blank verse and the unduly enjambed
couplet of the preceding generation might easily come of them. It is
therefore not surprising that, the attention of the average poet being
more and more concentrated on this couplet, attempts should be made to
reduce the liberties, and perfect the correctness, as much as possible.

[Sidenote: and Pope's.]

They are visible even in such writers as Garth, between Dryden
and Pope; they are still more visible in Pope himself, when, some
decade after Dryden's death, he began to publish verse. He does not,
especially at first, entirely discontinue triplet and Alexandrine, but
he uses them more and more sparingly, and indeed sneers at the latter.
He draws the pause more invariably to the centre, and sets up a more
distinct division between the halves of his line. While separating his
couplets more closely, he lightens the vowel-effects of his rhymes, so
that there shall be no temptation to linger at couplet-ends. And though
he is traditionally said to have had a special fancy for a couplet of
his which contains an almost indestructible trisyllabic foot,[97] such
feet, as a rule, are quite smoothed out of his verse.

[Sidenote: Their predominance.]

The unmatched regularity, harmony (as far as it went), and
accomplishment of Pope's couplet, and his great superiority to all
other poets in these respects during the second, third, and fourth
decades of the eighteenth century, assisted the general taste, which
has been mentioned, in raising his form of couplet to the highest
place in popular estimation, as well as--sometimes expressly, sometimes
by a sort of silent taking for granted--in formal discussions of
poetry. Savage to some extent, Churchill still more, and after him
Cowper, reverted, as has been said, to a standard nearer Dryden's. But
Johnson, Goldsmith, and others, with the whole mob of inferior writers,
followed Pope; as did also Crabbe, who maintained the practice of the
form till the very time of the appearance of Tennyson. The defects, or
at least the limitations, of it were indeed sometimes seen, and were
commented on, in striking though not fully informed fashion, by poets
like Shenstone in the first half of the century, and Cowper again in
the second. But it constituted, none the less, the orthodox mode of
the whole time, and longer; and when, nearly at the end of the first
quarter of the nineteenth century, Keats's critics found fault with his
ignorance or mismanagement of the structure of the English heroic line
and couplet, what they meant was, whether they knew it or not, that he
managed that line and that couplet differently from Pope.

[Sidenote: Eighteenth-century octosyllable and anapæst.]

Although, however, the stopped couplet thus gradually established
in the latter part of the seventeenth century, and exercised during
the whole of the eighteenth, a sort of tyranny, not every poet nor
every metre bowed his or its head to this. Even in the first half
of the eighteenth, poets like Collins and Gray practically shook it
off, the first using it only in his early and immature work, the
second hardly at all. They will therefore be reserved for the next
chapter. Others, though using it, also practised metres different
from it, and some of these were of a character peculiarly suited to
counteract any bad influence that it might have. Among these the most
important and the earliest--for both of them passed a considerable
portion of their lives in the seventeenth century itself--were Prior
and Swift, both of whom, but especially Prior, were proficients in
the "Hudibrastic" octosyllable and in the new continuous anapæstic.
The octosyllable, with its easy ambling pace, its fluent overlapping,
and its often prolonged and fanciful rhymes, corrected the somewhat
stiff snip-snap of the larger couplet; while the anapæst peremptorily
brought back trisyllabic rhythm, with all its marvellous refreshments
and advantages, and, if only for convenience, suggested substitution
of feet.[98] The great literary authority and popularity of these
two poets, and the intrinsic charm of Prior, established, for metres
that they used, a safe position throughout the period of decasyllabic
domination. Even Bysshe put "lines of eight and seven syllables"
almost on a level with those of "ten or eleven"; and though he sneered
at anapæsts, and introduced them by a singular roundaboutness of
expression,[99] did not absolutely bar them in fact.

[Sidenote: Blank verse]

Blank verse--than which, in its perfection, there is no more powerful
guard and corrective as regards the possible errors of the stopped
couplet--was not put in operation, except by Milton at the very
beginning of the period, so early as these. In fact, as has been said,
it was the degradation of blank verse, almost as much as anything
else which encouraged the growth of this form of rhyme. Nor was the
all-powerful influence of Milton himself at once felt, except by a
very few persons;[100] while, when it began to be felt, it was not
fully understood. Attempts, however, were by degrees made in it;[101]
and, some sixty years after the appearance of _Paradise Lost_, the
beginning of Thomson's _Seasons_ brought to bear a new, popular, and
powerful agency. Although Thomson may have been under the elision and
"apostrophation" delusions of his time, he did not attempt to avoid
what his younger contemporary, Shenstone, called "virtual" trisyllabic
feet. One of his best lines, for instance--

    The yellow wall-|flŏwĕr, stāin|ed with iron-brown,

contains such a foot naturally, though you may slur and "apostrophate"
it into "flow'r"; and there are endless others, ready to suggest
themselves to a nice ear, whenever you come across such words as
"pastoral" and "impetuous" in--

    Shines o'er | the rest | the pas|tŏrăl quēen, | and rays
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
       Impet|ŭŏus rūsh|es o'er | the sound|ing void.

But an even more valuable effect of blank-verse practice was the
inevitable reappearance of the verse-paragraph, with its necessary
constituents the verse-sentences and verse-clauses, which need
not--and, if a good effect is to be produced, _must_ not--be made of
successive batches of complete lines, still less of batches of equal
size. In forging the verse-paragraph, variation of pause, overrunning
of sense as regards line-ends, strong breaks in the actual lines (a
thing almost abused by Thomson himself, and quite so by his followers,
but in itself a caustic to one of the evils of couplet verse), are
necessary implements and materials. Accordingly the staunchest devotees
of the couplet, such as Johnson, always dislike blank verse; and
when, later, a poet like Cowper takes it up, his action is similarly
connected with dislike to the "mechanic warbling" of the Popian
style. In his hands, especially in the late and splendid example of
"Yardley Oak," almost the full Miltonic variety is recovered. But
always, and throughout its practice during the eighteenth century, it
acts as a foil, a relief and a refuge to and from the limitations and
restrictions of the couplet itself.

[Sidenote: and lyric.]

Lastly, a similar enfranchising influence was exercised by lyric; but
to a comparatively limited extent. The genius of the latest seventeenth
century and of almost the whole eighteenth, except in a few poets
(mostly to be kept as exceptions, with Gray and Collins, who were of
them, to the next chapter), was by no means lyrical. The healthiest
influence of it was supplied by anapæstic forms, especially in light
verse. "Pindarics" were at first much used, but were too often of
a most prosaic character. "Romance-six" was affected to an almost
surprising degree, but for the most part in a rather _Sir Thopas_-like
form, exact and sing-song. This was also the fault of most of the
common measure or ballad-quatrain, such as the well-known examples of
Percy and Goldsmith; though the _Reliques_ of the former gave better
models (somewhat tampered with by the editor) forty years before
1800; and the miscellaneous collections of Durfey and Philips had to
some extent done so nearly as much earlier still. The Evangelical
revival, by infusing more passion and reality into hymns, had a good
effect; and when we come to Cowper, this influenced his profane as
well as his sacred poetry. Nor should we omit to mention--as a really
powerful counter-agent to the couplet, with its monotonous regularity,
unqualified rhyme, and so on--the irregularly rhythmed prose of
Macpherson's _Ossian_, which appeared about the same time as the
_Reliques_, and attracted much attention.

[Sidenote: Merit of eighteenth-century "regularity."]

By all these things, and by the special influence of the poets to be
mentioned in the early part of the next chapter, useful testimony was
continuously given, to the effect that, after all, the decasyllabic
couplet, especially in the prevailing form, was not the only metre,
nor even the only important metre, in English. But its predominance
continued, and its characteristics, as has been said, to some extent
infected or inoculated its rivals. "Inoculated" rather than "infected,"
for, once more let it be repeated, this predominance undoubtedly beat
into the English tongue, ear, and mind a sense of the importance of
real and regular rhythm--a sense which, for another hundred years and
more, has prevented, in the freest expatiation of released prosody, any
kind of return to the disorder of the whole fifteenth century, and in
some respects, at any rate, of the mid-seventeenth.



    Lo! where Mæotis sleeps, and hardly flows
    The freez|ĭng Tănă | is through a waste of snows.

                                            _The Dunciad_, iii. 87, 88.

[98] In the actual case, of course, dissyllabic feet for trisyllabic;
but this could not but suggest the converse process in dissyllabic
verse. And the octosyllable was not used for light verse only; Dyer in
_Grongar Hill_ (1726) revived the Miltonic form of _L'Allegro_, etc.,
with an effect all the more certainly excellent, that it was demurred
to by the mistaken critics of the time.

[99] _V. inf._ pp. 242-5.

[100] Among whom Lord Roscommon deserves honourable mention.

[101] As by Watts the hymn-writer, John Philips, and Gay.



[Sidenote: Gray and Collins.]

We must now take up, somewhat more minutely, the phenomena mentioned
in the last chapter as showing revolt against, and recovery from, the
partly beneficial but excessive tyranny of the stopped decasyllabic
couplet. These may be considered, still briefly but more particularly,
under two heads: the first concerning chiefly the influence of
individual poets--Collins, Gray, Chatterton, Burns, Blake; the second,
agencies various in kind and source. Neither Collins nor Gray can be
said to have directly attacked the task--though Gray at least was, as
we see from his _Metrum_, not ignorant of the facts--of re-leavening
and re-illustrating prosody by an infusion of trisyllabic substitution.
With rarest exceptions, they still cling to the iamb as a base-foot.
But they rearrange its line-groups in a fashion as alien as possible
from that of the couplet. Collins even discards rhyme altogether in
the quatrains of _Evening_, and in his famous "Passions" varies his
construction as much as possible within the general limits. Gray
follows, but improves upon, Dryden in the rhymed decasyllabic quatrain;
adapts, with an effect somewhat stiff, but often very beautiful, the
Greek system of strophe, antistrophe, and epode in the _Progress of
Poetry_ and _The Bard_; employs Romance-six with singular felicity
in both serious and serio-comic verse; and, though retaining a
strongly artificial poetic diction, informs this with new touches and
spirit from sources as a rule quite closed to his contemporaries and
predecessors--Norse and Welsh as well as Greek. Both these poets,
in short, disregard, to a large extent, equality of line-length,
and employ mixed rhymes. Now equality of line-length and strictly
_consecutive_ rhymes were almost as dear to the chief lovers of the
couplet as its unvarying syllabic arrangement and its regular accent.

[Sidenote: Chatterton, Burns, and Blake.]

Gray, it has been said, knew substitution, but did not use it; the
ill-fated genius of Chatterton not only knew it, but used it. It
is present, and very effective, in Burns; but it was not the chief
means of good of which Burns availed himself in regard to prosody.
His dialect, with its relief from the conventional "lingo" of
eighteenth-century poetry, did much; but the forms which he used, and
especially the famous "Burns metre," did more. It would be almost
impossible to devise a greater contrast to the couplet; or--since
(which is at least worth noting) the six lines of this stanza contain
exactly as many syllables (forty) as two ordinary couplets--to arrange
these same numbers in ways more rhythmically different. But the first
eighteenth-century poet thoroughly to understand and exemplify the
powers of equivalence is Burns's slightly older contemporary, William
Blake, whose _Poetical Sketches_ appeared as early as 1780, while his
_Songs of Innocence and Experience_, and his remaining poems, display a
knowledge of the secrets of this equivalence, and a command over them,
which had not been shown since Shakespeare.

[Sidenote: Other influences of change.]

Blake, however, expressed rather than exercised influence, for his
poems remained long almost unknown; and it may be doubtful whether even
the others brought about many conscious prosodic changes. The gradual
recovery of knowledge of older English literature, and especially of
the ballads, had in all probability much more direct power. Durfey's
_Pills to Purge Melancholy_, Philips's _Collection of Old Ballads_,
and Percy's _Reliques_--with constantly increasing editions of the
Elizabethan dramatists and other writers, even such as Skelton and
Occleve--could not but awaken men's minds to the fact that (as
Gascoigne had put it in a matter closely connected if not absolutely
identical) "we had used in times past other kinds of metres" than the
stopped couplet. And towards the end of the century revolt of various
kinds appeared--copious though usually very tame ballad; multiplied
blank verse of the usual kind; and (in imitation partly of some older
English models and of Collins, partly of the German) rhymeless verse of
different sorts, the chief early practitioner of which was Frank Sayers
of Norwich, a physician and man of letters who was more influential on
others than important in himself. Bowles (after Warton, whose _History
of Poetry_ worked in the same direction) reintroduced the sonnet.
William Taylor, another member of the Norwich group, revived (again
after the German) English hexameters; and though Hayley, Darwin, and
others continued the eighteenth-century couplet unchanged, the spirit
of the youth of the period was clearly tending in a different direction.

[Sidenote: Wordsworth, Southey, and Scott.]

Of the four great champions of reaction who were born about 1770,
Wordsworth, though he illustrates the change generally, and never, in
his principal work, uses the stopped couplet, is not very noticeable
prosodically.[102] The three others are, in different ways, of the
first importance. Southey, as early as 1796, not merely practised,
but, which is much more, practised deliberately, and definitely
defended in a letter to an objecting friend, the use of three
syllables for two. Moreover (not confining himself to the ballad
metre, which he had employed and which he was specially justifying),
he alleged the practice of Milton, frankly stigmatising as "asses" the
editors who had endeavoured to disguise this practice as "elision."
Scott--assisted perhaps to some extent by hearing a recitation or
reading of Coleridge's unpublished _Christabel_, but undoubtedly
also following[103] the example of the innumerable ballad- and
romance-writers with whom he was almost better acquainted than any
other man in Britain--produced first ballad-pieces, and then, in and
after _The Lay of the Last Minstrel_, continuous narrative poems of
great length, for the most part couched in equivalenced octosyllables,
but often much varied in rhyme-arrangement and diversified by shorter
and longer lines. And there is no doubt that the enormous popularity
of these poems of his did more than anything else to familiarise the
public ear with metres and cadences as different as possible from the

[Sidenote: Coleridge.]

But the influence of Coleridge, independent of that indirectly applied
through Scott, was the most important of all. It was indeed not (as it
should have been) exhibited, at once and in bulk, by the simultaneous
publication of _The Ancient Mariner_ and _Christabel_, the latter of
which, though, at least in great part, written at the same time as the
former, was separated from it in publication by nearly twenty years.
_The Ancient Mariner_ itself is in ballad metre, but ballad metre
treated in the freest possible fashion, not only with equivalence
used at pleasure in individual lines, but with the four lines of the
strict quatrain extended to five, or any number up to nine--thereby
increasing and varying the stanza-effect in the widest possible manner,
though never expanding it into positive paragraphs. More important
still, because more apparently novel, though it had been in fact
preluded both by Chatterton and Blake, and had been recognised by Gray
in the work of Spenser, was the use, in _Christabel_, of continuous
octosyllabic couplets, only sometimes, and rarely, broken into stanza,
but constantly equivalenced and frequently varied by shorter lines. Of
these, Coleridge himself gave in his preface a curiously inadequate
account, regarding them--or at least giving them out--as constructed
on the principle of counting only the accents. They, however, in fact
follow the strictest foot-division, and have been the pattern of all
similar verses, with equivalent substitution, since.

[Sidenote: Moore.]

Moore, who comes in point of date between this group and the
second great trio of Byron, Shelley, and Keats, is very important
prosodically. Since the earlier seventeenth century at latest, music,
though it had had much and rather deleterious influence on theories of
English prosody, had had little on its practice, a few light things
excepted. But Moore was an accomplished musician both in theory and
practice, in composition and in execution; he belonged to a race
distinguished for song-gift; and the great majority of his almost
innumerable lyrics were directly composed for old airs or adapted
to new. The consequence was, almost inevitably, that they present
a variety of cadence and rhythm which had hardly ever before been
seen. Occasionally this variety oversteps the bounds of pure prosody,
allowing, as in the well-known "Eveleen's Bower,"[104] a syllable
which, corresponding to an _appoggiatura_ in music, requires, in strict
scansion, to be slurred or else to be considered extra-metrical, as
in the "Song to a Portuguese Air,"[105] and others, further licences.
He was himself aware of this, and it did little harm; while the
tunefulness of his trisyllabic measures, and the great range of "broken
and cuttit" line-arrangements which his work presented, were both of
the first importance in promoting variety and freedom of metrical

[Sidenote: Byron.]

His expertness in the two arts, however, and his constant combination
of them, as well as perhaps his inferiority (though this is only
relative) in strictly poetical power, somewhat reduce Moore's
importance as compared with that of Byron, Shelley, and Keats. The
first-named was the least of the three in prosody, as in poetry; but
his prosodic merits have, as a rule, been far undervalued, even by
his adorers as a poet. He affected, and perhaps really to some extent
felt, much greater admiration for the eighteenth-century poets, and
for those who mainly or partly followed them in his own time, than for
the innovators of the Romantic school; and he himself wrote the stock
couplet with correctness and vigour. But he chose for his principal
serious poem, _Childe Harold_, the Spenserian, which "regular"
classical critics had always disliked; and, though he never achieved
its proper character, did finely in it sometimes, and undoubtedly
restored its popularity. Again, he chose for his greatest serio-comic
pieces, _Beppo_ and _Don Juan_, the _ottava_; while his minor tales
were in Scott-_Christabel_ octosyllables. In lyric, too, he showed
varied power, and once turned[106] what had been a burlesque before in
its exact, and a very sing-song metre in its restricted, form into a
thing of remarkable prosodic beauty, to be made more beautiful still by
Praed and Mr. Swinburne. His most consummate prosodic achievement is
undoubtedly the above-mentioned octave of _Don Juan_, which can hardly
be surpassed, either in suitability to its subject, or in the way in
which the particular characteristics of the metre itself are brought

[Sidenote: Shelley: his longer poems.]

But the greatest poets are naturally, and almost inevitably, the
greatest prosodists; and this was well seen in the case of the two whom
we have yet to mention, Shelley and Keats, who also present a valuable
and interesting contrast in this as in other ways. It is probable that
in all cases Shelley began with direct though not studious imitation.
His early and almost worthless poems were based on "Monk" Lewis and
others of that type; his first striking thing, the opening of _Queen
Mab_, is a sort of variation on that of Southey's _Thalaba_; and his
first great poem, _Alastor_, had Wordsworth evidently before it; while
_Laon and Cythna_ (_The Revolt of Islam_) would probably not have been
in Spenserians if _Childe Harold_ had not adopted them, nor perhaps
_The Witch of Atlas_ in octaves but for _Beppo_. Yet, as soon as he
has attained poetic gift, he goes off from his models entirely, and,
without much apparent care for preconceived forms, achieves the most
marvellous beauty in whatever he touches. In _Prometheus Unbound_
especially, the blank-verse dialogue, and the abundant lyrical choruses
and interludes, not only exhibit wholly astonishing variety and
individual excellence, but adapt themselves to each other, as nowhere
else in drama. The Spenserians of _Adonais_, taking some liberties,
attain, at their best, absolute perfection; of the octosyllabic
couplets, shortened or not in several minor poems, almost as much may
be said; and the octaves of _The Witch of Atlas_ (with the very best of
Keats's _Isabella_) are the greatest examples of that metre in English
for serious use. He even tries the often failed-in _terza rima_, and
does beautiful things in it, though perhaps not such beautiful examples
of it.

[Sidenote: His lyrics.]

But it is in his lyrics that Shelley's prosodic, like his poetic, power
shows highest. Those in _Prometheus Unbound_ have been spoken of; but
the numerous and glorious short and separate pieces defy enumeration
or specification here. The two popular favourites, "The Cloud" and
"The Skylark," would each serve as a text for an exemplary lecture on
English prosody, and a dozen others, with dozens more added to them,
would do the same. None is ever really "irregular": to say, as has been
said of "The Cloud," that it defies ordinary scansion, is simply to
say that the speaker does not understand either the poem or ordinary
scansion, or both (see above, Book I. p. 100). But almost all exhibit,
in endless variety of relief and colour, the great laws of equivalence
and substitution, and the enormous advantage of varied and even
complicated metre, rhyme, line-length, and stanza-arrangement. Shelley
never seems to have studied metre much, and, as has been said, his
first pattern is the merest starting-point for him. But he touches none
that he does not adorn; none that he does not make matter of delight;
and none, likewise, in which he does not supply a text for infinite
technical instruction as well.

[Sidenote: Keats.]

The case of Keats is curiously different. He too--as indeed practically
everybody does--begins with imitation, but it is imitation of a
different kind. Chapman, Spenser, the sonneteers, the Jacobean poets
probably, Leigh Hunt certainly, supply him not merely with hints
and "send-offs," but with carefully studied models. He hits, in
consequence, first in his _Juvenilia_ and then in _Endymion_, upon a
very much enjambed form of decasyllabic couplet--a form opposed to all
the traditions of Pope, and deemed horrible by the orthodox critics
of the day. But he sees for himself the defect of this, and applies
himself earnestly to the study of Dryden and Milton as tonics and
astringents. The results are the fine, less fluent, still slightly
overrun, but tripleted and Alexandrined heroics of _Lamia_, and the
splendid blank verse of _Hyperion_. But he has not confined himself
to these, or to their lessons; and he has never confined himself to
the mere lessons of any poet or of any period. He produces in turn the
touching octaves of _Isabella_; the magnificent Spenserians of _The Eve
of St. Agnes_; the Sonnets, most of them among the finest examples of
the form in English; the varied stanza-measures of the Odes; the unique
ballad adaptation[107] of _La Belle Dame sans Merci_; and lastly, two
forms of octosyllabic couplet--the mainly catalectic or seven-syllabled
form of some earlier poems, and the complete one of _The Eve of St.
Mark_, which overleaps all other examples back to Gower, picks out the
finest qualities of Gower's own form, and rearranges them in an example
unfinished in itself, but serving as a guide, in the production of a
great body of finished and admirable work, to the late Mr. William
Morris. In no poet is the lesson--which it was the business of this
generation to exemplify, and should be of this chapter to expound--of
ordered variety, in foot, in line, in stanza, more triumphantly shown.


[102] His greatest prosodic achievement is also his greatest
achievement in poetry, the "Immortality" Ode. But, though he varies
line-length admirably, the prevailing rhythm is merely iambic;
and when, in stanza 4, he tries to vary _it_, the effect is very

[103] Scott was a debtor for something as well to "Monk" Lewis. See
"List of Poets," Book IV.


    Ă̄nd wēpt | bĕhĭnd [thĕ] clōuds | ŏ'er thĕ māid|ĕn's shāme.
        .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Thă̄t stāin | ŭpŏn [thĕ] snōw | ŏf făir Ēv|ĕlĕen's fame.

[105] Where three lines like the following occur:

        Shōuld thŏ̄se | fōnd hŏ̄pes | ē'er fŏr|sāke thē̆e,
          .    .    .    .    .    .    .
        Whĭ̄ch nōw | sŏ̄ swēet|ly̆ thy̆ hēart | ĕmplōy,
          .    .    .    .    .    .    .
        Ŏn ŏur thrēsh|ŏld ă wēl|cŏme stĭll fōund.

and are quite irreconcilable.

[106] In the "Haidee" song. _V. sup._ Scanned Conspectus, § XLIV.

[107] With "long measure," but with the last line cut down to a

    what | can ail | thee, knight-|at-arms, Alone | and pale|ly loi|tering?
    The sedge | has with|ered from | the lake, And no | birds sing.

This last line being sometimes exquisitely equivalenced in the first

    Ănd hĕr ēyes | wĕre wīld.
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Ŏn thĕ cōld | hill side.



[Sidenote: From Keats to Tennyson.]

The lesson of the last chapter, if properly learnt, will have shown
the substitution of a more really "correct," because wider and freer,
view of English prosody than that which had produced the narrow and
blinkered pseudo-correctness of the eighteenth century, and the way
in which this extension was, whether consciously or unconsciously,
utilised by the great poets of 1798-1830. Consciously, however, this
lesson was not learnt by all of these poets themselves; yet it spread,
and rapidly became the general, if not yet the acknowledged, principle
of English poetry. It is observable in most and in all the best of what
have been called the "Intermediates"--the poets who were born between
1790 and 1810, such as Beddoes and Darley,[108] Macaulay and Praed.
But in Tennyson at once and in Browning--the one born just before,
the other just after, the end of the first decade of the nineteenth
century--it manifests itself in the most unmistakable degree; so much
so, indeed, as to have actually puzzled, if not shocked, Coleridge
himself, the greatest restorer of its mainspring. Tennyson's first
volumes are open to many just criticisms. But if the student will
turn to the scanned examples of the "Hollyhock Song" and the "Dying
Swan" given previously, he will see that the young poet, so far from
having "begun to write without knowing very well what metre is," had
begun with an almost absolutely perfect knowledge of it, whatever his
shortcomings in other matters might be.[109]

[Sidenote: Tennyson himself.]

The variety of metres in which this accomplishment was shown was
extraordinary, and was no doubt felt by contemporaries to be
bewildering. Even from the poets of the first Romantic school they had
been principally (though of course not entirely) accustomed to lines
of the same length, couched in more or less uniform metre throughout.
The pieces which composed the two volumes of 1830 and 1832, even
before they were revised and augmented in 1842, contained a greater
variety of metres than had been seen in the same bulk of work of any
single English poet from Chaucer to Keats. There was blank verse, if
not at first quite of the absolute perfection which it reached ten
years later, of a new and remarkable pattern, adjusting the Miltonic
paragraph to a much more fluent movement, and quite discarding the
Thomsonian stiffness. There were Spenserians (in the opening of the
"Lotos-Eaters") of the very best kind. There was a little very fine
decasyllabic couplet. But the great majority of the poems were lyrics,
couched in a dazzling variety of metres. It was not only that the poet
expanded the apparent but not real "irregularity" of Shakespeare into
examples such as the two noted above. It was not merely that, as in
the "Lotos-Eaters" itself and "The Vision of Sin,"[110] he arranged
different metres in the same piece on the principles of an elaborate
musical symphony. The way in which he handled metres previously known
must have startled--indeed we know that it did startle--the precisians
still more.

[Sidenote: Special example of his manipulation of the quatrain.]

A good instance of this is the threefold rehandling of the old
decasyllabic quatrain, familiar to everybody from Dryden's _Annus
Mirabilis_ and Gray's _Elegy_. This quatrain itself, as a consequence
of its gravity, is rather apt to be monotonous. Simple shortening of
the even verses gives rather better outline, but not much less--in fact
even greater--monotony. In three different poems Tennyson handles it
in three different ways. "The Poet"[111] is couched in 10, 6, 10, 4,
giving a succinct and rather sententious metre, which suits admirably
for the sharply cut cumulative phrases of that fine piece. But, by
this shortening, ten syllables, the equivalent of a whole line, were
lost; and this gave too little room for description, and especially
for the series of pictures, in scene- or figure-painting, which form
so large a part of the other two poems and communicate to them such
extraordinary charm. So, in the "Palace of Art," Tennyson "eked"
the stanza, extending the second line to eights and the fifth to
sixes.[112] This, besides actually giving a little more room, admits
more varied "fingering," together with an effect of outline, which is
wonderfully attractive--a taper, but with a swell in it. In the "Dream
of Fair Women"--more narrative and with larger aims--he wanted more
space still, and a form that would link itself better. He gets this
by keeping _three_ decasyllables with a final six.[113] This is an
exceedingly cunning as well as beautiful device, for, on the one hand,
the large majority of decasyllables, batched in threes, assists the
narrative effect, which is always hard to achieve with stanzas of very
irregular outline; and, on the other, the short final line serves at
once as finial to the individual stanza, and hinge to join it to the

Many examples could be given, and may be found in the larger _History_,
but these will suffice, with the addition that Tennyson continued
his experimentation to the very last, as in the remarkable metre of
"Kapiolani," and that his handling of blank verse, like Shakespeare,
became almost perilous in its freedom, by the temptation that it
offered to others to traverse the bounds, though he himself never
actually did so.

[Sidenote: Browning.]

Browning, who was to illustrate the prosodic lesson of the century
with, if possible, an even greater variety, did not exactly begin
in that direction; though his prosodic practice was almost equally
independent after the very first. That "very first"--_Pauline_--showed
a distinct effort to imitate the blank verse of Shelley; and this
was continued, though with more idiosyncrasy, in the dramatically
arranged, but not really dramatic, _Paracelsus_, which had, however,
one or two beautiful lyrics of a kind also to some extent Shelleyan.
The blank verse in these two is not much equivalenced, nor even very
much enjambed, but it runs with a peculiar _breathlessness_ from
verse to verse, even if each be fairly complete in itself. And this
breathlessness continues--being, indeed, the main source of the
much-talked-of "obscurity" of the piece--in _Sordello_. Here the
couplet used is utterly opposed to that of the eighteenth century; but,
once more, it is by no means the enjambed variety of the seventeenth.
It is almost a kind to itself, progressing in immense involved
paragraphs (often largely parenthetic) after a fashion which almost
drowns the rhyme, even if there be definite stops at the end of the

Fortunately, after this, in _Bells and Pomegranates_, he devoted
a large part of his attention to lyric, in which he produced
examples exquisite in quality and inexhaustible in variety.[114]
His octosyllables in _Christmas Eve_ and _Easter Day_ are daringly
equivalenced, and rhymed still more daringly, but very effective; and
much later, in _Fifine at the Fair_, he almost succeeded in making the
continuous Alexandrine a real success. But the bulk of his immense work
in later days was written in blank verse, as strongly equivalenced as
his octosyllables. Browning was never an incorrect prosodist; even his
rhymes, though frequently extravagant, are almost always defensible;
and it is a vulgar error to think him even rough in verse, though he
was so in diction. But he, once more, pushed the lesson of variety to
its extreme in one way.

[Sidenote: Mrs. Browning.]

His wife, both before and after she became his wife, gave a third
important example of this attention to lyric, and this determination
to give it the most multitudinous and original forms. She had one
unfortunate, and indeed disgusting, prosodic defect--a toleration of,
if not a positive preference for, really atrocious rhymes. But her ear
for metre was quite differently tuned, and often exquisite; though (as
was _not_ the case with her husband) her bad rhymes, and, as was the
case with him, though in a different way, her extravagant diction,
sometimes created a false idea of metrical carelessness.

[Sidenote: Matthew Arnold.]

But, in a way, the most remarkable witness to the general tendency of
the period was to be found in Mr. Matthew Arnold, who disapproved of
Tennyson, and must (though personal friendship seems to have prevented
him from saying so) have disapproved of the Brownings still more. For
all Mr. Arnold's "classical" tastes, in different senses of that word,
he became "romantic" in his variety of lyric forms, in his handling
of them, in his dealing with the couplet, and in the adoption of
elaborate stanza forms for his longer poems. Only his blank verse is of
somewhat classical pattern, and of this he did not write very much.

[Sidenote: Later poets--The Rosettis.]

In the poets who specially represent the last half of the nineteenth
century (with, in one case and the chief of all, an actual extension
over nearly the whole of the first decade of the twentieth)--and who
consisted mainly of the school often, though not very accurately,
called Pre-Raphaelite--these tendencies are exhibited to a still
greater extent, and in some cases, beyond all doubt, consciously
followed and elaborated. In Dante and Christina Rossetti, brother
and sister--more remarkable for genius perhaps than any brother and
sister in history, literary or other,--but especially in the brother,
the Italian and English elements blended. Dante showed, though in
great variety, more of the Italian tendency to slow and stately music;
Christina, more of the English to light and rapid movement as well. But
both thoroughly mastered the secrets of equivalence, as well as those
of largely broken and variegated line-length and stanza-arrangement.
The sonnets of both are the finest, on what is called the Italian
model, in our language, and Christina's command, both of simple song
metres and of regular short verse--almost Skeltonic in apparent
character, but far apart from doggerel--is specially noticeable. She
is indeed one of the most daring of experimenters in metrical licence,
but, even more than Browning's, her verse, with all its audacity, never
transgresses the laws of prosodic music.[115]

Earlier to appear than Rossetti, except in little-read periodicals,
but a younger man, was William Morris, whose place in the history
of English prosody is a very important one. In his first book, _The
Defence of Guenevere_, he tried, with remarkable success, a very large
number of lyrical metres, sometimes exhibiting great originality of
substitution. He passed from this to a still more remarkable revival
of the enjambed decasyllabic couplet in _The Life and Death of Jason_
and part of _The Earthly Paradise_, following not so much Keats as the
best of the early seventeenth-century examples. With this, in _The
Earthly Paradise_ itself, he combined octosyllabic couplet of almost
more exceptional quality still--very little equivalenced, but varied
by pause and fingering in a manner which only Gower in his very finest
passage, and Keats in the fragment of the _Eve of St. Mark_, had
achieved. He also wrote excellent rhyme-royal. In _Love is Enough_,
besides many more beautiful lyrical devices, he endeavoured a sort of
alliterative semi-metrical rhythm of fifteenth-century kind, which
has not pleased every one; but in _Sigurd the Volsung_, while still
hovering about the same period, he pitched upon one of the numerous
arrangements of the fourteener and perfected it into a thoroughly great

[Sidenote: Mr. Swinburne.]

Although not an artist in quite so many kinds of verse as Morris, and
confining himself as a rule to strict metre, Algernon Charles Swinburne
was, however, by far the greatest metrist of this group and time, and
one of the greatest in the history of English poetry. In his copious
critical work he did not bestow much explicit attention on matters
prosodic; but when he did, made important remarks, and once gave one
of the most important to be found definitely expressed by any English
poet. This was to the effect, that English would always lend itself
readily and successfully to any combinations of iamb, trochee, or
anapæst, never to those of dactyl and spondee. He himself produced
magnificent verse which looks like dactylic hexameter or elegiac, but
is really (and was meant by him for) anapæstic work with anacrusis
and catalexis. He wrote beautiful choriambics and more beautiful
Sapphics. But these, at least the last two, were merely experiments and
_tours de force_. He also experimented in the artificial French forms
(_v. inf._). But his principal work was straightforward composition
in the direct lines of the English poetical inheritance, utilising
to the utmost all the liberties of equivalence and substitution on
the principles of Tennyson, but never abusing them, and informing
particular metres with a spirit that made them entirely his own. His
blank verse, though sometimes exceedingly fine, was also sometimes
a little too voluble; and of his couplets much the same may be said
in both ways. But in lyric--giving that word the widest possible
extension--he is unsurpassed as to variety and individuality of
practice, while, in two striking cases, he made improvements of the
most remarkable kind on previous improvements made by others.[125]

The first of these was the fresh adaptation (after FitzGerald, but
with an important difference) of the decasyllabic quatrain in _Laus
Veneris_. The translator of _Omar Khayyám_ had, with great effect, made
the first, second, and fourth lines rhyme together, leaving the third
entirely blank. Mr. Swinburne made the third line of each of his pairs
of quatrains rhyme as well, a completion of the music which has a very
fine effect. And a still greater achievement was the shortening of the
last line of the "Praed Metre," which makes one of the most beautiful
arrangements to be found in English. But it is perhaps only in these
two that even guidance of any definite kind can be assigned. For the
most part the prosodic effect is produced by original extension of
the general laws, and by entirely individual fingering of particular
metres. Nothing in the whole range of English poetry is more remarkable
than the handling, in this way, of the ordinary Long Measure with
alternate redundance in "At a Month's End";[126] and the examples of
other varied metres, also given below, will complete the exposition, as
far as it can be done in anything but a monograph of great extent.

[Sidenote: Others.]

Many poets, in the later years of the nineteenth century, have been
remarkable for prosodic accomplishment; but, except in the outside
department of experiment in quantitative and classical metres, they
have rarely touched principle. Arthur E. O'Shaughnessy[127] and
James Thomson the Second showed extraordinary proficiency, the
first in the more rapid, the second in the statelier variation of
metre. Canon Dixon, who was sometimes extremely happy in lyric,[128]
wrote, in _Mano_, the one long English poem in _terza rima_, but
without removing the objections which seem to hold, in our language,
against the arrangement that is so magnificent in the _Divina
Commedia_. In the late 'seventies a fancy came in, and remained for
some time, of reviving the artificial French (and to some extent
English) metres of the fifteenth and earlier centuries--ballades,
rondeaux, triolets, etc. Mr. George Meredith, when he employed verse
and not prose, used a considerable number of odd measures unusually
rhythmed, as well as others perfectly adjusted to the demands of the
ear. Mr. Henley and others carried on the rhymeless revival from Mr.
Arnold, and yet others, such as the late Mr. John Davidson, while
using rhyme reviled it. A few attempts have recently been made at
"_stress_-metres"--rebellious to any uniform system of scansion, even
with full liberty of substitution, and, in fact, irregularly rhythmed
prose. But nothing really good and unquestionably poetic has been
produced which will not obey the principles set forth in this treatise,
and everything really good has furnished fresh illustrations of


[108] Especially in these two, as here:

  _Half Alex._           Winds | ŏf thĕ Wēst, | arise!
  _Alex._          Hesper|ĭăn bāl|mĭĕst āirs, | O waft | back those |
                                                                sweet sighs
  _Dec. couplet._ {To her | that breathes | them from | her own |
                                                                pure skies,
                  {Dew-drop|ping, mixt | with Dawn's | engold|ened dyes
  _Half Alex._           O'er my | unhap|py eyes!
  _Fourteener._    From prim|rose bed | and wil|low bank | where your |
                                                         moss cra|dle lies.
  _Alex._          O! from | your rush|y bowers | to waft | back her |
                                                              sweet sighs--
  _Half Alex._           Winds | of the West, | arise!


    If thou | wilt ease | thine heart
    Of love | and all | its smart,
          Then sleep, | dear, sleep;
        And not | a sor|row
    Hang a|ny tear | on your | eyelash|es;
          Lie still | and deep,
    Sad soul, | until | the sea-|wave wash|es
    The rim | ŏ' thĕ sūn | tŏ-mōr|row
            In east|ern sky.


The redundant syllables are specially marked off here, to bring out
their contrast with the acatalectic lines.

[109] Macaulay's prosody is mostly plain sailing; but in _The Last
Buccaneer_ he has (perhaps following Moore) attempted a rather unusual
rhythm. See _Hist. Pros._ iii. 135-137. For Praed _v. sup._ p. 114.

[110] This did not appear till 1842.


    The poet in a golden clime was born,
      With golden stars above;
    Dower'd with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn,
      The love of love.


    I built my soul a lordly pleasure-house,
      Wherein at ease for aye to dwell.
    I said, "O Soul, make merry and carouse,
      Dear soul, for all is well."


    I read, before my eyelids dropt their shade,
      _The Legend of Good Women_, long ago
    Sung by the morning star of song, who made
      His music heard below.

[114] A few examples may be given:--

  (1) Oh || heart! oh! | blood that | freezes, | blood that | burns!
          Earth's re|turns
      For whole | centu|ries of | folly, | noise, and | sin!
          Shut them | in
      With their | triumphs | and their | glories, | and the | rest;
          Love is | best.

                                             (_Love, among the Ruins._)

(Regular trochees alternately trimeter and monometer, but both
catalectic. _One_ monosyllabic substitution.)

  (2) What hand and brain went ever paired?
      What heart alike conceived and dared?
      What act proved all its thought had been?
      What will but felt the fleshly screen?
        We ride | and I see | her bosom heave.
      There's ma|ny a crown | for who can reach.
      Ten lines, a statesman's life in each!
      The flag stuck on a heap of bones,
      A soldier's doing! what atones?
      They scratch his name | on the Ab|bey stones.
        My ri|ding is bet|ter, by their leave.

                                            (_The Last Ride Together._)

(Iambic dimeter stanza; three or four trisyllabic substitutions.)

  (3) Oh, | what a dawn | of day!
      How the March | sun feels | like May!
            All is blue | again
            After last | night's rain,
      And the South | dries the haw|thorn spray.
            On|ly, my Love's | away!
      I'd as lief | that the blue | were grey.

(Iambic-anapæstic with monosyllabic feet admitted into partnership.)

  (4) Is all | our fire | of ship|wreck wood,
        Oak ¦ and | pine?
      Oh, for | the ills | half-un|derstood,
        The dim | dead woe |
        Long ¦ a|go
      Befallen | this bit|ter coast | of France!
      Well, poor | sailors | took their | chance]
        I ¦ take | mine.

(Iambic-trochaic; or, if monosyllabic initial feet be granted in some
lines, all iambic, and perhaps better so.)


  (a) Morning | and eve|ning
      Maids heard | the gob|lins cry:
      "Come buy | our or|chard fruits,
      Come buy, | come buy:
      Apples and | quinces,
      Lemons and | oranges,
      Plump unpecked | cherries,
      Melons and | raspberries." [116]
            .    .    .    .    .    .    .

(Where, as almost always, the dactylic lines can be made anapæstic with
anacrusis, "Mel|ons and rasp|berries," etc.)

  (b) She clipped | a pre|cious gold|en lock,
      She dropped | a tear | more rare | than pearl,
      Then sucked | their fruit | globes fair | or red.
      Sweeter | than hon|ey from | the rock,
      Stronger | than man-|rejoic|ing wine,
      Clearer | than wa|ter flowed | that juice. [117]

  (c) But ev|er in | the noon|light
      She pined | and pined | away;
      Sought them | by night | and day,
      Found them | no more, | but dwin|dled and | grew grey;
      Then fell | with the | first snow,
      While to | this day | no grass | will grow
      Where she | lies low:
      I plant|ed dai|sies there | a year | ago
      That nev|er blow. [118]

  (d) Laughed every | goblin
      When they | spied her | peeping:
      Came towards her | hobbling,
      Flying, | running, | leaping, |
      Puffing and | blowing. [119]

  (2) Where sun|less riv|ers weep
      Their waves | into | the deep,
      She sleeps | a charm|èd sleep:
        Awake | her not.

      Led by | a sin|gle star,
      She came | from ver|y far,
      To seek, | where sha|dows are,
        Her plea|sant lot. [120]

  (3) Come to | me in | the si|lence of | the night;
        Come in | the speak|ing si|lence of | a dream;
      Come with | soft round|ed cheeks | and eyes | as bright
        As sun|light on | a stream;
          Come back | in tears,
      O mem|ory, | hope, love, | of fin|ished years. [121]

  (4) One by one | slowly,
        Ah | how sad | and slow!
      Wailing and | praying
        The spir|its rise | and go:
      Clear stainless | spirits,
        White, as | white as | snow;
      Pale spirits, | wailing
        For an | over|throw. [122]

  (5) "Oh! whence | do you come,|| my de|ar friend, | to me?
      With your gold|en hair || all fallen | below | your knee,
      And your face | as white || as snow|drops on | the lea,
      And your voice | as hol||low as | the hol|low sea?" [123]

(This last extract is a most audacious, but quite justifiable,
fingering of the ordinary five-foot iambic line, with substitutions
and adaptations which give it now anapæstic, now trochaic undertone.
The first exhibits, in a batch of five from _Goblin Market_, the same
audacity and the same success in varying line-_length_ as well as
constitution; (2), (3), and (4), with more of what is commonly called
"regularity," show the same various address.)

[116] Iamb and trochee followed by dactyl and trochee.

[117] Pure iambic dimeter with a trochee or two.

[118] Iambic, with length varied from two to five feet.

[119] Dactyl and trochee, or mere trochee.

[120] Iambic.

[121] Iambic, with some trochaic beginnings.

[122] Dactylic-trochaic and iambic alternately.

[123] Really "irregular." Norm dimeter anapæstic--

        ̆ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̆ ̄

but largely varied in rhythm and length. Best scanned as above, with
strong pause, making _five_ feet.

[124] For examples of Morris's prosody see Scanned Conspectus.

[125] Examples of lyric:

    (1) You have cho|sen and clung | to the chance | they sent | you,
          Life sweet | as per|fume, and pure | as prayer;
        But will | it not one | day in heav|en repent | you?
          Will they sol|ace you whol|ly, the days | that were?
        Will you lift | up your eyes | between sad|ness and bliss?
        Meet mine | and see | where the great | love is,
        And trem|ble and turn | and be changed? | Content | you,
          The gate | is strait; | I shall not | be there.

(Anapæstic dimeter with iambic substitution and redundance. A most
perfect combination.)

    (2) If love | were what | the rose | is
          And I | were like | the leaf,
        Our lives | would grow | togeth|er
        In sad | or sing|ing wea|ther,
        Blown fields | or flower|ful clo|ses,
          Green plea|sure or | grey grief:
        If love | were what | the rose | is
          And I | were like | the leaf.

(Pure iambics. Dimeter catalectic and brachycatalectic by turns.)

    (3) When the | game be|gan be|tween them | for a | jest,
        He played | king and | she played | queen to | match the | best.
        Laughter | soft as | tears, and | tears that | turned to |
        These were | things she | sought for | years and | sorrowed |

(Trochaic trimeter catalectic; quite pure throughout.)


    As a | star feels | the sun | and fal|ters,
      Touched to | death by | divin|er eyes--
    As on | the old gods' | untend|ed altars
      The old fire | of with|ered wor|ship dies.

("Long measure"; but completely transfigured by the redundance and
double rhyme in the odd places, and the trochaic and anapæstic


    We | are the mu|sic-mak|ers,
      And we | are the dream|ers of dreams,
    Wan|dering by lone | sea-break|ers,
      And sit|ting by de|solate streams:
    World-los|ers and world-|forsakers,
      On whom | the pale | moon gleams;
    For we | are the mov|ers and shak|ers
      Of the world | for ev|er, it seems.

(Anapæsts used with singular skill.)

    The stars are dimly seen among the shadows of the bay,
    And lights that win are seen in strife with lights that die away.

    The wave is very still--the rudder loosens in our hand;
    The zephyr will not fill our sail, and waft us to the land;
    O precious is the pause between the winds that come and go,
    And sweet the silence of the shores between the ebb and flow.
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Say, shall we sing of day or night, fair land or mighty ocean,
    Of any rapturous delight or any dear emotion,
    Of any joy that is on earth, or hope that is above,
    The holy country of our birth, or any song of love?
      .    .    .    .    .    .    .
    Our heart in all our life is like the hand of one who steers
    A bark upon an ocean rife with dangers and with fears:
    The joys, the hopes, like waves or wings, bear up this life of ours--
    Short as a song of all these things that make up all its hours.

(The old fourteener--but made almost new by the great variation of
pause, by occasional redundance, and by the grouping of the lines.)


    If ev|er thou | didst creep
    From out | the world | of sleep,
    When the sun | slips | and the moon | dips,
    If ev|er thou | wast born;
    Or upon | the starv|ing lips
    Of the gray | uncol|oured morn.

(Especial effect produced by the anapæsts and monosyllabic feet of line

    Thou go|est more | and more
    To the sil|ent things: | thy hair | is hoar,
    Emp|tier thy wear|y face: | like to | the shore
    Far-ru|ined, and | the deso|late bil|low white
    That recedes | and leaves | it waif-wrin|kled, gap-|rocked, weak.
    The shore | and the bil|low white
    Groan|--they cry | and rest | not: they | would speak
    And call | the eter|nal Night
    To cease | them for ev|er, bid|ding new | things is|sue
    From her | cold tis|sue:
    Night | that is ev|er young, | nor knows | decay,
    Though old|er by | eter|nity | than they.

(Very fine "modern Pindaric," with extremely well-managed substitution.)

[129] For some supposed exceptions _v. sup._ last section of Scanned
Conspectus, pp. 128-130. One of the most interesting things in the
study of prosody is the tracing of the history of lyric forms.
Examples have been given above, and more will be found below; but
_completeness_ is here again impossible. Again, also, the "principles,"
properly followed out, will carry the student safely through all
such investigations, as, for instance, that into the connection of
Mr. Swinburne's "Anima Anceps" with Curran's "Deserter," and the
entire pedigree of both. Perhaps it may be well to add that, where a
choriambic effect occurs (̄ ̆ ̆ ̄), choice is often, if not always,
open between scansion as trochee and iamb or as monosyllabic foot and
anapæst. This has been already indicated expressly in some examples.
See, especially, pp. 183, 184, 212.




Prosody rhythmical, not metrical; determined exclusively by
alliteration and accent. Combinations of accented and unaccented
syllables perhaps classifiable, but seldom, if ever, reducible to
any combination corresponding to the flow of later Middle and Modern
English verse, though the _principle_ (of syllabic irregularity in
corresponding lines) _survives as the most important basis of that
verse itself_. Rhyme, except in the piece specially entitled "Rhyming
Poem" and other very late examples, practically non-existent; the
instances collected from other places being very few and quite possibly


_Earliest Middle English Period._

_No_ pure and unmixed alliterative-accentual verse of the old kind, but
a choice between pure syllabic metre of iambic type (_Ormulum_), less
regular but clearly metrical (_i.e._ "_foot_-measured") verse, iambic
or trochaic (_Paternoster_, _Moral Ode_, etc.), and singular mixtures
of the alliterative kind (badly done), and the metrical kind (sometimes
done rather better) (_Layamon_, _Proverbs of Alfred_).


_Second Early Middle English Period._

The metrifying process going on, with stronger emphasising of the
metrical character and almost complete discarding of the alliterative
(_King Horn_, late in the century, has sometimes been claimed as
an exception, but without good reason). Definite forms emerge: the
two great kinds of octosyllabic couplet--more strictly _syllabic_
(_Owl and Nightingale_), or less so (_Genesis and Exodus_); the
fifteener-fourteener or seven-foot iambic (_Robert of Gloucester_);
the _rime couée_ or "Romance-six" (_Proverbs of Hendyng_). _Of pure
alliterative verse there is no trace whatever._


_Central Period of Middle English._

The metrical development attains complete predominance in the
_Romances_ (chiefly octosyllabic couplet or "Romance-six"), and in
lyrics such as those of the Harleian MS. 2253. In both there is
considerable _equivalence_, or substitution of trisyllabic (and perhaps
also monosyllabic) for dissyllabic feet. The fourteener begins to break
itself down into the ballad measure of eight and six, with or without
full alternate rhyme. Decasyllabic couplet appears (as it had done even
earlier) sporadically. But at an uncertain time--probably about the
second third of the century--alliteration again makes its appearance,
sometimes alone (_William of Palerne_), sometimes in company with some
rhyme-arrangement (_Sir Gawain and the Green Knight_); and the two
methods continue side by side (though with the alliteration always in
the minority and seldom quite pure) for the best part of two hundred
years, till well within the sixteenth century itself.


_Crowning Period of Middle English._

The tendencies already indicated, and shown after 1350 by Laurence
Minot, the writers in the Vernon MS., and others, culminate in three
remarkable poets--Langland, Gower, and Chaucer. The first, who is
probably the oldest (though the most plausible theory of his work
puts it in stages from the sixth or seventh to the last decade of
the century), eschews rhyme altogether, and (as far as he can, but
not entirely) declines metrical form--preferring a modernised Old
English line, strongly middle-paused, and regularly, but not lavishly,
alliterated. Gower, with a little rhyme-royal, employs elsewhere,
throughout his voluminous English work, octosyllabic couplet, nearer
to the French or strictly syllabic norm than that of any other Middle
English writer, though with some tell-tale approaches to variety.
Chaucer, between the two, represents the true development of English
prosody proper. He practises, from the (disputed) _Romaunt of the
Rose_, to the (certain) _House of Fame_, the octosyllabic couplet;
varies it remarkably and consciously; and gets from it effects
excellent in their way, but never, apparently, quite satisfactory to
himself. He adopts or imitates from the French, besides minor forms,
the great rhyme-royal or _Troilus_ stanza. He has, in his prose,
curious "shadows before" of blank verse. But his greatest metrical
achievement is the taking up--whether wholly from French or with some
consciousness of earlier sporadic attempts in English is disputed,
but certainly in the perhaps unconscious line of those attempts--the
decasyllabic or heroic couplet, which is first the sole vehicle of
his _Legend of Good Women_, and secondly the main vehicle of _The
Canterbury Tales_.


_The Decadence of Middle English Prosody._

The prosodic accomplishment of Chaucer, while representing all that
Middle English was capable of attaining, represented more than it was
capable of maintaining. His followers in Middle Scots, employing not
the actual vernacular, but a "made" literary language, carried out his
lessons for some time with great success. But those in Southern English
appear to have--except in more or less pure folk-poems--succumbed
partly to influences of change in pronunciation (which are very
imperfectly understood, though the disuse of the final valued _e_
is the certain and central fact), partly to a loss of understanding
(which is still more obscure in its nature and causes) of the
metres themselves. From Lydgate to Hawes, rhyme-royal most of all,
decasyllabic couplet (not so often tried) hardly less, and octosyllabic
to a somewhat minor degree, exhibit the most painful irregularity,
clumsiness, and prosaic effect, there being sometimes no regular
rhythm, and nothing at all but the rhyme to give a poetical character
to the composition. The "doggerel" of Skelton is a pretty obvious
attempt to escape from this. Only ballad, carol, and the like seem to
escape the curse.


_The Recovery of Rhythm._

In the second quarter of the sixteenth century attention seems to have
been drawn to the "staggering state" of prosody; by the end of that
quarter, or a very little later, we know from positive evidence that
it was theoretically felt. But much earlier Sir Thomas Wyatt, and, in
his tracks, Henry Howard, Lord Surrey, expressed the fact practically
by their imitations of Italian forms. Both tried the sonnet; Wyatt
attempted, with little success, _terza rima_; and Surrey, with more,
tried blank verse. The regular quantification or accentuation necessary
for the reproduction of these forms evidently gave them (and Wyatt
more particularly and naturally, as the pioneer) a great deal of
trouble; but they managed it--if not universally or perfectly--somehow;
and they kept the practice up in lyric measures less strictly
imitated. They also popularised--if they did not introduce--a new
combination-variation of the old long lines into the so-called
"poulter's measure" or couplet of twelve-fourteen syllables, easily
breaking down into six, six, eight, six. Their example was followed
by many poets between 1550 and 1580, iambic regularity establishing
itself rather at the expense of poetic variety, but with an immense
gain to the ear. A very important, though not in itself very poetical,
development was also made in the regular anapæstics of Tusser; and
the drama, taking up at last Surrey's blank verse, in the meantime
experimented with all sorts of forms, regular and doggerel.


_The Perfecting of Metre and of Poetical Diction._

This invaluable if not always very stimulating period of drill and
discipline (in which Wyatt and Surrey themselves, with Sackville later,
are the chief and almost the only poets who transcend experiment)
passes, a little before 1580, into one of complete poetic and
proportionately complete prosodic accomplishment, with Spenser and
his companions and followers for non-dramatic poetry, with Peele and
Marlowe preluding Shakespeare in dramatic blank verse. The greatest
pioneer, one who not only explores but attains, is Spenser; and he,
after presenting in the _Shepherd's Calendar_ the most remarkable
record of experiment in the history of English poetic form, proceeds to
the perfect structure and exquisite diction of the _Faerie Queene_. He,
however, hardly touches blank verse, and, after the _Calendar_, eschews
the lighter lyric. But both these are taken up by others; and while
lyric attains all but the highest possible stage of that diversity in
harmony which is especially required by it, the possibilities of blank
verse are more than suggested in Shakespeare's predecessors, and are,
in the dramatic range, exhausted by Shakespeare himself. Outside the
drama, however, and blank verse, the abiding fear of doggerel keeps
back the due development of regularised substitution: verse is mostly
iambic. But here also Shakespeare pierces the heart of the mystery, and
the songs in his plays are as prosodically complete as his blank verse
itself. There is much practice in sonnet, and, towards the end of the
century, "riding rhyme" or heroic couplet, which had fallen into some
disuse, is revived, chiefly for satiric or semi-satiric purposes (as
by Spenser in _Mother Hubberd's Tale_, by Hall, Donne, and Marston in
their definite satires, etc., and for "history" by Drayton).


_The further Development of Lyric, Stanza, and Blank Verse. Insurgence
and Division of the Couplet._

Between the latest years of the sixteenth and the earliest of the
seventeenth century there is naturally little difference, but the
total transformation is rather rapid. Blank verse no sooner attains
its absolute perfection in Shakespeare than it begins to show signs of
overripeness, in the great tendency to redundance which even he shares
in his latest plays, and which distinguishes Beaumont and Fletcher.
Stanza does not, after the similar consummateness of Spenser, show
a similar formal decline; but there arises a distaste for it. Only
lyric perseveres in practically full flourishing; and even exhibits a
certain further quintessence of beauty, though some loss of strength.
Meanwhile, the decasyllabic couplet revives in a complicated fashion.
It does not yet make much recovery of drama, but is very largely
practised by Drayton, is declared (at least on Drummond's authority)
to be "the bravest sort of verse" by Jonson, and made, towards the end
of James the First's reign, the subject of a formal critical-poetical
encomium by Sir John Beaumont. But it is a house divided against
itself, and it is not till the "stopped" form (in which the rhymes
sharply punctuate the sense) conquers the "enjambed" (which in _this_
sub-period is the favourite) that it attains complete popular favour.



The period, or sub-period, which may be called "mid-seventeenth
century," on one side continues the developments described in the
last section, and on another begins those which will be described
in the next. But it contains almost the whole work of Milton, who
belongs in one sense to both, in another to neither. If he had written
no blank verse, he would still be of the first rank as a practical
prosodist, in virtue of his stanza-forms, such as that in the "Hymn
on the Nativity"; of his remarkably varied octosyllabic couplet in
_L'Allegro_, _Il Penseroso_, _Arcades_, and _Comus_; of the almost
unique strophes, with irregular rhyme, in _Lycidas_; of the _Sonnets_,
adjusted not to the Elizabethan-English, but to the commoner Italian
forms; and of the peculiar choric arrangements of _Samson Agonistes_.
But it is undoubtedly as the introducer of blank verse for general
poetic practice, and as the modulator of that verse in the directions
previously described, that he stands as one of the very greatest
masters of English prosody. For, on the one hand, he rescues "blanks"
from the chaos into which, by the laches of the dramatists, they were
falling; and, on the other, he establishes for ever (though it may
sometimes be mistaken by individuals and periods) the principle of
foot-equivalence and substitution in the individual line, with that of
combination of several lines into a verse-paragraph.



For the moment, however, the work of Milton produces no effect, and
though Dryden, his younger contemporary, uses, with great effect, a
large variety of metres, his main importance, in the general history of
prosody, consists in the establishment of the stopped heroic couplet
as at once the most popular and the most dignified of English metres.
But he does not at once make it into the strictly decasyllabic,
strictly middle-paused kind which dominates the following century.
On the initiation (partly at least) of Cowley, he varies it with the
Alexandrine, which he sometimes includes in a triplet, while the same
extension to three similarly rhymed lines, in decasyllable only, is
still more frequent. If he does not exactly introduce, he popularises
and for a time maintains, the same couplet in drama, but uses it most
successfully in satiric and didactic verse, of extraordinary weight and
vigour, while entirely destitute of monotony. He himself and his minor
but more lyrical contemporaries, Rochester, Sedley, Afra Behn, etc.,
continue the older Caroline tradition of song in varied measures, but
it dies out. On the other hand, his practice (suggested, doubtless, by
Davenant's _Gondibert_) of the decasyllabic quatrain, and the majestic
if not fully Pindaric strophes of his _Odes_, supply models which serve
to vary the unbroken prevalence of the couplet, and are followed by
Gray and others, during the succeeding century, with exceptionally fine


The summary of the history of eighteenth-century prosody has been
foreshadowed in the above lines. Addison, Garth, and others follow
Dryden; and Pope further "corrects" him in a couplet which becomes
polished to the extreme, but, when handled without almost supreme
genius, is distinctly monotonous. And this couplet, with almost
complete and definite acceptance by theorists and little overt protest
on the part of practitioners, assumes the position of premier metre
in English for long poems, continuing to hold it throughout the
hundred years. Lyric, too, confines itself to relatively few forms,
chiefly iambic--the "common" and "long" measure, the Romance-six, the
decasyllabic quatrain, the regular or irregular Pindaric ode. There
are, however, certain privileged exceptions to the uniformity. Two
poets not in their first youth at the beginning of the century--Prior
and Swift--secure a position for the light octosyllable and for
anapæstic measures; Gray and Collins raise the ode; Thomson--preceded
by one or two minor poets, and followed by a considerable number, some
of whom are not so minor--takes up "the manner of Milton," that is
to say, blank verse. Even in the first half of the century Shenstone
timidly pleads for trisyllabic substitution, while in the second half
Chatterton and Blake boldly practise it; and that study of old (and
especially ballad) English verse, of which Percy's _Reliques_ is the
central example, slowly but surely leads the way to a restoration of
its principles.


In no department of poetic practice does the great Romantic revival,
after forerunnings in Chatterton and Blake, show itself, in the
latest years of the eighteenth century, and the earliest of the
nineteenth, more perceptibly than in that of prosody. Only one of
its masters--Wordsworth--slights this revival in theory, while he is
not of the first mark in practice. But Coleridge, in _The Ancient
Mariner_ and _Christabel_, restores and perfects equivalence on a
doubtful principle, but with consummate practical effect. Southey, less
effective practically, is both sounder and more original in theory;
Scott takes up Coleridge's example in all his verse-romances, and
completely vindicates the freedom of lyric; Byron, affecting admiration
of the couplet, achieves his own best work in Coleridge-Scott
octosyllables, in Spenserians, in octaves, and in lyric; Shelley pushes
the various and unfettered lyrical movement to its almost inconceivable
farthest; and Keats revives (after Leigh Hunt) the enjambed couplet
in decasyllable, recovers an octosyllabic form unknown since Gower
and only partially utilised by him, writes exquisite Spenserians and
beautiful octaves, comes perhaps nearest Milton in blank verse and
nearest Dryden in the other kind of couplet, and achieves forms of ode,
classical and Romantic, of astonishing flexibility and charm. By and in
these, and in many minors from Moore downwards, the freedom of prosody,
and the great instrument of that freedom, the equivalenced foot, are
championed and practised with almost all the variety possible.


The process of varying and extending the forms of prosody, by the
special instrument above noticed and others, and under the direction of
a general effort to give those forms a wider visual and audible appeal
to the mind's senses, continues in the two later groups or stages--of
which the chief representatives are, in the first case, Tennyson and
Browning; in the second, Mr. Swinburne, the Rossettis, and William
Morris--with constant recovery or fresh invention of prosodic effect.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is on the continuity of this history that the student should keep
his eye. Looked at partially, it may seem to lack this continuity;
looked at as a whole, it will be seen to exhibit exactly the alternate
or successive predominance of different tendencies and developments in
which all healthy life-history consists. No partial and inconsecutive
explanations as to widely differing pronunciation of vowels at
different times, none of "quantity" having the preference at one time
and "accent" at another, or of certain feet inclining to these things
respectively, are necessary, or should be entertained. The birth,
progress, and perfecting of the foot under the guidance of equivalent
substitution, now vividly present, now apparently in abeyance, but
always potentially existing--this is "the mystery of this wonderful
history," the open secret of English prosodic life.





[Sidenote: Dearth of early prosodic studies.]

In hardly any language are studious investigations into the form
of verse likely to be early, and in a language with such a history
as English they could not possibly be so. We have indeed, from the
early fourteenth century, some remarks of Robert of Brunne on kinds
of verse--"cowee" (Romance-six), "baston,"[130] "enterlace" (pretty
obvious), etc., but with no explanation or discussion; and Chaucer
himself (who, in this respect as in others, is slavishly followed by
Lydgate[131]) makes apologies for roughness and inexperience.[132] In
Gower (_Conf. Am._ iv. 2414) there is a reference, but after Chaucer
and not yet quite satisfactorily explained, to the difference between
"rhyme" and "cadence," while in the Scottish chronicler Wyntoun
there is another reference[133] to "cadence." Again, in Chaucer we
have the Parson's famous disclaimer of indulgence in "rum ram ruf,"
because the speaker is "a Southern man." But not one of these things
makes the slightest pretence to be even a prosodic discussion, let
alone a prosodic treatise; and it is not till towards the end of the
third quarter of the sixteenth century--when a whole generation had
already followed Wyatt in endeavouring to effect, in practice, the
reform of the prosodic breakdown from Lydgate to Hawes, if not even to
Barclay--that the first English prosodic treatise appears in the shape
of Gascoigne's _Notes of Instruction_ (1572-75). They had been a little
anticipated in time by remarks of Ascham's, and perhaps of others, on
a new fashion of classical "versing," on which more presently; but
this, though essentially prosodic in character, had not yet formed
the subject of a regular treatise, and its exponents implicitly or
expressly declined all meddling with "beggarly rhyme," _i.e._ with the
form of English poetry proper.

[Sidenote: Gascoigne.]

Gascoigne's little book[134] is very short, very practical, very
sensible, and--except in one unlucky remark, which (or rather the
misunderstanding of it) has done harm to the present day--in the
main, perfectly sound. He dwells on the importance of accent and of
the observation of it; and he was quite right, for even Wyatt had
been very loose in this respect, and the desire to get out of the
doggerel of the fifteenth century[135] had led novices in precision
to strain the accent, in order that they might keep the quantity. But
he insists also--and with more than a century of awful examples to
justify him if he had cared to use them--on "keeping metre"--on not
wandering from lines of one length or character to those of another
as the rhyme-royalists of the preceding century constantly do. He
gives rules for the pause, leaving rhyme-royal itself free in that
respect. He mentions especially, besides rhyme-royal, "riding rhyme"
(Chaucerian couplet), "poulter's measure" (the alternate Alexandrine
and fourteener), and octosyllables. He deprecates poetic commonplaces
("cherry lips" and the like), and gives some positive rules for
pronunciation ("Heav'n" is to be always monosyllabic).

[Sidenote: His remark on feet.]

The excepted unlucky point is his remark that "commonly nowadays in
English rhymes we use no other than a foot of two syllables, whereof
the first is depressed and made short, and the second elevated or made
long." He says that "we have used in times past other kinds of metres,"
giving as example the anapæstic line--

    No wight | in this world | that wealth | can attain;[136]

laments the restriction to iambs, and shows a remarkable appreciation
of Chaucer's "liberty that the Latinists do use," _i.e._ equivalent
substitution, though he may not have quite correctly understood this.

The desire for order and regularity in all this is very noticeable,
and perfectly intelligible to any one who has appreciated (see last
Book) the hopeless breakdown, due to the neglect of these qualities,
in English prosody between 1400 and 1530. Gascoigne's statement about
the iamb is, moreover, true of the majority of his own contemporaries,
though it overlooks such a writer as Tusser. But it would be a grievous
mistake (and unfortunately it has often been committed) to accept this
not quite accurate declaration of ephemeral fact--accompanied as it is,
more especially, by another expression of regret for that fact--as a
rule and principle governing Elizabethan and English poetry.

Gascoigne's little treatise was followed at no great intervals, but
after his own death, by more elaborate dealings with the subject--some
of them exclusively or mainly devoted to the new craze for classical
metres, others treating the subject at large and merely referring to
the "versing" attempts. The order of these compositions, with a very
brief sketch of their contents, may now be given.

[Sidenote: Spenser and Harvey.]

In the winter of 1579-80, the date of the appearance of the _Shepherd's
Calendar_, Spenser and his pragmatical friend Gabriel Harvey exchanged
certain letters (which we have) dealing with the "versing" attempt that
Spenser himself makes. An experiment in quantified trimeter refers
to "rules" on the subject made by a Cambridge man named Drant, but
does not (unfortunately) give them, and asks for Harvey's own. Harvey
blows rather hot and cold on the matter, approving the system, but
criticising the details.

[Sidenote: Stanyhurst.]

Next, in 1582, came the _Preface_ to Richard Stanyhurst's translation
of the _Aeneid_, a book famous for the strange language in which it
is written, but, as far as its Preface is concerned, a very sober and
scientific attempt to do an impossible thing. Stanyhurst endeavours
to arrange a set of rules for determining the quantity of every
syllable in English, _not_ necessarily according to its Latin or other
derivation, but on principles germane to the language itself. He does
not and cannot succeed; but his attempt is interesting, and rather less
contrary to facts than some recent attempts of the same kind.

[Sidenote: Webbe.]

He was followed, in 1586, by William Webbe, whose _Discourse of English
Poetry_ is notable for the enthusiasm displayed by the author towards
Spenser (the _Shepherd's Calendar_ had appeared some years previously);
for his curiously combined enthusiasm as regards the classical metres
which Spenser had tried and dropped; for the first _published_ sketch
of the history of English poetry (erroneous, but interesting); and for
a certain number of desultory remarks on prosodic subjects, mostly
brought round to the classical fancy, though showing the interest which
these questions were exciting. But between Stanyhurst and Webbe one
book of the kind had appeared, and another had been perhaps composed,
though not printed, in the same year--1584.

[Sidenote: King James VI.]

The first was King James the Sixth of Scotland's _Rewlis and Cautelis_
for the making of verse in his native dialect. Obligation has been
traced in it to Gascoigne and to the great French poet Ronsard. It
is very clear and precise, but of no wide interest, being simply
an analysis of recent actual Scots verse with some peculiarities of
terminology. It is our first methodical book of prosody, and some of
its titles, such as "cuttit and broken" verse for the metres of very
irregular line-length which were growing so fashionable, and which were
to excite the displeasure of the eighteenth century, are distinctly
useful. Not so perhaps another--"tumbling verse"--which is of uncertain
application to alliterative-anapæstic or to mere doggerel rhythm--which
has complicated the question of "cadence" (_v. sup._), (of this it has
been, perhaps correctly, thought to have been intended as an English
translation), and which was adopted rather arbitrarily by Guest (_v.

[Sidenote: Puttenham (?)]

The other book, written in or before 1584, though not published
till 1589, was the most elaborate treatment of English prosody yet
attempted, and continued to be so until Mitford's treatise (_v. inf._)
nearly two hundred years later. The _Art of English Poesy_, as it not
too arrogantly called itself, has no certain author, but has been
by turns attributed to two brothers, George and Richard Puttenham.
It is, in the original, a treatise of some 257 well-filled pages.
About half of these is indeed occupied by an immense list of the
fancifully devised "Figures of Speech" which the Greek rhetoricians
had excogitated, and which apply (in so far as they have any real
application at all) not more to poetry than to prose. But the First
Book contains an elaborate discussion or defence of poetry generally,
ending with a sketch of English poets, probably, if not certainly,
written earlier than Webbe's. And the Second is a very full and formal
handling of the formal part of poetry, the discussion being carried
so far as to include those artificial figures in squares, lozenges,
altars, wings, etc., which more than one age fancied, but which, in
English, hardly survived the satire of Addison. Puttenham, however,
takes great pains to point out the exact form of different regular
stanzas; arranges line-lengths; dwells on rhyme, pause, accent, and
other matters of importance; considers the classical "versing" (though
he does not like it); and, in short, treats the whole subject, as
far as his lights and opportunities permit, in a really business-like
manner. It was somewhat unfortunate that he came a little too soon,
neither the _Faerie Queene_ nor probably any of the greatest plays of
the "University Wits" having appeared at the time he wrote--nothing, in
short, of the best time and kind but the _Shepherd's Calendar_.

[Sidenote: Campion and Daniel.]

The later years of the sixteenth century were less fruitful in regular
prosodic discussion, though the old wrangle about "versing"[137]
continued at intervals between Harvey and Nash, and some scattered
observations on prosody exist, by Drayton and others. But in the
earliest years of the seventeenth the first-named dispute, after
hanging about for more than half a century since Ascham's day, was laid
to rest, for the time and (except in scattered touches) for nearly
two centuries afterwards, by the poet Thomas Campion's tractate on
certain new forms of verse (not hexameters) devised by himself, and
the reply of another poet, Samuel Daniel, in his _Defence of Rhyme_.
Campion, an exquisite master of natural rhymed verse, did not wholly
fail with his artificial creations of "English elegiacs," "English
anacreontics," etc.--metres based mainly on iambs and trochees, though
with some trisyllabic feet grudgingly allowed. He not merely does not
support the dactylic hexameter, but pronounces against it; and his
main objection seems to lie against rhyme. He also, like Stanyhurst,
attempts a scheme of English quantity, though he admits the abundance
of "common" syllables with us. Daniel in his answer confined himself to
generalities, but with the most triumphant effect--basing his defence
of rhyme on "Custom and Nature"; alleging the omnipotence of delight
which is unquestionably given by and received from rhyme; and asking
why, when in polity, religion, etc., we notoriously and profoundly
differ from the Greeks and Latins, we are to imitate them in verse? He
points out, again with absolute truth, that Campion's own versification
is mostly or wholly nothing but old forms stripped of rhyme, and urges
the hopelessness of adjusting, even on the reformer's own system,
English quantity to classical. With this the thing became, and was long
wisely allowed to be, _res judicata_.

[Sidenote: Ben Jonson, Drayton, Beaumont.]

In a sense this little book, or rather pamphlet, may be said to
conclude the first batch or period of prosodic study in English. For
the whole of the seventeenth century after it, though one of the
most important practically in the entire history, sees very little
theoretical discussion. Ben Jonson had, we are told, written a treatise
against both Campion and Daniel, especially the last, praising couplets
"to be the bravest sort of verses, especially when they are broken
like hexameters," and against "cross-rhymes and stanzas." But we have
not his own authority for this, which is only reported by Drummond,
and the exact interpretation to be put upon "broken like hexameters"
is absolutely uncertain. The surfeit of stanza[138] is, however, an
obvious fact, and is borne witness to by Drayton, in the remarks above
referred to, and by others--things culminating in the verse precepts
of Sir John Beaumont (_v. sup._) recommending the stopped distich in
a form which is almost eighteenth century. Had Jonson finished his
_English Grammar_ and given the prosodic section which he promised, we
should know more.

[Sidenote: Joshua Poole and "J. D."]

As it is, there is nothing of importance before the Restoration except
the _English Parnassus_ of Joshua Poole, published posthumously,
with a remarkable Preface signed "J. D.," which in point of time
might be--but which there is not the slightest reason except date
and initials to suppose to be--Dryden's. This Introduction is partly
historical and not ignorant, while the author shows good sense and
taste by objecting to "wrenched" rhymes ("náture" and "endùre"), to
the habit of "apostrophation" or cutting out syllables supposed to
be extra-metrical, and substituting apostrophes,[139] which was
infesting the printing of the day, and was, to the great corroboration
of prosodic heresies, not got rid of for a century and a half. He
dislikes, too, the heavily overlapped verses then prevalent.

[Sidenote: Milton.]

Milton, inferior to no English poet in his practical importance as a
master of prosody, and perhaps superior to all except Shakespeare, has
nothing about it in the preceptist way, except his rather petulant
outbreak against rhyme[140] in the advertisement to _Paradise Lost_ (an
outbreak largely neutralised by his own practice, not only earlier,
but later), and the reference to "committing short and long" in Sonnet

[Sidenote: Dryden.]

And Dryden almost repeats the tantalising conditions of Jonson's
attitude to the subject. He tells us that he actually had in
preparation a treatise on it; but nothing more has ever been heard of
this, and, large as is the amount of his work in literary criticism,
his references to this part of it are few and are mostly vague. He
does indeed tell us that no vowel can be cut off before another when
we cannot sink the pronunciation of it, and if this observation be
extended to elision generally it is important.

[Sidenote: Woodford.]

But, on the whole, the most significant passages on prosody of the
later seventeenth century are the work of a more obscure writer, Samuel
Woodford, in his Prefaces to Paraphrases of the _Psalms_ (1667) and
the _Canticles_ (1678). Here criticising, as no one else did, Milton
from the prosodic point of view soon after date, he recognises and
defends trisyllabic feet, but is disinclined to blank verse, regarding
(and actually arranging) it as rhythmed prose. The references of Lord
Roscommon and one or two others in verse, as well as of critics of
shadowy notoriety like Rymer and Dennis in prose, are mostly trivial.

[Sidenote: Comparative barrenness of the whole.]

In this first division of English prosodists there is observable
a want of thoroughness--at first sight perhaps strange, but
easily explicable--which makes most of their work little more
than a curiosity. The only book which attempts to grapple
somewhat methodically with the whole subject--that attributed to
Puttenham--labours under two fatal disadvantages. The first is that
the writer has a most imperfect knowledge, or rather an almost unmixed
ignorance, of what has come before him; and the second is that he
naturally cannot know what will come after him, while what actually did
come immediately after him happens to be one of the greatest bodies,
in bulk and merit and variety, of English poetry. The two most gifted
persons who think of treating it, Jonson and Dryden, do not actually
do so; and it may be more than doubted whether, had they done so,
ignorance of the past would not still have stood in their way. It is
true that Dryden's _obiter dictum_, that you must not elide what you
must pronounce, is a sort of ark of salvation which carries all the
elements of a sound prosody in it. But it is not certain that the
writer quite saw its full bearing, and that bearing was certainly not
seen by others. On the other hand, Gascoigne's innocent but unlucky
remark about the single two-syllabled foot expresses an opinion which,
though wholly erroneous, undoubtedly did prevail very widely throughout
the whole period. The evidence of its falsity was indeed constantly
accumulating in blank verse during the first half of the seventeenth
century, in definite trisyllabic metres during the second. But this
evidence was ignored or disobligingly received; and when, at the very
beginning of the eighteenth, Bysshe once more attempted formulation
of prosodic orthodoxy, he arranged a code which, as long as it was
observed, half maimed the sinews and half throttled the song of English


[130] Perhaps general for a stanza. Certainly used in one case for a
six-lined one of four longer lines and two shorter.

[131] In his _Troy Book_ he says that, "as tho" [at that time] he "set
aside truth of metre," "had no guide in that art," and "took no heed of
short and long."

[132] _House of Fame_, Book III., where he disclaims intention to
"shew art poetical," speaks of his "rhyme" as "light and _lewed_"
[unlearned], admits that "some verses" may "fail in a syllable," and
precedes (possibly patterning) Gower in distinguishing "rhyme" and

[133] He says that the substitution of "Procurator" for "Emperor" "had
mair grievèd the _cadence_ Than had relievèd the sentence [meaning]."

[134] For editions, etc., of this and other books named and discussed
in this survey, see Bibliography.

[135] The passage referred to above (p. 166) as illustrating this, in
the _Mirror for Magistrates_ (ed. Haslewood, ii. 394, and see _Hist.
Pros._ ii. 188), is anterior to Gascoigne.

[136] Observe that this _might_ be scanned

    No wight | in this | world that | wealth can | attain.

But then it would not be "another kind of metre." The remark is not
without bearing on the suggested possibility of Spenser's "February"
being mistaken heroic.

[137] At this time the technical phrase for classical-quantitative
versification without rhyme.

[138] Which, let it be remembered, had dominated English poetry, in
rhyme-royal, for nearly two centuries from Chaucer to Sackville, and
then in the Spenserian, the octave, and others, for three-quarters of
a century more. These surfeits always recur, though the octosyllabic
couplet has suffered least from them.

[139] "Wat'ry," "prosp'rous," and even "vi'let."

[140] As "the invention of a barbarous age to set off wretched matter
and lame metre," "a barbarous and modern bondage," contrasting with
"apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn
out from one verse to another."

[141] This phrase, which has been treated as enigmatic, is quite clear
in the context, addressed to Lawes the musician as one

          Whose tuneful and well-measured song
    First taught our English music how to span
    Words with just note and accent, not to scan
    With Midas' ears, committing short and long.

That is to say, Lawes was not guilty, as most composers notoriously
are, of laying musical stress on a syllable that could not prosodically
bear it.



[Sidenote: Bysshe's _Art of Poetry_.]

In 1702, just after the beginning of the new century, there appeared
a book which, though it received little directly critical notice,
and was spoken of with disapproval by some who did notice it, was
repeatedly reprinted, and which expressed, beyond all reasonable doubt,
ideas prevalent largely for a century or more before it, and almost
universally for a century or more after it. This was the _Art of
Poetry_ of Edward Bysshe. The bulk of it is composed of dictionaries of
rhyme, etc. But a brief Introduction puts with equal conciseness and
clearness the following views on English prosody.

"The structure of our verses, whether blank or in rhyme, consists in
a certain number of syllables; not in feet composed of long and short
syllables." He works this out carefully--explaining that verses of
double rhyme will always want one more syllable than verses of single;
decasyllables becoming hendecasyllables, verses of eight syllables
turning to nine, verses of seven to eight. "This must also be observed
in blank verse." Then of the several sorts of verses. Our poetry, he
thinks, admits, for the most part, of but three verses--those of ten,
eight, or seven syllables. Those of four, six, nine, eleven, twelve,
and fourteen are generally employed in masques and operas and in the
stanzas of lyric and Pindaric odes. We have few entire poems composed
in them; though twelve and fourteen may be inserted in other measures
and even "carry a peculiar grace with them." In decasyllabic verse
two things are to be considered--the seat of the accent and the pause.
The pause ought to be at the fourth, fifth, or sixth syllable. The
strongest accent must be on the second, fourth, and sixth. But he
says nothing about accent in the last four places; indeed he is less
explicit about the second half of the line throughout. And he says less
about accent generally than about pause, though he is sure that "wrong
placing" of it is as great a fault in English as a false quantity was
in the classical languages. To make a good decasyllable you must be
careful that the accent is neither on the third nor on the fifth--a
curious crab-like way of approaching the subject, but bringing out in
strong relief the main principle of all this legislation, "Thou shalt
not." The verse of _seven_ syllables, however, is most beautiful when
the strongest accent _is_ on the third.

More curious still is his way of approaching trisyllabic metres. As
such, he will not so much as speak of them. "Verses of nine and eleven
syllables," it seems, "are of two sorts." "Those accented on the last
save one" are merely the redundant eights and tens already spoken of.
"The other [class] is those that are accented on the last syllable,
which are employed only in compositions for music, and in the lowest
sort of burlesque poetry, the disagreeableness of their measure
having wholly excluded them from grave and serious subjects." These
are neither more nor less than anapæstic three- and four-foot verses;
though for some extraordinary reason Bysshe does not even mention
the full twelve-syllable form under any head whatever. I suppose the
"lowness and disagreeableness" of the thing was too much for him, and
as he had disallowed feet he had, at any rate, some logical excuse in
making nothing of them. He admits triplets in heroic, and repeats his
admission of Alexandrines and fourteeners. "The verses of four or six
syllables have nothing worth observing," though he condescends to give
some from Dryden.

Under the head of "Rules conducing to the beauty of our
versification," and with the exordium, "Our poetry being very much
polished and refined since the days of Chaucer, Spenser, and other
ancient poets," we find that you must avoid hiatus; _always_ cut off
the _e_ of "the" before a vowel; never allow such collocations as
"th_y_ _i_ambics" or "int_o_ _a_ book"; never value such syllables as
"amaz_è_d" and "lov_è_d," but always contract them; avoid alliteration;
never split adjective from substantive, or preposition from verb, at
the end of a line. "Beauteous" is but two syllables, "victorious" but
three. You must not make "riot" one syllable as Milton does.[142] You
_may_ contract "vi'let" and "di'mond," and if you do, should write them
so. "Temp'rance," "diff'rent," etc., are all right; and you may use
"fab'lous" and "mar'ner." But Bysshe acknowledges that "this is not so
frequent." And he rejects or doubts some of the more violent and most
hideous apostrophations, such as, "b'" for "by," but has no doubt about
"t'amaze," "I'm," "they've," and most others. Rhyme is not very fully
dealt with, but for the most part correctly enough--so far as Bysshe's
principles go. Stanzas of "intermixed rhyme" (like rhyme-royal, the
octave, and the Spenserian) "are now wholly laid aside," for long poems
at least. Shakespeare invented blank verse to escape "the tiresome
constraint of rhyme." Acrostics and anagrams "deserve not to be

[Sidenote: Its importance.]

If any one has read this account carefully he will perceive at
once what Bysshe's ideals and standards are. They put the strict
decasyllabic couplet, with no substitution, no overrunning of lines,
a fixed middle pause, and as nearly as possible an unvaried iambic
cadence, into the principal place--if not quite the sole place of
honour--in English poetry. They frown upon stanzas, upon varied metres
of any kind, and even upon unvaried anapæestic or "triple" measures.
Strict syllabic scansion, with a consideration of accent, is the only
process allowed; and even Dryden, just dead, and still regarded as the
greatest of English poets, is directly though gently reproached for
too great variety and laxity, as well as indirectly blamed for using
"low" and "disagreeable" forms. The author seems to have been a very
obscure person, of whom little or nothing is known; but any one who
really knows English poetry will see that he practically expresses
the mind that dominated it during almost the whole of the eighteenth

[Sidenote: Minor prosodists of the mid-eighteenth century.]

Either from Bysshe's starting the question; or from the same general
influence which made him start it; or from the supposed tendency, not
to be too hastily accepted, of a lull in creative poetry to be followed
by an access of criticism--there is, from this time onward, no lack
of prosodic work. John Brightland, in an _English Grammar_ (1711),
opposed Bysshe on the subject of accent; and he was also spoken of
disparagingly by Charles Gildon, who produced two books, _The Complete
Art of Poetry_ (1718) and the _Laws of Poetry_ (1721). Gildon was
a pert and rather superficial writer who deservedly came under the
lash of Pope; and, though neither quite ignorant nor quite stupid,
he initiated a course of error which has never yet been stopped, by
confusing prosody with music and arranging it by musical signs. Between
Bysshe and his two critics Dr. Watts had, in the preface to his _Horae
Lyricae,_ given some prosodic remarks indicating discontent with the
monotony of the couplet, an appreciation (not unmixed with criticism)
of Milton, and other good things. But, before long, the question
whether Accent or Quantity governs English verse--often complicated
with the attempt to interpret this latter by musical notation--absorbed
an altogether disproportionate amount of attention. The works of
Pemberton (1738), Mainwaring, Foster, Harris, Lord Kames, Webb, and
Say (1744) must be consulted by exhaustive students of the subject,
and will be found duly commented upon in the larger _History_ by the
present writer. But they hardly need detailed notice here, any more
than the later lucubrations of Lord Monboddo, Tucker, Nares, Fogg,
and others. Their general tendency--which was indeed, as has been
said, the general tendency of the century, correctly harbingered by
Bysshe--was to concentrate attention on the heroic line, and indeed to
regard it as strictly iambic, trisyllabic feet being wholly rejected,
and even trochaic substitution either rejected likewise, as by
Pemberton, or regarded as a more or less questionable licence. But the
subject was also handled by persons of more literary importance, and in
some cases, though not in all, of more insight and more knowledge.

[Sidenote: Dr. Johnson.]

The most remarkable exponent of the general prosodic ideas of the
century is undoubtedly Dr. Samuel Johnson, who, though he wrote no
special prosodic treatise, dealt with the subject in his _Dictionary_,
in the _Rambler_ (especially in connection with Milton), and in his
_Lives of the Poets_. Except that Johnson does admit feet--or at least
their names--his doctrine in the _Dictionary_ hardly differs from
Bysshe's as to the syllabic norm of lines, the strict regularity of
accent constituting "harmony," and the duty of compounding superfluous
syllables by elision, synalœpha, etc. He applies these doctrines in the
_Lives_, and still more in his papers on Milton, Spenser, etc., in the
_Rambler_. The spondees in Milton's lines--

                      Bōth stōod,
    Bōth tūrned,

and the trochees in his

    Uncropped fālls tŏ the ground,

and in Cowley's

    And the soft wings of peace cōvĕr him round,

are condemned as "inharmonious." He objects to Milton's
"elisions"--that is to say, the devices necessary on his own system
to avoid trisyllabic feet--and so to these feet themselves. He
thinks the Spenserian stanza, _Lycidas_, and the end of _Comus_ bad,
because the lines and rhymes are not regularly arranged. In short,
he is an unhesitating--and almost the greatest--believer in the
sheer, alternately accented, middle-paused, syllabically limited
decasyllable; though, with perhaps inevitable inconsistency, he does
admit that, without variation of accent, the series of sounds would
be not only very difficult but "tiresome and disgusting," while
maintaining at the same time stoutly that this variation "always
injures the harmony of the line considered by itself."

[Sidenote: Shenstone.]

The inconveniences of this rigid system were not, however, entirely
unnoticed. At an uncertain time, but probably between 1740 and his
death, the poet William Shenstone urged, in a posthumously published
Essay, the beauty of what he called "virtual dactyls"--that is to say,
words like "wat_e_ry" and "tott_e_ring,"--distinctly arguing that
"it seems absurd to print them otherwise than at full length"--the
"otherwise" being the established practice, based upon definite theory,
of the century.

[Sidenote: Sheridan.]

Johnson's friend the elocutionist Sheridan, in his _Art of Reading_
(1775), calls it absurd (as it certainly is) to regard "echoing"
as metrically "ech'ing." And, later, the poet Cowper, though using
ambiguous and irresolute terminology on the subject, admits the "divine
harmony" of Milton's "elisions"--by which, he explains in the most
self-contradictory way, "the line is _lengthened_."

[Sidenote: John Mason.]

While much earlier, at the very middle of the century, John Mason, a
little-known dissenting minister, who was, like Sheridan, a teacher of
elocution, quoting and scanning the lines--

    And many an amorous, many a humorous lay,
    Which many a bard had chanted many a day,

observes that this, "though it increases the number of syllables,
sweetens the flow of the verse," "gives a sweetness that is not
ordinarily found in the common iambic verse." It would be impossible
to state more correctly or more definitely the case for the equivalent
substitutional trisyllabic foot in English. But, as we shall see, it
was to be nearly two generations before considerable poets boldly
adopted (even then not always distinctly championing) the idea, and
an entire century, if not more, before the principle was thoroughly
accepted and understood.

[Sidenote: Mitford.]

Two deliberate prosodists, in two books published within a twelvemonth
of each other, are memorable as (if not exactly starting) formulating,
in a more elaborate way than had ever been done before, the one a
mischievous and false, the other the only true method of dealing
with prosody. Joshua Steele, in his _Prosodia Rationalis_ (1775), is
not always wrong; and William Mitford is not by any means invariably
right--in fact, he partly shares Steele's error. But his _Harmony
of English Verse_ (1774) is even then to a great extent, and in
its second edition, thirty years later, much more, occupied with a
careful historical inquiry as to the actual successive forms of his
subject from the earliest period. At first he had not even Tyrwhitt's
invaluable _Chaucer_--which appeared in the year after Steele's
book--to guide him: later he availed himself of the great accessions
to the study of Middle and Elizabethan English which the intervening
generation had seen. And so, though he believed too much in accent, and
relied too much on the dangerous assistance of music, he frequently
came right. He has no doubt (as it is astonishing that an historical
student should have any doubt) about trisyllabic feet; he likes what
he calls "aberration of accent," _i.e._ trochaic substitution; and
he shows the possession of a fineness and cultivation of ear not as
yet noticeable in any English prosodist, by observing the presence
of anapæstic rhythm in the revived alliterative verse of Langland.
Except the inadequate and perfunctory, as well as of necessity merely
inchoate, sketches of Webbe and Puttenham, this was the first attempt
really to take English poetry into consideration when studying English
prosody; and it had its reward.

[Sidenote: Joshua Steele.]

On the other hand, Steele, who has been followed by many other
prosodists of the same school, entirely neglected the historical
contents of his subject, approaching it absolutely _a priori_, deciding
that it is essentially a matter of music, and basing his scansions on
purely musical principles. This led him to begin with an anacrusis in
every case, and so to invert the whole rhythm of the line. He has been
praised for his views on "time" in the abstract, and may deserve the
praise; while he was certainly right in regarding pause as an important
metrical constituent. But whatever merit there may be in his principles
from an abstract point of view, his concrete practice is simply
atrocious, and proves him to have had absolutely no ear for English
verse whatever. He makes _six_ feet or "cadences with proper rests," at
least, and sometimes more, in every heroic line, so that he would scan
one famous line thus--

    O | happiness, | our | being's | end and | aim,

and he arranges the opening lines of _Paradise Lost_ for scansion thus--

    Of man's | first diso|bedience | and the | fruit of that for- |
    bidden | tree | whose | mortal | taste brought | death | into the |
    world | and | all our | woe, | Sing, | Heavenly | Muse.

It must be perfectly evident to any one who will read these examples,
even to himself, but still more aloud, not merely that they entirely
destroy the actual cadence and rhythm of the actual verses, but
that they provide a new doggerel which is absolutely inharmonious,
unrhythmical, and contrary to every principle and quality of English
poetry. It would doubtless be possible to accommodate them with a tune;
in fact, any one who has ever looked at a "set" song will see how they
correspond to it. But then any one who has ever looked at a set song
must, in a majority of cases, have been convinced at once that musical
arrangement has nothing to do with prosodic.

[Sidenote: Historical and Romantic prosody.]

It was inevitable that the "Romantic" movement--one of the principal
causes and features of which was a demand for variety, while another
was its disposition to return to older modes--should be largely
concerned with prosody; but, with some notable exceptions, this
concernment did not take the form of actual prosodic deliverances or

[Sidenote: Gray]

Gray, one of the chief precursors of the movement, had projected a
regular history of English poetry, and has left invaluable notes under
the general head of _Metrum_--notes in which he goes back, deliberately
and directly, to Middle English, discovers therein the origin and
nature of the metre of Spenser's _February_, etc., and has very good
remarks about others. But it was not till the stir of the revolutionary
period that much more was done, and even then more was done than said.

[Sidenote: Taylor and Sayers.]

The German explorations of William Taylor of Norwich induced English
writers to follow the German attempt at accentual hexameters; and
another of the Norwich group, Frank Sayers, not merely wrote, but
expounded and defended in prose, rhymeless metres of a choric
character; both being--in part, if not mainly--revolts from the
mechanical heroic couplet.

[Sidenote: Southey. His importance.]

Before the end of the century, long before Coleridge published the
explanatory note on _Christabel_ metre, and not improbably before he
had even thought of that note, Southey had not only used trisyllabic
equivalence in his _Ballads_, but had formally and independently
defended it as such in a letter to his friend Wynn.[143]

[Sidenote: Wordsworth.]

Wordsworth says very little about metrical detail in his famous
Preface to the second edition of the _Lyrical Ballads_ and its
successors--appearing to think, and indeed in one place asserting, that
"harmony of numbers" comes of itself to a person who has other poetical

[Sidenote: Coleridge.]

His two just-mentioned friends, however, lodged, at a slightly later
period, two of the most important preceptist documents of English
prosody, though they were documents differing very widely in the
extent and character of their importance. These were Coleridge's note
on the metre of _Christabel_, and Southey's Preface to the _Vision
of Judgment_. The latter is too long to give, and is written from a
mistaken point of view; but it, and the much-ridiculed poem which it
accompanied, undoubtedly restarted the practice of attempting to write
English hexameters, which has been continued, with some intervals and
some episodes, but at times most busily, ever since. The former must be
given at length, and some comment made on it:--

[Sidenote: _Christabel_, its theory and its practice.]

"The metre of the _Christabel_ is not, properly speaking, irregular,
though it may seem so from its being founded on a new principle,
namely, that of counting, in each line, the accents, not the syllables.
Though the latter may vary from seven to twelve, yet in each line the
accents will be found to be only four. Nevertheless this occasional
variation in number of syllables is not introduced wantonly, or for the
mere ends of convenience, but in correspondence with some transition in
the nature of the imagery or passion."

What _Christabel_ metre really was has been expounded earlier, and its
author's account of it is not a little surprising. When he called its
principle "new" he must have forgotten--not exactly the Middle English
writers, whom he very likely did not know, nor perhaps Gray, though the
latter's remarks on Spenser's _February_ were actually published before
_Christabel_, but--Spenser himself and Chatterton (both of whom he
certainly knew, if not Blake also), as well as the very ballad-writers
whom he had himself imitated in the _Ancient Mariner_. His mention
of "accents" and not "feet" argues an erroneous and inadequate theory
which leaves much of the beauty of his own work unexplained; while it
can be shown from the text itself that the variation of syllables,
though metrically beautiful, often does not correspond at all with any
special point of sense, passion, imagery, or anything else. But his
practice more than cured any wound which his theory may have inflicted.

[Sidenote: Prosodists from 1800 to 1850.]

In comparison with Southey's and Coleridge's remarks, and still more
with the practice of the latter in _Christabel_ and the _Ancient
Mariner_, the preceptist prosody of the extreme end of the eighteenth
century, and the first third of the nineteenth becomes, except for
exhaustive students of the subject, a mere curiosity, and not a very
interesting one. Prosodic remarks, mostly erroneous or inadequate,
found their way into popular handbooks, such as Walker's _Dictionary_
(almost wholly wrong) and Lindley Murray's _Grammar_ (partially
right). The musical theories of Steele were taken up by others, such
as Odell, Roe, and, above all, the republican lecturer Thelwall, who,
escaping the consequences of his earlier extravagances, became a
teacher of elocution. The new Reviews gave opportunity for occasional
critical remarks on the subject--the most notable of which was the
_Quarterly_ review, by Croker, of Keats's _Endymion_,--usually
embodying the cramped and ignorant doctrinairism of the preceding
century. Southey's hexameters started a large amount of writing on
that subject. In 1816 John Carey, compiler of the best-known Latin
_Gradus_ and author of many "cribs" and school editions, repeated most
of the errors of Bysshe, but did grudgingly allow trisyllabic feet;
and in 1827 William Crowe, a minor poet and Public Orator at Oxford,
wrote a treatise of _English Versification_--good in method, but bad
in principle--condemning the adjustment of very short to longer lines,
etc. Nothing of this period comes in importance near to that second
edition of Mitford (1804, with most of the historical matter added)
which has been noticed.

[Sidenote: Guest.]

But in 1838--after the appearance of Tennyson and Browning, but
when no public attention had been paid to them--appeared the most
elaborate, ambitious, and, partly at least, valuable work that had
yet been written on the subject--the _History of English Rhythms_, by
Edwin Guest, then Fellow, afterwards Master, of Gonville and Caius
College, Cambridge. Guest took nearly two years between the publication
of the first and second volumes of his book, and admittedly changed
his opinions on some points, but his main theories are unmistakable.
He goes entirely by accent, denying metrical quantity in English
altogether, and imposing curious arbitrary rules (such as that two
adjoining syllables cannot be accented without a pause) on accent
itself. But he possessed an immense and truly admirable knowledge of
English verse--Old, Middle, and Modern--up to his time; and he lavished
this, in a manner useful, indeed invaluable, to the present day, on the
support of general theories which, unfortunately, are quite unsound.

For Guest seems to have conducted his work under the influences
of three different obsessions, no one of which he ever worked out
thoroughly in all its bearings, which do not necessarily imply each
other, and two of which are even rather contradictory.

The first[146] was the belief that our verse is wholly dependent upon
accent, and that "the principles of accentual rhythm," whatever they
are, govern it exclusively.

The second[147] was that the laws of English versification generally
are somehow not only dependent on those of _Old_ English versification,
but identical with them, and always to be adjusted to them.

The third[148] was that, somewhere about the early thirteenth century,
and increasingly till the end of the fourteenth, there took place a
succession of alien invasions which never resulted in a coalescence or
blending, but merely in the presence of two hostile elements; and that
while the perfect English versifier will cling to the older and only
genuine one, he must, if he does not so cling, give it up altogether,
and have nothing to do with anything but "the rhythm of the foreigner."

Now what has been already and will be later given in this book seems to
show that these propositions are in fact false.

In the first place, though accent plays a large part in English
prosody, that prosody is as far as possible from being purely or
exclusively accentual.

In the second, the oldest English poetry and its younger varieties are
so utterly different that the same laws cannot, except _per accidens_,
apply to them.

In the third, instead of two jarring elements, we find before us, from
the thirteenth century, at least, onwards, a more and more distinct and
harmonious blend of language, resulting, of necessity, in a more and
more distinct and harmonious blend of prosody.

But there is also a _fourth_ principle, which he adds to, rather than
deduces from, the other three:--

That the collocation of accented and unaccented syllables forms
_sections_,[149] which in turn form, and into which can be reduced, all
English verse.

On these principles he went through the whole body of English verse
from Caedmon to Coleridge, arranging it with infinite trouble on the
"sectional" system, and classifying the verses as those of "four
accents," those of "five," and so on, with suitable distinctions
for stanzas, etc. Unfortunately--to mention only the crowning and
fatal fault which makes mention of all others in such a book as this
unnecessary--he finds himself in perpetual conflict with the practice
of the greatest English poets in their most beautiful passages.
Shakespeare and Milton go "contrary to every principle of accentual
rhythm," and use devices which "they have no right" to use. Coleridge
and Burns employ sections which "have very little to recommend them."
Spenser's verse is "wanting in good taste," and Byron's versification
"has never been properly censured." It may seem incredible that a
writer of learning and acuteness should not have seen the absurdity
of his position when he tells beautiful poetry--sometimes admitted by
himself as such--that it has no business to be beautiful because it
does not suit his rules. But the fact disposes of him, and of the rules
themselves, without its being necessary--though it would be easy--to
prove their want of intrinsic justification.


[142] Of course Milton does _not_.

[143] The passage is of importance and must be given:--

"And now ... I proceed to the indictment of my ears. If the charge had
come from Dapple it would not have surprised me. One may fancy him
possessed of more than ordinary susceptibility of ear; but for the
irritability of yours, I cannot so satisfactorily account. I could
heap authority on authority for using two very short syllables in
blank verse instead of one--_they take up only the time of one_.[144]
'Spirit' in particular is repeatedly placed as a monosyllable in
Milton; and some of his ass-editors have attempted to print it as one,
not feeling that the rapid pronunciation of the two syllables does not
lengthen the verse more than the dilated sound of one. The other line
you quote is still less objectionable, because the old ballad style
requires ruggedness, _if this line were rugged_; and secondly, because
the line itself rattles over the tongue as smoothly as a curricle upon

    Ī hăve măde cāndlĕs ŏf īnfănt's făt.

This kind of cadence is repeatedly used in the _Old Woman_ and in the

The quantification, it should be observed, is original.

[144] Italics added.

[145] _Letters of Robert Southey_, ed. Warter (London, 1856), i. 69.

[146] The evidence of this obsession is concentrated in Book I. chap.
iv. pp. 74-101; but diffused over the entire treatise.

[147] This seems to have presented itself to him throughout as a
matter of course, not requiring demonstration and hardly likely to be
contested; it is perhaps most categorically affirmed at Book II. chap.
iii. p. 184.

[148] This also is pervading. It "gathers itself up" most in the
context just cited, and at pp. 301 and 400-402, the two last among the
most surprising instances of complete misunderstanding of history by a
real historical scholar.

[149] Perhaps it should be said that a "section" is a bundle of
"accented" and "unaccented" syllables extending in possible bulk from
_three_ syllables with _two_ accents (Guest's minimum) to _eleven_
syllables with _three_ accents. Of a pair of these, similar or
dissimilar, a verse consists.



[Sidenote: Discussions on the _Evangeline_ hexameter.]

The amount of prosodic writing during the last seventy years has
been very large. In the earliest and latest parts of the period it
was principally devoted to the subject of English hexameters--in
the first, in regard to the accentual attempts of Longfellow, to
which _Evangeline_ gave immense popularity; in the last, to the
counter-attempts at "quantitative" versification, in which the feet
are constructed, not with reference to accent or to the way in which
the words are ordinarily pronounced, but to independent and even
opposed temporal value derived from the special sound attached to the
vowel ("īdol," long; "fĭddle," short, etc.), or, on semi-classical
principles, to what is called "position." To analyse the individual
views of critics on these two bodies of questions would be here
impossible, and reference must be made to the larger _History_, to
Mr. Omond's treatises, or to the original works, the most important
of which will be found duly entered in the Bibliography. But we may
summarise results under three heads.

I. The "accentual" or _Evangeline_ hexameter has, as has been said,
been at times far from unpopular; but it has always dissatisfied nicer
ears by a certain _inappropriateness_ which has been differently
appraised, but which is evidently pointed at by the apology of its
first extensive practitioner, Southey, that he could not get spondees
enough, and had to be content with trochees. This inappropriateness
has since been characterised by an unsurpassed expert in theory and
practice--Mr. Swinburne--in the blunt assertion that to English "all
dactylic and spondaic forms of verse are unnatural and abhorrent."

II. On the other hand, the so-called quantitative verse is repulsive to
the same ears (unless, like Tennyson's experiments, it is accommodated
to ordinary pronunciation) by the very fact that it sets that
pronunciation expressly at defiance, and makes sheer jargon of the

III. Considering these facts, some (among whom the present writer
is included) regard an apparent English hexameter, such as that of
Kingsley's _Andromeda_, and, still more, that of certain verses of
Mr. Swinburne himself, as an admirable and glorious metre, but as not
dactylic at all--scanning it as a five-foot anapæstic with anacrusis
(odd syllable at the beginning) and hypercatalexis (ditto at the

[Sidenote: Mid-century prosodists.]

Of more general prosodic inquiry some selection-summary must be given.
Guest's original work does not seem to have produced much effect,
save on specially scholarly writers interested in the subject, like
Archbishop Trench; though the reprint of it, forty years later, had,
as we shall see, a great deal of influence. Except on the hexameter
matter, there was little done between 1840 and close upon 1870. It
was, however, unfortunate that, at the very opening of this time,
Latham's _English Language_ embodied some very inadequate remarks on
prosody, including the symbol _xa_ for an iamb, which has too much
permeated English text-books since. The works of Archdeacon Evans
and E.S. Dallas, both published in 1852, are important only to very
thorough-going students. The latter was acute, but fanciful and
inclined to jargon. The former, regarding stress as the only basis
of modern versification, indulged in a curious undervaluation of
English poetry generally: we must "forget all about classical poetry
to be satisfied with blank verse"; English lyric has been "under an
evil genius, and always a blank"; and Shakespeare and Milton "gained
exceedingly" by translation into Greek and Latin. Any intelligent
reader can judge of such a tree by such fruits.

Of really earlier date than these (for their author died in 1846)
were Sidney Walker's remarks on _Shakespeare's Versification_,
posthumously published in 1854, which contain some useful metrical
observations.[151] Dallas's book produced at least two important
reviews, each of which extended itself into a more important prosodic
tractate. The first of these was by the late Professor Masson, who
afterwards rearranged his prosodic ideas in a minute and very scholarly
study of Milton's versification, appearing in his larger edition of the
poet. Professor Masson perhaps admitted some unnecessary feet, such
as the amphibrach, but his views are on the whole extremely sound.
The other essay was by Coventry Patmore--a poet, a man of distinct
originality in many ways, and a really learned student of preceding
prosodists--in fact, by far the most learned up to his time. This essay
is full of suggestive and ingenious notions, but exceedingly crotchety,
and, for persons not thoroughly grounded in the subject, unsafe. It
has the merit of recognising the division of verse into what it calls,
by a rather ponderous term, "isochronous intervals" (that is to say,
feet equivalent in time), and of recognising, likewise, the important
metrical as well as rhetorical part played by pause. But it exaggerates
this part in an impossible fashion, making a full pause-foot at the end
of every heroic line; and its attention to "accent" is also excessive
and, in fact, inconsistent.

[Sidenote: Those about 1870,]

On the whole, however, it was not, as has been said, till the very eve
of 1870, when the Præ-Raphaelite school had made its appearance, that
any considerable amount of prosodic writing came. Then, and in the very
same year, 1869, there was a remarkable outburst, including _A Complete
Practical Guide to the Whole Subject of English Versification_ (by
E. Wadham), which represents a modified Bysshian system--believing
in elision; thinking trisyllabic feet bad, though they may exist,
especially at the cæsura; discountenancing both blank and anapæstic
verse; and applying to the whole subject a new terminology which
has not been generally accepted. Then came also a _Manual of
English Prosody_ by R. F. Brewer (reissued many years afterwards as
_Orthometry_), which contains a very large amount of information on the
details of the matter, but little appreciation of its more important
aspects. Much briefer, but, despite some errors, sounder on the whole,
and giving no bad introduction to the subject, was the _Rules of
Rhyme_ of Tom Hood, son of the poet. Greater influence than that of
any of these has been exercised by the prosodic part of Dr. Abbott's
_Shakespearian Grammar_, published in this year, and of his _English
Lessons for English People_, issued (and partly written by J. R.
Seeley) two years later. Unfortunately, not a few of the principles of
these books are either demonstrably unsound or very doubtful, the worst
of all being the insistence on "extra-metrical" syllables, or, in other
words, the confession that English prosody cannot account for English
poetry. 1869 also saw the beginning of a very important work, Mr. A. J.
Ellis's _Early English Pronunciation_, which has had a great effect on
some views of prosody, and contains a very elaborate scheme of syllabic
values for quality and degree of force, weight, etc.

In 1874 Mr. John Addington Symonds, a critic, prose-writer, and even
poet of no mean rank, published an essay, which he afterwards expanded
into a tractate, on _Blank Verse_, denying that _any_ preconceived
metrical scheme will explain this, and arguing that each line must be
treated separately according to its own sense. More minute than any
book since Guest's, and written with definite purpose to teach poets
their business, was Mr. Gilbert Conway's _Treatise of Versification_
(1878), which reverts to eighteenth-century theories, not merely
of the scansion but of the pronunciation of words like "om_i_nous"
and " del_i_cate"; thinks Milton "capricious" and "inconsistent";
and proceeds entirely on the principle that the base and backbone
of English prosody is accent. Two years later Mr. Ruskin issued
his _Elements of English Prosody_, employing musical notation, but
using the names of feet very strangely applied. And a year later Mr.
Shadworth Hodgson published a paper on "English Verse," perhaps not
uninfluenced by Guest, and advocating (as several writers about his
time began to do) "stress" systems of scansion, the stress being
allotted according to various considerations of sense and otherwise.
Another stress-man--still more influenced, though partly in the way
of correction, by Guest--was the late Professor Fleeming Jenkin, who
in 1883 wrote in the _Saturday Review_ some papers, republished after
his death, and advocating "sections," of which there may be as many
as four in a normal heroic line, though this may, on the other hand,
have as many as seven or even eight "beats" on strong syllables.
Much sounder than any of these--indeed, on practical matters almost
irreproachable--was Professor J. B. Mayor's _Chapters on English Metre_
(1886), on which he founded later a _Handbook_ of the subject (1903).

[Sidenote: and since.]

In the last twenty or thirty years there has been an increasing number
of books on prosody, the names of the most important of which will be
found in the Bibliography. The most important of all is perhaps Mr.
Robert Bridges' _Prosody of Milton_, increased in subsequent editions
to something like a manual of Stress Prosody, and containing material
also for estimating the recent attempts, by Mr. Bridges himself and by
the late Mr. W. J. Stone, to revive the writing of English hexameters
on a quantitative, not an accentual, basis. There have also been
many attempts (of which perhaps the most remarkable is a treatise on
monopressures, taken up and applied by Professor Skeat) which would
reduce prosody to a branch of medical physics or physiology, by basing
it on the mechanical action of the glottis or larynx. And strong and
repeated efforts have also been made to bring the subject entirely
under the supervision of music--using musical notation, musical terms
such as "bar," and the like. The most widely influential of these
was the work of the American poet and critic Sidney Lanier; the most
recent, that of Mr. William Thomson of Glasgow. On the other hand,
the writings of Mr. Omond, though some doubt may be entertained as
to details, have the merits of absolute soundness on the general
principles of the subject, and may be studied with ever-increasing

[Sidenote: Summary.]

These principles--general, and in relation to the methods of treatment
more especially dealt with in the last paragraph or two--may be
briefly summarised before this sketch of our prosodist history is
closed. Systems of stress prosody are unsatisfactory, because the
unstressed syllables of the line, and their connection or grouping
with the stressed ones, are of quite as much importance to total
effect as stresses themselves, and because attention to stress seems
to beget the notion that regularity of time and time-interval is of no

Physiological-mechanical systems are altogether insufficient, even if
not wrong, because they only refer to the raw material of prosody;
because, in their nature, they must be applicable to verse and prose
alike, and to all kinds of verse; with the additional disadvantage
that, as actually explained by their advocates, they usually
make verse-arrangements of the most inharmonious and unpoetical

This latter objection applies with even greater force to the musical
theorists, whose explanations of verse invariably confuse rhythm or
overturn it altogether, while their whole system ignores the fact, that
music and prosody are quite different things--that they may perhaps be
accommodated in particular cases, but that this accommodation is by no
means frequent.

In some cases, chiefly those of foreigners who have undertaken the
study of English verse, return has been attempted to the rigid syllabic
methods of Bysshe and his followers. But it is usually admitted by
these persons that the method does not suit nineteenth-century poetry,
and they are open therefore to the fatal charge of having to suppress
part, and a most important part, of the historical life of the subject.

On the other hand, the system of corresponding foot-division, with
equivalence and substitution allowed, which has been followed in this
book, is open to none of these objections. It neither neglects nor
suppresses any part of the line in any case, but accounts fully for
all parts. It applies to poetry only, and, to a large extent at least,
explains the difference between good poetry and bad. It adjusts itself
to the entire history of English verse, since the English language
took the turn which made it English in the full sense. It requires
no metrical fictions, no suppression of syllables, no allowance of
extra-metrical ones, no alteration in pronouncing, no conflict of
accent and quantity. No period or kind of English poetry is pronounced
by it to be wrong, though it may allow that certain periods have
exercised their rights and privileges more fully than others. In short,
it takes the poetry as it is, and has been for seven hundred years
at least; bars nothing; carves, cuts, and corrects nothing; begs no
questions; involves no make-believes; but accepts the facts, and makes
out of them what, and what only, the facts will bear.


[150] For examples of all these see Scanned Conspectus.

[151] Especially one which the student should apply for himself, that
Shakespeare's incomplete lines are mostly regular fractions of complete
ones, scanning correctly on the same system (_v. sup._ p. 130).

[152] Thus Mr. Bridges, though he himself does _not_ neglect the
unstressed, and even makes combination of the two kinds which are
actually feet, would allow sometimes _four_ and sometimes only _three_
stresses in a heroic line. Later stress (or "stress-_cum_-music")
prosodists have even proposed to recognise _two_ "bars" only in such a

[153] Thus it has been proposed to scan a line of Goldsmith:

    The sheltered | cot, | the culti|vated | farm.





(The miniature glossary which I prefixed to my larger _History_ having
been found useful, and indeed some complaints having been made that it
was not fuller, I have determined to go to the other extreme here, with
a special view to those readers who may be approaching the subject for
the first time. Excepting words like "trisyllabic," etc., which can
hardly be thought to require explanation, an attempt has been made to
include almost every technical, and especially every disputed, term.)

ACCENT.--This term, which is perhaps the principal centre of dispute
in matters prosodic and which, even outside strict prosody, is not
a little controversial, may be defined, as uncontroversially as
possibly in the words of a highly respectable book of reference,[154]
"A superior force of voice, or of articulative effort, upon some
particular syllable." It is prosodically used as equivalent (with some
slight differences) to "stress," and is regarded by a large--perhaps
the most numerous--school as constituting the foundation-stone of
English prosody. The inconveniences and insufficiencies of this view
will be found constantly indicated throughout this book. On the
question, almost more debated, what constitutes, and in different
languages and times has constituted, accent itself--whether it is
loudness, duration, "pitch," or what not of sound--no pronouncement has
been or will be attempted in this volume.

ACEPHALOUS.--A term applied to a line in which the first syllable,
according to its ordinary norm or form, is wanting, as in Chaucer's

    ʌ Twen|ty bo|kès clad | in blak | or reed.

ACROSTIC.--An arrangement, not perhaps strictly prosodic, by which
the initial syllables of the lines of a poem make words or names of
themselves, as in Sir John Davies's _Astræa_, where these initials
in every piece make "Elizabetha Regina." The process is now chiefly
confined to light verse; but there is nothing to be said against it,
unless the sense is strained or perverted to get the letters.

ALCAIC.--A Greek lyrical measure, used by and named after the famous
lyrical poet Alcæus, but most familiar in the slightly altered
Latin form of Horace. Like all these forms, it is only a curiosity
in English, and, even as such, has shared the endless and hopeless
controversies as to accentual and quantitative metre. No one, however,
is ever likely to get nearer to the real thing than Tennyson in

    Me rather all that bowery loneliness,
    The brooks of Eden mazily murmuring,
    And bloom profuse, and cedar arches,
    Charm as a wanderer out in Ocean.

The strict Horatian form (the last syllables being, as usual, common)

    ̄ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̆ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̆
    ̄ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̆ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̆
        ̄ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆
            ̄ ̆ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆.

ALEXANDRINE.--A line of twelve syllables or six iambic feet. This
measure (traditionally said to have taken its name from the Old French
poem on Alexander) became the favourite metre for the _chansons de
geste_ or long narrative poems in that language, and then practically
the staple of French verse to the present day. But though it is early
traced--as a whole or as two halves--in English, it never established
itself as a continuous metre with us. Only two pieces of importance,
Drayton's _Polyolbion_ and Browning's _Fifine at the Fair_, so employ
it. On the other hand, it is constantly found scattered about early
English verse; appears--questionably according to some, unquestionably
according to the present writer--in Chaucer; was an ingredient in the
"poulter's measure" (_v. inf._), so popular with the poets of the
second and third quarters of the sixteenth century; was used by Sidney
continuously in sonnet; forms, as a concluding line, the distinguishing
feature of the great Spenserian stanza; is very frequent in Shakespeare
and the other Elizabethan dramatists; and was adopted by Dryden (though
latterly, and then not quite always, rejected by Pope) as a relief and
variation to the heroic couplet. It also supplies a frequent ingredient
in Pindaric verse and in various lyrical stanzas. For its perfection it
almost requires a central cæsura at the sixth syllable.

In Dryden (probably from insufficient information), in Warton (less
excusably), and in some more modern writers (without any excuse at
all), "long Alexandrine," or sometimes even Alexandrine by itself, is
used to designate the fourteener, "seven-beat," or seven-foot iambic
line. This ignores the derivation, contravenes the established use of
French, the special home of the metre, and introduces an unnecessary
and disastrous confusion.

ALLITERATION.--The repetition of the same letter at the beginning
or (less frequently) in the body of different words in more or less
close juxtaposition to each other. This, which appears slightly, but
very slightly, in classical poetry, has always been a great feature
of English. During the Anglo-Saxon period universally, and during a
later period (after an interval which almost certainly existed, but the
length of which is uncertain) partially, it formed, till the sixteenth
century, a substantive and structural part of English prosody.
Later, it became merely an ornament, and at times, especially in the
eighteenth century, has been disapproved. But it forms part of the very
vitals of the language, and has never been more triumphantly used than
in the late nineteenth century by Mr. Swinburne.

AMPHIBRACH.--A foot of three syllables--short, long, short (̆ ̄
̆)--literally "short on each side." According to some, this foot is not
uncommon in English poetry, as, for instance, in Byron's

    Thĕ blāck bănds | căme ōvĕr
    Thĕ Ālps ănd | thĕir snōw,

as well as individually for a foot of substitution. Others, including
the present writer, think that these cases can always, or almost
always, be better arranged as anapæsts--

    Thĕ blāck | bănds căme ō|ver
    Thĕ Ālps | ănd thĕir snōw,

and that the amphibrach is unnecessary, or, at any rate, very very rare
in English.

AMPHIMACER ("long on both sides").--Long, short, long (̄ ̆ ̄)--an
exactly opposite arrangement to the amphibrach, also, and more
commonly, called _Cretic_. It is more than doubtful whether this
arrangement, _as an actual foot_, ever occurs in English verse or
is suitable to English rhythm; but the name (preferably Cretic) is
sometimes useful to designate a combination of syllables belonging
to more feet than one, and possessing a certain connection, as
expressing either the quantity of a single word or that of a rhetorical
division[155] of a line.

ANACRUSIS.--A syllable or half-foot prefixed to a verse, and serving
as a sort of "take-off" or "push-off" for it. This, frequent in Greek,
is by no means rare in English, though there are numerous disputes as
to its application. It has sometimes been proposed to call it with us
"catch"; and, whatever it be called, it comes into great prominence
in connection with the question whether the general rhythm of English
verse is iambic or trochaic, while it is almost the hinge of the whole
matter on the other question whether the English hexameter is really
dactylic or anapæstic.

ANAPÆST.--A trisyllabic foot consisting of two shorts and a long (̆ ̆
̄). Almost as soon as English poetry proper makes its appearance, this
measure or cadence appears too; for a time chiefly as an equivalent to
the iamb. In the revived alliterative metre it to a great extent ousts
the trochee, and to one almost as great dominates the doggerel of the
fifteenth century. As a continuous metre the early examples of it are
well marked, though not very numerous; but in the sixteenth century
it seems (no doubt with the help of music) to have caught the popular
ear, and from the late seventeenth has been thoroughly established in
literature. It is perhaps the chief enlivening and inspiriting force
in English poetry, and, while powerful for serious purposes, is almost
indispensable for comic.

ANTI-BACCHIC OR ANTI-BACCHIUS.--A trisyllabic foot opposite to the
Bacchic as a definite foot--a short followed by two long (̆ ̄ ̄). Of
very doubtful occurrence anywhere in English verse; though the same
remark applies to it as to the amphibrach, the amphimacer, other
trisyllabic feet, and all tetrasyllabic, in regard to secondary or
rhetorical use.

ANTISPAST ("pulling against").--A four-syllabled foot--short,
long, long, short (̆ ̄ ̄ ̆)--opposed to the choriambic. Like all
four-syllabled feet, it is not wanted in English poetry, being always
resolvable into its constituents, the iamb and trochee. But the
combined effect may sometimes be represented by it--with this _caveat_,
as in other cases.


APPOGGIATURA.--A musical term which has no business whatever in
prosody, but which has been used by some (_e.g._ Thelwall) to evade
the allowance of equivalence, and the substitution of trisyllabic
for dissyllabic feet. Its definition in music is "a short auxiliary
or grace-note forming no essential part of the harmony." The nearest
actual approach to it in English verse would appear to be the extra
syllables found (by licence very rare until recently) in such lines as
Scott's in the "Eve of St. John," Moore's in "Eveleen's Bower" and
elsewhere, and Macaulay's in "The Last Buccaneer"--_e.g._:

    And I'll chain | the bloodhound | and the ward_er_ | shall not sound.

ARSIS and its opposite, THESIS, are two terms much used in prosody,
though unfortunately with meanings themselves attached in diametrical
opposition to the same word. The words literally mean "lifting up" and
"putting down" respectively. At first, among the Greeks themselves, the
metaphor seems to have been taken from the raising and putting down
of the _foot_ or _hand_; so that "arsis" would make a light or short,
and "thesis" a heavy or long syllable. By the Latins, and by the great
majority of modern prosodists in reference even to Greek, the metaphor
is transferred to the raising or dropping of the _voice_, so that
"arsis" lengthens and "thesis" shortens. This, which, whether the older
or not, seems to be the better use, is followed here.

ASSONANCE.--An imperfect form of rhyme which counts only the vowel
sound of the chief rhyming syllable. This principle was the original
one of rhyme in French, and has always held a considerable place
in Spanish. But in English it has never established itself in
competent literary poetry; though it is frequent in the lower kind of
folk-song, and though attempts to naturalise it--in forms even further
degraded--were made by Mrs. Browning, and have been suggested since.
As an instrument of vowel-music, very delicately and judiciously used
at other parts of the line than the end, it has its possibilities, but
must always be an offensive substitute in rhyming verse, and an almost
equally offensive intruder in blank.

ATONIC ("without accent").--When employed in prosody, is applied to
those languages which, though they may use accentual symbols, have
nothing in the pronunciation that can be made the base of an actual
scansion--the chief example being French.

       *       *       *       *       *

BACCHIC or BACCHIUS.--A three-syllable foot--long, long, short (̄ ̄
̆)--the opposite of anti-Bacchic and subject to the same observations.

BALLAD (rarely Ball_et_).--A word common to most European languages,
but used very loosely, and to be carefully distinguished from _Ballade_
(see following item). Its original connection is with singing and
dancing (Italian _ballare_), and it came, centuries ago, to be used
for any short poem of a lyrical character. It has, however, a special
application to short pieces of a narrative kind; and "The Ballads" has,
as a phrase of English literary history, frequent reference to the body
of such compositions of which the pieces about Robin Hood are early
examples. It is most commonly, though not universally, written in the
"ballad metre" described below.

BALLADE, on the other hand, is a term arbitrarily restricted to a
measure originally and mostly French, but frequently written in English
during the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, and revived
in the nineteenth. It consists usually of three stanzas and a _coda_ or
_envoi_, written on the same recurrent rhymes, with a refrain at the
end of each. (See example above, p. 126.)

BALLAD METRE or COMMON MEASURE.--The most usual quatrain in English
poetry, consisting, in its simplest form, of alternate octosyllables
and hexasyllables; the even lines always rhyming, and the odd ones
very commonly. In the best examples, old and new (but less frequently
in the late sixteenth, early seventeenth, and almost whole eighteenth
century), the lines are largely, equivalenced, and it is not unusual
for the stanza to be extended to five or more. The most perfect example
of ballad metre is Coleridge's _Ancient Mariner_.

BAR and BEAT.--Two musical terms used by stress-prosodists and others
who refuse the foot-system. "Bar" is strictly the division between
groups of "beats," loosely the groups themselves. "Beat" is the unit
of time or measure. On a sound and germane system of prosody neither is

BLANK VERSE, on the analogy of blank cartridge, etc., might be held
to designate any kind of verse not tipped, loaded, or filled up with
rhyme. As a matter of fact, however, and for sound historical reasons,
it is not usually applied to the more modern unrhymed experiments,
from Collins's "Evening" onwards, but is confined to continuous
decasyllabics. This measure (which, _mutatis mutandis_, had already
been used by the Italians and Spaniards in the early sixteenth century,
and of which curious foreshadowings are found in Chaucer's prose _Tale
of Melibee_ and elsewhere) was first attempted in English by the Earl
of Surrey in his version of the _Æneid_. For a time it was very little
imitated, but in the latter half of the century it gradually ousted
all other competitors for dramatic use. It was still out of favour for
non-dramatic purposes until Milton's great experiments in the later
seventeenth; while about the same period it was for a time itself laid
aside in drama. But it soon recovered its place there, and has never
lost it; while during the eighteenth century it became more and more
fashionable for poems proper, and has rather extended than contracted
its business since.

BOB AND WHEEL.--An arrangement (see pp. 48, 49) by which a stanza
hitherto usually alliterated, but not rhymed, finishes with one much
shorter line of usually two syllables, and then a batch, usually four,
of lines not quite so short, but still shorter than the staple, and
rhymed among themselves.

BURDEN.--The same as REFRAIN (_q.v._).

BURNS METRE.--An apparently artificial but extremely effective
arrangement of six lines, 8, 8, 8, 4, 8, 4, rhymed _aaabab_, which
derives its common name from the mastery shown, in and of it, by the
Scottish poet. It is, however, far older than his time, having been
traced to Provençal originals in the eleventh century, and it is
very common in the English miracle plays of the late fourteenth and
fifteenth, and not unknown in the metrical romances, as in _Octovian
Imperator_. Disused in Southern English by the time of the Renaissance,
it seems to have kept its hold in Northern, and Burns received it
either immediately from Fergusson or perhaps from Allan Ramsay. (See
also below, in list of Form-origins.)

       *       *       *       *       *

CADENCE.--In general, a term applied to the combined rhythm of a line
or batch of lines. In one or two early passages of Wyntoun, Gower, and
others, it seems to be employed in some special sense as opposed to, or
separated from, rhyme, and has been conjectured to signify alliterative
rhythm. But this is very uncertain, rather improbable, and in the Gower
case impossible. (See p. 233.)

CÆSURA ("cutting").--A term applied, in classical prosody, to the
regular provision of a word-ending at a certain place in the line,
usually coinciding with a half-foot. The commonest cæsuras in Greek
and Latin are penthemimeral ("fifth half"), or in the middle of the
third foot, and hepthemimeral ("seventh half"), at the middle of the
fourth. At one time, in the earlier writers on English prosody (_e.g._
Dryden), there grew up a strange habit of using the term "cæsura" to
express elision or hiatus--to neither of which has it the least proper
reference. Correctly used, it is, in English, equivalent to "pause"
(_q.v._), but restricted to the _principal_ pause in a line.

CAROL.--A term, like "ballad," of rather loose application, but
generally confined to religious lyrics of a definite song-kind. The
original O.F. _karole_ referred to a rather elaborate _dance_ with
singing, and from this there has been a certain tendency to associate
the carol with much broken and indented measures in prosody.

CATALEXIS ("leaving off").--A term of great importance, inasmuch as
there is no other single one which can replace it; but a little vague
and elastic in use. Strictly speaking, a _catalectic_ line is one
which comes short, by a half-foot or syllable, of the full normal
measure; a _brachycatalectic_ ("short leaving off"), one which is
a whole foot _minus_; and a _hypercatalectic_ ("leaving over"), one
which has a half foot (or perhaps a whole one in rare cases) too much.
The terms "catalexis" and "catalectic" are sometimes used loosely to
cover all these varieties of deficiency and redundance in their several
developments. _Acatalectic_ means a fully and exactly measured line,
without either excess or defect.

CATCH.--See ANACRUSIS. The sense of "catch" as referring to a song in
parts, with much substitution and repetition, is musical, not prosodic.

CHANT-ROYAL.--A larger and more elaborate _ballade_: five stanzas of
eleven verses each and an _envoi_ of from five to eight.

CHORIAMB.--A four-syllabled foot consisting of a trochee (or "choree")
followed by an iamb (̄ ̆ ̆ ̄). Although the remarks made on other
four-syllabled feet apply here, as far as the ultimate analysis of
English verse is concerned, the great frequency of juxtaposed trochees
and iambs in English, and the natural way in which they seem to cohere,
make choriambic cadence or rhythm suggest itself more frequently than
any other of the compound feet. Mr. Swinburne wrote intentional and
continuous choriambics of great beauty.

CODA ("tail").--A musical term used in prosody by analogy, and
signifying a final stanza or batch of verses, often couched in a form
differing from the rest of the poem, such, for instance, as the final
octave of _Lycidas_.

COMMON.--The quantity or quality in a syllable which makes it
susceptible of occupying either the position of a "long" one or that of
a "short." This gift, well recognised and frequent enough in Greek and
Latin prosody--especially in regard to Greek proper names,--is still
more widely spread in English. Almost all monosyllables, other than
nouns, are common; and in a very large number of others the syllable
can be raised or lowered to long or short by considerations of arsis,
thesis, stress, emphasis, position, etc.

COMMON MEASURE (for shortness, especially in reference to hymns,
"C.M.").--The same as ballad metre, but usually restricted to eights
and sixes without substitution. (See also below, Chapter IV.)

CONSONANCE.--In strictness merely "agreement of sound"; but sometimes
used to designate _full_ rhyme by vowel _and_ consonant, as opposed to
"assonance," _i.e._ rhyme by vowel only.

COUPLET.--In proper English use this refers to a pair of verses only;
and it probably should be, though it is not always, limited to cases
where the members of the pair are exactly similar, as in the heroic
couplet, the octosyllabic couplet. The original French word is much
more elastic, and is applied to the long mono-rhymed _tirades_ of Old
French poems, to stanzas of more verses than two, and even to whole
lyrics, usually of a light description. (See also DISTICH.)


       *       *       *       *       *

DACTYL.--A trisyllabic foot--long, short, short (̄ ̆ ̆). This foot,
thanks to the great position of the dactylic hexameter in Greek and
Latin, disputes, in those prosodies, the place of principal staple
with the iambic; and, from the mid-sixteenth century onwards, almost
constant endeavours have been made at imitating that metre in English,
and consequently at working the dactyl in our language. It was,
however, early discovered, even by favourers of classical "versing,"
that there is something awkward about the English dactyl. And in
fact, though we have a very large number of words which are fair
dactyls regarded separately, they are no sooner set in a verse than
they seem to slip or waggle into other measures, and especially the
anapæst. When, by some chance or by some sleight of the poet, they are
found, they are usually either continuous, or in connection with, and
substituted for, the trochee. To the classical combination of dactyl
and spondee English is obstinately rebellious.

DI-IAMB.--A double iamb--short, long, short, long (̆ ̄ ̆ ̄).
Not wanted in English; and not even expressing, as some of the
four-syllable feet do, a quasi-real compound effect.

DIMETER.--A combination of two couples of the same foot, iambic,
trochaic, or anapæstic. Thus the ordinary octosyllable is an iambic
dimeter, and the familiar swinging four-foot anapæst, a dimeter
anapæstic. In ancient prosody, "-meter" was never used in this kind
of combination, with reference to _single-feet_ metres, unless these
feet were in places specifically different. Thus "hexameter" means
a line of six single feet, of which, though the first four may
vary, the fifth must normally be a dactyl and the sixth a spondee;
"pentameter," a line of five feet, dactyls or spondees, but rigidly
distributed in two halves of two and a half feet each. Of late years,
in modern English prosody-writing, though fortunately not universally,
a most objectionable habit has grown up of calling the heroic line a
"pentameter," the octosyllabic iambic a "tetrameter." This is grossly
unscholarly, and should never be imitated, for the proper meaning of
the terms would be _ten_ feet in the one case, _eight_ in the other.

DISPONDEE.--Double spondee (̄ ̄ ̄ ̄). Even more than the di-iamb, and
much more than the ditrochee, this combination is not wanted in English.

DISTICH.--A synonym for "couplet," but of wider range, as there is no
reason why the verses should be metrically similar. There is, however,
in the practical use of the word, an understanding that there shall be
a certain completeness and self-containedness of _sense_.

DITROCHEE.--A double trochee--long, short, long, short (̄ ̆ ̄ ̆).--The
remarks on the di-iamb apply here, but not quite so strongly. There
are a few exceptional cases in Milton, as in the famous "Ūnĭvērsăl
reproach," where the ditrochaic effect, whether beautiful or not, is
too noticeable not to deserve specific definition.

DOCHMIAC.--A foot of five syllables, admitting, with the possible
permutations of long and short in the five places, a large number of
variations. This foot, not strictly necessary even in Greek prosody, is
quite unknown in English, and, if used, would simply split itself up
into batches of two and three. But it probably has a real existence in
the systematisation of English _prose_ rhythm.

DOGGEREL.--A word (the derivation of which can be only, though
easily, guessed) as old as Chaucer; always used with depreciating
intent, but with a certain difference, not to say looseness, of exact
connotation. Doggerel is often applied to slipshod or sing-song verse;
sometimes to verse burlesque or feeble in sense and phrase. But it
is better restricted to verse metrically incompetent by false rhythm
and quantification, or by insufficient or superfluous provision of
syllables and the like.

DUPLE.--A term used by some prosodists in combination with "time"
and in contradistinction to "triple," to express a characteristic of
verse which is nearest to music, and which perhaps is musical rather
than really prosodic. Controversies are sometimes carried on in regard
to the question whether trisyllabic feet (such as anapæsts, dactyls,
and tribrachs) are, when substituted for dissyllabic, in "duple" or
in "triple" time; but this question appears to the present writer
irrelevant and extraneous.

       *       *       *       *       *

ELISION.--The obliteration of a syllable, for metrical reasons,
when a vowel at the end of a word comes before one at the beginning
of another. This strict classical meaning of the term is extended
ordinarily, in the English use of it, to the omission of a syllable
within a word, or the fusion of two in any of the various ways
indicated by the classical terms _crasis_ ("mixture"), _thlipsis_
("crushing"), _syncope_ ("cutting short"), _synalœpha_ ("smearing
together"), _synizesis_ ("setting together"), _synecphonesis_
("combined utterance"), and others. Perhaps the most useful phraseology
in English indicates "elision" for actual _vanishing_ of a vowel (when
it is usually represented by an apostrophe), and "slur" for running of
two into one. These two processes are of extreme importance, for upon
the view taken of them turns the view to be held of Shakespeare's and
Milton's blank verse, and of a large number of other measures.

END-STOPPED.--A term largely applied, especially in Shakespearian
discussion, to the peculiar self-contained verse which is noticeable in
the early stage of blank-verse writing, and which Shakespeare was one
of the first to break through. In the text of the present volume this
form is called "single-moulded," its characteristics not appearing to
be confined to the end.

ENJAMBMENT.--An Englishing, on simple analogy, of the French technical
term, _enjambement_, for the overlapping, in sense and utterance, of
one verse on another, or of one couplet on another. Enjambment of the
couplet appears in Chaucer and other writers early; was overdone and
abused in the first half of the seventeenth century; was rejected by
the later seventeenth and still more by the eighteenth, but restored to
favour by the Romantic movement.

ENVOI.--The _coda_ of a _ballade_, etc., with the especial purpose of
_addressing_ the poem to its subject.

EPANAPHORA ("referring" or "repetition").--The repetition of the same
word or group of words at the beginning of successive lines. This,
originally a rhetorical figure, becomes, especially with some of the
Elizabethans and with Tennyson, a not unimportant prosodic device; and,
in the hands of the latter, assists powerfully in the construction of
the verse-paragraph.

EPANORTHOSIS ("setting up again," with a sense also of
"correction").--Also a rhetorical figure, and meaning the repetition
of some word, _not_ necessarily at the beginning of clause or line.
This also can be made of considerable prosodic effect; for repetition,
especially if including some slight change, is necessarily associated
with emphasis, and this emphasis colours and weights the line variously.

EPITRITE.--A four-syllabled foot consisting of three long syllables
and one short (̄ ̄ ̄ ̆). The shifting of this latter from place to
place makes four different kinds of epitrite. Like its congeners, it
is not needed in English poetry, though spondaic substitution (in the
trochaic tetrameter, etc.) may sometimes simulate it; and the fact that
few English words have clusters of definitely long syllables makes it
rare even in prose.

EPODE.--The third and last member of the typical choric arrangement in
a regular ode. See STROPHE.

EQUIVALENCE means, prosodically, the quality or faculty which fits one
combination of syllables for substitution in the place of another to
perform the part of foot, as the dactyl and spondee do to each other
in the classical hexameter, and as various feet do to the iamb in the
Greek iambic trimeter and other metres. It is, with its correlative,
Substitution itself, the most important principle in English prosody;
it emerges almost at once, and, though at times frowned upon in theory,
never loses its hold upon practice.

EYE-RHYME.--A practice (most largely resorted to by Spenser, but
to some extent by others) of adjusting the spellings of the final
syllables of words so as to make the rhyme clear to the eye as well
as to the ear. It is sometimes forced, and perhaps never ought to be
necessary; but it is so associated with the beauties of the _Faerie
Queene_ as to become almost a beauty in itself, though hardly to be
recommended for imitation.

       *       *       *       *       *

FEMININE RHYME--FEMININE ENDING.--Terms applied to the use of words at
the end of a line with the final (now mute) _e_. "Feminine" rhyme is
sometimes extended to double rhyme in general, but this is not strictly

"FINGERING."--A term used in this book for the single and peculiar turn
and colour given to metre by the individual poet.

FOOT.--The admitted constituent of all classical prosody, and,
according to one system (that adopted preferentially in this book),
of English likewise, though with variations necessitated by the
language. "Foot" (πους, _pes_) is "that upon which the verse runs or
marches." A Greek foot is made of Greek "long" and "short" syllables;
an English foot of English. The possible combinations of these have
Greek names which are convenient, and the fact that the conditions
of "length" and "shortness" are different in the two languages need
cause no misunderstanding whatever. But a comparatively small number
are actually found in English poetry. All, however, are separately
described in this Glossary, and for convenience' sake a tabular view of
them is given on the next page.

It should, moreover, perhaps be added that, at most periods of English
poetry, monosyllabic feet, such as hardly exist in classical prosody,
are undoubtedly present. These can be regarded, if any one pleases, as
made up to dissyllabic value by the addition of a pause or interval.
Nor is there any valid objection to the admission of a "pause foot"
entirely composed of silence. These two kinds of feet, however, are
comparatively rare, and require no specific names.


  Feet of Two     |                     |                     |
   Syllables.     |      Of Three.      |       Of Four.      | Of Five.
  Iamb,    ̆̄     | Amphibrach,   ̆̄̆   | Antispast,  ̆̄̄̆    | Dochmiac.
  Pyrrhic, ̆̆     | Anapæst,      ̆̆̄   | Choriamb,   ̄̆̆̄    | (See
  Spondee, ̄̄     | Anti-Bacchic, ̆̄̄   | Di-iamb,    ̆̄̆̄    | under
  Trochee, ̄̆     | Bacchic,      ̄̄̆   | Dispondee,  ̄̄̄̆    | head.)
                  | Cretic,       ̄̆̄   | Ditrochee,  ̄̆̄̆    |
  (The trochee    | Dactyl,       ̄̆̆   |             { ̆̄̄̄  |
  ("running foot")| Molossus,     ̄̄̄   | Epitrite    { ̄̆̄̄  |
  was sometimes   | Tribrach,     ̆̆̆   | (four forms { ̄̄̆̄  |
  also called     |                     |             { ̄̄̄̆  |
  "choree,"       | (The Cretic was also| Ionic:              |
  χορειος, or     | called amphi_macer_,|   _a majore_, ̄̄̆̆  |
  χοριος          | its arrangement     |   _a minore_, ̆̆̄̄  |
  ("dancing       | being just the      |  Pæon   { ̄̆̆̆      |
  foot"), this    | opposite to the     |  (four  { ̆̄̆̆      |
  form appears in | amphi_brach_.)      |  forms) { ̆̆̄̆      |
  "_chori_ambic.")|                     |         { ̆̆̆̄      |
                  |                     | Proceleusmatic, ̆̆̆̆|

FOURTEENER.--A line of seven iambic feet which emerges as almost the
first equivalent of the old long A.S. line in English, as early as
the _Moral Ode_, etc. At first it is oftenest a "_fif_teener," from
the presence of the final _e_; but this drops off. Very largely used
by Robert of Gloucester and others in the late thirteenth century;
varied in _Gamelyn_; much mixed up with the doggerel of the fifteenth;
frequent in the sixteenth, both alone and as "poulter's" measure; and
splendidly used by Chapman in his translation of the _Iliad_. Sometimes
employed to vary heroic couplet by Dryden. A favourite metre ever since
the beginning of the nineteenth century. Splits into "ballad-measure."

       *       *       *       *       *

GALLIAMBIC.--A classical metre of which the most famous, and only
substantive, example is the magnificent _Atys_ of Catullus, but
which has been imitated in two fine English poems, Tennyson's great
_Boadicea_ and Mr. George Meredith's _Phaethon_. Both of these have
given a rather trochaic-dactylic swing to the metre, which is probably
unavoidable in English. The late Mr. Grant Allen endeavoured to
make out, and attempted in his translation of the _Atys_, an iambic
basis with anapæstic and tribrachic substitution, but unsuccessfully.
Ionic _a minore_ (_v. inf._) is the ancient suggestion; and, with an
accentual liberty not unsuitable to its half-barbaric associations, it
fits Catullus pretty well. But Ionics, as has been said, do not suit
English (_v. inf._ p. 285, _note_).

GEMELL or GEMINEL ("twin").--Terms applied by Drayton to the heroic

       *       *       *       *       *

HEAD-RHYME.--A name sometimes applied--it may be thought unjustifiably,
and beyond all question in a way likely to mislead--to alliteration.

HENDECASYLLABLE.--An eleven-syllabled line. There is a classical metre
specially so called, executed with particular success by Catullus, and
imitated by Tennyson in the piece describing it:

    So fantastical is the dainty metre.

But the term is not infrequently used of the staple Italian line, of
English heroic or decasyllabic lines with redundance, etc.

HEPTAMETER.--It is rather doubtful whether the word is wanted in
English, for if applied to the fourteener it would (see METRE and
DIMETER) be a complete misnomer; and not less so, according to correct
analogy, if applied to the seven-foot anapæst, where it would properly
designate fourteen feet or forty-two possible syllables--a length
which not even Mr. Swinburne has attempted. He himself, however,
by oversight, used it of this line, which is properly a tetrameter

HEROIC.--A word applied, with only indirect propriety, to the
decasyllabic or five-foot couplet, and with hardly any propriety at
all to the single line of the same construction; but occasionally
convenient in each case. The origin of the employment is the use of
this line and couplet in the "heroic" poem and "heroic" play of the
seventeenth century. It has therefore the same sort of justification
as "Alexandrine." There was also an earlier habit, as in Dante's _De
Vulg. Eloq._, of calling it (in its Italian or hendecasyllabic form)
the "noblest" or most dignified line; and this connects itself with the
Greek practice of calling the hexameter--the _Epic_-verse--"heroic."

HEXAMETER.--The great staple metre of Greek and Latin epic, in which
the line consists of six feet, dactyls or spondees at choice for the
first four, but normally always a dactyl in the fifth and always
a spondee in the sixth--the latter foot being by special licence
sometimes allowed in the fifth also (in which case the line is called
spondaic), but never a dactyl in the sixth. To this metre, and to
the attempts to imitate it in English, the term should be strictly
confined, and never applied to the Alexandrine or iambic trimeter.

HIATUS.--The juxtaposition of vowels either in the same word, or, more
especially, at the end of one word and the beginning of the next. At
different times, and in different languages, this has been regarded
as a beauty and as a defect; but in English it entirely depends upon
circumstances whether it is one, or the other, or neither. For a
considerable period--roughly from 1650 to 1780, if not 1800--it was
supposed--without a shadow of reason--that English poets ought to elide
one of such concurrents and indicate it only by apostrophe, so that not
merely did "the enormous" become "th' enormous," and "to affect" "t'
affect," but "violet" was crushed into "vi'let," and "diamond" into
"di'mond." But this has been almost entirely abandoned, though there
are still "metrical fictions" on the subject.

       *       *       *       *       *

IAMBIC.--A foot of two syllables--short, long (̆̄])--the commonest in
almost all prosodies,[157] and (though this is sometimes denied) the
staple foot of English.

INVERTED STRESS.--A term used by accentual or stress prosodists to
designate the substitution of a trochee for an iamb. Unnecessary, if
not erroneous, from the point of view of this book.

IONIC.--A foot of four syllables, consisting of a spondee (̄ ̄) and a
pyrrhic (̆ ̆). With the spondee first it is called "Ionic _a majore_";
with the pyrrhic first, _a minore_. Neither movement is common in
English verse, and, if it were, it would hardly require any joint name.
But when the music is uppermost, as in "Vilikins and his Dinah," it
suggests itself, with the alternative of the third pæon:

    Nŏw ăs Dīnā̆h | wăs ă-wālkī̆ng | ĭn thĕ gārdē̆n | sō gāy.[158]

       *       *       *       *       *

LEONINE VERSE.--A term not strictly applicable to English, but
sometimes found in prosody-books. It means the peculiar mediæval Latin
hexameter with middle and end rhymed, as in

    Post cœnam _stabis_: seu passus mille me_abis_.

Browning comes nearest to it in such lines as

    On my specked _hide_, not you the _pride_.

LINE.--The larger integer of verse, as the foot is the smaller, and the
stanza or paragraph the largest. It is usually indicated, in printing
or writing, by independent beginning and ending on the page--whence
the name,--but this is accidental and arranged for convenience of the
eye. As a rule, however, it should not be encroached upon lightly,
and, even when enjambment is practised, the individual line should
have a thinkable self-sufficiency. Nor should two lines be separated
when they clamour for union, as in the case of some modern rhymeless
experimenters (Mr. Arnold, Mr. Henley, etc.) and in some of the early
Elizabethans (Grimoald, Googe, and others).

LONG and SHORT are words which, until comparatively recently, have been
taken as the bases of all prosodic analysis. They represent two values
which, though no doubt by no means always identical in themselves,
are invariably, unmistakably, and at once, distinguished by the ear;
and the combining of which, in ordinary mathematical permutation,
constitutes the feet, or lowest integers, of metrical rhythm. This
nomenclature--which presents no initial difficulties, is sufficient for
all practical purposes, and commends itself at once to any unprejudiced
intelligence--seems first to have excited question and suspicion
towards the end of the seventeenth century. It is disagreeable to
both accentual and syllabic prosodists (see chapters devoted to
these), and it appears to disturb some who would not class themselves
with either. It is indeed quite possible to work either system with
"long" and "short," applied uncontentiously to the natural values of
rhythmed speech in English poetry. But a punctilio arises as to the
definition of the words. "Does length," some people ask, "really mean
'duration of time' in pronouncing?" This question, and others, seem
to the present writer unnecessary. We need not decide what _makes_
the difference between "long" and "short"; it is sufficient that this
difference unmistakably _exists_, and is felt at once. Whether it is
due to accent, length of pronunciation, sharpness, loudness, strength,
or anything else, is a question in no way directly affecting verse. The
important things are, once more, that _it exists_; that verse cannot
exist without it; that it is partly, and in English rather largely,
created by the poet, but that this creation is conditioned by certain
conventions of the language, of which accent is one, but only one.

LONG MEASURE ("L.M.").--The octosyllabic quatrain, alternately rhymed.

LYDGATIAN LINE.--An arrangement of extraordinary hideousness, which
occurs rather frequently in Lydgate; and which has been assigned by
the merciful to incompetence or carelessness; by other critics, who
defend it, to what must have been deliberate bad taste. It is a line
of nine syllables only, the missing one being not, as in the Chaucerian
_acephala_, at the first, but occurring somewhere in the middle, and at
the cæsura. An uglier metrical entity probably nowhere exists than such
a line as

    If an|y word | in thee | ʌ be | missaid.[160]

       *       *       *       *       *

MASCULINE RHYME.--A rhyme where the rhyming syllable is single, and
ends in a consonant, without any mute _e_ following. Less correctly, a
monosyllabic rhyme.

METRE.--In the wide sense, collections of rhythm which correspond, both
within the collection, and, if there be such, with one or more other
collections adjoining. In the narrow, collections dominated by a single
foot-rhythm, as "iambic metre," "anapæstic metre," etc.

MOLOSSUS.--A foot of three long syllables (̄ ̄ ̄). Practically
impossible in English _verse_, being too bulky for a rhythm-integer
with us, but admissible as a musical arrangement.

MONOMETER.--A line consisting of one foot only, or one pair of feet.

MONOPRESSURE.--A term invented to express a theory that the divisions
of metre are associated with, and determined by, some physical
throat-conditions. Unnecessary and unworkable.

       *       *       *       *       *

OCTAVE.--A stanza of eight lines.

OCTOMETER.--A term properly applied to eight-foot dactylic metre, such
as Tennyson's _Kapiolani_; improperly to Mr. Swinburne's eight-foot

ODE.--A name used in English with great laxity, and not perhaps
to be tied down too much without loss. The word itself, in Greek,
means simply a song. But the choric odes of the Greek dramatists,
and the non-dramatic odes of Pindar, being couched in a peculiar
form--irregular at first sight, but exactly correspondent when
examined,--have created a certain tendency to restrict the term ode,
sometimes with the epithet "regular," to things similar in English
(see, in list of poets, Cowley, Congreve, Gray). On the other hand, the
Latins--especially Horace, whose influence has been even wider--extend
the term to pieces in short, obviously regular stanzas identically
repeated, and the majority of English odes are of this kind.

OTTAVA RIMA.--A special form of octave derived from the Italians, and
composed of eight decasyllabic lines rhymed _abababcc_. There are other
decasyllabic octaves, such as that used by Chaucer in the _Monk's
Tale_, and by Spenser after him, with or without that adoption of the
Alexandrine which turns it into the Spenserian.

       *       *       *       *       *

PÆON.--A foot of four syllables--one long and three short--arranged
in varying order. The commonest English foot in rhythmical prose, but
unnecessary in English verse.

PAUSE.--A break in the line as metrically read or heard, which is
almost always coincident with the end of a word, and which very
frequently, but not always or so often as in the former case, coincides
with a stop in punctuation. It is not necessary that every line
should have a pause; and the place of the pause, when it exists, is
practically _ad libitum_ in most, if not all lines, while there may be
more pauses than one. The attempt to curtail liberty in these three
respects has been the cause of some of the worst mistakes about English
prosody, especially when it takes the form of prescribing that the
pause should always be as near the middle as possible. Variety of pause
is, in fact, next to variety of feet, the great secret of success in
our verse; and it is owing to this that Shakespeare and Milton more
especially stand so high. On the other hand, this variety requires the
most careful adjustment; and if such adjustment is neglected, the lines
will be uglier than continuously middle-paused ones, though not so

PENTAMETER.--See DIMETER. As properly used, a line of five
feet--dactyls or spondees--divided into two batches of two and a half
each. As improperly used, a five-foot iambic line in English.

PINDARIC.--Strictly the regular ode (see STROPHE) of Greek poetry; but
extended by, and still more in imitation of, Cowley to any lyrical
composition in irregularly rhymed stanzas of different line-lengths.
According to Dryden, the Alexandrine line, frequent in Cowley's odes,
was so-called, "but," he most properly adds, "improperly."

POSITION.--In the classical prosodies a short or common vowel before
two consonants (but not every two) was said to be long "by position";
and efforts have been made to determine English quantity in the
same way. No rule of the kind can be laid down; doubled or grouped
consonants after a vowel usually shortening the pronunciation, and
sometimes lengthening the value.

POULTER'S MEASURE.--A term used by Gascoigne, and said to be derived
from the practice of poulter[er]s in giving twelve to the dozen in
one case and thirteen or fourteen in another. It is applied to the
combination of Alexandrine and fourteener which was such a favourite
with the earlier Tudor poets, and which broke up into the "Short
Measure" of the hymn-books.

PROCELEUSMATIC.--A double pyrrhic, or foot of four short syllables (̆ ̆
̆ ̆). Not needed, if not also impossible, in English.

PYRRHIC.--Foot of two short syllables (̆ ̆). Very doubtfully found in
English; but not impossible.

       *       *       *       *       *

QUANTITY.--That which fits a syllable for its place as "long" or
"short" in a verse.

QUARTET or QUATRAIN.--A group of four lines usually, indeed with the
rarest exceptions, united in themselves, and separated from others, by

QUINTET.--A similar group of five lines.

       *       *       *       *       *

REDUNDANCE.--An extra syllable at the end of the line, not strictly
part of its last foot.

REFRAIN.--A line recurring identically, or with very slight alteration,
at the end of every stanza of a poem. Probably one of the oldest of
all poetic features--certainly one of the oldest in English. The
same as "burden." Refrains or burdens are not uncommonly meaningless
collections of musical-sounding words.

RHYME.--The arrangement of two word-endings--identical in vowel and
following consonant or consonants, but not having the same consonant
_before_ the vowel--at the conclusion of two or more lines, or
sometimes within the lines themselves.

RHYME-ROYAL.--The stanza of seven decasyllabic lines, rhymed _ababbcc_,
which occurs in Chaucer's _Troilus_, and which traditionally derives
its name from its use in _The King's Quair_, though its extreme
popularity for a long period is perhaps the real reason.

RHYTHM.--An orderly arrangement, but not necessarily a correspondent
succession, of sounds.

RIDING RHYME.--An old name for the decasyllabic couplet, obviously
derived from its appearance in Chaucer's Tales of Pilgrims "riding" to

RIME COUÉE or TAILED RHYME.--Translations in French and English of the
Latin _versus caudatus_, and not very happy from the English point
of view, though justified by origin (see Origin-List). The verse to
which they refer is the sixain of two eights, a six, two more eights,
and another six. Two tails are not common in English _fauna_; and one
might prefer to call the verse "waisted and tailed." It is, however,
in the old Romances (where it is common, and from its commonness in
which it is better called the "Romance-six") often found in multiples
of three other than six; and it is at the batch of three that the title
looks--the couplet of eights constituting the body, and the odd six the


RONDEAU--RONDEL.--French (and English) forms in which lines are
repeated at regular intervals. (See pp. 125-6.)

       *       *       *       *       *

SAPPHIC.--A classical metre consisting of three longer lines and one
shorter (called an Adonic) arranged in the following scheme:--

    ̄ ̆ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̆ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄  ̆̄
    ̄ ̆ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̆ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄  ̆̄
    ̄ ̆ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̆ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄  ̆̄
              ̄ ̆ ̆ ̄  ̆̄

It has been frequently tried in English, both as burlesque and
seriously. For the former use (as in Canning's immortal "Needy
Knife-Grinder") it is, like most classical metres, well suited, though
the true Greek and even Latin rhythm is generally (_v. sup._ p. 124)
violated. In serious verse Mr. Swinburne has produced exquisite and
others (as Watts and Cowper) respectable examples; but even the best is
a _tour de force_ only.

SECTION.--A term not useless in its general sense as denoting verse
divisions larger than a foot; but now prejudicially preoccupied by
Guest (_v. sup._ p. 254, _note_) and others.

SEPTENAR.--A word applied (very undesirably) by most German and a few
English writers to the fourteener or seven-foot iambic.

SEPTET.--A verse or stanza of seven lines.

SESTET, also SIXAIN.--A verse or stanza of six lines.

SESTINE, SESTINA.--A very elaborate measure invented by the Provençal
poet Arnaut Daniel, imitated by Dante and other Italians, tried
inexactly by Spenser, and sometimes recently attempted in English.

SHORT MEASURE ("S.M.").--The split-up poulter's measure or quartet of
6, 6, 8, 6.

SINGLE-MOULDED.--The term used in this book to describe the early
blank-verse line, which appears to be constructed complete in itself,
without any expectation of, or preparation for, continuance. See

SKELTONIC.---The peculiar kind of (generally short) line used by
Skelton. Its commonest form is an anapæstic monometer (_i.e._ two
feet), often much further cut down by dissyllabic and monosyllabic
substitution or by catalexis, but sometimes extended. It is always
rhymed; sometimes on the same rhyme for several lines together. Though
usually called "doggerel," it does not quite deserve that name as
defined above. See also note p. 297.


SONNET.--A word sometimes, in former days, loosely applied to any
short poem, especially of an amatory nature; often nowadays almost
as improperly limited to a special Italian form of the true sonnet.
This latter is a poem of fourteen lines, of the same length generally
and (except by exception) decasyllables (originally, of course,
_hen_decasyllables) arranged in varying rhyme-schemes. Its exact origin
is unknown; but it is first found in Italian-Sicilian poets of the
thirteenth century, and it became enormously popular in Italy very
soon. It did not spread northward for a considerable time, the first
French sonnets occurring not very early in the sixteenth century;
the first English, not till near its middle. A great sonnet outburst
took place at the end of that century with us; but the form fell into
disuse in the seventeenth, though championed by Milton; and it was not
till the extreme end of the eighteenth century that it became, and
has since remained, something of a staple. Partly the absence of the
Italian plethora of similar endings, and partly something else, made
the earliest English practitioners select an arrangement with final
rhymed couplet, the twelve remaining lines being usually arranged in
rhymed, but not rhyme-linked, quatrains: and this form, immortalised
by Shakespeare, is probably the best suited to English. It is, at any
rate, absolutely genuine and orthodox there. But Milton, Wordsworth,
and especially Dante and Christina Rossetti, have given examples of the
sonnets which, divided mostly into octave and sestet, have this latter
arranged in intertwisted rhymes. This form is susceptible of great
beauty, but has no prerogative, still less any primogeniture, in our

SPENSERIAN.--See Origin-List.

SPONDEE.--A foot of two long syllables (̄ ̄). Its presence in English
has been denied, but most strangely; its condition is, in fact, exactly
opposite to that of the dactyl. In single and separate words its
representatives are chiefly compounds like "moonshine," "humdrum," etc.
But, as formed out of different words, it is frequent.

STANZA or STAVE.--A collection of lines arranged in an ordered batch
and generally on some definite rhyme-scheme. Also designated by one of
the loose senses of "verse."

STRESS.--Generally, though not universally, used as synonymous with
accent, but somewhat differently applied, "accent" being regarded as
something more or less permanent in the word, "stress" something added
specially in the verse. By extension of this, numerous arbitrary and
fanciful systems of prosody have been recently devised.

STRESS-UNIT.--A recent instance, and one of the worst, of the new terms
invented to avoid the use of "foot." For, almost more than any other,
it ignores the importance of non-stressed syllables.

STROPHE.--The stanza-unit of Greek odic or choric arrangement. The
system is triple--strophe, antistrophe, and epode--and will be found
fully illustrated and scanned from Gray (_v. sup._ pp. 89-91).



SYZYGY.--A term of classical prosody which has a perfectly strict
meaning--the yoking of two feet into a metrical batch (see DIMETER).
It has, in some recent cases, been rather unfortunately extended to
other forms of combining syllables, sounds, etc. As thus used it is not
needed, and is likely to cause confusion.

       *       *       *       *       *

TAILED SONNET.--An Italian lengthening of the sonnet to eighteen or
twenty lines, sometimes practised in English, the best known example
being Milton's; but not very admirable in our language, and not at all
necessary. Even in Italian the use is largely burlesque.

TERCET.--A group of three lines like TRIPLET, but specially limited to
that used in TERZA RIMA.

TERZA RIMA.--A verse-arrangement by which, in a group of three lines,
the first and third rhyme together, while the middle is left to rhyme
with the first and third of the next batch. This arrangement, very
effective in Italian, and undoubtedly one of the chief elements of
the magnificence of Dante's prosody, has never been really successful
in English. Some of the best examples are Shelley's; the earliest,
after some fragments in Chaucer, are Wyatt's; the largest continuous
employment is in Canon Dixon's _Mano_.

TETRAMETER.--A term improperly applied to the octosyllable; properly to
divers long lines of eight iambs, anapæsts, or trochees.


TIME.--A "word of fear" in prosody, as it is almost always a "voice
prophesying war." Used merely in the sense of "rhythm," it is quite
innocuous; and construed generally, as when Southey says that "two
short syllables take up only the time of one," there need be no harm
in it. But when absolute "duration" is insisted on, and people discuss
whether this can be given by that or the other means, great and
unnecessary mischief is likely to be done.

TRIBRACH.--A foot of three short syllables (̆ ̆ ̆). Very frequent in
later English, perhaps less so in earlier.

TRIOLET.--A short French form of the rondeau, in the most common
variety of which the first of eight lines is repeated in the fourth and
seventh, the second being also repeated in the eighth, so that there
are only _five_ lines of independent sense. (See example, p. 125.)


TRIPLET.--A group of three lines; most commonly used of three which
rhyme together. See TERCET.

TROCHEE.--A foot of two syllables--long, short (̄ ̆). The
complement-contrast of the iamb; an invaluable variant upon it; the
best introducer (by admitting it as a substitute) of the dactyl in
English; and very effective by itself when properly managed.

TRUNCATION.--The lopping off of a syllable at beginning or end of line.
This in the latter case equals what is here called CATALEXIS (_q.v._),
and in the former is often better accounted for by a monosyllabic foot.
But there are cases, as in Chaucer's "acephalous" lines, where it is
not inapplicable.

TUMBLING VERSE.--A phrase of King James the Sixth (First) in his
prosodic treatise, which has caused, or at least been connected with,
difficulties (see CADENCE). He seems to have meant by it nothing more
than the loose half-doggerel anapæsts which were so common in the first
two-thirds of the sixteenth century.

TURN OF WORDS.--A phrase specially used in the seventeenth century for
the repetition, identically or with little change, of the same words at
the end of a line and the beginning of the next.

       *       *       *       *       *

VERSE.--A word used with unfortunate, though perhaps unavoidable,
ambiguity. It is employed first (and best) of writing in general as
opposed to prose; secondly, of a single line of poetry; thirdly, of a
batch of lines; while there is even a fourth use, now obsolete, but
common in the Elizabethans, by which it applied to classical unrhymed
metres in English. This last, one may hope, will never be revived. Of
the others, the first and third are indispensable and can cause no real
confusion. But, though a fairly strong case can be made out for "verse"
in the sense of "line," the inconvenience and confusion of this use
should be held to prohibit it.

VERSE PARAGRAPH.--A very important development of blank verse, ensuring
to it almost all the advantages of stanza in some ways, and more
than all in others. First reached by Shakespeare in drama, and by
Milton in non-dramatic verse, it consists in so knitting a batch of
blank-verse lines together by variation of pause, alternate use of stop
and enjambment, and close connection of sense, that neither eye nor
voice is disposed to make serious halt till the close of the paragraph
is reached. Thus an effect of concerted music is produced through
the whole of it. No one has ever been a great master of blank verse
without being a master of this device; but perhaps the most special and
elaborate command of it has been Tennyson's.

VOWEL-MUSIC.--In a certain sense vowel-music may be said to be,
and always to have been, a main, if not the main, source of the
pleasure given to the ear by poetry. Nor, it may also be said, can
any accomplished poet ever have been indifferent to it. Deliberate
attention to it, however, has varied much at different times of English
poetry, and was perhaps at its lowest in the eighteenth, at its highest
in the nineteenth, century.

       *       *       *       *       *

WEAK ENDING.--A technical term used by not a few prosodists, but not
adopted in this book, for redundance. As a matter of fact a line is
often much stronger for the extra syllable.

WRENCHED ACCENT.--A term applied, by accentual prosodists, sometimes to
signify removal of accent on a word from the usual place; sometimes to
the presence of an unaccented syllable where they expect an accented,
or the reverse. In the first sense it is unobjectionable; in the
second, always unnecessary, and often suggestive of misdescription of
the results of ordinary substitution.[161]


[154] Webster's _Dictionary_.


It has been said above (Book I. Chap. V. Rule 41, p. 35) that certain
additional arrangements of verse may be made for musical or rhetorical
purposes. This no doubt requires explanation and example, the latter
especially. It shall now have them.


    The watch|er on | the col|umn to | the end,

and Mr. Swinburne's

    The thun|der of | the trum|pets of | the night,

are both regular and unexceptionable "heroics," "five-foot iambics,"
"decasyllabic lines," etc. But in reading them the voice will not
improbably be tempted (and need not resist the temptation) to arrange
them as

    The watcher | on the column | to the end


    The thunder | of the trumpets | of the night

respectively, while in the case of the latter line other dispositions
are possible. In blank-verse paragraphs especially, the poet is likely
to suggest a great deal of such scansion. No doubt there are in this
arrangement four-syllable divisions and three-syllable ones like
amphibrachs, etc.; but that does not matter, because the line has
already passed the regular prosodic tests. And no doubt the sections,
or whatever they are to be called, are not strictly substitutable; but
then on this scheme, which is not positively prosodic and applies to
the individual line only, they need not be. So, too, there is no harm
in dividing Hood's famous piece, for musical purposes, into ditrochees:

    I remember | I remember,
      How my little | lovers came,

or even in making what are practically eight feet out of

    All ¦ peo¦ple ¦ that ¦ on ¦ earth ¦ do ¦ dwell,

in order to get an impressive musical effect. Here also the lines
have passed the prosodic preliminary or matriculation; as in the one
case trochaic tetrameters catalectic split in half; in the other, as
ordinary "long measure."

Now it is this necessary preliminary which the plain- and fancy-stress
prosodists neglect; putting their stress divisions not on the top, but
in the place of it. And the probable result would be, if the proceeding
were widely followed--as, indeed, it has been already to some small
extent,--the creation of a new chaos like that of fifteenth-century
South-English verse generally, or of blank verse and heroic couplet in
the mid-seventeenth.

[156] See the larger _History_ for fuller discussion of this. Such
lines will often scan trochaically (or in some other way) so as to take
in the outside syllable; but the question then arises _whether such
scansion will suit the context_.

[157] Professor Hardie reminds me of Quintilian's assertion (_Inst.
Orat._ IX. iv. 136) that even in Latin, iambs "omnibus pedibus


It has been proposed to scan the beautiful last words of Robert

    At the midnight, in the silence of the sleep-time,
      When you set your fancies free--
    Will they pass to where, by death, fools think, imprisoned
      Low he lies who once so loved you, whom you loved so,
                --Pity me?

as an example of English Ionic _a minore_;[159] not (as it is taken by
the present writer) as trochaic--

    Ăt thĕ mīdnĭght | ĭn thĕ sīlĕnce | ŏf thĕ slēep-tī̆me;


    Āt thĕ | midnī̆ght | īn thĕ | sīlĕnce | ōf thĕ | slēep-tī̆me.

Perhaps those who propose this have been a little bribed by conscious
or unconscious desire to prevent "accenting" _in_ and _of_; but no
more need be said on this point. The trochees, or their sufficient
equivalents, will run very well without any violent INN or OVV. But
when the piece is examined by ear of body and ear of mind (for the
mind's ear is as important as the mind's eye) it will be found that
Ionic scansion is unsatisfactory. It is perhaps not utterly fatal
to the first line (though it gives an unpleasantly "rocking-horsy"
movement), and perhaps still less to the second, where the catalexis
itself saves this effect to some extent. But the junction and severance
of sense which it suggests in the third--

    Wĭll thĕy pāss tō | whĕre, by̆ dēath, fōols | thĭnk, ĭmprīsōned,

is very ugly. And this same junction or severance becomes impossible in
the short lines concluding the stanzas. To suit the Ionic measure these
must run--

      Pĭty̆ mē


    Slĕep tŏ wāke

    Thĕre ăs hēre,

a set of jumpy anapæsts which upsets the whole pathos and dignity of
the composition when compared with "Pīty̆ | mē"; "Slēep tŏ | wāke"; and
"Thēre ăs | hēre"; while it makes


into a mere burlesque, and flies in the face of Browning's specially
indicated pause.

[159] ̆ ̆ ̄ ̄. Third pæon (̆ ̆ ̄ ̆) has also been suggested, but the
same counter-arguments apply to it.

[160] It would become tolerable as a four-foot anapæst, and perhaps
partly suggested such a line; also as an octosyllable with substitution.

[161] _Note (Second Edition) on "Skeltonic," v. sup._ p. 293.--Attempts
have been made to trace it to the very short lines used by Martial
d'Auvergne (_c._ 1420-1508) and, perhaps, other French poets. But, as
in some similar cases, these attempts ignore radical differences, such
as the presence of the anapæst in English and its absence from French,
and others still.



ARNOLD, MATTHEW (1822-1888).--Made various attempts (outside of his
classical drama _Merope_) at rhymeless metres in English. Countenanced
the English hexameter. Also made, but abandoned, experiments in the
enjambed couplet, which anticipated William Morris.

       *       *       *       *       *

BARHAM, RICHARD H. ("Thomas Ingoldsby") (1788-1845).--Showed the
greatest proficiency in light, loose metres of the anapæstic
division, and exercised much influence by them, owing to the wide and
long-sustained popularity of the _Ingoldsby Legends_ (1840, but earlier
in magazines).

BEAUMONT, SIR JOHN (1583-1623).--One of the earliest (before 1625)
practitioners, and perhaps the very earliest champion in verse itself,
of the stopped couplet exactly arranged.

BLAKE, WILLIAM (1757-1827).--Although Blake's immediate and direct
influence must have been small, there is hardly any poet who exhibits
the tendency of his time in metre more variously and vehemently. In
his unhesitating and brilliantly successful use of substitution in
octosyllabic couplet, ballad measure, and lyrical adjustments of
various kinds, as well as in _media_ varying from actual verse to the
rhythmed prose of his "Prophetic" books, Blake struck definitely away
from the monotonous and select metres of the eighteenth century, and
anticipated the liberty, multiplicity, and variety of the nineteenth.
And he differed, almost equally, from all but one or two of his older
contemporaries, and from most of his younger for many years, in the
colour and "fingering" of his verse.

BOWLES, WILLIAM LISLE (1762-1850).--A generally mediocre poet, who,
however, deserves a place of honour here for the sonnets which he
published in 1789, and which had an immense influence on Coleridge,
Southey, and others of his juniors, not merely in restoring that great
form to popularity, but by inculcating description and study of nature
in connection with the thoughts and passions of men.

BROWNE, WILLIAM (1591-1643).--A Jacobean poet of the loosely named
Spenserian school--effective in various metres, but a special and early
exponent of the enjambed couplet.

BROWNING, ELIZABETH BARRETT (1806-1861).--Remarkable here for her
adoption of the nineteenth-century principle of the widest possible
metrical experiment and variety. In actual _metre_ effective, though
sometimes a little slipshod. In rhyme a portent and a warning. Perhaps
the worst rhymester in the English language--perpetrating, and
attempting to defend on a mistaken view of assonance, cacophonies so
hideous that they need not sully this page.

BROWNING, ROBERT (1812-1889).--Often described as a loose and rugged
metrist, and a licentious, if not criminal, rhymester. Nothing of the
sort. Extraordinarily bold in both capacities, and sometimes, perhaps,
as usually happens in these cases, a little too bold; but in metre
practically never, in rhyme very seldom (and then only for purposes
of designed contrast, like the farce in tragedy), overstepping actual
bounds. A great master of broken metres, internal rhyme, heavily
equivalenced lines, and all the _tours de force_ of English prosody.

BURNS, ROBERT (1759-1796).--Of the very greatest importance in
historical prosody, because of the shock which his fresh dialect
administered to the conventional poetic diction of the eighteenth
century, and his unusual and broken measures (especially the famous
Burns-metre) to its notions of metric. An admirable performer on the
strings that he tried; a master of musical "fingering" of verse; and to
some extent a pioneer of the revival of substitution.

BYRON, GEORGE GORDON, LORD (1788-1824).--Usually much undervalued as
a prosodist, even by those who admire him as a poet. Really of great
importance in this respect, owing to the variety, and in some cases
the novelty, of his accomplishment, and to its immense popularity. His
Spenserians in _Childe Harold_ not of the highest class, but the light
octaves of _Beppo_ and _Don Juan_ the very best examples of the metre
in English. Some fine but rhetorical blank verse, and a great deal of
fluent octosyllabic couplet imitated from Scott. But his lyrics of most
importance, combining popular appeal with great variety, and sometimes
positive novelty, of adjustment and cadence. Diction is his weakest

       *       *       *       *       *

CAMPBELL, THOMAS (1777-1844).--Not prosodically remarkable in his
longer poems, but very much so in some of his shorter, especially "The
Battle of the Baltic," where the bold shortening of the last line,
effective in itself, has proved suggestive to others of even better
things, such as the half-humorous, half-plaintive measure of Holmes's
"The Last Leaf" and Locker's "Grandmamma."

CAMPION, THOMAS (?-1619).--Equally remarkable for the sweetness and
variety of his rhymed lyrics in various ordinary measures, and as the
advocate and practitioner of a system of rhymeless verse, different
from the usual hexametrical attempts of his contemporaries, but still
adjusted to classical patterns.

CANNING, GEORGE (1770-1827).--Influential, in the general breaking-up
of the conventional metres and diction of the eighteenth century,
by his parodies of Darwin and his light lyrical pieces in the

CHAMBERLAYNE, WILLIAM (1619-1689).--Remarkable as, in _Pharonnida_, one
of the chief exponents of the beauties, but still more of the dangers,
of the enjambed heroic couplet; in his _England's Jubile_ as a rather
early, and by no means unaccomplished, practitioner of the rival form.
To be carefully distinguished from his contemporary, Robert Chamberlain
(_fl. c._ 1640), a very poor poetaster who wrote a few English

CHATTERTON, THOMAS (1752-1770).--Of some interest here because his
manufactured diction was a protest against the conventional language
of eighteenth-century poetry. Of more, because he ventured upon
equivalence in octosyllabic couplet, and wrote ballad and other lyrical
stanzas, entirely different in form and cadence from those of most of
his contemporaries, and less artificial even than those of Collins and

CHAUCER, GEOFFREY (1340?-1400).--The reducer of the first stage of
English prosody to complete form and order; the greatest master of
prosodic harmony in our language before the later sixteenth century,
and one of the greatest (with value for capacity in language) of all
time; the introducer of the decasyllabic couplet--if not absolutely,
yet systematically and on a large scale--and of the seven-lined
"rhyme-royal" stanza; and, finally, a poet whose command of the utmost
prosodic possibilities of English, at the time of his writing, almost
necessitated a temporary prosodic disorder, when those who followed
attempted to imitate him with a changed pronunciation, orthography, and

CLEVELAND, JOHN (1613-1658).--Of no great importance as a poet, but
holding a certain position as a comparatively early experimenter with
apparently anapæstic measures in his "Mark Antony" and other pieces.

COLERIDGE, SAMUEL TAYLOR (1772-1834).--In the _Ancient Mariner_ and
_Christabel_, the great instaurator of equivalence and substitution; a
master of many other kinds of metre; and an experimenter in classical

COLLINS, WILLIAM (1721-1759)--Famous in prosody for his attempt at
odes less definitely "regular" than Gray's, but a vast improvement on
the loose Pindaric which had preceded; and for a remarkable attempt at
rhymeless verse in that "To Evening." In diction retained a good deal
of artificiality.

CONGREVE, WILLIAM (1670-1729).--Regularised Cowley's loose Pindaric.

COWLEY, ABRAHAM (1618-1667).--The most popular poet of the
mid-seventeenth century; important to prosody for a wide, various, and
easy, though never quite consummate command of lyric, as well as for a
vigorous and effective couplet (with occasional Alexandrines) of a kind
midway between that of the early seventeenth century and Dryden's; but
chiefly for his introduction of the so-called Pindaric.

COWPER, WILLIAM (1731-1800).--One of the first to protest, definitely
and by name, against the "mechanic art" of Pope's couplet. He himself
returned to Dryden for that metre; but practised very largely in blank
verse, and wrote lyrics with great sweetness, a fairly varied command
of metre, and, in "Boadicea," "The Castaway," and some of his hymns, no
small intensity of tone and cry. His chief shortcoming, a preference of
elision to substitution.

       *       *       *       *       *

DONNE, JOHN (1573-1631).--Famous for the beauty of his lyrical poetry,
the "metaphysical" strangeness of his sentiment and diction throughout,
and the roughness of his couplets. This last made Jonson, who thought
him "the first poet in the world for some things," declare that he
nevertheless "deserved hanging for not keeping accent," and has induced
others to suppose a (probably imaginary) revolt against Spenserian
smoothness, and an attempt at a new prosody.

DRAYTON, MICHAEL (1563-1631).--A very important poet prosodically,
representing the later Elizabethan school as it passes into the
Jacobean, and even the Caroline. Expresses and exemplifies the demand
for the couplet (which he calls "gemell" or "geminel"), but is an adept
in stanzas. In the _Polyolbion_ produced the only long English poem in
continuous Alexandrines before Browning's _Fifine at the Fair_ (which
is very much shorter). A very considerable sonneteer, and the deviser
of varied and beautiful lyrical stanzas in short rhythms, the most
famous being the "Ballad of Agincourt."

DRYDEN, JOHN (1630-1700).--The establisher and master of the stopped
heroic couplet with variations of triplets and Alexandrines; the
last great writer of dramatic blank verse, after he had given up the
couplet for that use; master also of any other metre--the stopped
heroic quatrain, lyrics of various form, etc.--that he chose to try.
A deliberate student of prosody, on which he had intended to leave a
treatise, but did not.

DIXON, RICHARD WATSON (1833-1900).--The only English poet who has
attempted, and (as far perhaps as the thing is possible) successfully
carried out, a long poem (_Mano_) in _terza rima_. Possessed also
of great lyrical gift in various metres, especially in irregular or
Pindaric arrangements.

DUNBAR, WILLIAM (1450?-1513? or -1530?).--The most accomplished and
various master of metre in Middle Scots, including both alliterative
and strictly metrical forms. If he wrote "The Friars of Berwick," the
chief master of decasyllabic couplet between Chaucer and Spenser.

DYER, JOHN (1700?-1758?).--Derives his prosodic importance from
_Grongar Hill_, a poem in octosyllabic couplet, studied, with
independence, from Milton, and helping to keep alive in that couplet
the variety of iambic and trochaic cadence derived from catalexis, or
alternation of eight- and seven-syllabled lines.

       *       *       *       *       *

FAIRFAX, EDWARD (d. 1635).--Very influential in the formation of the
stopped antithetic couplet by his use of it at the close of the octaves
of his translation of Tasso.

FITZGERALD, EDWARD (1809-1883).--Like Fairfax, famous for the prosodic
feature of his translation of the _Rubáiyát_ of Omar Khayyám. This is
written in decasyllabic quatrains, the first, second, and fourth lines
rhymed together, the third left blank.

FLETCHER, GILES (1588-1623), and PHINEAS (1582-1650).--Both attempted
alterations of the Spenserian by leaving out first one and then two
lines. Phineas also a great experimenter in other directions.

FLETCHER, JOHN (1579-1625).--The dramatist. Prosodically noticeable for
his extreme leaning to redundance in dramatic blank verse. A master of
lyric also.

FRERE, JOHN HOOKHAM (1769-1846).--Reintroduced the octave for comic
purposes in the _Monks and the Giants_ (1817), and taught it to
Byron. Showed himself a master of varied metre in his translations
of Aristophanes. Also dabbled in English hexameters, holding that
extra-metrical syllables were permissible there.

       *       *       *       *       *

GASCOIGNE, GEORGE (1525?-1577).--Not unremarkable as a prosodist, from
having tried various lyrical measures with distinct success, and as
having given the first considerable piece of non-dramatic blank verse
("The Steel Glass") after Surrey. But chiefly to be mentioned for his
remarkable _Notes of Instruction_ on English verse, the first treatise
on English prosody and a very shrewd one, despite some slips due to the

GLOVER, RICHARD (1712-1785).--A very dull poet, but noteworthy for two
points connected with prosody--his exaggeration of the Thomsonian heavy
stop in the middle of blank-verse lines, and the unrhymed choruses of
his _Medea_.

GODRIC, SAINT (?-1170).--The first named and known author of definitely
English (that is Middle English) lyric, if not of definitely English
(that is Middle English) verse altogether.

GOWER, JOHN (1325?-1408).--The most productive, and perhaps the best,
older master of the fluent octosyllable, rarely though sometimes varied
in syllabic length, and approximating most directly to the French model.

HAMPOLE, RICHARD ROLLE OF, most commonly called by the place-name
(1290?-1347).--Noteworthy for the occasional occurrence of complete
decasyllabic couplets in the octosyllables of the _Prick of
Conscience_. Possibly the author of poems in varied lyrical measures,
some of great accomplishment.

HAWES, STEPHEN (d. 1523?).--Notable for the contrast between the
occasional poetry of his _Pastime of Pleasure_ and its sometimes
extraordinarily bad rhyme-royal--which latter is shown without any
relief in his other long poem, the _Example of Virtue_. The chief late
example of fifteenth-century degradation in this respect.

HERRICK, ROBERT (1591-1674).--The best known (though not in his own or
immediately succeeding times) of the "Caroline" poets. A great master
of variegated metre, and a still greater one of sweet and various grace
in diction.

HUNT, J. H. LEIGH (1784-1859).--Chiefly remarkable prosodically for his
revival of the enjambed decasyllabic couplet; but a wide student, and
a catholic appreciator and practitioner, of English metre generally.
Probably influenced Keats much at first.

JONSON, BENJAMIN, always called BEN (1573?-1637).--A great practical
prosodist, and apparently (like his successor, and in some respects
analogue, Dryden) only by accident not a teacher of the study. Has left
a few remarks, as it is, eulogising, but in rather equivocal terms, the
decasyllabic couplet, objecting to Donne's "not keeping of accent," to
Spenser's metre for what exact reason we know not, and to the English
hexameter apparently. His practice much plainer sailing. A fine though
rather hard master of blank verse; excellent at the couplet itself; but
in lyric, as far as form goes, near perfection in the simpler and more
classical adjustments, as well as in pure ballad measure.

KEATS, JOHN (1795-1821).--One of the chief examples, among the
greater English poets, of sedulous and successful study of prosody;
in this contrasting remarkably with his contemporary, and in some
sort analogue, Shelley. Began by much reading of Spenser and of late
sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century poets, in following whose
enjambed couplet he was also, to some extent, a disciple of Leigh
Hunt. Exemplified the dangers as well as the beauties of this in
_Endymion_, and corrected it by stanza-practice in _Isabella_, the _Eve
of St. Agnes_, and his great Odes, as well as by a study of Dryden
which produced the stricter but more splendid couplet of _Lamia_.
Strongly Miltonic, but with much originality also, in the blank verse
of _Hyperion_; and a great master of the freer sonnet, which he had
studied in the Elizabethans. Modified the ballad measure in _La Belle
Dame sans Merci_ with astonishing effect, and in the _Eve of St. Mark_
recovered (perhaps from Gower) a handling of the octosyllable which
remained undeveloped till Mr. William Morris took it up.

KINGSLEY, CHARLES (1819-1875).--A poet very notable, in proportion
to the quantity of his work, for variety and freshness of metrical
command in lyric. But chiefly so for the verse of _Andromeda_,
which, aiming at accentual dactylic hexameter, converts itself into
a five-foot anapæstic line with anacrusis and hypercatalexis, and in
so doing entirely shakes off the ungainly and slovenly shamble of the
_Evangeline_ type.

       *       *       *       *       *

LANDOR, WALTER SAVAGE (1775-1864).--A great master of form in all
metres, but, in his longer poems and more regular measures, a
little formal in the less favourable sense. In his smaller lyrics
(epigrammatic in the Greek rather than the modern use) hardly second
to Ben Jonson, whom he resembles not a little. His phrase of singular
majesty and grace.

LANGLAND, WILLIAM (fourteenth century).--The probable name of the
pretty certainly single author of the remarkable alliterative poem
called _The Vision of Piers Plowman_. Develops the alliterative metre
itself in a masterly fashion through the successive versions of his
poem, but also exhibits most notably the tendency of the line to
fall into definitely metrical shapes--decasyllabic, Alexandrine, and
fourteener,--with not infrequent anapæstic correspondences.

LAYAMON (late twelfth and early thirteenth century).--Exhibits in
the _Brut_, after a fashion hardly to be paralleled elsewhere, the
passing of one metrical system into another. May have intended to write
unrhymed alliteratives, but constantly passes into complete rhymed
octosyllabic couplet, and generally provides something between the two.
A later version, made most probably, if not certainly, after his death,
accentuates the transfer.

LEWIS, MATTHEW GREGORY (1775-1818).--A very minor poet, and hardly
a major man of letters in any other way than that of prosody. Here,
however, in consequence partly of an early visit to Germany, he
acquired love for, and command of, the anapæstic measures, which he
taught to greater poets than himself from Scott downwards, and which
had not a little to do with the progress of the Romantic Revival.

LOCKER (latterly LOCKER-LAMPSON) FREDERICK (1821-1895).--An author
of "verse of society" who brought out the serio-comic power of much
variegated and indented metre with remarkable skill.

LONGFELLOW, HENRY WADSWORTH (1807-1882).--An extremely competent
American practitioner of almost every metre that he tried, except
perhaps the unrhymed _terza rima_, which is difficult and may be
impossible in English. Established the popularity of the loose
accentual hexameter in _Evangeline_, and did surprisingly well with
unvaried trochaic dimeter in _Hiawatha_. His lyrical metres not of the
first distinction, but always musical and craftsmanlike.

LYDGATE, JOHN (1370-1450?).--The most industrious and productive of
the followers of Chaucer, writing indifferently rhyme-royal, "riding
rhyme," and octosyllabic couplet, but especially the first and last, as
well as _ballades_ and probably other lyrical work. Lydgate seems to
have made an effort to accommodate the breaking-down pronunciation of
the time--especially as regarded final _e_'s--to these measures; but as
a rule he had very little success. One of his varieties of decasyllabic
is elsewhere stigmatised. He is least abroad in the octosyllable, but
not very effective even there.

       *       *       *       *       *

MACAULAY, THOMAS BABINGTON (1800-1859).--Best known prosodically by his
spirited and well beaten-out ballad measure in the _Lays of Ancient
Rome_. Sometimes, as in "The Last Buccaneer," tried less commonplace
movements with strange success.

MAGINN, WILLIAM (1793-1842).--Deserves to be mentioned with Barham as a
chief initiator of the earlier middle nineteenth century in the ringing
and swinging comic measures which have done so much to supple English
verse, and to accustom the general ear to its possibilities.

MARLOWE, CHRISTOPHER (1664-1693).--The greatest master, among
præ-Shakespearian writers, of the blank-verse line for splendour and
might, as Peele was for sweetness and brilliant colour. Seldom, though
sometimes, got beyond the "single-moulded" form; but availed himself
to the very utmost of the majesty to which that form rather specially
lends itself. Very great also in couplet (which he freely "enjambed")
and in miscellaneous measure when he tried it.

MILTON, JOHN (1608-1674).--The last of the four chief masters of
English prosody. Began by various experiments in metre, both in
and out of lyric stanza--reaching, in the "Nativity" hymn, almost
the maximum of majesty in concerted measures. In _L'Allegro_, _Il
Penseroso_, and the _Arcades_ passed to a variety of the octosyllabic
couplet, which had been much practised by Shakespeare and others,
but developed its variety and grace yet further, though he did not
attempt the full Spenserian or _Christabel_ variation. In _Comus_
continued this, partly, with lyrical extensions, but wrote the major
part in blank verse--not irreminiscent of the single-moulded form,
but largely studied off Shakespeare and Fletcher, and with his own
peculiar turns already given to it. In _Lycidas_ employed irregularly
rhymed paragraphs of mostly decasyllabic lines. Wrote some score of
fine sonnets, adjusted more closely to the usual Italian models than
those of most of his predecessors. After an interval, produced, in
_Paradise Lost_, the first long poem in blank verse, and the greatest
non-dramatic example of the measure ever seen--admitting the fullest
variation and substitution of foot and syllable, and constructing
verse-paragraphs of almost stanzaic effect by varied pause and
contrasted stoppage and overrunning. Repeated this, with perhaps some
slight modifications, in _Paradise Regained_. Finally, in _Samson
Agonistes_, employed blank-verse dialogue with choric interludes rhymed
elaborately--though in an afterthought note to _Paradise Lost_ he had
denounced rhyme--and arranged on metrical schemes sometimes unexampled
in English.

MOORE, THOMAS (1779-1852).--A very voluminous poet in the most various
metres, and a competent master of all. But especially noticeable as
a trained and practising musician, who wrote a very large proportion
of his lyrics directly to music, and composed or adapted settings for
many of them. The double process has resulted in great variety and
sweetness, but occasionally also in laxity which, from the prosodic
point of view, is somewhat excessive.

MORRIS, WILLIAM (1834-1896).--One of the best and most variously gifted
of recent prosodists. In his early work, _The Defence of Guenevere_,
achieved a great number of metres, on the most varied schemes, with
surprising effect; in his longer productions, _Jason_ and _The Earthly
Paradise_, handled enjambed couplets, octosyllabic and decasyllabic,
with an extraordinary compound of freedom and precision. In _Love
is Enough_ tried alliterative and irregular rhythm with unequal but
sometimes beautiful results; and in _Sigurd the Volsung_ fingered the
old fourteener into a sweeping narrative verse of splendid quality and
no small range.

       *       *       *       *       *

ORM.--A monk of the twelfth to the thirteenth century, who composed
a long versification of the Calendar Gospels in unrhymed, strictly
syllabic, fifteen-syllabled verse, lending itself to regular division
in eights and sevens. A very important evidence as to the experimenting
tendency of the time and to the strivings for a new English prosody.

O'SHAUGHNESSY, ARTHUR W. E. (1844-1881).--A lyrist of great
originality, and with a fingering peculiar to himself, though most
nearly resembling that of Edgar Poe.

       *       *       *       *       *

PEELE, GEORGE (1558?-1597?).--Remarkable for softening the early
"decasyllabon" as Marlowe sublimed it.

PERCY, THOMAS (1729-1811).--As an original verse-maker, of very
small value, and as a meddler with older verse to patch and piece
it, somewhat mischievous; but as the editor of the _Reliques_, to be
hallowed and canonised for that his deed, in every history of English
prosody and poetry.

POE, EDGAR (1809-1849).--The greatest master of original prosodic
effect that the United States have produced, and an instinctively and
generally right (though, in detail, hasty, ill-informed, and crude)
essayist on points of prosodic doctrine. Produced little, and that
little not always equal; but at his best an unsurpassable master of
music in verse and phrase.

POPE, ALEXANDER (1688-1744).--Practically devoted himself to one
metre, and one form of it--the stopped heroic couplet,--subjected as
much as possible to a rigid absence of licence; dropping (though he
sometimes used them) the triplets and Alexandrines, which even Dryden
had admitted; adhering to an almost mathematically centrical pause;
employing, by preference, short, sharp rhymes with little echo in them;
and but very rarely, though with at least one odd exception, allowing
even the possibility of a trisyllabic foot. An extraordinary artist on
this practically single string, but gave himself few chances on others.

PRAED, WINTHROP MACKWORTH (1802-1839)--An early nineteenth-century
Prior. Not incapable of serious verse, and hardly surpassed in
laughter. His greatest triumph, the adaptation of the three-foot
anapæst, alternately hypercatalectic and acatalectic or exact, which
had been a ballad-burlesque metre as early as Gay, had been partly
ensouled by Byron in one piece, but was made his own by Praed, and
handed down by him to Mr. Swinburne to be yet further sublimated.

PRIOR, MATTHEW (1664-1721).--Of special prosodic importance for his
exercises in anapæstic metres and in octosyllabic couplet, both of
which forms he practically established in the security of popular
favour, when the stopped heroic couplet was threatening monopoly. His
phrase equally suitable to the _vers de société_ of which he was our
first great master.

       *       *       *       *       *

ROBERT OF GLOUCESTER (_fl. c._ 1280).--_Nomen clarum_ in prosody, as
being apparently the first copious and individual producer of the great
fourteener metre, which, with the octosyllabic couplet, is the source,
or at least the oldest, of all modern English forms.

(1828-1882).--A brother and sister who rank extraordinarily high in
our flock. Of mainly Italian blood, though thoroughly Anglicised, and
indeed partly English by blood itself, they produced the greatest
English sonnets on the commoner Italian model, and displayed almost
infinite capacity in other metres. Miss Rossetti had the greater
tendency to metrical experiment, and perhaps the more strictly
lyrical gift of the song kind; her brother, the severer command of
sculpturesque but richly coloured form in poetry.

       *       *       *       *       *

SACKVILLE, THOMAS (1536-1608).--One of the last and best practitioners
of the old rhyme-royal of Chaucer, and one of the first experimenters
in dramatic blank verse.

SANDYS, GEORGE (1578-1644).--Has traditional place after Fairfax and
with Waller (Sir John Beaumont, who ought to rank perhaps before these,
being generally omitted) as a practitioner of stopped heroic couplet.
Also used _In Memoriam_ quatrain.

SAYERS, FRANK (1763-1817).--An apostle, both in practice and preaching,
of the unrhymed verse--noteworthy at the close of the eighteenth
century--which gives him his place in the story.

SCOTT, SIR WALTER (1771-1832).--The facts of his prosodic influence and
performance hardly deniable, but its nature and value often strangely
misrepresented. Was probably influenced by Lewis in adopting (from the
German) anapæstic measures; and certainly and most avowedly influenced
by Coleridge (whose _Christabel_ he heard read or recited long before
publication) in adopting equivalenced octosyllabic couplet and ballad
metres in narrative verse. But probably derived as much from the old
ballads and romances themselves, which he knew as no one else then did,
and as few have known them since. Applied the method largely in his
verse-romances, but was also a master of varied forms of lyric, no mean
proficient in the Spenserian and in fragments, at least, of blank verse.

SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM (1564-1616).--The _catholicos_ or universal
master, as of English poetry so of English prosody. In the blank verse
of his plays, and in the songs interspersed in them, as well as in
his immature narrative poems and more mature sonnets, every principle
of English versification can be found exemplified, less deliberately
"machined," it may be, than in Milton or Tennyson, but in absolutely
genuine and often not earlier-found form.

SHELLEY, PERCY BYSSHE (1792-1822).--The great modern example of
prosodic inspiration, as Keats, Tennyson, and Mr. Swinburne are of
prosodic study. Shelley's early verse is as unimportant in this way
as in others; but from _Queen Mab_ to some extent, from _Alastor_
unquestionably, onwards, he displayed totally different quality, and
every metre that he touched (even if possibly suggested to some extent
by others) bears the marks of his own personality.

SHENSTONE, WILLIAM (1714-1763).--Not quite unimportant as poet, in
breaking away from the couplet; but of much more weight for the
few prosodic remarks in his _Essays_, in which he directly pleads
for trisyllabic (as he awkwardly calls them "dactylic") feet, for
long-echoing rhymes, and for other things adverse to the "mechanic tune
by heart" of the popular prosody.

SIDNEY, SIR PHILIP (1554-1586).--A great experimenter in Elizabethan
classical forms; but much more happy as an accomplished and very
influential master of the sonnet, and a lyric poet of great sweetness
and variety.

SOUTHEY, ROBERT (1774-1843).--A very deft and learned practitioner
of many kinds of verse, his tendency to experiment leading him into
rhymelessness (_Thalaba_) and hexameters (_The Vision of Judgment_);
but quite sound on general principles, and the first of his school
and time to champion the use of trisyllabic feet in principle, and to
appeal to old practice in their favour.

SPENSER, EDMUND (1552?-1599).--The second founder of English prosody in
his whole work; the restorer of regular form not destitute of music;
the preserver of equivalence in octosyllabic couplet; and the inventor
of the great Spenserian stanza, the greatest in every sense of all
assemblages of lines, possessing individual beauty and capable of
indefinite repetition.

SURREY, EARL OF, the courtesy title of HENRY HOWARD (1517-1547).--Our
second English sonneteer, our second author of reformed literary
lyric after the fifteenth-century break-down, and our first clearly
intentional writer of blank verse.

SWINBURNE, ALGERNON CHARLES (1837-1909).--Of all English poets the
one who has applied the widest scholarship and study, assisted by
great original prosodic gift, to the varying and accomplishing of
English metre. Impeccable in all kinds; in lyric nearly supreme. To
some extent early, and, still more, later, experimented in very long
lines, never unharmonious, but sometimes rather compounds than genuine
integers. Achieved many triumphs with special metres, especially by
the shortening of the last line of the Praed-stanza into the form of
"Dolores," which greatly raises its passion and power.

       *       *       *       *       *

TENNYSON, ALFRED (1809-1892).--A poet who very nearly, if not quite,
deserves the position accorded here to Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare,
and Milton. Coming sufficiently late after the great Romantic poets
of the earlier school to generalise their results, he started with
an apparent freedom (perfectly orderly, in fact) which puzzled even
Coleridge. Very soon, too, he produced a practically new form of
blank verse, in which the qualities of the Miltonic and Shakespearian
kinds were blended, and a fresh metrical touch given. All poets
since--sometimes while denying or belittling him--have felt his
prosodic influence; and it is still, even after Mr. Swinburne's fifty
years of extended practice of it, the pattern of modern English prosody.

THOMSON, JAMES (1700-1748).--The first really important practitioner
of blank verse after Milton, and a real, though rather _mannerised_,
master of it. Displayed an equally real, and more surprising, though
much more unequal, command of the Spenserian in _The Castle of

TUSSER, THOMAS (1524?-1580).--A very minor poet--in fact, little more
than a doggerelist; but important because, at the very time when
men like Gascoigne were doubting whether English had any foot but
the iambic, he produced lolloping but perfectly metrical continuous
anapæsts, and mixed measures of various kinds.

       *       *       *       *       *

WALLER, EDMUND (1606-1687).--A good mixed prosodist of the Caroline
period, whose chief traditional importance is in connection with the
popularising of the stopped couplet. His actual precedence in this
is rather doubtful; but his influence was early acknowledged, and
therefore is an indisputable fact. He was also early as a literary user
of anapæstic measures, and tried various experiments.

WATTS, ISAAC (1674-1741).--By no means unnoteworthy as a prosodist.
Followed Milton in blank verse, early popularised triple-time measures
by his religious pieces, evidently felt the monotony of the couplet,
and even attempted English Sapphics.

WHITMAN, WALT[ER] (1819-1892).--An American poet who has pushed farther
than any one before him, and with more success than any one after him,
the substitution, for regular metre, of irregular rhythmed prose,
arranged in versicles something like those of the English Bible, but
with a much wider range of length and rhythm, the latter going from
sheer prose cadence into definite verse.

WORDSWORTH, WILLIAM (1770-1850).--Less important as a prosodist than as
a poet; but prosodically remarkable both for his blank verse, for his
sonnets, and for the "Pindaric" of his greatest Ode.

WYATT, SIR THOMAS (1503?-1542).--Our first English sonneteer and
our first reformer, into regular literary verse, of lyric after the
fifteenth-century disorder. An experimenter with _terza_, and in other
ways prosodically eminent.



(It has seemed desirable to give some account (to an extent which
would in most cases be disproportionate for the Glossary) of the
ascertained, probable, or supposed origin of the principal lines
and line-combinations in English poetry. The arrangement is logical
rather than alphabetical. Slight repetition, on some points, of matter
previously given is unavoidable.)


I. ALLITERATIVE.--Enough has probably been said above of the old
alliterative line and its generic character; while the later
variations, which came upon it after its revival, have also been
noticed and exemplified. Its origin is quite unknown; but the
presence of closely allied forms, in the different Scandinavian and
Teutonic languages, assures, beyond doubt, a natural rise from some
speech-rhythm or tune-rhythm proper to the race and tongue. It is also
probable that the remarkable difference of lengths--short, normal,
and extended--which is observable in O.E. poetry is of the highest
antiquity. It has at any rate persevered to the present day in the
metrical successors of this line; and there is probably no other poetry
which has--at a majority of its periods, if not throughout--indulged
in such variety of line-length as English. Nor, perhaps, is there any
which contains, even in its oldest and roughest forms, a metrical or
quasi-metrical arrangement more close to the naturally increased, but
not denaturalised, emphasis of impassioned utterance, more thoroughly
born from the primeval oak and rock.

II. "SHORT" LINES.--Despite the tendency to variation of lines above
noted, A.S. poetry did not favour _very_ short ones; and its faithful
disciple and champion, Guest, accordingly condemns them in modern
English poetry. This is quite wrong. In the "bobs" and other examples
in Middle English we find the line shortened almost, if not actually,
to the monosyllable, and this liberty has persisted through all the
best periods of English verse since, though frequently frowned upon
by pedantry. Its origin is, beyond all reasonable doubt, to be traced
to French and Provençal influence, especially to that of the short
refrain; but it is so congenial to the general tendency noted above
that very little suggestion must have been needed. It must, however,
be said that very short lines, in combination with long ones, almost
necessitate rhyme to punctuate and illumine the divisions of symphonic
effect; and, consequently, it was not till rhyme came in that they
could be safely and successfully used. But when this was mastered
there was no further difficulty. In all the best periods of English
lyric writing--in that of _Alison_ and its fellows, in the carols of
the fifteenth century, in late Elizabethan and Caroline lyric, and in
nineteenth-century poetry--the admixture of very short lines has been
a main secret of lyrical success; and in most cases it has probably
been hardly at all a matter of deliberate imitation, but due to an
instinctive sense of the beauty and convenience of the adjustment.

III. OCTOSYLLABLE.--The historical origin of the octosyllabic (or, as
the accentual people call it, the four-beat or four-stress line) is one
of the most typical in the whole range of prosody, though the lesson of
the type may be differently interpreted. Taking it altogether, there
is perhaps no metre in which so large a body of modern, including
mediæval, poetry has been composed. But, although it is simply dimeter
iambic, acatalectic or catalectic as the case may be, it is quite vain
to try to discover frequent and continuous patterns of origin for it
in strictly classical prosody.[162] Odd lines, rarely exact, in choric
odes prove nothing, and the really tempting

    Αμμων Ολυμπου δεσποτα

of Pindar is an uncompleted fragment which might have gone off into any
varieties of Pindaric. There are a few fragments of Alcman--

    Ὡρας δ' εσηκε τρεις, θερος

and of the genuine Anacreon--

    Μηδ' ὡστε κυμα ποντιον,

in the metre, while the spurious verse of the "Anacreontea," a
catalectic form with trisyllabic equivalence, seems to have been
actually practised by the real poet. _Alternately_ used, it is, of
course, frequent in the epodes of Horace, in Martial, etc. But the fact
remains that, as has been said, it is not a classical metre to any but
a very small extent, though those who attach no value to anything but
the "beats" may find it in bulk in the _anapæstic_ dimeter of Greek
and Latin choruses. It is in the Latin hymns--that is to say, in Latin
after it had undergone a distinct foreign admixture--that the metre
first appears firmly and distinctly established. In the fourth century,
St. Ambrose without rhyme, and Hilary with it, employ the iambic
dimeter, and it soon becomes almost the staple, though Prudentius,
contemporary with both of them and more of a regular poet, while he
does use it, seems to prefer other metres. By the time, however,
when the modern prosodies began to take form, it was thoroughly well
settled; and every Christian nation in Europe knew examples of it by

It still, however, remains a problem exactly why this particular metre
should, as a matter of direct literary imitation, have commended itself
so widely to the northern nations. They had nearly or quite as many
examples in the same class of the _trochaic_ dimeter

    Gaude, plaude, Magdalena

and they paid no attention to this, though their southern neighbours
did. They had, from the time of Pope Damasus[163] downwards, and in
almost all the hymn-writers, mixed dactylic metres to choose from;
but for a staple they went to this. It seems impossible that there
should not have been some additional and natural reasons for the
adoption--reasons which, if they had not actually brought it about
without any literary patterns at all, directed poets to those patterns
irresistibly. Nor, as it seems to the present writer, is it at all
difficult to discover, as far at least as English is concerned, what
these reasons were.

The discovery might be made "out of one's own head"; but here as
elsewhere Layamon is a most important assistant and safeguard. A mere
glance at any edition of alliterative verse, printed in half lines,
will show that it has a rough resemblance on the page to octosyllabics,
though the outline is more irregular. A moderately careful study of
Layamon shows, as has been indicated, that, in writing this verse with
new influences at work upon him, he substitutes octosyllabic couplet
for it constantly. And the history in the same way shows that this
occasional substitution became a habitual one with others. Not that
there is any mystical virtue in four feet, despite their frequency in
the actual creation: but that, as an equivalent of the old half line,
the choice lies practically between three and four. Now a three-foot
line, though actually tried as in the _Bestiary_ and in parts of
_Horn_, is, as a general norm, too short, is ineffective and jingly,
brings the rhyme too quick, and hampers the exhibition of the sense by
a too staccato and piecemeal presentment. The abundant adoption of the
octosyllable in French no doubt assisted the spread in English. But it
is not unimportant to observe that English translators and adapters
of French octosyllabic poems by no means always preserve the metre,
and that English octosyllables often represent French poems which are
differently metred in the original.

IV. DECASYLLABLE.--A connected literary origin for this great line--the
ancient staple of French poetry, the modern staple of English, and (in
still greater modernity) of German to some extent, as well as (with
the extension of one syllable necessitated by the prevailing rhythm of
the language) of Italian throughout its history--has always been found
extraordinarily difficult to assign. That some have even been driven to
the line which furnishes the opening couplet of the Alcaic

    Quam si clientum longa negotia,


    Vides ut alta stet nive candidum,

an invariably _hen_decasyllabic line of the most opposite rhythm,
constitution, and division, will show the straits which must have
oppressed them. The fact is that there is nothing, either in Greek
or Latin prosody, in the least resembling it or suggestive of it.
To connect it with these prosodies at all reasonably, it would be
necessary to content ourselves with the supposition, not illogical or
impossible, but not very explanatory, that somebody found the iambic
dimeter too short, and the iambic trimeter too long, and split the

In another way, and abandoning the attempt to find parents or sponsors
in antiquity for this remarkable foundling, a not wholly dissimilar
conjecture becomes really illuminative--that the line of ten syllables
(or eleven with "weak ending") proved itself the most useful in the
modern languages. As a matter of fact it appears in the very earliest
French poem we possess--the tenth- or perhaps even ninth-century _Hymn
of St. Eulalia_:

    Bel auret corps, bellezour anima,

and in the (at youngest) tenth-century Provençal _Boethius_:

    No credet Deu lo nostre creator.

If it still seem pusillanimous to be content with such an explanation,
one can share one's pusillanimity with Dante, who contents himself with
saying that the line of eleven syllables "seems the stateliest and
most excellent, as well by reason of the length of time it occupies
as of the extent of subject, construction and language of which it is
capable." And in English, with which we are specially, if not indeed
wholly, concerned, history brings us the reinforcement of showing that
the decasyllable literally forced itself, in practice, upon the English

This all-important fact has been constantly obscured by the habit of
saying that Chaucer "invented" the heroic couplet in English--that
he, at any rate, borrowed it first from the French. Whether he did so
as a personal fact we cannot say, for he is not here to tell us. That
he need not have done so there is ample and irrefragable evidence.
In the process of providing substitutes for the old unmetrical line,
it is not only obvious that the decasyllable--which, from a period
certainly anterior to the rise of Middle English, had been the staple
metre, in long assonanced _tirades_ or batches, of the French _Chansons
de geste_--must have suggested itself. It is still more certain that
it did. It is found in an unpolished and haphazard condition, but
unmistakable, in the _Orison of our Lady_ (early thirteenth century);
it occurs in _Genesis and Exodus_, varying the octosyllable itself,
in the middle of that age; it is scattered about the Romances, in
the same company, at what must have been early fourteenth century at
latest; it occurs constantly in Hampole's _Prick of Conscience_ at the
middle of this century; and there are solid blocks of it in the Vernon
MS., which was written (_i.e._ copied from earlier work), at latest,
before Chaucer is likely to have started the _Legend of Good Women_
or the _Canterbury Tales_. That his practice settled and established
it--though for long the octosyllable still outbid it in couplet, and
it was written chiefly in the stanza form of "rhyme-royal"--is true.
But by degrees the qualities which Dante had alleged made it prevail,
and prepared it as _the_ line-length for blank verse as well as for
the heroic couplet, and for the bulk of narrative stanza-writing.
No doubt Chaucer was assisted by the practice of Machault and other
French poets. But there should be still less doubt that, without that
practice, he might, and probably would, have taken it up. For the
first real master of versification--whether he were Chaucer, or (in
unhappy default of him) somebody else, who must have turned up sooner
or later--could not but have seen, for his own language, what Dante saw
for his.

V. ALEXANDRINE.--The Alexandrine or verse of twelve syllables,
iambically divided, does not resemble its relation, the octosyllable,
in having a doubtful classical ancestry; or its other relation, the
decasyllable, in having none. It is, from a certain point of view, the
exact representative of the great iambic trimeter which was the staple
metre of Greek tragedy, and was largely used in Greek and Roman verse.
The identity of the two was recognised in English as early as the
_Mirror for Magistrates_, and indeed could escape no one who had the
knowledge and used it in the most obvious way.

At the same time it is necessary frankly to say that this
resemblance--at least, as giving the key to origin--is, in all
probability, wholly delusive. There are twelve syllables in each line,
and there are iambics in both. But to any one who has acquired--as
it is the purpose of this book to help its readers to acquire or
develop--a "prosodic" sense, like the much-talked-of historic sense,
it will seem to be a matter of no small weight, that while the cæsura
(central pause) of the ancient trimeter is penthemimeral (at the
fifth syllable), or hepthemimeral (at the seventh), that of the modern
"Alexandrine" is, save by rare, and not often justified, license,
invariably at the sixth or middle--a thing which actually alters the
whole rhythmical constitution and effect of the line.[164] Nor, is the
_name_ to be neglected. Despite the strenuous effort of modern times
to upset traditional notions, it remains a not seriously disputed fact
that the name "Alexandrine" comes from the French _Roman d'Alexandre_,
not earlier than the late twelfth century, and itself following upon
at least one _decasyllabic_ Alexandreid. The metre, however, suited
French, and, as it had done on this particular subject, ousted the
decasyllable in the _Chansons de geste_ generally; while, with some
intervals and revolts, it has remained the "dress-clothes" of French
poetry ever since, and even imposed itself as such upon German for a
considerable time.

In English, however, though, by accident and in special and partial
use, it has occupied a remarkable place, it has never been anything
like a staple. One of the most singular statements in Guest's _English
Rhythms_ is that the "verse of six accents" (as he calls it) was
"formerly the one most commonly used in our language." The present
writer is entirely unable to identify this "formerly": and the examples
which Guest produces, of single and occasional occurrence in O.E. and
early M.E., seem to him for the most part to have nothing to do with
the form. But it was inevitable that on the one hand the large use
of the metre in French, and on the other its nearness as a metrical
adjustment to the old long line or stave, should make it appear
sometimes. The six-syllable lines of the _Bestiary_ and _Horn_ are
attempts to reproduce it in halves, and Robert of Brunne reproduces it
as a whole.[165] It appears not seldom in the great metrical miscellany
of the Vernon MS., and many of Langland's accentual-alliterative
lines reduce themselves to, or close to it; while it very often makes
a fugitive and unkempt appearance in fifteenth-century doggerel. Not a
few of the poems of the _Mirror for Magistrates_ are composed in it,
and as an alternative to the fourteener (this was possibly what Guest
was thinking of) it figures in the "poulter's measure" of the early and
middle sixteenth century. Sidney used it for the sonnet. But it was not
till Drayton's _Polyolbion_ that it obtained the position of continuous
metre for a long poem: and this has never been repeated since, except
in Browning's _Fifine at the Fair_.

So, the most important appearances by far of the Alexandrine in English
are _not_ continuous; but as employed to vary and complete other lines.
There are two of these in especial: the first among the greatest
metrical devices in English, the other (though variously judged and
not very widely employed) a great improvement. The first is the
addition, to an eight-line arrangement in decasyllables, of a ninth in
Alexandrine which constitutes the Spenserian stanza and will be spoken
of below. The other is the employment of the Alexandrine as a variation
of decasyllable in couplet, in triplet and singly, which is, according
to some, including the present writer, visible in the "riding-rhyme"
of Chaucer; which is often present in the blank verse of Shakespeare;
not absent from that of Milton in his earlier attempts; employed in
decasyllabic couplet by Cowley, and (with far greater success) by
Dryden; gradually abandoned and unfavourably spoken of by Pope; but
revived with magnificent effect by Keats in _Lamia_.

VI. FOURTEENER.--On this, as indeed on most of these heads, it will
be well to compare the continuous survey of scanned examples and
the remarks there. This line (or its practical equivalent under the
final _e_ system, the _fif_teener) is probably the oldest attempt to
get a single metrical equivalent for the old divided stave. Its own
equivalents exist, of course, both in Greek and Latin, but it is rather
doubtful whether these had much or anything to do with its genesis. A
more probable source, if any source of the kind is wanted, has been
suggested in the peculiar Latin _thir_teener so popular in the Middle
Ages, and best known by the lines attributed to Mapes--

    Meum est propositum in taberna mori.

With a "catch" syllable at each half[166] you get the full accentual
iambic _fif_teener, and the _four_teener follows.

Perhaps, though it is difficult to recognise the fourteener-rhythm
attributed by Guest and others to Cædmon and later A.S. writers, it is
not necessary to look for any foreign sources as other than auxiliary
to the development of the metre in English. So soon as a definite
iambic mould, with or without trochaic and anapæstic substitution,
began to be impressed on the language, the amount of stuff usual in a
full line would naturally fall into fourteener shape. It did so, we
know, as early as the _Moral Ode_ at least; and barely a century later,
it showed its popularity by the abundant use of Robert of Gloucester
and the _Saints' Lives_ writers. Nor, although the inevitable and
fortunate break-up into ballad eight-and-six encroached on its rights
to a large extent, and the alliterative revival still more, did it lose
its attraction, as _Gamelyn_ and other things show, till it got half
drowned in the doggerel welter of the fifteenth century. From this the
earlier Elizabethans fished it out, cleaned and mended it for practice
both independently and as part of the "poulter's measure," while the
finest example existing was given by Chapman's _Iliad_ in the early
seventeenth century. More recently, except in the _Sigurd_ variety, it
has been seldom used for long poems, but has served as the vehicle of
many of the finest short pieces in the poetry of the nineteenth century.

VII. DOGGEREL.--In the sense (see Glossary) in which this ambiguous
word applies to _line_, it is very important to acquire some notion
of its meaning, but rather difficult to put that notion except very
hypothetically. It is, in this use, conveniently applied to an enormous
mass of verse--sometimes hardly deserving that name, but principally
produced in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries--which refuses,
except occasionally, to adjust itself to any standard, even liberally
equivalenced, of iambic octosyllable, decasyllable, Alexandrine, and
fourteener, or of the trochaic and anapæstic metres corresponding to
some of these, though it comes nearest to the anapæstic division. The
pure accentualist may dismiss it as lines of so many irregular beats,
and trouble himself no farther. But that, on the principles of this
book, will not do. An exceedingly interesting parallel between it
(as well as one of its regularised forms, the anapæstic dimeter) and
the Spanish long line, or "Arte Mayor," has been drawn by Professor
Ker. (See Bibliography.) But, without either taking or opposing his
view, there is no doubt of the existence of this _mare magnum_ of
imperfect versification. It seems to have been fed by various streams.
In the first place, as we see from the _Gamelyn_ metre, and from some
nursery songs (which, though they cannot be older than formed Middle
English, may be nearly as old), like "The Queen was in the Parlour,"
the fourteener had a tendency to break itself into roughly balanced
halves of sometimes different rhythm. The Alexandrine, never quite
at home in English, would naturally bulge and straddle in the same
way. On the regular and continuous anapæstic swing nobody had yet
hit for long, though it probably arose in part from this very chaos.
But perhaps the most abundant source of all was the attempt to write
Chaucerian decasyllables with a constantly altering pronunciation, and
the break-down in it. Examples of various forms of doggerel, with their
corresponding metres, are given below.[167]

VIII. "LONG" LINES.--Beyond the fourteener or fifteener English verse
has, until quite modern times, rarely gone. There are _six_teeners
to be found in fourteenth-century verse, in the disorderly welter of
the fifteenth, and (no doubt deliberately used) in the experiments of
the _Mirror for Magistrates_; but neither they, nor any longer still,
commended themselves much to any English poet before Mr. Swinburne.
His experiments are famous, and some examples of them are given
elsewhere. Their spirit and sweep has made not a few readers look on
them with favour; but it may be questioned whether any lines beyond
seven feet--and whether even six- and seven-foot lines when trisyllabic
feet are allowed--do not tend to break themselves up in English. In
Mr. Swinburne's own case certainly, and perhaps in some others, the
seven-foot anapæstic line of Aristophanes gave the suggestion, while
the abundant practice in so-called English hexameters may also have had
not a little to do with it.


I. BALLAD VERSE.--A good deal has been said incidentally about this
at several points in the preceding text; but summary, and a little
repetition, will not be out of place here. There has been an idea with
some that it is a shortened form of the Romance-six (see next article)
or _rime couée_; but this does not seem to the present writer nearly
so probable as the supposition of a break-up of the certainly earlier
fourteener couplet, which gives it at once.[168] It is, however,
not improbable that the crystallising of this was assisted by the
hesitation, also noticed in text, between octosyllabic and hexasyllabic
couplet. The indecision and vacillation, noticeable in such a piece as
_Horn_, between the four- and three-foot line, would easily settle to
alternation more or less regular, and then, with the assistance of the
broken fourteener, into quite regular use. We do not, however, find
decided examples much before "Judas" and the _Gospel of Nicodemus_ in
the late thirteenth century; it is not common in the early mysteries,
though there are approaches to it; and it seems first to have secured
the popular ear in the much-discussed compositions which give it its
name, and which, in English, are very doubtfully to be traced before
the late fourteenth century. These, however, "estated" it once for
all; though for a long time it was treated with the usual mediæval
freedom--wisely restored by Coleridge in the _Ancient Mariner_--and the
exact number of four lines, 8, 6, 8, 6, was not adhered to. The further
fixed variations, familiar from Psalm- and Hymn-books, of "L.M."
(long measure) or octosyllabic quatrain; "C.M." (common measure), the
actual 8 and 6; and "S.M." (short measure) 6, 6, 8, 6, date only from
Elizabethan times, the last being a breaking-up of the then favourite
"poulter's measure" or alternate Alexandrine and fourteener.

II. ROMANCE-SIX or RIME COUÉE.--As in the case of the ballad-four,
much has been said about this earlier. In considering its origin it is
particularly desirable to distinguish between the possible source of
the principle and the probable derivation of the actual form. The term
_couée_ (_caudatus_), which, as has been pointed out, does not apply
very obviously or appropriately to our actual romance-stanza, appears
to refer originally to the peculiar jingly infusion of rhyme into Latin
hexameters which has been traced back at least to the twelfth century,
and the most famous example of which is the original of "Jerusalem the
Golden," the _De Contemptu Mundi_ of Bernard of Morlaix--

    Hora novissima, tempora pessima sunt, vigilemus--
    Ecce minaciter imminet arbiter ille supremus,

where the rhyme "in the tail" appears clearly enough. It is also not
inappropriate to the form in which Robert of Brunne writes his verse of
the kind, as in Guest's example:

    When ye have the prize of your enemies, none shall ye save:
    Smite with sword in hand; all Northumberland with right shall ye have.

Sometimes, however, he also batches the two first divisions:

  For Edward's good deed   }
                           } a wicked bountỳ.
  The Balliol did him meed }

But it came generally to be written in short lines straight on after
the form now familiar. How or why it became so favourite a measure
for romance is not, I believe, known. Direct French influence could
certainly have had little to do here; for though the six-line measure
appears in Marot (early sixteenth century), it is not common earlier,
and I am not even aware of any perfect example[169] of it, in the
abundant variety of French and Provençal lyric during the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries; while it is quite unknown to the longer French
romances. But it is nearly as easy to remember--or to extemporise in
default of memory--as the couplet itself. And it looks as if it were
less monotonous; though--as those who drew down on it the lash of _Sir
Thopas_, and _Sir Thopas_ itself, show--nothing can be more monotonous
in actuality. Its extensions and variations, and its migration from
long narrative to short lyrical use, have been noticed already. _These_
may have been to some extent influenced by the great popularity of
Marot's _Psalms_, though the metre had long been naturalised.

metres in English, the octosyllabic requires little notice, because
it is almost indissolubly connected with the octosyllabic _line_. As
soon as rhyme appears, the old iambic dimeter, four-accent line, or
whatever you like to call it, _must_ fall into this shape, and does.
There remains indeed the problem why we have no period, in French, of
octosyllabic _tirade_ or batch-writing as we have (see immediately
below) of decasyllabic.[170] But it is certain that the octosyllabic
couplet established itself very early in French, and that at the
important nick of time, when English prosody was being formed late in
the twelfth century, this couplet came to Layamon and others as a great
influence in determining the shape which alteration of the old long
line or halved stave should take in their hands.

Decasyllabic couplet, on the other hand, has a much more tardy and
uncertain history; though, again, much that has to be said about it has
been said in reference to the single line. As soon as that line makes
its appearance, in the "Saint Eulalia" hymn, it does indeed make its
appearance in couplet, rhymed or assonanced.[171] But the attraction
of the longer batches in identical rhyme or assonance seems, however
surprisingly,[172] to get the better; and this is the form that it
takes in the Provençal _Boethius_ and the French _Saint Alexis_. In
fact, as has been hinted above, our own scattered decasyllabic couplet
rather precedes the French, though Guillaume de Machault has the
credit, rightly or wrongly, of teaching it to Chaucer. After Chaucer,
at any rate, there needed nobody to teach it to Englishmen; although it
underwent various vicissitudes, which are duly traced elsewhere.

IV. QUATRAIN.--At a very early period, indeed as soon as they appear,
Latin accentual rhythms have a tendency to batch themselves in four; as
had, earlier still, Greek and Latin stanzas, Sapphic, Alcaic, and what
not. The development of alternate rhyme in the octosyllabic quatrain or
(_v. sup._) ballad metre was certain to lead to a similar arrangement
of _deca_syllables; and when rhyme-royal became popular the first four
lines were so arranged, and might easily be broken off for separate
use, as there is little doubt that the final couplet was. "Fours" of
various arrangement are also abundant in lyric and in drama from the
thirteenth to the fifteenth century. But the greatest impulse was
probably given to the alternate decasyllabic form by its adoption for
the bulk of the English sonnet; and from this to separate use, which
became common in the later Elizabethan poetry, there is but a very
short step. The metre has always been a popular one since, and, in the
hands of Dryden and Gray especially, is very effective. But a certain
grave monotony about it has constantly invited modifications, of which
the greatest and most successful, without altering the line-length,
are those of FitzGerald in _Omar Khayyám_[173] and Mr. Swinburne in
_Laus Veneris_;[174] with altered line-lengths, those of Tennyson in
"The Poet,"[175] "The Palace of Art," and "A Dream of Fair Women." It
was also tried in the seventeenth century as what may be called by
anticipation "long _In Memoriam_ measure"--that is to say, with the
rhymes arranged _abba_.

V. IN MEMORIAM METRE itself may have been suggested quite casually
in the endless rhyme-welter of mediæval experiment. For instance,
it occurs in lines 3 to 6 of Chaucer's nine-line stanza[176] in the
_Complaint of Mars_, and the last eight of his ten-line in the
_Complaint to his Lady_,[177] with decasyllabic lines, of course.
It occurs also, with six-syllable lines, in the last halves of the
octaves of No. XIX. of the _York Plays_.[178] Sidney has it as a
"sport" or chance. But the first person to use it regularly and with
octosyllables was Ben Jonson,[179] who was followed by Lord Herbert of
Cherbury and George Sandys. Yet it was not widely taken up, though few
measures could better have suited the "metaphysical" poets; and after
that generation it remained unused till Tennyson, and by unwitting
coincidence Rossetti, hit upon it just before the middle of the
nineteenth century. Rossetti has also a very effective extension of it
to seven lines _abbacca_.[180]

VI. RHYME-ROYAL.--However much doubt there may be about the directly
imitative origin of things like couplets, or even quatrains (which
might, and almost certainly would, suggest themselves without pattern),
the case is different with such a thing as the permutation of rhyme in
a fixed order of sevens _ababbcc_. It may, therefore, be very likely
that Chaucer took this from Guillaume de Machault, a slightly older
French poet (1284?-1377), with whom he was certainly acquainted. If so,
it is unlikely that Machault invented it, though he may have done so;
for there is almost every possible cross-arrangement of rhymes in the
enormous wealth of French and Provençal lyric from the eleventh to the
fourteenth century. But it was certainly not a frequent metre before.
On the other hand, Chaucer's _Troilus_ made it the most fashionable
metre in English throughout the fifteenth century for long narrative
poems, and it was splendidly written by Sackville in the mid-sixteenth,
but thereafter succumbed to the octave. The last considerable example
of it, in the larger Elizabethan period, was the _Leoline and Sydanis_
of Sir Francis Kynaston, a great admirer of Chaucer, who actually also
translated part of _Troilus_ into Latin rhyme-royal. But it was revived
in the worthiest fashion by the late Mr. William Morris.

VII. OCTAVE.--There are two principal eight-line stanzas of
decasyllables used in English. The oldest form, employed by Chaucer,
appears to have been derived from the French, as it is certainly used
by Deschamps, and may have been by Machault. Here the rhymes are
arranged _ababbcbc_. By addition of an Alexandrine this arithmetically
makes the Spenserian (_v. inf._). The other--later, but much more
largely used--is derived from the Italian _ottava rima_, the rhyme
order of which is _abababcc_. This is the kind employed by Fairfax
(with great results, though rather in the direction of its final
couplet than as a whole) in his translation of Tasso (1600), and (with
a comic bent also directly imitated from Italian) by Frere in _The
Monks and the Giants_, and (after him) by Byron in _Beppo_ and _Don
Juan_. The greatest modern serious employment of it is in Shelley's
_Witch of Atlas_.

VIII. SPENSERIAN.--The Spenserian stanza of nine lines--eight
decasyllables and an Alexandrine, rhymed _ababbcbcc_--is entirely the
invention of Edmund Spenser. It is false to say that it was "taken
from the Italians"; for there is no such stanza in Italian, and the
octave-decasyllabic part of it is rhymed differently from the Italian
octave. It is irrelevant to say that it is the Chaucerian octave
with an Alexandrine added; for it is exactly in the addition of the
Alexandrine that the whole essence and the whole beauty of the stanza
consist. It is still more irrelevant, though true, to assert that there
had been a few attempts (as by More) to add an Alexandrine to other
stanzas or to lengthen out their last line into one; for it is of
_this_ stanza that we are talking, and not of something else. Therefore
it is sufficient to say once more that the Spenserian stanza is the
invention of Edmund Spenser, and one of the greatest inventions known
in prosody.

IX. BURNS METRE.--This arrangement is found first in the verse of the
Provençal prince, William IX. Count of Poitiers (poems about 1090).

    Pus oezem de novelh florir
    Pratz e vergiers reverderir
    Rius e fontanas esclarrir
          Auras e vens
    Beu deu quas des lo joy jourir
          Dou es jauzens.

He has it also in a seven-line form, with four instead of three eights
to start with; while the shorter variety is repeated in Northern
France, as in the beautiful song of "Bele Aeliz." It appears in one
English romance, _Octovian Imperator_, and largely in the Miracle
plays; but later seems to have been preserved only in Scotland, where
Burns gave it once more world-wide vogue.

X. OTHER STANZAS.--Of the numerous other forms of what some improperly
call "irregular verse"--what King James the Sixth (First) showed
himself much more of a Solomon in calling "broken and cuttit," and
adding, "quhairof new formes are daylie inventit according to the
Poëtes Pleasour"--it is impossible to give an exhaustive account, or
even to supply a mere list with examples of the "formes."[181] It is
sufficient to say that when the new English prosody was in making
there were already extensive patterns of such verse in French and
Provençal poetry; that these were freely imitated and improved upon.
In the present writer's larger _History_ the passages dealing with the
contents of MS. Harl. 2253, with the Vernon MS., and with the Miracle
plays will be found to contain specifications of almost every form,
and examples of not a few. This liberty continued in the lyrics of the
Elizabethan period in the larger sense, being especially manifested
in the later Elizabethan miscellanies of the time proper, and in the
Caroline poets; but was discontinued in practice, and frowned upon
in principle, during the eighteenth century. It was revived in the
nineteenth by the great poets of the first Romantic period to some
extent, but to a much greater degree by some of their "intermediate"
successors, like Beddoes and Darley; while, from Tennyson and Browning
onward, it has been the delight of almost every poet worthy of the name
to add to the variety.


[162] The longest passage that my memory (assisted in this case by
the kindness of my friend and colleague Professor Hardie) supplies is
in Aristophanes, _Eq._ 911-940. And it is not insignificant that this
not only becomes (and seems actually to be started by) a burlesque

    Α. εμου μεν ουν.
                    Κ. εμου μεν ουν,

but can only be made out by constantly breaking words, as in

    εις ἡν αναλων ουκ εφε-
    ξεις ουδε ναυπηγουμενος.


    Stirpe decens, elegans specie,
    Sed magis actibus atque fide,
    Terrea prospera nil reputans
    Jussa Dei sibi corde ligans.

This, which is still fourth century, is important as showing _couplet_
rhyme. Hilary had rhymed in _fours_.

[164] It may be added that while the ancient trimeter is very largely
patient of substitution, the French Alexandrine positively refuses any,
and the English is, for an English line, distinctly intolerant of it.


    And somewhat of that tree, they bond until his hands.

[166] As thus:

    [_Et_] me|um est | propo|situm | [_hac_] in | taber|na mori.

[167] (_a_) From Heywood:--

(1) Octosyllabic principally:

    And I to every soul again
    Did give a beck them to retain,
    And axèd them this question than,
    If that the soul of such a womàn
    Did late among them there appear?

  (_Four P's._)

But in close proximity such lines as

    But Lord! how low the Souls made curtesy,


    'Christ, help,' quoth a soul that lay for his fees,

make their appearance.

(2) Hawesian or Barclayan decasyllables staggering into Alexandrine or
anapæstic doggerel:

    How can he have pain by imagination,
    That lacketh all kinds of consideration?
    And in all senses is so insufficient
    That nought can he think in ought that may be meant
    By any means to devise any self thing,
    Nor devise in thing past, present, or coming?

                                                     (_Wit and Folly._)

(For other passages from Heywood see Scanned Conspectus, § XVIII.)

(_b_) Longer examples:--

(1) With Alexandrine norm:

    Therefore see that all shine as bright as Saint George,
    Or as doth a key newly come from the smith's forge.

                                             (_Ralph Roister Doister._)

(2) With fourteener ditto:

    _D._ I know not what a devil thou meanest, thou bringest me mere in
    _H._ Knowest not on what tom-tailor's man sits broaching through a

                                            (_Gammer Gurton's Needle._)

It is curious how closely this unreverend metre sometimes comes to the
heroic model of _Sigurd_.

(3) With decasyllabic ditto:

    Housed to say that as servants are obedient,
    To their bodily masters being in subjection,
    Even so evil men that are not content
    Are subject and slave to their lust and affection,

where, once more, the norm may be shifted to the anapæst.


    ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄||̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄
    ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄||̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄

    = ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄
      ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄
      ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄
      ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄ ̆ ̄

(Substitution of individual feet in each case immaterial.)

[169] The nearest is probably No. 28 in Bartsch, _Romanzen und
Pastourellen_, "Volez vos que je vos chante," with its famous verse
about the nightingale and the mermaid. But there is a perpetual
tendency to cut the eights to sevens and the sixes to fives, as thus:

    Li rosignox est mon pere
    Qui chante sur la ramee
    El plus haut boscage.
    La seraine ele est ma mere
    Qui chante en la mer salee
    El plus haut rivage.

[170] There are examples, as in the _Vie de Saint Léger_ and in Alberic
of Besançon's fragmentary poem on Alexander, but few of them, and the
couplet soon conquers.


  Buona pulcella fut Eulali_a_,        } _rhyme._
  Bel auret corps, bellezour anim_a_.  }
  Voldrent la veintre li deo inim_i_ } _assonance._
  Voldrent la faire diaule serv_ir_. }

[172] Not to the present writer, nor, he thinks, to any one who is
really familiar with the _Chansons de geste_.


    A book of verses underneath the bough,
    A jug of wine, a loaf of bread--and thou
      Beside me singing in the wilderness--
    Oh! wilderness were Paradise enow!


    I seal myself upon thee with my might,
    Abiding always out of all men's sight,
      Until God loosen over sea and land
    The thunder of the trumpets of the night--

The only difference of these is that FitzGerald, following, I believe,
his Persian original, left the third lines quite blank, while Mr.
Swinburne rhymed these in adjacent stanzas.

[175] For examples see above, Book II. Chap. VI. pp. 209, 210.


    To whom shal I then pleyne of my distresse?
    Who may me helpe? Who may my harm redresse?
    _Shall I compleyne unto my lady fre?       }
    Nay, certes! for she hath such hevynesse,  }
    For fere, and eek for wo, that, as I gesse,}
    In litil tyme it wol her bane be._         }
    But were she sauf, it were no fors of me!
    Alas! that ever lovers mote endure,
    For love, | so ma|ny a pe|rilous a|venture!

                                                         (ll. 191-199.)


    My dere herte and best beloved fo,
    Why liketh yow to do me al this wo,
      _What have I doon that greveth yow, or sayd,
    But for I serve and love yow and no mo?
    And whilst I lyve I wol ever do so;
      And therefor, swete, ne beth nat yvel apayd.
    For so good and so fair as [that] ye be       }
      Hit were right grete wonder but ye hadde    }
      Of alle servantes, bothe of goode and badde;}
    And leest worthy of alle hem, I am he._       }

Not dissimilar suggestions may be found in Dunbar's _Golden Targe_.


    We heard how they you hight,
      If they might find that child,
    For to have told you right,
      But certes they are beguiled.
    {_Swilk tales are not to trow,
    { Full well wot ilka wight,
    { Thou shall never more have might
    {Ne maistery unto you._


    Who, as an offering at your shrine,
      Have sung this hymn and here entreat
      One spark of your diviner heat
    To light upon a love of mine.


    Consider the sea's listless chime,
      Time's self it is, made audible:
      The murmur of the earth's own shell--
    Secret continuance sublime
        Is the sea's end; our sight may pass
        No furlong further. Since time was
    This sound hath told the lapse of time.

                                                    (_The Sea Limits._)

[181] For instance, Coleridge has shown, in the _Ancient Mariner_, that
the ballad or common measure of four lines, 8, 6, 8, 6, _abab_, can be
extended to any number of lines up to _nine_ (_v. sup._ p. 97), with
the number and order of each rhyme-end varied to suit, and yet without
overrunning, or loosening the general grip and character of the stanza.
Now the smallest knowledge of mathematics will show the enormous number
of combinations--five-, six-, seven-, eight-, and nine-lined, with the
_a_ and _b_ rhymes variously grouped--that would require tabulation
even up to this limit. And it would argue utter insensibility to the
qualities and capacities of English poetry to deny that, on the morrow
of this classification, a poet might arise who would give the same
solid effect to _ten_ or more lines with still more endlessly varied
rhyme-permutation. Instead, therefore, of attempting a hopeless and
even mischievous task (for these classifications always generate the
idea that whatsoever is outside of them is bad), it has seemed better
to lay down, and to illustrate largely and variously, the principles on
which all such legitimate combinations have been formed hitherto, but
on which they may legitimately be formed anew _ad infinitum_. And this,
it is hoped, has been done sufficiently here.



(The following list contains almost everything with which any student,
who is not making the subject one of exhaustive and practically
original research, need make himself acquainted; while it will carry
him pretty far even in that direction. Further information will be
found in the works of Mr. T. S. Omond, _English Metrists_ (Tunbridge
Wells, 1903), and _English Metrists of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth
Centuries_ (Oxford and London, 1907), as well as in the present
writer's larger _History of English Prosody_. Several of the works
hereinafter catalogued will be found collected in Professor Gregory
Smith's _Elizabethan Critical Essays_ (2 vols., Oxford, 1904), and
extracts from not a very few of them in the present writer's _Loci
Critici_ (Boston, U.S.A., and London, 1903).)

ABBOTT, E. A. _Shakesperian Grammar_ (London, 1869), and (with J. R.
Seeley) _English Lessons for English People_ (London, 1871). Reissued

ALDEN, R. M. _English Verse_ (New York, 1904), and _Introduction to
Poetry_ (New York, 1909).

[BLAKE, J. W.] _Accent and Rhythm explained by the Law of
Monopressures_ (Edinburgh, 1888).

BREWER, R. F. _Manual of English Poetry_ (London, 1869). Reissued and
enlarged later as _Orthometry_ (London, 1893).

BRIDGES, R. S. _Milton's Prosody_ (Oxford, 1889). Frequently reissued,
especially in 1901, with important additions on stress-prosody.

BYSSHE, EDWARD. _The Art of English Poetry_ (London, 1702). Frequently
reprinted throughout the eighteenth century, the best edition being
that of 1708.

CALVERLEY, C. S. _On Metrical Translation_, originally in a magazine.
Reprinted in _Works_ (London, 1901).

CAMPION, THOMAS. _Observations in the Art of English Poetry_ (London,
1602). Reprinted in Gregory Smith's _Elizabethan Essays_, in Bullen's
_Works_ of Campion (London, 1889), and in the Oxford edition of these
_Works_ (1910).

CAYLEY, C. B. _Remarks and Experiments on English Hexameters_
(_Transactions of Philological Society_, Berlin, 1861), and Preface to
translation of Æschylus's _Prometheus Bound_ (London, 1867).

COLERIDGE, S. T. Preface to _Christabel_. Almost any edition of _Poems_.

CONWAY, GILBERT. _A Treatise of Versification_ (London, 1878).

CROWE, WILLIAM. _A Treatise on English Versification_ (Oxford, 1827).

DANIEL, SAMUEL. _A Defence of Rhyme_ (London, 1603?-1607). In Gregory
Smith, and in all reprints of Daniel's _Works_, as well as among the
_Poems_ in Chalmers's _Poets_.

DRYDEN, JOHN. No single concentrated treatment, but interesting
glances, some of which will be found in _Loci Critici_ (_v. sup._), and
all of which can be easily traced in Professor Ker's edition of the
_Critical Essays_ (2 vols., Oxford, 1900).

GASCOIGNE, GEORGE. _Certain Notes of Instruction in English Verse_
(London, 1575). Reprinted in Gregory Smith, in Arber's English reprints
(London, 1868), etc.

GOLDSMITH, OLIVER. _Essay on Versification_ (_British Magazine_,
London, 1763). Reprinted in all editions of his _Works_ as
"Miscellaneous Essays, No. 18."

GUEST, EDWIN. _History of English Rhythms_ (2 vols., London, 1838).
Reprinted and edited in one vol. by Professor Skeat (London, 1882).

HODGSON, SHADWORTH. "English Verse" in _Outcast Essays_, etc. (London,

HOOD, T. (the younger). _The Rules of Rhyme_ (London, 1869).

JENKIN, FLEEMING. Papers on Metre in _Saturday Review_ for 1883.
Reprinted in _Memoir and Remains_ (Edinburgh, 1887).

JOHNSON, SAMUEL. Papers chiefly in _The Rambler_ (London, 1750). To
be found partly in _Loci Critici_, and completely in all editions of
the _Rambler_ itself. A few remarks on prosody are in the "Grammar"
accompanying the _Dictionary_, and many scattered over the _Lives of
the Poets_.

KER, W. P.--_Analogies between English and Spanish Verse_
(_Philological Society's Transactions_, London, 1899).

KING JAMES THE FIRST (SIXTH OF SCOTLAND). _Rewlis and Cautelis_. [Full
title longer.] (Edinburgh, 1595.) Reprinted by Arber (London, 1869),
and in Gregory Smith.

LEWIS, C. M. _The Principles of English Verse_ (New York and London,

LIDDELL, MARK H. _Introduction to the Scientific Study of English
Poetry_ (New York, 1902).

MASON, JOHN. _An Essay on the Power of Numbers and the Principle of
Harmony in Poetical Compositions_ (London, 1749).

MASSON, DAVID. Essay on Milton's Versification in edition of _Milton's
Works_ (London, 1890), vol. iii. pp. 107 _sq._

MAYOR, J. B. _Chapters on English Metre_ (Cambridge, 1886). _A Handbook
of English Metre_ (Cambridge, 1904).

MITFORD, WILLIAM. _Essay on the Harmony of Language_ (London, 1774).
Reissued, with large alterations and additions, as _An Enquiry into the
Principles of Harmony in Language_ (London, 1804).

OMOND, T. S. _A Study of Metre_ (London, 1903).

PATMORE, COVENTRY. "English Metrical Criticism," originally in _North
British Review_ for 1875. Reprinted with _Amelia_ (London, 1878), and
since in various places of his _Poems_ and _Works_.

POE, E. A. _The Rationale of Verse_, originally a magazine essay, 1848.
In the various editions of his _Works_ (ed. Ingram, 4 vols.; Edinburgh,
1875, vol. iii. pp. 219-265).

[PUTTENHAM, GEORGE?] _The Art of English Poesie_ (London, 1581).
Reprinted by Arber (Birmingham, 1869), and in Gregory Smith.

RUSKIN, JOHN. _Elements of English Prosody_ (Orpington, 1880).

SCHIPPER, J. _Englische Metrik_ (3 vols., Bonn, 1882-89). _History of
English Versification_ (Oxford, 1910).

SHENSTONE, WILLIAM. _Essays_ in _Works_ (3 vols., London, 1764-69). The
chief of the few, but very important, prosodic remarks will be found in
_Loci Critici_.

SKEAT, W. W. Section on Chaucer's Prosody in _Works of Chaucer_, vol.
vi. (Oxford, 1894). Rehandled in paper on the _Scansion of English
Poetry_ (_Philological Society's Transactions for 1895-98_).

SOUTHEY, ROBERT. Preface of _Vision of Judgment_ (London, 1820). A few
important remarks (see text) in _Letters_ and _Correspondence_.

SPEDDING, JAMES. Review in _Fraser's Magazine_, 1861. Reprinted in
_Reviews and Discussions_ (London, 1879).

SPENSER, EDMUND. Correspondence with Gabriel Harvey. In full editions
of _Works_, or in Gregory Smith.

STEELE, JOSHUA. _Prosodia Rationalis_ (London, 1779).

STONE, W. J. _On the Use of Classical Metres in English_ (Oxford,
1898). Reprinted, without specimens, together with Mr. Bridges'
_Prosody of Milton_ (Oxford, 1901).

SYMONDS, J. A. _Blank Verse_ (London, 1895).

THELWALL, JOHN. _Illustrations of English Rhythmus_ (London, 1812).

VERRIER, M. _Essai sur la métrique anglaise_ (3 vols., Paris, 1909).

WADHAM, E. _English Versification_ (London, 1869).

WEBBE, WILLIAM. _A Discourse of English Poetry_ (London, 1586).
Reprinted by Arber (London, 1870) and in Gregory Smith.


["Gloss." indicates that the word will be found explained at its
alphabetical place in the Glossary.]

  Abbott, Dr., 259, 337

  Abnormal lines in Shakespeare, 130

  Accent and accentual system, Bk. I. Ch. II. and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  Acephalous, 51, 157 (Gloss.)

  Acrostic (Gloss.)

  Adjective, forms in -_y_, 166 _note_

  _Adonais_, 204

  _Agincourt, Ballad of_, 303

  _Alastor_, 204, 312

  Alberic of Besançon, 330 _note_

  Alcaics, 124 (Gloss.)

  Alcman, 318

  Alden, Mr. R. M., 337

  Alexandrine, 15, 49, 51, 53, 55, 61, 65-71, 79, 84, 85, 90, 91, 102, 109,
      129, 130, 159, 171, 177, 192, 193, 205, 212, 227,
      290 (Gloss. and Origin-List)

  _Alexis, St._, 331

  _Alison_, 45

  Allen, Mr. Grant, 125, 281

  Alliteration, 34

  Alliterative verse, 37-40, 48-50, 134-139, 151-153, 155 (Gloss.),
      316, 317

  _Alresford Pool_, 187

  Ambrose, St., 38, 318

  _Amoryus and Cleopes_, 53

  Amphibrach (Gloss.)

  Amphimacer (Gloss.)

  Anacreon, 318

  Anacrusis (Gloss.)

  Anapæst, 31 and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  _Ancient Mariner, The_, 272, 301, 329, 336 _note_

  _Andromeda_, 123, 257, 306

  Anglo-Saxon (or Old English) prosody, 37, 38, 134-137

  _Anima Anceps_, 219 _note_

  _Annus Mirabilis_, 209

  Anti-bacchic (Gloss.)

  _Anti-Jacobin, The_, 300

  Antispast (Gloss.)

  Antistrophe, 90 (Gloss.)

  "Appoggiatura" (Gloss.)

  _Arcades_, 185, 308

  Aristophanes, 304, 318 _note_, 328

  Arnold, M. (1822-1888), 102, 127, 212, 213, 286, 298

  Arsis (Gloss.)

  "Arte Mayor," 326

  Artificial French forms, 125-127

  Ascham, R. (1515-1568), 120, 121, 234

  _Asolando_, 285 _note_

  Assonance, 34 (Gloss.)

  _Astræa_, 266

  "At a Month's End," 217

  Atonic (Gloss.)

  _Atys, The_, 125, 281

  _Awntyrs of Arthur, The_, 49

  Ayton, Sir R. (1570-1638), 81

  Bacchic (Gloss.)

  Ballad (1647) (Gloss.)

  Ballad-measure, 53, 56, 81, 96, 97 (Gloss. and Origin-List)

  Ballade, 126 (Gloss.)

  Bar (Gloss.)

  Barbour, John (1316-1395), 55

  _Bard, The_, scanned, 89-91

  Barham, R. H. (1788-1844), 298, 308

  Bartsch, 330

  "Baston," 233

  _Battle of Alcazar, The_, 64

  "Battle of the Baltic, The," 300

  Beat (Gloss.)

  Beaumont (1584-1616) and Fletcher (1579-1625), 68, 175, 176

  Beaumont, Sir John (1583-1627), 78, 187, 188, 239, 298, 311

  Beddoes, T. L. (1803-1849), 206, 336

  Behn, Afra (1640-1689), 189

  _Bele Aeliz_, 335

  _Bells and Pomegranates_, 211

  _Beowulf_, 37

  _Beppo_, 203, 300

  Bernard of Morlaix, 329

  _Beryn_, 165

  _Bestiary, The_, 112, 143, 320, 323

  _Blackwood's Magazine_, 21

  Blake, W. (1757-1827), 33, 42, 93, 94, 112, 143, 145, 199, 298

  Blank verse, 63-72, 88, 89, 104-108, 174 _sq._ (Gloss.)

  Blind Harry (fifteenth century), 56, 163

  "Boadicea" (Cowper's), 10, 302

  "Boadicea" (Tennyson's), 125, 281

  Bob and Wheel (Gloss.)

  _Boethius_ (the Provençal), 321, 331

  _Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich, The_, 122

  Bowles, W. L. (1762-1850), 200, 299

  Bradshaw, Mr., 159

  Brewer, R. F., 259, 337

  Bridges, Mr., 12 _note_, 260, 261 _note_, 337

  Brightland, J., 245

  "Broken and cuttit" verse, 169, 173, 202, 237

  Bronte, Emily (1818-1848), 129

  Browne, W. (1591-1643), 75, 80, 187, 299

  Browning, E. B. (1806-1861), 29, 212, 271, 299

  Browning, R. (1812-1889), 100, 102, 105, 109, 117, 210-212, 285 _note_,
      299, 324, 336

  Brunne, Robert of (_fl._ 1288-1338), 233

  Burden (Gloss.)

  Burns, R. (1759-1796), and Burns-metre, 44-46, 199, 273,
      299 (Gloss. and Origin-List)

  Byron, Lord (1788-1824), 114, 203, 268, 300, 311, 334

  Bysshe, E. (_fl._ 1702-1712), 16, 19, 27, 195, 242-245, 337

  Cadence, 233 (Gloss.)

  Cæsura (Gloss.)

  Calverley, C. S. (1831-1884), 338

  Campbell, T. (1777-1844), 300

  Campion, Thomas (_d._ 1619), 33, 73, 121, 238, 300, 338

  Canning, G. (1770-1827), 123, 124, 292, 300

  _Canterbury Tales, The_, 51

  "Canute Song, The," 136

  Carey, John (1756-1826), 252

  Carol, 164 (Gloss.)

  Caroline verse, 189

  "Castaway, The," 302

  _Castle of Indolence, The_, 315

  Catalexis (Gloss.)

  Catullus, 125, 281, 283

  Cayley, C. B., 338

  Chalkhill, J. (_fl. c._ 1600?), 76, 187

  Chamberlain, R. (_fl._ 1640-1660), 301

  Chamberlayne, W. (1619-1689), 76, 187, 301

  _Chansons de geste_, 266, 312, 323

  Chant-royal (Gloss.)

  Chapman, G. (1559?-1634), 281, 325

  Chatterton, Thomas (1752-1770), 42, 93, 143, 145, 199, 301

  Chaucer, G. (1340?-1400), 14, 42, 43, 47, 50, 51, 148, 155-163, 172, 186,
      190, 191, 222, 233, 266, 267, 273, 278, 289, 291, 295, 296, 301, 307,
      321-325, 332, 334

  _Chauceriana_, 162

  _Cherry and the Slae, The_, 57

  Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of (1694-1773), 114

  _Chevy Chase_, 53, 104

  _Childe Harold_, 203, 300

  Choriamb, 119 (Gloss.)

  _Christabel_, 8, 42, 60, 95-100, 112, 170, 201, 251, 252, 301, 308, 312

  _Christmas Eve and Easter Day_, 211

  Churchill, Ch. (1731-1764), 194

  _Cleanness_, 48

  Cleveland, J. (1613-1658), 129 _note_, 301

  _Cloud_, Shelley's, scanned, 100, 112, 204

  Clough, A. H. (1819-1861), 122

  _Coda_ (Gloss.)

  Coleridge, S. T. (1772-1834), 8, 42, 95-100, 112, 121, 124, 143, 145,
      166 _note_, 201, 208, 251, 252, 272, 299, 301, 312, 329, 336 _note_,

  Collins, W. (1721-1759), 33, 94-100, 194, 196-199, 273, 301

  "Come unto these yellow sands," 182 _note_

  "Common," 7 and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  Common measure, 81 _sq._ (Gloss.)

  _Complaints_, Chaucer's, 332, 333

  _Comus_, 177, 308

  _Confessio Amantis_, 51

  Congreve, W. (1670-1729), 302

  Conway, G., 259, 338

  Couplet (Gloss.)

  "Cowee," 233

  Cowley, A. (1618-1667), 78, 302, 324

  Cowper, W. (1731-1800), 89, 94, 113, 125, 194, 196, 197, 292, 304

  Crabbe, G. (1754-1832), 87, 88, 194

  Cretic (Gloss.)

  Crowe, W. (1745-1829), 27, 246, 252, 290, 338

  _Crown of Laurel_, 54

  _Cupid and Psyche_, 187 _note_

  "Cuttit and broken" verse, 169, 173, 202, 237

  _Cynara_, 129

  Dactyl, 31, 33, and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  Dallas, E.S. (1828-1879), 257

  Damasus, Pope, 319

  Daniel, S. (1562-1619), 185, 238, 338

  Dante, 167 _note_, 284, 292, 295, 321, 322

  Darley, G. (1795-1840), 206, 336

  Darwin, E. (1731-1802), 200

  Davenant, Sir John (1606-1668), 70, 176

  David, A., 292

  Davidson, Mr. John (1857-1909), 219

  Davies, Sir John (1569-1626), 266

  Decasyllable, 46 _sq._ and _passim_ (Gloss. and Origin-List)

  _De Contemptu Mundi_, 329

  _Defence of Guenevere, The_, 215, 309

  Dennis, John (1657-1734), 241

  Deschamps, Eust., 334

  "Deserter," Curran's, 219 _note_

  Di-iamb (Gloss.)

  Dimeter (Gloss.)

  Dispondee (Gloss.)

  Distich (Gloss.)

  Ditrochee (Gloss.)

  Dixon, R. W. (1853-1900), 218, 219, 295, 303

  Dobson, Mr. Austin, 125-127

  Dochmiac (Gloss.)

  Doggerel, 54, 55, 163 (Gloss. and Origin-List)

  "Dolores" metre, 112-115

  _Don Juan_, 203, 300

  Donne, John (1573-1631), 73, 81, 302, 305

  Douglas, G., 163

  Dowson, E., 129

  Drant, T. (d. 1578?), 236

  Drayton, M. (1563-1631), 75, 77, 109, 185, 187, 225, 283, 302, 303, 324

  "Dream of Fair Women, The," 209

  Dryden, John (1631-1700), 15, 17 _note_, 29, 34 _note_, 82-85, 101-103,
      129 _note_, 192, 193, 240, 241, 267, 274, 281, 290, 302, 303, 305,
      310, 324, 332, 338

  Dunbar, W. (1465?-1530?), 56, 163, 303

  Duple (Gloss.)

  Durfey, T. (1653-1723), 197, 199

  Dyer, John (1700?-1758), 195 _note_, 303

  _Dying Swan_ (Tennyson's) scanned, 110-112

  _Earthly Paradise, The_, 215, 309

  "E.I.O.," 54, 164

  Elegiacs, English, 73, 122

  _Elegy_, Gray's, 209

  _Elinor Rumming_, 54

  Elision (Gloss.)

  Ellis, A. J. (1814-1890), 259

  End-stopped (Gloss.)

  _Endymion_, 205, 306

  _England's Jubile_, 301

  Enjambment (Gloss.)

  "Enterlace," 233

  Envoi (Gloss.)

  Epanaphora (Gloss.)

  Epanorthosis (Gloss.)

  _Epithalamion_ (Spenser's), 62

  Epitrite (Gloss.)

  Epode (Gloss.)

  Equivalence, 32 and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  _Eulalia, Hymn of St._, 151 _note_, 321, 331

  _Evangeline_, 116, 122, 256, 306, 307

  Evans, Archdeacon (1789-1866), 257

  _Eve of St. Agnes, The_, 205, 306

  "Eve of St. John," 270

  _Eve of St. Mark, The_, 206, 306

  "Eveleen's Bower," 202, 270

  "Evening, Ode to" (Collins'), 302

  "Evening on the Broads," 119

  _Example of Virtue, The_, 305

  Extrametrical syllables, 18 _note_

  Eye-rhyme, 172 (Gloss.)

  _Faerie Queene, The_, 171, 280

  Fairfax, E. (d. 1635), 77, 185, 187, 303, 311, 334

  "Feet" ("foot"), 6 and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  Feminine endings (Gloss.)

  _Fifine at the Fair_, 212, 267, 303

  "Fifteener," 39, 40 (Gloss.)

  "Fingering," 35 (Gloss.)

  Fitzgerald, E. (1809-1883). 217, 303, 332

  Fletcher, Giles (1588?-1623), 304

  Fletcher, John, _see_ Beaumont and F., 304

  Fletcher, Phineas (1582-1650), 304

  Foot, _see_ Feet

  "Fourteener," 34, 40, 41, 49, 53, 55, 84, 85, 115, 140, 149, 153, 165,
      167, 193, 215 (Gloss. and Origin-List)

  French prosody, its connections, agreements, and differences with
      English, 14

  Frere, J. H. (1769-1846), 304, 334

  _Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay_, 64

  _Friars of Berwick, The_, 186, 303

  Galliambics, 125 (Gloss.)

  _Gamelyn_, 165, 281, 325, 326

  Garth, S. (1661-1719), 85, 193

  Gascoigne, G. (1525?-1577), 9, 15, 19, 59, 65, 155, 166, 168, 174, 199,
      234, 235, 241, 290, 304, 314, 338

  _Gawain and the Green Knight_, 48, 152, 221

  Gay, J. (1685-1732), 92, 114, 310

  Gemell or Geminel, 302 (Gloss.)

  _Genesis and Exodus_, 14, 43, 47, 60, 145, 170, 221, 321

  Gifford, H. (_fl._ 1580), 74

  Gildon, C. (1665-1724), 245

  Glover, R. (1712-1785), 88, 304

  _Goblin Market_, 215, _note_

  Godric, St. (12th cent.), 38, 136, 304

  Goldsmith, O. (1728-1774), 96, 194, 338

  _Gorboduc_, 63, 174

  _Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions_, 72

  _Gospel of Nicodemus_, 328

  Gower, John (1325?-1408), 14, 42, 51, 153, 154, 156, 206, 222, 233, 274,

  "Grandmamma" (Locker's), 300

  "Grave Poem," the, 38, 136

  Gray, T. (1718-1771), 89-92, 142, 194, 196-199, 249, 250, 294, 301, 302,

  Greek prosody, its resemblance and relations to English, 1, 6, 7, 20,
      32 _note_, 281

  Greene, Robert (1560?-1592), 64

  _Grongar Hill_, 195 _note_, 303

  Guest, Dr. (1800-1880), 11 _note_, 38, 135, 237, 253-255, 292, 323, 324,
      325, 329, 338

  "Haidee, Lines to," 114

  _Hamlet_, 130

  Hampole, Richard Rolle of, (1290?-1349), 46, 47, 304, 305, 321

  Hardie, Prof., 284 _note_, 318 _note_

  Harvey, Gabriel (1545?-1630), 121, 236

  _Havelok_, 149

  Hawes, S. (d. 1523?), 163, 223, 305

  Hayley, W. (1745-1820), 300

  Head-rhyme (Gloss.)

  Hendecasyllables, 124, 125 (Gloss.)

  Henley, Mr. W. E. (1849-1903), 128, 219, 286

  Henryson, R. (1430?-1506?), 56, 155, 163

  Heptameter (Gloss.)

  Herbert of Cherbury, Lord (1583-1648), 82, 333

  _Hero and Leander_, 186

  "Heroic" couplet, etc. (Gloss.)

  Herrick, R. (1591-1674), 81, 305

  "Hesperia," 118

  Hewlett, Mr., 12 _note_

  Hexameters, 120-123 (Gloss.)

  Heywood, John (1497?-1580?), 54, 326, 327 _note_

  Hiatus (Gloss.)

  _Hiawatha_, 307

  Hilary, 318

  Hodgson, Mr. S., 260, 338

  "Hollyhock" song (Tennyson's), 27, 99, 112

  Holmes, O. W., 300

  Hood, Tom, the elder (1799-1845), 269 _note_

  Hood, Tom, the younger (1835-1874), 259, 338

  Horace, 266, 289, 318

  _Horn_ (_King_), 149, 221, 320, 323, 328

  _House of Fame, The_, 50

  Hughes, Thomas (fl. 1587), 64

  Hunt, H. J. Leigh (1784-1859), 101, 305, 306

  _Hyperion_, 205, 306

  Iambic, 19, 31, and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  "Immortality" Ode (Wordsworth's), 200 _note_

  _Ingoldsby Legends, The_, 298

  _In Memoriam_ metre, 81 _sq._, 312 (Origin-List)

  Inverted stress (Gloss.)

  Ionic (Gloss.)

  _Isabella_, 204, 205, 306

  "J. D.", 239

  James I. of Scotland (1394-1437), 56, 163, 172 _note_

  James VI. of Scotland (I. of England), (1566-1625), 236, 257, 296, 335,

  _Jason, The Life and Death of_, 309

  Jenkin, Prof. F. (1833-1885), 260, 338

  "Jerusalem the Golden," 329

  Johnson, Dr. (1709-1784), 12, 19, 87, 88, 194, 196, 246, 338

  Jonson, Ben (1573?-1637), 72, 176, 187, 239, 241, 302, 305, 307, 333

  _Judas_ poem, 41, 328

  _Kapiolani_, 116, 201, 288

  Keats, John (1795-1821), 101, 102, 108, 192, 205-6, 305, 306, 324

  Ker, Prof., 326, 338, 339

  _King Horn_, 112

  _Kingis Quair, The_, 163, 290

  Kingsley, Ch. (1819-1875), 118, 123, 257, 306

  Kynaston, Sir Francis (1587-1642), 186, 334

  _La Belle Dame sans Merci_, 206, 306

  _L'Allegro_, 308

  _Lamia_, 102, 306

  Landor, W. S. (1775-1864), 306

  Langland, W. (1330?-1400?), 49, 152, 153, 190, 222, 307, 323

  Lanier, S., 261

  _Laon and Cythna_, 204

  "Last Buccaneer, The" (Macaulay's), 271, 308

  "Last Leaf, The" (Holmes's), 300

  "Last Ride Together, The," 211

  Latham, R. G. (1812-1888), 11 _note_, 257

  Latin prosody, its connection, agreements, and differences with English,
      1, 6, 7, 20, 32 _note_

  _Laus Veneris_, 217, 332

  Lawes, H. (1596-1662), 240 _note_

  Layamon (_fl. c._ 1200), 39-42, 137-139, 307, 319

  _Lay of the Last Minstrel, The_, 201

  _Lays of Ancient Rome_, 308

  _Le Bone Florence of Rome_, 44

  _Leger, Vie de St._, 330 _note_

  _Leoline and Sydanis_, 334

  Leonine verse, 143 (Gloss.)

  "Letter of Advice" (Praed's), 114

  Lewis, C. M., 339

  Lewis, D. (1683-1760), 92

  Lewis, M. G. (1775-1818), 200 _note_, 203, 307, 312

  Liddell, Prof. Mark H., 339

  _Life and Death of Jason, The_, 215

  Line and Line-Combination, 33 and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  Locker, F. (1821-1895), 300, 307

  "Long," Bk. I. Chap. II. and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  "Long" lines, 115, 116 (Origin-List)

  "Long Measure," 81 _sq._ and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  Longfellow, H. W. (1807-1882), 122, 256, 307

  "Lotos-Eaters, The," 209

  "Love among the Ruins," 211

  _Love is Enough_, 118, 215-309

  _Love-Rune_, 144

  _Lycidas_, 183, 275, 309

  Lydgate, John (1370?-1451?), 52, 53, 162, 223, 233, 287, 307

  Lydgatian line, 52, 53 (Gloss.)

  Lyndsay, Sir D. (1490-1555), 163

  Macaulay, Lord (1800-1859), 207, 208 _note_, 271

  Macaulay, Prof. G. C., 52

  _Macbeth_, 23 _note_, 129, 130

  Machault, G. de, 331, 334

  M'Cormick, Dr., 12 _note_

  Maginn, W. (1793-1842), 308

  _Mano_, 218, 294, 303

  Mapes, W. (_fl. c._ 1200), 325

  "Mark Antony" (Cleveland's), 301

  Marlowe, C. (1564-1593), 64, 66, 75, 174, 187, 308

  Marmion, S. (1603-1639), 76, 187

  Marot, C., 330

  Martial, 318

  Marvell, A. (1621-1678), 82

  _Mary Ambree_, 74

  Masculine rhyme (Gloss.)

  Mason, J. (1706-1763), 247, 339

  Masson, Prof., 258, 339

  _Maud_, 115

  Mayor, Prof. J. B., 260, 339

  _Medea_ (Glover's), 304

  Meredith, Mr. George (1829-1909), 125, 219, 281

  _Merope_, 298

  Metham, John (15th century), 53

  Metre, 6 and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  _Metrum_ (Gray's), 198, 250

  Milton, John (1608-1674), 11, 12, 15, 25 _note_, 70, 71, 177-185, 191,
      195, 240, 246, 260, 273, 277, 279, 289, 293, 294, 296, 308, 309, 324

  _Mirror for Magistrates_, 166, 234 _note_, 322, 324

  _Misfortunes of Arthur_, 64

  Mitford, W. (1744-1827), 19, 248, 339

  "Molly Mog," 92, 114

  Molossus (Gloss.)

  _Monks and the Giants, The_, 304

  _Monk's Tale_, 289

  Monometer (Gloss.)

  Monopressure (Gloss.)

  Monosyllabic foot, 23, 281; illustrations, _passim_

  Montgomerie, Alex. (1556?-1610?), 57, 163

  Moore, T. (1779-1852), 202, 270, 309

  _Moral Ode_, 41, 141, 220, 281, 325

  Morris, W. (1834-1896), 103, 108, 117, 118, 156, 206, 214, 215, 298, 306,
      309, 334

  _Mother Hubberd's Tale_, 62, 75

  Murray, Lindley (1745-1826), 252

  Musical and rhetorical arrangements of verse, 8 _note_, 35 (Rule 41)

  Myers, F. (1843-1901), 128, 129

  Nash, T. (1567-1601), 238

  "Nativity" hymn (Milton's), 308

  "Needy Knife-Grinder, The," 123, 292

  Norton, Thomas (1532-1584), 63

  _Notes of Instruction_ (Gascoigne's), 234, 235, 305

  "Nut-brown Maid, The," 164

  Occleve, 162, 199

  Octave, 185, 186, 203-205 (Gloss. and Origin-List)

  Octometer (Gloss.)

  Octosyllable, 40 and _passim_ (Gloss. and Origin-List)

  _Octovian Imperator_, 335

  Old English prosody, _see_ Anglo-Saxon

  _Omar Khayyám_, 217, 303, 332

  Omond, Mr. T. S., 256, 261, 337, 339

  _Orison of Our Lady_, 140, 141, 321

  Orm and the _Ormulum_, 14, 17, 38, 140, 220, 310

  O'Shaughnessy, A. E. (1844-1881), 217, 310

  _Ossian_, 33 _note_, 199

  _Ottava rima_ (Gloss. and Origin-List)

  _Owl and the Nightingale, The_, 14, 42, 145, 221

  Pæon (Gloss.)

  "Palace of Art, The," 209

  _Paracelsus_, 210

  _Paradise Lost_ and _Paradise Regained_, 178-181, 309

  _Pastime of Pleasure, The_, 305

  "Paternoster," the M.E., 136, 220

  Patmore, Coventry (1823-1896), 258, 339

  _Pauline_, 210

  Pause, 33 and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  Pause-foot, 23 _note_, 281

  _Pearl, The_, 49, 152

  Peele, George (1558?-1597?), 64, 65, 174, 300, 310

  Pemberton, H. (1694-1771), 245, 246

  Pentameter (Gloss.)

  Percy, Bp. (1729-1811), 75, 97, 197, 199, 310

  _Phaethon_ (Mr. Meredith's), 281

  _Pharonnida_, 187, 301

  Philips, A. (1675?-1749), 199

  _Phœnix, The_, 37

  _Phœnix Nest, The_, 72

  _Piers Plowman, The Vision of_, 49, 152, 153, 307

  _Pills to Purge Melancholy_, 82

  Pindar, 318

  "Pindaric," 25 (Gloss.)

  Poe, Edgar A. (1809-1840), 310, 340

  "Poet, The" (Tennyson's), 209, 303

  _Polyolbion_, 160, 266

  Poole, Joshua (_fl. c._ 1640), 239

  Pope, Alex. (1688-1744), 29, 85-87, 192-194

  "Position" (Gloss.)

  "Poulter's measure," 59, 167, 267 (Gloss.)

  Praed, W. M. (1802-1839), 92, 114, 310

  _Prick of Conscience_, 47, 305, 321

  Prior, M. (1664-1721), 82, 194, 310

  Proceleusmatic (Gloss.)

  Prologue to _Canterbury Tales_, 50, 51

  _Prometheus Unbound_, 204

  Provençal, 273

  _Proverbs of Alfred_, 141, 220

  _Proverbs of Hendyng_, 142, 221

  Prudentius, 318

  Pulteney, W. (1684-1764), 114

  Puttenham, G. or R. (both _fl. c._ 1560-1590), 237, 241, 340

  Pyrrhic, 31 (Gloss.)

  Quantity, 20 _sq._ and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  _Quarterly Review, The_, 252

  Quartet, Quatrain (Gloss. and Origin-List)

  _Queen Mab_, 203, 312

  "Queen was in the Parlour, The," 326

  Quintet (Gloss.)

  Quintilian, 284 _note_

  Redundance (Gloss.)

  Refrain (Gloss.)

  _Reliques_ (Percy's), 197, 199, 310

  _Revolt of Islam, The_, 204

  Rhyme, 33-34 and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  Rhyme-royal, 50, 56, 185, 215 (Gloss. and Origin-List)

  "Rhyming Poem," 136

  Rhythm (Gloss. and _passim_)

  _Richard Cœur de Lion_, 43, 47

  "Riding Rhyme," 157 (Gloss.)

  _Rime couée_, 43, 150 _sq._ (Gloss. and Origin-List)

  Robert of Gloucester (13th century), 41, 149, 281, 311, 325

  Robert Manning (or of Brunne, _q.v._), 329

  Romance (Gloss.)

  "Romance-six," 43 and _passim_ (Gloss. and Origin-List)

  Romances, the, 149

  Rondeau, Rondel, 125 (Gloss.)

  Roscommon, W. Dillon, Earl of (1633?-1685), 241

  "Rose-cheeked Laura," 73, 74

  Rossetti, Christina (1830-1894), 29, 213, 293, 311

  Rossetti, D. G. (1828-1882), 120, 213, 293, 311, 333

  Ruskin, Mr. (1819-1900), 260, 340

  Rymer, T. (1641-1713), 241

  Sackville, Thomas, Earl of Dorset (1536-1608), 166 _note_, 311, 334

  _St. Alexis_, 331

  _St. Eulalia_, 151 _note_, 321, 331

  _St. Leger_, 330 _note_

  _St. Paul_, 128

  _Samson Agonistes_, 184, 309

  Sandys, George (1578-1644), 78, 79, 311, 338

  Sapphics, 124 (Gloss.)

  _Saturday Review, The_, 260

  Savage, R. (?-1743), 194

  Sayers, F. (1763-1817), 94, 95, 200, 250, 312

  Schipper, Dr., 340

  Scott, Alex. (1528?-1584?), 57, 163

  Scott, Sir Walter (1771-1832), 145, 200, 201, 300, 307, 312

  _Seasons, The_, 195, 196

  "Section," Guest's and others', 254 _note_ (Gloss.)

  Sedley, Sir Charles (1639-1701), 189

  Seeley, J. R., 259

  Septenar, 40 (Gloss.)

  Septet (Gloss.)

  Sestet (Gloss.)

  Sestine (Gloss.)

  Shakespeare, W. (1564-1616), 15, 28, 29, 66-68, 79, 80, 129, 130, 174,
      175, 181-183, 191, 224, 225, 279, 289, 293, 296, 308, 312, 324

  Shelley, P. B. (1792-1822), 29, 96, 104, 203-205, 295, 306, 312, 335

  Shenstone, W. (1714-1763), 18 _note_, 92, 113, 142, 194, 247, 313, 340

  _Shepherd's Kalendar, The_, 15, 60, 145, 169-171

  Sheridan, T. (1719-1788), 247

  Shirley, James (1596-1666), 69, 176

  "Short," 6 and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  "Short" lines, 317

  "Short measure," 167 (Gloss.)

  Sidney, Sir P. (1554-1586), 169, 171, 267, 313, 324

  Sievers, Dr., 37

  _Sigurd the Volsung_ and _Sigurd_ metre, 118, 215, 309, 325

  Single-moulded (Gloss.)

  _Sir Thopas_, 143, 155, 160, 330

  _Sir Tristrem_, 45

  Skeat, Prof., 11 _note_, 260, 340

  Skelton, John (1460?-1529), 54, 163, 223, 292

  Skeltonic, 54 (Gloss.)

  "Skylark" (Shelley's), 204

  Slur (Gloss.)

  Smith, Prof. Gregory, 337

  "Song to a Portuguese Air," 309, 325

  Sonnet, 167, 171, and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  _Sordello_, 210

  Southey, R. (1744-1843), 25, 95, 96, 121, 122, 123, 124, 143, 145, 200,
      250, 299, 313, 340

  Spanish poetry, 271, 273

  Spedding, James (1808-1881), 340

  Spenser, E., and Spenserian, 15, 42, 60-62, 75, 121, 145, 156, 169-172, 194, 224, 225, 236, 292, 305, 306, 308, 313, 324, 340 (Origin-List)

  Spondee, 30 and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  Stanyhurst, R. (1547-1618), 236

  Stanza or Stave (Gloss.)

  _Steel Glass, The_, 65, 174, 305

  Steele, Joshua (1700-1791), 248, 249, 340

  Stone, Mr. W. J. 123, 200, 236, 340

  _Story of Thebes, The_, 52

  Stress, Bk. I. Chap. II. and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  "Stress-unit," 19 (Gloss.)

  Strophe (Gloss.)

  "Substitution," 32 and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  Suckling, Sir John (1605-1642), 70

  Surrey, Earl of (1517?-1547), 15, 59, 63, 159, 166, 223, 273, 313

  Swift, Jon. (1667-1745), 194

  Swinburne, A. C. (1836-1909), 29, 92, 100, 103, 114, 115, 118-120, 123, 124, 215-217, 257, 267, 268 _note_, 275, 283, 288, 292, 311, 313, 314, 327-332

  Syllables, their position in English prosody, Bk. I. Chap. III. and _passim_

  Symonds, J. A, (1840-1893), 12 _note_, 259, 340

  Synalœpha (Gloss.)

  Syncope (Gloss.)

  Synizesis (Gloss.)

  Syzygy (Gloss.)

  Tailed sonnet (Gloss.)

  _Tamburlaine_, 64

  Tasso (Fairfax's), 185, 303, 334

  Taylor, W. (1765-1836), 200, 250

  _Temple of Glass, The_, 52

  Tennyson, Lord (1809-1892), 24-29, 82, 99, 103, 106-108, 110-112, 115-116, 124, 125, 208-210, 257, 266, 268 _note_, 279, 283, 288, 297, 314, 332, 333, 336

  Tercet (Gloss.)

  _Terza rima_, 167, 307, 314 (Gloss.)

  Tetrameter (Gloss.)

  _Thalaba_, 96, 97, 313

  Thaun, Ph. de, 112, 143

  _Thealma and Clearchus_, 76, 187

  Thelwall, John (1764-1834), 252, 270, 340

  Thesis (Gloss.)

  Thetbaldus, 143

  Thomson, James (I.) (1700-1748), 88, 195, 196

  Thomson, James (II.) (1834-1882), 217, 218

  Thomson, Mr. William, 12 _note_, 261

  "Time" (Gloss.)

  _Tottel's Miscellany_, 168

  "Townley" Plays, 46

  Trench, Archbishop (1807-1886), 257

  Tribrach, 31 and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  Triolet, 125 (Gloss.)

  Triple (Gloss.)

  Triplet (Gloss.)

  Trochee, 31 and _passim_ (Gloss.)

  _Troilus and Criseyde_, 50, 290, 334

  Truncation (Gloss.)

  Tumbling verse, 237 (Gloss.)

  Turberville, G. (1548?-1610?), 60, 168

  Turn of words (Gloss.)

  Tusser, T. (1524?-1580), 74, 168, 234, 314

  Tyrwhitt, 248

  "Under the Greenwood Tree," 28 _note_, 183 _note_

  _Veni Redemptor gentium_, 38

  Vernon, MS., 155, 322, 323

  Verrier. M., 12 _note_, 100, 340

  Verse (Gloss.)

  _Versus caudatus_, 291

  _Vie de St. Leger_, 330 _note_

  "Vilikins and his Dinah," 285

  _Vision of Judgment, The_, 121, 251, 313

  "Vision of Sin, The," 209

  Vowel-music, 35 (Gloss.)

  _Voyage of Maeldune, The_, 116

  Wace, 138

  Wadham, Mr. E., 258, 340

  Walker, John (of the Dictionary) (1732-1807), 252

  Walker, W. Sidney (1795-1846), 258

  Waller, Edm. (1606-1687), 78, 311, 314

  Warton, T. (1728-1790), 200, 267

  Watson, T., Bishop (1513-1584), 120

  Watson, T., sonneteer (1557?-1592), 171

  Watts, Dr. (1674-1748), 123, 245, 292, 314

  Weak ending (Gloss.)

  Webb, D. (1719-1798), 245

  Webbe, W. (_fl. c._ 1586), 236, 340

  "Wheel," 48, 49 (Gloss.)

  Whitman, Walt, 33 _note_, 314

  _William of Palerne_, 48, 221

  William of Poitiers, 335

  _Witch of Atlas, The_, 204, 335

  Wither, George (1588-1667), 81, 187

  Woodford, Dr. S. (1636-1700), 240

  Wordsworth, W. (1770-1850), 104, 200, 250, 251, 314

  Wrenched accent (Gloss.)

  Wyatt, Sir T. (1503?-1542), 15, 57, 58, 61 _note_, 159, 166, 223, 295, 314

  Wynn, Southey's letter to, 250

  Wyntoun (15th century), 55, 233, 274

  "Yardley Oak," 196

  "York" Plays, 45

  Young, E. (1683-1765), 89

  _Zophiel_, 129

                                THE END

     _Printed by R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, Edinburgh._

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

In a few cases where sidenotes refer to new topics introduced within a
long paragraph, an additional paragraph break has been added.

All footnotes have been renumbered [1] ... [181]. Because of the number
and the length of some footnotes, all are presented at the end of the
chapter or section to which they refer.

On page 86 in the example (3) from the Rape of the Lock the first part
of each line is angled up the page, and second part of each line is
angled down.

Where changes have been made to the text (to correct more typographical
errors) these are listed as follows:

p. 29, footnote [24]: added missing opening quotation mark ("Quantity")

p. 38: added missing closing parenthesis around paragraph (_"Grave"
Poem.... added in dots._)

p. 54: added period to subtitle (Examples of Skeltonic and other

p. 57: added period to subtitle ( ... Poets before Spenser.)

p. 58: the foot markers in the last line of the Wyatt sonnet have been
repositioned, such that the original

    For good | is thè | life | end|ing faithfully.


    For good | is thè | life end|ing faith|fully.

p. 59: final foot symbol in line 3 of the example in paragraph (d) was
moved from the end of the line to the expected position preceding "the
dice", as in

    ... what chance | come on | the dice.

p. 63 added missing foot symbol breaking the word "Unhap|py" to line 11
of the example in paragraph (a)

    Unhap|py she | that on | no sleep | could chance,

p. 66: the final foot symbol in line 4 of the Marlowe sonnet moved from

    Their minds, | and mu|ses, on | admirèd | themes;

to the expected position

    Their minds, | and mu|ses, on | admir|èd themes;

p. 67: the final foot symbol in line 8 of the example in paragraph (2)
was moved from

    With worms | that are | thy cham|ber-maids; O, | here


    With worms | that are | thy cham|ber-maids; | O, here

p. 68: note that the diacritic over the "o'" combines breve and macron,
whereas a macron alone may be expected in the context (Trisyllabic at
... "ĭty̆ ō̆'.")

p. 71: added the missing final foot symbol from the line

    Wherewith | she tamed | the brind|ed li|oness

p. 74 example (2): note that no foot symbol is given where expected at
the sentence break in

    Let my | despair | prevail! O stay, | hope is | not spent.

p. 77 example (c) first line: changed "fictions" to "fictious", in

    If fictious light I mix with Truth Divine

p. 105, example (d): changed final punctuation (unclear period) to comma

    If you'd be free | o' the stove-|side, rocking-chair,

p. 118: added missing close parenthesis at end of paragraph
(Intentionally irregular ... and some here.)

p. 178, footnote [84], example (b): changed closing single quotation
mark to double quotation mark ( ... we must pronounce "spir't,") `

p. 225: added missing close parenthesis (as by Spenser ... and for
"history" by Drayton).

p. 335: changed "Emund" to "Edmund" (the invention of Edmund Spenser)

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