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syllables. Here are examples of a length of twelve syllables so occasioned in lines already hendecasyllabic by the action of a single internal trisyllabic variation :
“ The fellows of his crime, the followers rather."
“Some way or other yet farther to afflict thee.” And here is one example of a length of thirteen syllables produced by the supernumerary final syllable in lines already duodecasyllabic in virtue of two internal trisyllabic variations :
• By spiritual, to themselves appropriating.” Instances of lines twelve or thirteen syllables long are among the extreme rarities of Milton's text; but there is yet another way in which such a rarity may occur. It is by the accident or inadvertence of an Alexandrine-i.e. of a line not at all of the proper 5 xa or 5 xa + rhythm merely widened by trisyllabic variation and the supernumerary final syllable, but distinctly of the 6 xa rhythm. An ordinary Alexandrine consists of twelve syllables (six pure Iambi or an equivalent of dissyllabic feet) thus :
" From out his secret altar touched with hallowed fire.”—Od. Nat. 28.
“While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.”-Od. Nat. 68. But then, as an Alexandrine itself is susceptible of internal trisyllabic variation as well as dissyllabic, and as it may also have a supernumerary final syllable or be 6 xa +, we may have Alexandrines of thirteen syllables (or even perhaps fourteen): thus :
“ And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.”—Od. Nat. 140.
Bright-harnessed Angels sit in order serviceable.”—Od. Vat. 244.
“So huge their numbers, and so numberless their nation.”—F. Q. IV. xii. Are there any Alexandrines in Milton's Blank Verse ? There are some, both of twelve syllables and of thirteen, scattered through the choruses in Samson, where, as we have said (ante, p. 111), Milton ranges freely from 2 xa to 6 xa : e.g.
“No strength of man or fiercest wild beast could withstand.”—127.
“Or to the unjust tribunals, under change of times.”- "4695. In these choruses, however, Milton holds himself released from all ordinary rule; and in his Blank Verse proper, narrative or dramatic, it is much more difficult to find a true Alexandrine. In Comus, 617, where the end of a speech of the Elder Brother runs into one line with the beginning of a speech of the Guardian Spirit, the two fragments form an Alexandrine, thus :
" As to make this relation ?
Care and utmost shifts."
“ As if she would her children should be riotous.”—Comus, 763.
“ Private respects must yield, with grave authority.”—S. A. 868. It may be maintained that these last are not positive examples, inasmuch as they may be taken rather as lines of 5 xa with two supernumerary weak final syllables; and the same may be said more plausibly of such lines as the following :
“ Is now the labour of my thoughts : 'tis likeliest.”—Com. 192.
" To accept of ransom for my son, their prisoner.”—S. A. 1460. Nevertheless, exactly such lines do pass for Alexandrines in poems where Alexandrines are due, the two final weak syllables passing (as often in xa verse) for a distinct foot : e.g:
“In whose dead face he redd great magnanimity.”—Spens. F. Q. II. viii. 23.
“ This garden to adorn with all variety.”—F. Q. II. xii. 59. Whether, after such precedents, we call the above examples from Milton Alexandrines, or whether we call them; as it is perhaps best to do in dramatic dialogue, only 5 xa lines with two supernumerary final syllables, in either case we see in them lines of twelve or thirteen syllables produced by a cause different from those already noted.
THE CÆSURA.—This term is used in different senses by prosodians; but it seems best, for English verse, to understand by it
: the pause attending the conclusion of a period, or of some logical section of a period, when that pause occurs anywhere else than at the end of a line. That Milton attached some importance to the Cæsura, in this sense, as a factor in Blank Verse, may be inferred from his Prefatory Note to Paradise Lost, where, defending the allsufficiency of Blank Verse for “true musical delight,” he says that such true musical delight "consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another.” Now, in this sense, I think I can report with some certainty that the most frequent Cæsura in Milton's Blank Verse is at the end of the third foot (i.e. generally after the sixth syllable, though it may occasionally be after the seventh, or even after the eighth) : e.g:
“ And took in strains that might create a soul
Under the ribs of Death." ||
High overarched embower." ||
Lay floating many a rood.” |
On Lemnos, the Ægean isle.” ||
" A thousand demigods on golden seats
Frequent and full." ||
“shapes and forms,
Their great Commander." ||
Confounded, though immortal.” ||
“ Anguish and doubt and fear and sorrow and pain
“ for now the thought
" And now his heart
Glories : || for never since created Man."
“ Were it a draught for Juno when she banquets,
I would not taste thy treasonous offer.ll None
But such as are good men can give good things.” Hardly to be found at all is the Cæsura after the first syllable or in the middle of the first foot; but this may pass as an instance :
“ The Ionian Gods, of Javan's issue held
Gods ; ll yet confessed later than Heaven and Earth."
ALLITERATION, which played so important a part in Anglo-Saxon and other old Teutonic verse, and which was systematically kept up afterwards in English Rhymed Poetry, to a greater extent than has commonly been observed, was not a regular device with Milton. Neither did he permit himself that liberty of occasional AssoNANCE instead of Rhyme, or as an approach to Rhyme, of which there are traces in Spenser, and in more recent poets : 0.g. Burns. Assonance at its fullest, as in Spanish ballad-poetry, consists in the recurrence of the same vowel-sound, but in different consonantal settings, at the ends of lines, where we expect rhymes :—thus, back...cat, bold...rose, seeming...beaker, assenting...protested, would be English assonances. English poets would hardly venture on such assonances as these in the place of rhymes; but Spenser has deckt...set, alone...home, gotten ...soften, discover ... mother, encomber ... thonder, labour...favour, tempted...consented, and the like, which are really assonances simulating rhyme; and Burns has in the same way Luath...you have, kent yet...contented, behint her...vintner, Montgomery...drumly, glory ...afore thee, early...Mary, etc. Goethe, as we have seen, asserted the right of a real poet to such assonances if he chose. Milton claimed no such right. In that portion of his poetry where he had yielded to the weakness, as he came at last to regard it, of seeking musical effect in anything else than "apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another,” he had been content with RHYME PROPER, or
the jingling sound of like endings," as the one regular device in addition.
RHYMES, however, may be either Perfect or Imperfect; and nearly the whole question as to Milton's practice in rhyming connects itself with this distinction :-I. PERFECT RHYME consists of the stated recurrence, at metrical intervals, of exactly the same vocal endings, whether vowel-sounds simply (e.g. go...blow, eye...cry), or vowel-sounds with consonantal additions completing the syllable (e.g. gold...bold...mould...rolled, rose...close...blows, hand...stand, bear...spare, pause...draws), or vowel-sounds with such additions as to make farther syllables (e.g. going...blowing, beaming...streaming, thunder...plunder, mountains...fountains, utility... facility). Obviously, from this definition, a perfect rhyme may be single or monosyllabic, double or dissyllabic, or even triple or trisyllabic: obviously also, it is not identity of spelling that is required, but only identity of sound in the vowel that leads the rhyme, and in all that follows it, if anything does follow it, to complete the rhyme. Two sorts of Rhyme, however, that would be “perfect" according to this definition, are excluded, nevertheless, from good English verse. One is
the identical rhyme : i.e. a rhyme perfect by the foregoing rule, but unfortunate in having the same consonantal sound repeated before the leading vowel-sound : e.g. verse...converse, so...sew, leaving... believing. Though French verse favours such rhymes, and they are found in Italian, they are forbidden in modern English. Equally forbidden in all serious poetry is what may be called The Provincial Rhyme, or that in which the rhyme is good only by a pronunciation peculiar to a locality or district. Rhymes of this sort specially worthy of reprobation are such Cockney Rhymes as “arm-calm,"
— “morn...dawn," "morning...dawning,” “Ah... far," " lyre... Sophia," “higher...Thalia.” Keats was, I think, the first classic English poet that fell into such rhymes, but they have become alarmingly frequent of late in South of England verse.—II. IMPERFECT RHYMES are those which, though falling short of the conditions of Perfect Rhyme, yet give, whether from custom, or from their approximation to Perfect Rhyme, a similar pleasure to the ear. They may be variously classified; but perhaps the following classification, suggested in part by Mr. A. J. Ellis's collection of imperfect rhymes from Moore and Tennyson (Early English Pronunciation, pp. 858– 862), is practically sufficient :-(1) Weak or unaccented sounds rhyming with the same, or nearly the same, strong or accented : e.g. misery...see, eternity...free, agonies...freeze, myrrh...lovelier, minister ...fir, visible...hill, festival...all, etc. (2) Consonantal Rhymes, or Vowel-sounds rhyming with different vowel-sounds because the sequent consonants are th same: e.g. love... move, love...grove, home ...come, one...alone, blood...good, heaven...even, clamber...chamber, death...sheath, have...save, urn...mourn, God...abroad, Christ... mist, earth...forth, etc. Such rhymes are quite common in the best modern English poets, and are therefore legitimate. Many of them are called specially Eye-Rhymes, because the sameness of the spelling helps to reconcile them to the ear. (3) Rhymes in which the vowel-sounds differ decidedly, and there is also a difference of accent : e.g. die ... sympathy, eyes ... mysteries, Christ ... Evangelist. The accepted rhymes of this sort are comparatively few, and some of them are Eye-Rhymes. (4) Rhymes in which, the vowel-sounds either agreeing somewhat or differing essentially, the succeeding consonants yet differ, so that the effect is that of Imperfect Assonance: e.g. his...bliss, peace...these, house... vows, else...tells, vase... grace, breath...wreathe, pass...was, face...gaze, etc.
Mr. A. J. Ellis, in his work on Early English Pronunciation, propounds it as an a priori principle that “when few people can read, rhymes, to be intelligible, must be perfect.” The principle may be questioned. Is it not inconsistent with the order of development in such things, as shown in the delight which young children take even now in very imperfect rhymes, and the difficulty