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Whčne er their suffering yēars are run,
And odorois myrtlẽs tỏ thẻ noisăme weed. In the last quoted line, the second foot is an anapest, and the third a pyrrhic. Few lines can be produced more melodious.
In most of the foregoing examples, it has been customary to leave out a short syllable in such words as glittering, victory, and to note the omission by an apostrophe; thus, glitt'ring, victry. This contraction, if observed in reading, would reduce the foot to an iambus. In some of the examples, however, this contraction cannot be made with propriety in the reading; as in the words radiant and glorious, the dropping of the i in either word would appear uncouth. In the words glittering, thundering, suffering, the i could indeed be dropped without producing harshness; but by retaining the vowel and the full number of syllables the sound is more full and harmonious. In all such words as have two or more short syllables in succession, it is better, in general, to preserve the full number in the pronunciation, and make a foot of three syllables than of two. When two or three short syllables come together, one of them, at least, is very short, so much so that the quantity of three is about the same as that of two in ordinary cases, and the quantity of two as that of one.
When the article the comes before a vowel, it is most commonly written and printed with the vowel cut off; but it ought generally to be preserved in pronunciation, though it should be inade very short. In the phrase, “rise the expected morn,” quoted above, the article could not be incorporated, by apocope,* with the following syllable without producing a sound both unpleasant and difficult to be uttered. It would, in most cases, be better to write and print the word in full, as well as to pronounce it in full. In like manner, the preposition to occasionally suffers an apocope, as † attend, for to attend ; but this practice is more objectionable than the former. So the particle though, being first deprived of gh so as to be written tho', is made to suffer an apocope of the o before another word beginning with a vowel, as tħ oft for tho' oft,-a species of contraction no more to be favored than the former.
* Apocope, the omission of the last letter or syllable in a word.
VI. The sixth form of iambic measure consists of six fcet. This is usually called the Alexandrine line or measure, and is always used singly and at the close of a paragraph or subject. It ought never to be used with frequency; but if introduced with judgment, it sometimes gives dignity and emphasis, as well as variety.
EXAMPLE. Thě Greeks běhöld-they trēmblė, and thěy fly; Thể shore is heaped with dead, and tūmúlt rēnds thě ský; Thẻ brüzén hingos fỹ, the walls résound; Heavěn trēmbles, roar thě mountains, thunders all the ground.
VII. The seventh form of iambic verse contains seven iambic feet.
Thẻ melancholy dãys are come, the saddést of the year,
sēre. Heaped in the hollows of the grove, the withered leaves lie
dead; Thẻy rustlẽ tô the eddying gust, &nd tỏ the rabbit's trẽad.
This form of iambic measure is very uncommon. Instead of it, alternate lines of four and three feet are employed. The above lines might have been written in this manner :
The melancholy days are come,
The saddest of the year,
Trochaic verse. Our shortest trochaic verse has one trochee, with a long syllable.
Dismål screams. II. The second form of trochaic verse has two feet; thus,
Rich the trēasúre,
Sweet the plẽasure. A long syllable is sometimes added; but neither this nor the preceding form is much used, both being too brief to be consistent with much dignity.
III. The third species of trochaic verse has three trochees, or three trochees with an additional long syllable; as,
Or whère Hēbrŭs wānděrs,
Always harbinger of good. The first form, without the additional syllable, is seldom used; the other is often met with.
IV. The fourth trochaic measure contains four trochees, as in the following alternate lines :
Fly ă broād, thou mighty gospěl;
Multiply and still increase. This form may admit an additional long syllable, but very rarely.
V. The fifth species of trochaic verse has five trochees. The form, however, is very uncommon.
VI. The sixth form of this verse contains six feet; but this and the preceding form is so unusual that I shall give no examples.
Anapestic verse. I. The first and simplest form of this verse has two anapestic feet, to which another short syllable is sometimes added ; as,
"Tís būt fair to bělievē
From the cēntěr åll round it.
O yě woods, spread your brānches à pāce;
To your deepěst récēssēs I fly ;-
I would vānish from ēvěry eye. III. The third species of anapestic verse has four feet; thus,
From the hāll of our fāthers in ängủish wě flēd,
For the breath of the Siroc has blasted our name,
And the frown of Jehovah has crushed us in shame. This form admits a short additional syllable at the end of a
His rõbe wăs the whīrlwind, his voice wăs the thunděr,
And eārth, ăt his footstep, wăs rīvěn ăsūnděr. In this example, however, the first foot in each line is an iambus, and whatever may be the length of the anapestic measure, it is the common practice of poets to substitute very freely the iambus or a spondee for an anapest in the first foot of a verse, and occasionally in other places. This substitution of an iambus or spondee for an anapest is never an addition to the melody of this species of verse, but rather detracts from it. If the poetry is designed only to be read or spoken, the melody is not so much impaired as when it is intended to be sung, unless the tune be especially adapted to the words, as is the case in set pieces. Every tune which is not a set one is ted to a particular number of uniform feet, each of which has its appropriate number of syllables; hence, if it is designed for a certain number of anapests, and a shorter foot is substituted for one of them, or for a certain number of iambuses or trochees, and a longer foot is made to supply their place, there will not be a corresponding number of notes in the tune. Again, if the notes of a tune are designed for a trochee, and an iambus occurs in its place, or if for an iambus, and a trochee should be substituted for it, the musical accent would fall on a wrong syllable. EXAMPLES OF A TROCHEE OR IAMBUS SUBSTITUTED FOR AN ANAPEST.
I am monarch of all I survey;
My right thěre is none to dispūte;
I ăm lord of the fowl and thë brūte.
Thēse vāllěys ånd rocks něvěr* heard-
Nór smiled whěn ă sābbăth ăppeared.
And nātúre all glowing in Eděn's first bloom
And beăuty immortăl ăwākes from the tomb.
* The word never in this place is an example of shortening an accented syllable in poetry for the sake of the measure. The accent, in fact, is destroyed, and the vowel remains short. This is done by what is called poetic license.
+ A long syllable shortened by poetic license.
We occasionally meet with poems which have an iambus or spondee regularly for the first foot in each line or verse, with an anapest in the other places, instead of using one or the other indiscriminately. This regularity is better adapted to music than this interchange of feet.
Poems containing dactyls alone are extremely rare. I shall give but a single specimen, in which, however, after three dactyls, the line closes with a long syllable or with a trochee.
Brightěst ănd bēst of thě sons of the morning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid. We have no poems which consist entirely or principally of amphibrachs or tribrachs, nor of pyrrhics. It would be impossible, indeed, to construct a poem which should consist only of short syllables. The only use to which these feet are ever put is to substitute them occasionally for others, for the sake of varie ty, or to give expression, or, what is more frequently the fact, from the carelessness and bad taste of authors.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF POEMS.-RULES FOR READING POETRY.
Epic or (as it is sometimes called) heroic poetry is a continued narration of important events, given in regular order according to certain general rules. If the subject of the narration should be destitute of dignity and importance, the poem which should describe it would not be called heroic, nor, according to general usage, would it be called epic, although the latter word merely signifies narrative or something relating to a story. The term, as it is universally employed, has a technical meaning.
An epic poem consists of lines or verses, each of which contains five iambic feet. Other feet are occasionally substituted in the manner already pointed out; but the number of feet in a line is not thereby varied. This substitution of one foot for another, if managed with skill, produces an agreeable variety, and oftentimes adds to the melody of the verse; but if not skilfully introduced, it is quite a blemish. The Alexandrine verse of six iambic feet, as mentioned under the sixth form, is sometimes substituted for one of the regular length.