Page images
PDF
EPUB

The Cæsura is commonly on the fourth, fifth, or sixtla syllable of heroic verse. On the fourth syllable, or at the end of the second foot: as,

The silver eel” in shining volumes rollid,

The yellow carp" in scales bedropp'd with gold. On the fifth syllable, or in the middle of the third foot: as,

Round broken columns" clasping ivy twin'd,

O’er heaps of ruin" stalk'd the stately hind. On the sixth syllable, or at the end of the third foot: as,

Oh say what stranger cause" yet unexplor'd,

Could make a gentle belle" reject a lord A line may be divided into three portions, by two cæsuras: 2s,

Outstretch'd he lay" on the cold ground" and oft®

Look'd up to heav'n. There is another mode of dividing fines, well suited to the nature of the couplet, by introducing semi-pauses, which divide the line into four pauses. This semi-pause may be called a demi-cæsura. The following lines admit of, and exemplify it.

Glows' while he reads" but trembles' as he writes.
Reason' the card" but passion' is the gale.
Rides' in the whirlwind" and directs the storm.

Of Melody, Harmony, and Expression. Having shown the general nature of feet and pauses, the constituent parts of verse, we shall now point out, more particularly, their use and importance.

Melody, harmony, and expression, are the three great objects of poetic numbers. By melody, is meant, a pleasing effect produced on the ear, from an apt arrangement of the constituent parts of verse, according to the laws of measure and movement. By harmony, an effect produced by an action of the mind, in comparing the different members of a verse with each other, and perceiving a due and beautiful

proportion between them. By expression, such a choice and arrangement of the constituent parts of verse, as serve to enforte and illustrate the thought or the sentiment.

We shall consider each of these three objects in versification, both with respect to the feet and the pauses.

1st, With regard to melody.

From the examples which we have given of verses composed in all the principal feet, it is evident that a considerable portion of melody is found in each of them, though in different degrees. Verses made up of pure Iambics have an excellent melody.

That the final and cæsural pauses contribute to melody, cannot be doubted by any person who reviews the instances, which we have already given of those pauses. To form lines of the first melody, the cæsura must be at the end of the second, or of the third foot, or in the middle of the third.

2d, With respect to harmony.

Verses composed of Iambics have indeed a fine harmony; but as the stress of the voice, in repeating such verses, is always in the same places, that is, on every second syllable, such a uniformity would disgust the ear in a long succession; and therefore such changes were sought for, as might introduce the pleasure of variety, without prejudice to melody; or which might even contribute to its improvement. Of this nature was the introduction of the Trochee, to forım the first foot of an heroic verse: as,

Fāvoŭrs tò none, to all she smiles exténds,

O'ft she rėjècts, but never once offends. Each of these lines begins with a Trochee; the remaining feet are in the lambic movement. In the following line of the same movement, the fourth foot is a Trochee.

Åll thēse our nötións vāin, sēes ånd děrides. The next change admitted for the sake of variety, without prejudice to melody, is the intermixture of Pyrrhics and Spondees; in which, two impressions in the one foot make up for the want of one in the other; and two long syllables compensate two short ones, so as to make the sum of the quantity of the two feet, equal to two Iambics.

on the grēen bānk to look into thệ clear
Smooth lāke thăt tò mē seēm'd another sky.

Stood rūľ’d stood väst înfinitūde confin'd.

The next variety admitted is that of the Amphibrach.

Which many & bằrd had chaunted man a day. In this line, we find that two of the feet are Amphibrachs; and three, Iambics.

We have before shown that the cæsura improves the melody of verse; and, we shall now speak of its other more important office, that of being the chief source of harmony in numbers.

The first and lowest perception of harmony, by means of the cæsura, arises from comparing two members of the same line with each other, divided in the manner to be seen in the instances before mentioned; because the beauty of proportion in the members, according to each of these divi sions, is founded in nature; being as one to two-two to three-or three to two.

The next degree arises from comparing the members of a couplet, or two contiguous lines: as,

See the bold youth" strain up the threat'ning steep,

Rush thro’ the thickets" down the valleys sweep Here we find the cæsura of the first line, at the end of the second foot; and in the middle of the third foot, in the last line.

Hang o'er their coursers' heads' with eager speed,

And earth rolls back” beneath the flying steed. In this couplet, the cæsura is at the end of the third foot, in the first line; and of the second, in the latter line,

M

The next perception of harmony arises from comparing a greater number of lines, and observing the relative proportion of the couplets to each other, in point of similarity and diversity, as:

Thy forests Windsor" and thy green retreats,.
At once the monarch’s" and the muse's seats,
Invite my lays. Be present Sylvan maids,
Unlock your springs" and open all your shades.
Not half so swift” the trembling doves can fly,
When the fierce eagle" cleaves the liquid sky;
Not half so swiftly" the fierce eagle moves,

When through the clouds" he drives the trembling doves. In this way, the comparison of lines variously apportioned by the different seats of the three cæsuras, may be the source of a great variety of harmony, consistent with the finest melody. This is still increased by the introduction of two cæsuras, and much more by that of semi-pauses. The semi-pauses double every where the terms of comparison ; give a more distinct view of the whole and the parts; afford new proportions of measurement, and an ampler scope for diversity and equality, those sources of beauty in harmony.

Warms' in the sun" refreshes' in the breeze,
Glows' in the stars” and blossoms' in the trees;
Lives' through all life" extends' through all extent,

Spreads undivided" operates' unspent. 3d. The last object in versification regards expression.

When men express their sentiments by words, they naturally fall into that sort of movement of the voice, which is consonant to that produced by the emotion in the mind; and the Dactylic or Anapæstic, the Trochaic, Iambic, or Spondaic, prevails even in common discourse, according to the different nature of the sentiments expressed. To imitate nature, therefore, the poet, in arranging his words in the artificial composition of verse, must take care to make

the movement correspond to the sentiment, by the proper use of the several kinds of feet: and this is the first and most general source of expression in numbers.

That a judicious management of the feet and pauses, may be peculiarly expressive of particular operations and sentiments, will sufficiently appear to the learner, by a few select examples under each of those heads.

In the following instance, the vast dimensions of Satan are shown by an uncommon succession of long syllables, which detain us to survey the huge arch fiend, in his fixed posture.

So strētch'd oūt hūge in lēngth the ārch fiend lāy. The next example affords instances of the power of a Trochee beginning a line, when succeeded by an Iambus.

-and sheer within
Lights on hỉs feet: as when a prowling wolf

Levps về thẻ fence with eäse into the fold.
The Trochee which begins the line shows Satan in the
act of lighting: the lambus that follows, fixes him
Lights on hís fēet.”

The same artifice, in the beginning of the next line, makes us see the wolf_" leáp otěr thě fénce.”—But as the mere act of leaping over the fence, is not the only circumstance to be attended to, but also the facility with which it is done, this is strongly marked, not only by the smooth foot which follows" with @ase”-itself very expressive, but likewise by a Pyrrhic preceding the last foot“ înto the föld”—which indeed carries the wolf_" with ēase înto the föld."

The following instances show the effects produced by cæsuras, so placed as to divide the line into very unequal portions: such as that after the first, and before the last semipede.

-thus with the

year
Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day" or the sweet approach of even or mom.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »