[LMB] Levels of Bafflement

John Lennard john.c.lennard at gmail.com
Sat Jan 13 17:27:51 GMT 2018


Margaret: But I've always heard the stress on the "We," not on the "have"

WE have adVANCED (skip a beat) to NEW and surPRISing (skip a beat) LEVels of
BAFFlement


Dactylic all the way.


John: One's scansion is one's own*, especially when there is no metre, but
this skipping of beats I wot not of. As with so-called sprung rhythm, if
one allows such conveniences mid-line all rigour is lost, nu?

(And it really doesn't run like dactylic tetrameter ; cf. Hardy, 'The
Voice', beginning "Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me". Any
falling rhythm is somewhat awkward in English, a very rising language, and
regular dactyls usually become chant-like very quickly, as Longfellow's
trochees do in *Hiawatha*. Only Browning to my knowledge has ever managed
easily speakable trochees at length (in the 'Soliloquy of the Spanish
Cloister', frex), and even -his- dactyls head towards chanting (in 'A
Toccata for Galuppi', frex).)

* Were you a student, though, I'd ask why you wish to stress 'we', the
implication that none but we, only we and not you, have so advanced,
seeming to me needless

-- 
John Lennard, MA DPhil. (Oxon.), MA (WU)

Associate Member & Director of Studies in English, Hughes Hall, Cambridge
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