[LMB] Levels of Bafflement
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
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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