Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

has the power of determining and relating the subordinate or ambiguous accentuations in a rhythmical phrase; and the essential value of this resource seems to have been disregarded by the advocates of free verse.

A poem in metre has a predetermined organic normal scheme for its lines, and whatever their varieties of rhythm no line can be constructed without reference to its form: hence the same syllabic rhythms acquire different values according to their place in the line. The indefinable delicacy of this power over the hidden possibilities of speech is what most invites and rewards the artist in his technique, as the ignorance, neglect or abuse of it makes the chief badness of bad work. Its subtleties mock illustration, but demonstration can be simple and even commonplace. The second book of Paradise Lost opens thus:

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

High on a Throne of royal state, which far
Outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind.

These are two lines of blank verse, but they can be written as two lines of free verse thus:

[ocr errors]

High on a Throne of royal state,
Which far outshone the wealth of Ormus and of Ind.

Now in writing and reading them thus, the value of the word far is lost: it is seen that the word cannot in itself determine for itself any special value; in the free verse it is flat and dull, and one does not know what to do with it, for if it be unaccented it is useless, and if accented it is foolish. Indeed, no accentuation can restore to it what it has lost.

This one example is enough to show what is intended in this section, but another will lead further, and the passage which I quoted from my Milton's Prosody, to exhibit how he broke up his lines, will serve well: in Paradise Lost, III, 37 seq.:

Then feed on thoughts, that voluntarie move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful Bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest Covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal Note. Thus with the Year
Seasons return, but not to me returns

Day, or the sweet approach of Ev'n or Morn.
VOL. CCXVI.-NO, 804

These lines are greatly admired; a critic would hardly aconse them of prosaic or dull diction. But now set them out as free verse:

Then feed on Thoughts,
That voluntarie move harmonious numbers;
As the wakeful Bird sings darkling,
And in shadiest Covert hid

tunes her nocturnal note.
Thus with the Year seasons return,
But not to me returns Day,

Or the sweet approach of Ev'n or Morn. The very diction of the verses has suffered terribly. I doubt if I should have seen any merit in them had I read them thus in the free verse of a contemporary poet. If this be so it follows that diction in free verse will needs be far more exacting than the diction of metrical verse. It must be more beautiful in itself, because it has relinquished the technique of one of the main sources of its beauty.

A free versifier may welcome this situation, and say that his poetry will be the better for excluding phrases that are in themselves so little beautiful that they must borrow adventitious beauty from mechanical devices. Well and good—if he can justify himself: but language is refractory, and all technique in Art consists in devices for the mastering of obstinate material

. If free verse must of its nature be more beautiful than metrical verse, let us rejoice and wait patiently. It is a case of solvitur ambulando, perhaps one should say volando or volitando.

I have myself made so many experiments that I cannot be suspected of wishing to discourage others. No art can flourish that is not alive and growing, and it can only grow by invention of new methods or by discovery of new material. In the art of English verse my own work has led me to think that there is a wide field for exploration in the metrical prosody, and that in carrying on Milton's inventions in the syllabic verse there is better hope of successful progress than in the technique of free verse as I understand it.

ROBERT BRIDGES

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

To fit him for the new world
That is to be,
For the new brotherhood of man
And the new work among new nations.

For Everychild
Let bloom the flower of opportunity!
It is not alone war,
That blood-stained Devourer,
That ravishes the garden of youth
Of joy and genius and glory;
But the unseen, insidious,
Slow despoilers of every day,
At work in the tenements,
In the mines and factories,
In the foundling hospitals,
Above all among the underfed millions
That we in our complacency
Think safe from danger in the schools.
Everychild looks at us inquiringly
From the streets,
From the many windows, ,
From orphan and foundling asylums,
From the factories,
From the squalid homes
And from the homeless places.
From the windows of the schools
He looks at us inquiringly,
He, the Future of the Race.
He looks at us and through us,
And far away
Into the distant future,
And sometimes in his eyes
There is hope and cheer,
And sometimes suffering and sorrow,
And sometimes reproach,
And sometimes despair.
We had best stop and look at Everychild.
He is not alone for his mother,
Not alone for his father,
But belongs to every one of us;
He is the deepest concern of us all.
What shall be done for Everychild?

SONG OF THE BIRTH

BY CONSTANCE LINDSAY SKINNER

K’antsamiq 'ala - Soē gives life.
He is the life, so comes birth.
He is the spirit, so comes being,
He is His Name- the "All-Encompassing,
Supreme Highest Praised One.”
With His finger makes He the little picture on the earth;
With His breath He blesses it, smiles, and is content —
So comes a man!
Yea, a great man, mighty, kind and swift,
Is but a little picture of the Highest One
That grows from a babe: (it grows because it is of life).
So He grows also, in the making and blessing of men —
Because He is the life, never ending, never quiet,
Because He is the Strong One, the Pure Maker, never ceasing from

good.
How great a thing therefore is this little birth!
Men and women of the Tribe, I am His priest and charge you:
Now comes this picture from His Hand, sacred and mystical,
See ye mar not His little picture, blest with His breath.
This is your service of thanks to Him for making you
With the life that grows.
Ask ye, wherefore the growing?
It is to reach to His height in tallness, to widen to His forehead in

wisdom,
To beat with the untired strength of His great heart in loving.
So encompass ye your Tribe with smiling goodness and service;
As this mother is about her babe,
As this man about this mother,
As the waters round this land, and the stars about these waters,

As K’antsamiq 'ala Soē is about His world. 1 K'antsamiq 'ala Soê=Supreme Highest Praised One; Kwakiutl Tribe, British Columbia Coast.

« ZurückWeiter »