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** Ye winds that have made me your sport,
*Convey to this desolate shore
Of a land I shall visit no more!
A wish or a thought after me?
Though a friend I am never to see.
Compar'd with the speed of its flight,
And the swift-wing'd arrows of light.
In a moment I seem to be there;
Soon hurries me back to despair.” The influence of the various kinds of verse on the voice, may be considered as affecting generally the rate, or movement, and the time, of utterance. Thus, blank verse is remarkably slow and stately in the character of its tone; and the timing of the pauses requires attention chiefly to length. Heroic verse is commonly in the same prevailing strain, but not to such an extent as the preceding. The octo-syllabic metre is generally more quick and lively in its movement, and the pauses are comparatively brief. But, under the influence of slow time, it gives intensity to grief, and tenderness to the pathetic tone. The quatrain or four-line stanza in the common form, (called sometimes common metre,) has a comparatively musical arrangement of the lines, and a peculiar character in its cadence,—which admits of its expressing the extremes of emotion whether grave or gay. It prevails, accordingly, in hymns and in ballads alike,-whether the latter are pathetic or humorous. It derives the former character from the observance of slow rate, and the latter from quick rate.
Trochaic verse has a peculiar, energy, from the abruptness of its character;—the foot commencing either with a long or an accented syllable. In gay pieces, and with quick time in utterance, it produces a
* See note on preceding page.
dancing strain of voice, peculiarly adapted to the expression of joy; while in grave and vehement strains, with slow time, it produces the utmost force and severity of tone. These two extremes are strikingly exemplified in Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso.
Anapestic metre has a peculiar fullness and sweetness of melody. Slour time accordingly renders it deeply pathetic, and quick time renders it the most graceful expression of joy. This, as well as iambic and trochaic verse, becomes well fitted to express the mood of calmness and tranquillity, when the rate is rendered moderate. *
ERRORS. The chief faults which usually occur in the reading of poetry, are the following:
1st. Too rapid utterance, by which the effect of verse is lost to the ear; the space of time allowed for the formation of each sound not being sufficient to admit of its completion, and the succession of all so rapid that they tend to obliterate each other, or at least fail of acquiring a just proportion. The general hurry of voice abridges the pauses, and sacrifices every characteristic beauty of the metre.
2d. A plain and dry articulation, which, though sufficiently distinct for meaning, withholds the appropriate tone of poetry, and turns every line into prose, by neglecting to accommodate the voice to emotion and to rhythm.
3d. There is also the opposite fault of a mouthing and chanting tone, producing the effect of bombast, and of mock solemnity. This error consists in carrying prolongation and swell to excess, and causes the style of reading or reciting to fall consequently into the manner of extravagance and caricature, rather than that of strong emotion.
Most of these explanations may be applied by repeating the examples quoted in the preceding part of this lesson.
4th. A want of true time, appearing in the disproportion of syllables to each other, and to their place, as component parts of metrical feet, --in the irregular and varying succession of the different parts of a line, as compared with each other,-in the want of correspondence and symmetry in the pauses, whether as compared with each other, or with the average rate of utterance.
Some readers 'err in all these particulars, and others in several, but most in at least one. The effect of any of these faults is to destroy, as far as it extends, the harmonious flow of verse, and to impair the perception of that harmony in thought, of which poetry is the expression.
5th. A very prevalent source of faults in the reading of poetry, consists in the mechanical observance of the final and cæsural pauses, without regard to meaning.
The error in regard to the final pause, would be exemplified thus, in the following instances : “Of man's first disobedience; and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree,” &c. Which is read thus, “Of man's first disobedience and the fruit—of that forbidden tree,” &c. "Now came still evening on, and twilight gray
Had in her sober livery all things clad." Read thus, “Now came still evening on and twilight gray-had in her sober livery,' &c. "And dark as winter was the flow
Of Iser rolling rapidly.” Read, “And dark as winter was the flow-of Iser rolling rapidly." The error of cæsural pause would occur thus : “ The look that spoke gladness and welcome was
gone." Read thus, “The look that spoke gladness—and welcome was gone.”
" The blaze that shone bright in the hall was no
more.' Read thus, “The blaze that shone bright-in the hall was no more."
"The boy stood on the burning deck."
The ridiculous effects of this error it is unnecessary to describe at length.
6th. Reading literally and uniformly according to the rhythm, or the particular metre of a passage or of a stanza, without regard to emphasis.
This error may be considered as arising either from the want of a clear conception of the sense of what is read, or from the overlooking of particular instances in which the poetic license of substituting one foot for another, is indulged, as happens in the following line, in which the spondee is twice substituted for the iambus. The faulty reading is thus :
“Now cāme still ēvening on,” &c., for
"Thě boy stood on the burning deck;" The trochee being substituted for the iambus, as the second foot. "And dark as winter wās thě flow
Of Iser rolling rapidly," for
Of Iser rolling rapidly;" The pyrrhic being substituted for the iambus, as the third foot.
This fault is sometimes carried so far as to change the accent of words; thus,
“Yět beāutiful' and bright he stood," for
"Yět beautiful and bright he stood;" With the pyrrhic instead of the iambus, as the second foot.
Sometimes an improper elision of a syllable or letter, takes place in the same way:
“No more thus brooding o'er yon heap
With av'rice painful vigils keep,” for “With ăvărice pāinful vigils keep." The principle on which the anapæst is to be preserved in the second foot, is this. The verse admits, for variety, the occurrence of a spondee in the same situation; and as the latter contains two long syllables, or four short quantities, the former is nothing more than its strict equivalent in numbers; since it contains exactly the same amount of prosodial quantity.
To the same class of errors belong the following pronunciations : "dang'rous" for dangerous, "sev'ral” for several, "ev'ry” for every, “i'th' open sky” for in the open sky. No attention should be paid to such apostrophes: they belong to a style which is become obsolete.
Note. Poetry occasionally employs a more ancient style of language, than would be appropriate in prose. This distinction extends not only to the use of words obsolete in prose, but also to forms of accent which are no longer authorized by good usage. Hence we find in verse such accents as the following: con'tribute, con’template, obdu'rate, &c., requiring a change from present custom in pronunciation. The rule of taste is, in these and similar instances, to follow the verse; as we should do in pronouncing “wind” to rhyme with "find,” and “wound" to rhyme with "ground," but not in other circumstances. In neither case, however, ought this principle of accommodation to be carried to extremes, as it would be if obeyed in the following or similar cases :
“Who now triumphs, and in the excess of joy.”— " Of thrones and mighty seraphim prostrate.""Last of my race- —on battle plain
That shout shall ne'er be heard again ! ” “ His neighbours tell, and tell you truly,
In June, December, and in July
'Tis all the same to Harry Gill.” 7th. A fault which is peculiar to the reading of the stanza in common metre, and which is familiarly