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ting the legitimate sonnet in its severest, as well as its most elegant, construction. The following, though according to the strictest precedents, and therefore the least agreeable to unaccustomed ears, is full of deep harmony, strong sentiment, and chas. tised, yet impassioned, feeling. The Tyrolese, amid their Alpine fastnesses, are represented as returning this lofty answer to the insulting demand of unconditional surrender to French invaders. If their own mountains had spoken, they could not have replied more majestically :
“The land we, from our fathers, had in trust,
THE DICTION OF POETRY.
Alliterative English Verse. ENGLISH verse may be constructed according to three forms--alliterative, with rhyme, or simply metrical (blank, as it is called).
“Pierce Plowman's Vision,” by William Lang. lande, who lived in the reigns of Edward III. and
Richard II., and published his poem about the year 1350, is the largest specimen of alliterative poetry bequeathed to us from remote times. This kind of versification is founded upon Icelandic and AngloSaxon models; and neither depends for its effect upon the quantity of the syllables, their number, their particular accent; nor yet their rhyming terminations, but consists in an artful repetition of the same sounds, at least three times in each distich. The lines, likewise, have a certain slipshod cadence, with a marked cesura about the middle of each and, on the whole, they read much more like Greek or Roman measures than any others in our language. A brief sample will be found not altogether unagreeable to modern ears. Much of Chaucer, on account of his lame metres, is harder to be read than the following:
Thus, robed in russet, I roamed about
— Amongst us,'quoth the minours, 'that man is dwellinge, And ever hath, as I hope, and ever shall hereafter.'
- Contra,' quod I, as a clarke and cumsed to disputen, And said him sotheley, Septies in die cadit Justus,' 'Seven sythes,'** said the Boke, “syrineth the rightfull, And who so synneth, I say, doeth evil, as men thinketh, And Do-wel and Do-evil may not dwell together; * Inquired.
0 Lived. | Saluted them kindly.
To inform me.
Ergo, he is not alway among you fryers,
•I shall say thee, my sonne,' said the fryer than,
Our elder poets often availed themselves of "apt alliteration's artful aid” (as Churchill significantly calls it), in their minor pieces :“The life is long that lothsomely doth last,
The dolefull dayes draw slowly to their date ;
Shakspeare has many fine touches of this poetical seasoning, which, indeed, is seldom otherwise than pleasing, when unobtrusively thrown in. If the vowel i be pronounced in the substantive "wind" as it is in the verb “to wind,” the effect of the double alliteration in the following line will be exceedingly impressive :
“The churlish chiding of the wintry wind.” To show how subtle the charm of exquisite verse may be, let "wind" be pronounced with the usual flat i, and the “ wintry wind” will be hardly endurable.
Later poets, even the most eminent, have not disdained to employ this petty artifice. Gray, one of the most fastidious of the tribe, was even fond of it. Sober
1 A simile. Rocking the boat
|| By his own carelessness.
“Ruin seize thee ruthless king!
Confusion on thy banners wait;
They mock the air with idle state.”
Alliteration, open or occult, may be traced through every turn of this brief paragraph.
Young, in his most sombre lucubrations and opi. grammatic arguments, plays with alliteratives in his own quaint way :-,
"Fondness for fame is avarice of air !"
Rhymed Verse, Our national verse may be written either with rhyme or without it.
By universal usage, however, rhyme seems to be almost indispensable in lesser metres, to distinguish the lines in recitation, and give a certain finish to the cadence of each ; as though the strain were set to some kind of music, which played during the delivery, but called not off attention from the subject, the thoughts, nor the language; as couversation may be carried on in a draw. ing-room, while low, sweet, undisturbing instrumental harmony in the vestibule, or under the window, is heard, though not listened to, all the time. In fact, rhyme is a running bass accompaniment that wonderfully aids the spirit and melody of the song, throughout which, without being distinctly regarded, it is, nevertheless, so interfused, that if it be suspended for a single note the spell is broken; and treble, alt, tenor,-soaring, sinking, swelling, or passing by the most subtle transitions through the whole diapason of their range,--seem to want the sustaining power which kept them afloat and accordant. But rhyme ought ever to be subdued, and made subsidiary to the richer and more varied rhythm of the ļines : for the instant it becomes conspicuous by its singularity it attracts attention from the theme to the mechanism of the verse; and offering no more than a tinkling, momentary sound to the ear, it either displeases at cnce as an interruption, or soon becomes offensive because it is frivolous. Rhymes should be employed as expletives, -graceful only when they are not reflected upon; or, rather, as an element of composition, resembling air, light, health, and other of the higher and more essential requisites of happy existence, which are breathed, seen, enjoyed, without disturbing the common tenor of our feels ings. When thus adapted, rhyme becomes an ingredient so equally blended with the other constituent parts of good verse as to do its office not less quietly, nor less effectively, in upholding the general harmony, than the articles of nouns, auxiliaries of verbs, and other small words, which occur over and over, again and again, in all kinds of discourse, as well as literary composition, and not less in prose than in poetry. These particles, though noticed by nobody, unless bunglingly brought in, are nevertheless felt by all to be absolutely necessary for the purpose of connecting, adjusting, and filling up the verbal import of every sentence.
Rhyme may be a snare to idle versifiers, with whom
“One line for sense, and one for rhyme,
Are quite sufficient at one time." These it may betray into verbosity; while
“The mob of gentlemen who write with ease". may be tempted, by its “fatal facility,” to copy the practice of Elkanah Settle,
“Who fagoted his notions as they fell,
DRYDEN. But the genuine poet, who knows how “to build the lofty rhyme,” in the higher as well as the vulgar sense of the word,-he, in the search after consonant