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the voice may be suspended in the rising inflection on any other part of the verse, with very little danger of falling into the chant of bad readers.
On the Accent and Emphasis of Verse.
In verse, every syllable must have the same accent, and every word the same emphasis, as in prose.
In words of two syllables, however, when the poet transposes the accent from the second syllable to the first, we may comply with him, without occasioning any harshness in the verse ;—but when, in such words, he changes the accent from the first to the second syllable, every reader who has the least delicacy of feeling will certainly preserve the common accent of these words on the first syllable.
In misaccented words of three syllables, perhaps the least offensive method to the ear of preserving the accent, and not entirely violating the quantity, would be to place an accent on the syllable immediately preceding that on which the poet has misplaced it, without dropping that which is so misplaced.
The same rule seems to hold good where the poet has placed the accent on the first and last syllable of a word, which ought to have it on the middle syllable.
Where a word admits of some diversity in placing the accent, it is scarcely necessary to observe, that the verse ought in this case to decide.
But when the poet has with great judgment contrived that his numbers shall be harsh and grating, in order to correspond with the ideas they suggest, the common accentuation must be preserved.
How the Vowels e and o are to be pronounced, when apostrophized.
THE Vowel e, which in poetry is often cut off by an apostrophe in the word the and in unaccented syllables before r, as dang'rous, gen'rous, &c. ought always to be preserved in pronunciation, because the syllable it forms is so short as to admit of being sounded with the succeeding syllable, so as not to increase the number of syllables to the ear, or at least to hurt the melody.
The same observations, in every respect, hold good in the pronunciation of the preposition to, which ought always to be sounded long, like the adjective two, however it may be printed.
On the Pause or Cæsura of Verse.
ALMOST every verse admits of a pause in or near the middle of the
line, which is called the Cæsura: this must be carefully observed in reading verse, or much of the distinctness, and almost all the harmony, will be lost.
Though the most harmonious place for the capital pause is after the fourth syllable, it may, for the sake of expressing the sense strongly and suitably, and even sometimes for the sake of variety, be placed at several other intervals.
The end of a line in verse naturally inclines us to pause; and the words that refuse a pause so seldom occur at the end of a verse, that we often pause between words in verse where we should not in prose, but where a pause would by no means interfere with the sense. This, perhaps, may be the reason why a pause at the end of a line in poetry is supposed to be in compliment to the verse, when the very same pause in prose is allowable, and perhaps eligible, but neglected as unnecessary: however this be, certain it is, that if we pronounce many lines in Milton, so as to make the equality of impressions on the ear distinctly perceptible at the end of every line; if, by making this pause, we make the pauses that mark the sense less perceptible, we exchange a solid advantage for a childish rhythm, and, by endeavouring to preserve the name of verse, lose all its meaning and energy.
On the Cadence of Verse.
In order to form a cadence at a period in rhyming verse, we must adopt the falling inflection with considerable force in the cæsura of the last line but one.
How to pronounce a Simile in Poetry.
A SIMILE in poetry ought always to be read in a lower tone of voice than that part of the passage which precedes it.
This rule is one of the greatest embellishments of poetic pronunciation, and is to be observed no less in blank verse than in rhyme.
WHERE there is no pause in the sense at the end of a verse, the last word must have exactly the same inflection it would have in prose.
Sublime, grand, and magnificent description in poetry requires a lower tone of voice, and a sameness nearly approaching to a monotone.
When the first line of a couplet does not form perfect sense, it is necessary to suspend the voice at the end of the line with the rising slide.
This rule holds good even where the first line forms perfect sense by itself, and is followed by another forming perfect sense likewise, provided the first line does not end with an emphatic word which requires the falling slide.
But if the first line ends with an emphatical word requiring the falling slide, this slide must be given to it, but in a higher tone of voice than the same slide in the last line of the couplet.
When the first line of a couplet does not form sense, and the second line, either from its not forming sense, or from its being a question, requires the rising slide; in this case, the first line must end with such a pause as the sense requires, but without any alteration in the tone of the voice.
In the same manner, if a question requires the second line of the couplet to adopt the rising slide, the first ought to have a pause at the end; but the voice, without any alteration, ought to carry on the same tone to the second line, and to continue this tone almost to the end.
The same principles of harmony and variety induce us to read a triplet with a sameness of voice, or a monotone, on the end of the first line, the rising slide on the end of the second, and the falling on the last.
This rule, however, from the various sense of the triplet, is liable to many exceptions.-But, with very few exceptions, it may be laid down as a rule, that a quatrain or stanza of four lines of alternate verse, may be read with the monotone ending the first line, the rising slide ending the second and third, and the falling the last.
The plaintive tone, so essential to the delivery of elegiac composition, greatly diminishes the slides, and reduces them almost to monotones; nay, a perfect monotone, without any inflection at all, is sometimes very judiciously introduced in reading verse.
A CERTAIN number of syllables connected form a foot. They are called feet, because it is by their aid that the voice, as it were, steps along through the verse, in a measured pace.
All feet used in poetry consist either of two or of three syllables, and are reducible to eight kinds; four of two syllables, and four of three, as follow:
marks a long, and the breve a short syllable.
1. THE PATRIOT.
SWELL', Swell the shrill trumpet clear sounding afar',
For Freedom has summoned her sons to the war',
Let plunder's' vile thirst the invaders' inflame;
No! free' be our aid, independent' our might,
And all that we love to our thoughts' shall succeed,
For them we will conquer', for them we will bleed',
And oh! if returning triumphant' we move,
Oh! blest by his country', his kindred', his love',
2.-EULOGY ON PITT.
Ir hushed the loud whirlwind that ruffled the deep,
Let fashion her idols extol to the skies;
Unblamed may the accent of gratitude rise.
Whose example with envy all nations behold;
Who, when terror and doubt through the universe reigned,
And one kingdom preserved 'midst the wrecks of the world.
Unheeding, unthankful we bask in the blaze,
While the beams of the sun in full majesty shine; When he sinks into twilight with fondness we gaze, And mark the mild lustre that gilds his decline.
So, PITT! when the course of thy greatness is o'er,
O! take then, for dangers by wisdom repelled,
For evils by courage and constancy braved;
The thanks of a people thy firmness has saved.
3.-THE SOLDIER'S DREAM.
OUR bugles sang truce-for the night-cloud had lowered,
When reposing that night on my pallet of straw,
By the wolf-scaring fagot that guarded the slain;
And thrice ere the morning I dreamt it again.
To the home of my fathers, that welcomed me back.
I flew to the pleasant fields, traversed so oft
In life's morning march, when my bosom was young; I heard my own mountain-goats bleating aloft,
And knew the sweet strain that the corn-reapers sung.