Изображения страниц

In reading verse, I remark, cases of those several kinds occur, as in case 1, 2, and 3, above specified. In each of those cases, which are similar in effect, rule 2 must necessarily be varied, in reading verse, from the mode of accentuation in plain prose. But this we may observe, no effort is necessary to do this; on the contrary, it cannot well be avoided without an effort : in reading verse, of any order, a transition from the movement of the order is not natural nor easy.


proper to

I here pause and make a few digressive remarks. Cases like those above specified do occur in English verse, and may perhaps be analogous to those in Greek and Roman verse, which are said to have been examples coming under the figures, casura and systole.

Of the Greek and Roman languages, and of their prosodies, I have but a little knowledge. The figure căsura is spoken of by writers of Greek and Roman prosody, and according to their definition of the word, and that of our lexicographers also, we have no such figure in English verse; and hence, I have forbore to use the word cæsura in English prosody, in the sense in which it has been defined. But from what I can ascertain of the original import of the word, it signifies something like extension, or increase. * If it may

be use it in this sense, it may apply as a technical term in English prosody; and in no other sense can it be applicable. Applied thus, it may be termed the English cæsura, and may be thus defined:

The cæsura is a figure in verse, which falls on a syllable, whose quantity is too small, in its relative situation, and by which its quantity is augmented in reading and recitation.

The systole, another figure, the reverse of the former, is applicable in English prosody also, and may be thus defined :

The systole is a figure in verse, which falls on a syllable whose quantity is too great, in its relative situation, and by which its quantity is lessened in reading and recitation.

These two figures occasionally occur in reading verse, when the harmony of the numbers cannot be otherwise preserved; and by the use of these, the sounds of those syllables on which they fall are varied from their common mode of pronunciation, as taught by orthography, or used in prosaic reading.

These two figures, as thus defined, in their imports and uses, are applicable to English prosody; but in the article of reading only; and will apply as variations of rule 2, in cases as above noted, in which verse is found to be anomalous, and in which the rules of prosody are found to clash with the common rules of accentuation. And, we may observe, under one or the other of these figures, the examples above cited in cases 1, 2, and 3, may come. In the word uproar, in the first cited example, both figures are properly used, as the quantity of the first syllable is depressed by the systole, and that of the other, by the cæsura.

After this manner may rule 2 be varied; and these variations are, properly speaking, figures, whether we may call them cæsura and

systole, or by whatsoever names they may be called. They do occur, and must naturally and necessarily occur, occasionally, in reading verse; but should never be used unnecessarily, and the latter less frequently than the former. These, it may be noted, are not admissible where the verse is diversified in a regular manner, as sanctioned by the rules of prosody in Chapter V. but, in cases only, where the verse is anomalous as above described.

Rule 4.

Give due observance to the syntax pauses, as in reading prose.

The uses of the syntax pauses are well known; and the marks by which they are severally designated are used by writers to mark the distinctions in the sense and syntax, in prose and verse alike; and at each notation a pause may be observed, of some determinate or relative length, in reading. In connection with these are some minor pauses, pertaining to the orthographic construction, which are also to be observed. Rules for the uses and relative lengths of these have been given heretofore, and, for convenience' sake, may be here repeated.

Pauses are notes of distinction, and are used to dis. tinguish syllables from syllables, words from words, and sentences and parts of sentences, from each other; for which the following rules are to be observed, in reading and recitation, in prose and verse.

To each syllable a pause should succeed of perceptible length.

To each word a pause should succeed perceptibly longer than the former.

A comma marks a pause the length of one syllable.
A semicolon marks a pause the length of two syllables.
A colon marks a pause the length of three syllables.
A period marks a pause the length of four syllables.

The interrogation and exclamation pauses are of various lengths, as they sometimes terminate a whole sentence, each, and sometimes not.

The pause, pertaining to a parenthesis, is equal to that of a comma.

The pause, marked by the dash, is of various lengths, as its siiuation and the manner in which it is used, may require, being sometimes longer than that of a period, and sometimes shorter.

We may here observe, the above defined pauses have no measured time for their lengths: their lengths being relative lengths, are only determined by the lengths of the sounds, as they are pronounced in reading, either quickly or slowly: in either case, the sounds and pauses are regulated by the same proportions of time.

The above may serve for general rules for the relative lengths of those pauses, in prose and verse; but, in prose or verse, they are liable to some exceptions, as I will proceed to shew.

Those pauses being designed to mark the distinctions and to give the sense, in reading, as also in speaking or oratory, no standing or mechanical rules will apply in all cases, when circumstances are various and sometimes eccentric. Hence, by the dictates of nature, our general rules may sometimes be varied, as circumstances, in different kinds of reading, may require. Some cases of the kind I will notice.

1. To the period, which marks the termination of a sentence, I have assigned a pause the length of four syllables; and, as a gen. eral rule in common sentential reading, this may be a proper length for the pause. But we may observe, in our reading, that some sentences are more closely connected by sense and syntax, and some less; and hence may require, sometimes a longer, and sometimes a shorter pause between. At the close of a paragraph a longer pause than ordinary is necessary, as the sense between one paragraph and another is less connected, than between sentence and sentence in the intermediate parts of a paragraph. Hence, under those various circumstances, the pause may be varied from the lengths of four syllables to that of six or eight, occasionally.

2. Sometimes also, the pause attached to the comma may be varied from the common length, or the length of one syllable; as, in reading the following lines :

"Remote, unfriended, melancholy, slow;

Or by the lazy Scheldt, or wandering Po." In these lines the pauses are marked by the comma, and this is correct punctuation ; but we may observe, ihe passage is highly elliptical, each single word in the first line conveying a sentiment, by the use of the figure synecdoche; hence, it is the dictate of nature that, in reading, the words should be pronounced distinctly, and with pauses longer than ordinary, to convey the sense meant to be conveyed; and in this case, a pause equal to that of a semicolon may be

proper for those comma pauses in the couplet here cited.

From the foregoing remarks it may appear that, in the nise of the pauses, we are not to be confined to mechanical rules. The rules above laid down may serve for general rules in all common cases; but in all cases, common or uncommon, nature may be a sure guide, in reading, as also in oratory and common conversation : nature may

dictate when to proceed in conformity to the rules laid down, and when to vary from them, and how.

Rule 5. Give due attention to observe the poetic pauses, as time and harmony may occasionally require.

These pauses were introduced in a foregoing chapter, and their uses defined, and our reasons for which were there given; but as this is the proper place in which these pauses are to be used, the definition and illustration of their uses, being more especially demanded, must not be omitted here.

It may be understood that a just distribution of pauses, as well as of sounds, is necessary to form poetic numbers ; hence, the syntax pauses have a twofold office in verse, to mark the distinctions in the syntax, and to aid the numbers. This last should be done by their regular and just distribution, as the harmony of the verse may require; but as this cannot always be done without marring the sense, other aids are necessarily resorted to, in reading verse, to supply the deficiency, and these are called the poetic pauses.

These pauses are two in number, and are called the cæsural pause and final pause: they are to be observed in reading verse, and are applicable when, and only when, some deficiency in the syntax pauses occurs, and when harmony requires their use.

The cæsural pause has its seat somewhere in the intermediate parts of a line; and the final pause, at the end of the line where no syntax pause occurs.

The use of the final pause is this, to make a short pause for respiration, to mark the metre, to mark that the line is ended, and to prevent one line from running into another.

The uses of these pauses being similar, they both being poetic pauses, they both have one designating mark. Å full pause is marked thus ["), and a demi-pause thus [1].

The cæsural pause has no stated length; but commonly the length of a comma pause, in some cases longer, but more frequently shorter; on this account two designating marks are necessary, to mark a full pause, or that which is shorter, thence called a demi-pause.

The final pause may be less than that of a comma, and may hence be designated by the single mark, or that of a demi-pause; as, in the following example:

" Tremendous torrent! for an instant hush,
The terrors of thy voice, and cast aside,
Those wide-involving shadows, that my eyes

May see the fearful beauty of thy face ! » This pause, being always in the same place, at the end of the line, and never to be used but in the absence of a syntax pause, needs no farther illustration by precept or example.

The cæsural pause, which has its seat and operation in the intermediate parts of the line, having various uses and modes of operation, as various cases may require, will need several examples to exemplify its uses.

1. The cæsural pause is necessary sometimes to make regular correspondencies between the lines in a couplet, and also between those in a stanza: in a couplet; as:

“ Ye nymphs of Solyma! begin the song:

To heavenly themes, sublimer strains belong." The first of these lines containing a syntax pause in the intermediate part, a pause is also necessary in the other line to make a regular correspondence, without which the verse would be deficient in time and harmony. Between the lines of a stanza also; as, in the following:

"Can storied urn, or animated bust,

Back to its mansion, call the fleeting breath?
Can honour's voice, provoke the silent dust,

Or flattery sooth, the dull cold ear of death?" The first line of this stanza contains a comma pause; the cæsural pause naturally falls on the others, making a regular correspondence ihroughout.

2. A cæsural pause naturally occurs in iambic verse after a spondee; a pause being necessary to regain the iambic movement; as, in the following:

“But will his justice more display,

In the last greāt rewarding day."
" To Zion's sacred chambers where,

My soul first breath'd, the vital air.
“ When the world bow'd, to Rome's almighty sword,

Rome bow'd, to Pompey, and confess'd her lord.” But when a pause occurs in a spondee, as it sometimes does, no pause after the spondee is needed; as :

“Rise, crown'd with light, imperial Salem, rise."

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »