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secrated to the highest spiritual purposes, seeks a consecrated language. It avoids all words. that might shock or offend. It clings instinctively to what is old and well-tried. Thus a greater archaism is not only permitted to poetry than to prose-it is almost forced upon it; and so we find in it certain forms, like "wast," "yon," "trod," "burthen," which prose
Now and then a poet will strike out boldly into new fields, forcing to his purposes a very modern or even local and technical diction. But the difficulty is great and the attempt dangerous, requiring for success a high order of imagination and taste.* On the other hand, verse-writers sometimes betray an excessive tendency to keep to a special "poetic" vocabulary. They think, for instance, that they must write of "crystal" instead of "glass," of "steed" or "courser" instead of "horse," of "youths and maidens" instead of "boys and girls." Poetry has doubtless shown a general preference for the former of these terms, a preference stronger at certain periods in the history of our literature than at others. But the preference is not always justifiable, since it
*Perhaps as good an example of this as could be found (for by the nature of the case one is practically compelled to select from contemporary verse) is Mr. Kipling's McAndrew's Hymn.
does not follow that what is common is commonplace or that what is homely is unpoetical. Sometimes the deepest feelings and the most sacred associations go with the familiar, homely word.
Indeed, poetry usually prefers the simple word. This springs logically from the simplicity which we have seen to be characteristic of poetry in general. Long, hard words are learned comparatively late in life; they have not gathered about them so many associations, nor do they call them up so readily; in fact, they do not usually stand for the simpler human feelings and relations, but rather for the refinements of mature life and experience, when love passes into regard, and ardent will into preference, and joy into a measured gratification. Or they stand for the subtle distinctions of philosophic and scientific analysis, with which poetry has little or no concern. But we may not be dogmatic on this point, nor attempt to fix arbitrary limits. Milton employs a highly Latinized diction to suit the dignified character of his epic, and he has clearly felt the poetic beauty of certain long and resonant proper names. the sonnets of Rossetti, too, may be found many such words as "desultory," "regenerate," "primordial," "irretrievably," "inexorable supremacy,"
used nearly always with entire felicity both of sound and sense. Everything of course depends upon the atmosphere of the poem, the effect aimed at, and the taste and skill of the poet.
Poetry prefers the beautiful word-a point in which again the taste of the poet is supreme arbiter. When Thomson writes "atween" instead of "between" and Tennyson "marish' instead of "marsh," we feel that they were drawn by some peculiar beauty which, rightly or wrongly, they conceived to lie in those forms. Poems like Shelley's To a Skylark, or Keats's Ode to Autumn, or Poe's The Raven are filled with the most beautiful and melodious words the language possesses. Of course, when a different effect is desired, uncouth and dissonant words may be used; but this is in pursuance of a special or temporary purpose, in which poetry still, by nicely suiting the means to the end, achieves that ultimate and integral beauty which lies in the perfect harmonization of all elements.
Figurative Language.-Figurative language is preeminently the language of the imagination, which is constantly detecting subtle resemblances or clothing abstractions in visible forms. It is also the natural language of emotion, which not only employs those rhetorical figures-exclamation, and the like-that serve to make expres
sion more brief and vivid, but which sometimes sees falsely and therefore, without realizing it, speaks in hyperbole or under an untruthful image. When, for example, in an excess of fear or rage, or out of excessive love or sympathy, one attributes life and sensation to that which does not have them, he commits what Ruskin has called a pathetic fallacy-a fallacy, that is, of the feelings, natural and justifiable, and not to be confused with the inexcusable fallacy of a coldblooded conceit. Lyric poetry is full of the pathetic fallacy, as it is full indeed of figures of every kind. On the other hand, it is to be observed that some narrative poetry of the highest type-Homer's Iliad, for example, and Dante's Divina Commedia-indulges in few figures, and those mostly of simple comparison, such as the simile, in which there is no shadow of mental confusion. Yet figures have remained, first and last, one of the great distinguishing marks of poetic expression.
Metre. Nearly all definitions of poetry agree in requiring that its language shall be measured, that is, be given metrical form. Metre, as applied to English verse, may be defined as a recurrence of accents or stresses at intervals measurably
and continuously regular. The rhythm of prose is distinguished from metre in not being continuous or so measurably regular. Metre obeys a discoverable law. Without going into the history of English verse or troubling ourselves about the difference between accent and the classical "quantity," we may give a very simple outline of English metrics as practiced in modern poetry.
The Foot. The metrical unit is the foot. This consists of one stressed syllable in combination with either one or two unstressed syllables.
The two-syllable feet are the IAMB () and the TROCHEE ( ́ ~ ).
The three-syllable feet are the ANAPEST (~ ~ _) and the DACTYL ( ' ~ ).
To these may be added the SPONDEE ( foot of two heavy or nearly equally stressed syllables, which is employed as a frequent substitute for the dactyl in dactylic verse.
From this scheme it is apparent that English verse falls naturally into two great divisions or classes the iambic-trochaic class, or what may be called duple measure, and the anapesticdactylic class, or triple measure.
Iambic and Trochaic Measures. It is not always possible to tell whether we shall call a given duple-measure verse iambic or trochaic.