A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Universal Elements of Poetry
caesura - From the Greek "to cut" thus a pause that divides the line producing a break in the movement. A rhythmical pause rather than a metrical pause. It is not necessary to punctuate. Ceasuras may occur at the beginning, medial, or end of a line of verse. Beowulf has many examples of medial caesuras. In Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock has an example of an unpunctuated caesura.
Or strain her honor or her new brocade
forget her pray'rs or miss a masquerade
We find more modern examples in Nobelist Derek Wolcott's The Bounty tercets written in pentameter.
The lizard on the white wall fixed on the hieroglyph
of its stone shadow, the palms rustling archery,
the souls and sails of circling gulls rhyme with:
In la sua volont nostra pace,
In His will is our peace. Peace in white harbours,
in marinas whose masts agree, in crescent melons
left all night in the fridge, in the Egyptian labours
of ants moving boulders of sugar, words in this sentence,
shadow and light, who live next door like neighbours,
and in sardines with pepper sauce. My mother lies
near the white beach stones, John Clare near the sea-almonds,
yet the bounty returns each daybreak, to my surprise,
to my surprise and betrayal, yes, both at once.
I am moved like you, mad Tom, by a line of ants;
I behold their industry and they are giants.
There on the beach, in the desert, lies the dark well
where the rose of my life was lowered, near the shaken plants,
near a pool of fresh tears, tolled by the golden bell
of allamanda, thorns of the bougainvillea, and that is
their bounty! They shine with defiance from weed and flower,
even those that flourish elsewhere, vetch, ivy, clematis,
on whom the sun now rises with all its power,
not for the Tourist Board or for Dante Alighieri,
but because there is no other path for its wheel to take
except to make the ruts of the beach road an allegory
of this poems career, of yours, that she died for the sake
of a crowning wreath of false laurel; so, John Clare, forgive me,
for this mornings sake, forgive me, coffee, and pardon me,
milk with two packets of artificial sugar,
as I watch these lines grow and the art of poetry harden me
into sorrow as measured as this, to draw the veiled figure
of Mamma entering the standard elegiac.
No, there is grief, there will always be, but it must not madden,
like Clare, who wept for a beetles loss, for the weight
of the world in a bead of dew on clematis or vetch,
and the fire in these tinder-dry lines of this poem I hate
as much as I love her, poor rain-beaten wretch,
redeemer of mice, earl of the doomed protectorate
of cavalry under your cloak; come on now, enough!
When the caesura occurs toward the beginning or end of the line, it is termed, initial or terminal. A good example of all caesura placings can be found in Elizabeth Browning's Mother and Poet
Dead! One of them shot by the sea in the east,
And one of them shot in the west by the sea.
Dead! both my boys! When you sit at the feast
And are wanting a great song for Italy free,
Let none look at me!
Yet I was a poetess only last year,
And good at my art, for a woman, men said;
But this woman, this, who is agonized here,
--The east sea and west sea rhyme on in her head
For ever instead.
What art can a woman be good at? Oh, vain!
What art is she good at, but hurting her breast
With the milk-teeth of babes, and a smile at the pain?
Ah boys, how you hurt! you were strong as you pressed,
And I proud, by that test.
What art's for a woman? To hold on her knees
Both darlings! to feel all their arms round her throat,
Cling, strangle a little! to sew by degrees
And 'broider the long-clothes and neat little coat;
To dream and to doat.
To teach them...It stings there! I made them indeed
Speak plain the word country. I taught them, no doubt,
That a country's a thing men should die for at need.
I prated of liberty, rights, and about
The tyrant cast out.
And when their eyes flashed...O my beautiful eyes!...
I exulted; nay, let them go forth at the wheels
Of the guns, and denied not. But then the surprise
When one sits quite alone! Then one weeps, then one kneels!
God, how the house feels!
More at end-stop and enjambment.
cadence - Verse written without distinct meter in the natural speech of the culture. The popular designation is free verse this is not correct. The cadenced verse is more appropriately named polyrhythmic verse or polymetric verse. That is, verse containing many rhythms or many meters within a single line. Despite the presence of multiple rhythms or meters it is possible to scansion polyrythmic verse. For a good example look at Walt Whitman's Song of Myself.
| / /
|| / / ˘
|| / /
|| ˘ / ˘
|| / ˘ ˘
||of south winds,
||of the few
|| ˘ / /
|| ˘ ˘ /
|| / /
Notice how the lines follow the normal flow of speech each line is ended where the breath normally gives out in reading.
calligrammes - See concrete poetry. A form made popular during the French Symbolist movement by Stephane Mallarme, who used different type fonts. In 1918 Guillaume de Kostrowitsky, pseudonym Apollinarie, wrote a series of calligrame poems about aspects of his life as a soldier during World War I.
Apollinarie - Calligrammes
cameo - The cameo is a fixed form style of poetry with seven lines varying in syllabic length. It is one of the most simple ways of writing a poem and is frequently assigned in classrooms. It varies only in syllable count. The cameo was created by the English poet Alice Spokes. The form is a heptastich (epta Greek; seven) or seven line verse and is unrhymed, the end words are masculine (strong). The syllables in each line alternate between 2,3,5,7 or 8. It may cover any subject but generally presents a picture. My example Graphite:
|allotrope of lead
|an electrical conductor
|hydrothermal in origin
|flaky, otherwise rough
canso - From the Italian meaning "song." The favorite genre of the troubadours. Later was changed to cansone. Very little survives in print. This lyric verse form is reserved for subjects of chivalry, the Crusades, and courtly romance.
canto - From the Italian "cantus" meaning song, each verse in a long epic poem is a numbered canto. Similar divisions were used by Hindu Valmiki in 500 bc for the Ramayana (500 Cantos). The canto was first used for verse divisions by Italian poets Dante (The Divine Comedy 100 cantos), Matteo Boiardo, and Ludovico Ariosto. The first long English poem to be divided into cantos was Edmund Spensers The Faerie Queene (15901609) twelve cantos. Also Lord Byron who structured his long poems Childe Harolds Pilgrimage (1812) and Don Juan (181924) in cantos. The most modern epic is imagist Ezra Pound's The Pisan. This unfinised epic has 120 Cantos and was the winner of the Bollingen Prize for poetry in 1949. Here is a sample from The Pisan.
What thou lovest well remains, the rest is dross
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage
Whose world, or mine or theirs or is it of none?
First came the seen, then thus the palpable
Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,
What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
The ant's a centaur in his dragon world.
Pull down thy vanity, it is not man
Made courage, or made order, or made grace,
Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down.
Learn of the green world what can be thy place
In scaled invention or true artistry,
Pull down thy vanity, Paquin pull down!
The green casque has outdone your elegance.
'Master thyself, then others shall thee beare'
Pull down thy vanity
carmen figuratum - Literally a figure poem. The verse takes the shape related to the theme.
Lord, who createst man in wealth and store,
This popular form appears in most elementary language arts textbooks as concrete poetry.
Ex. Easter Wings by George Herbert:
though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more
Till he became
O let me rise
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day Thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.
My tender age in sorrow did begin:
And still with sicknesses and shame
thou did’st so punish sin,
That I became
Let me combine
And feel thy victory:
For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me
The stanzas, when centered, appear to be wings. The word “imp” means “graft.”
Caroline era - A period from 1625-1642 to coincide with the reign of Charles the first. It was the age of non-dramatic poetry with working poets falling into one of three schools: Puritan, Metaphysical, and Cavalier. During this period art and literature took the biggest hit. The Puritans were the overwhelming moral, religious, and ultimately political force. They closed theaters, forbade simple pleasures, criminalized dance, and banned secular music. Court masques were still being performed in the King’s court, but were attacked by Puritans who considered their lavishness and outrageous costs against the “pure word of God”.
“What the Puritans gave the world was not thought, but action” prompting this response from Milton in Moral essays; Epistle 1. “Not always actions show the man; we find who does a kindness is not therefore kind.” We know that Milton was the exception. He was literary genius of the era, a Puritan who was able to combine the moral and religious truths of the Puritans with the culture of the Renaissance. Another was John Eliot who, after the dissolution of Parlimaent and the decline of Puritan power, travelled to America to convert Indians to Christianity. He translated the bible into the dialect of the Algonguian tribe and at one time attempted to establish a society outlined in his book The Christian Commonwealth based on strict obedience to the biblical text. It was rejected as the Royals were now in full charge of England once again.
The visual arts fared much better. Anthony van Dyck (name was anglicized to Vandyke) became “painter to the king” and is credited with establishing the “English School of Portraiture.” Inigo Jones was also in good standing, at least with the Royals, although an architect but mostly famous for designs of sets, costumes, and stage props for court masques. He has two buildings still standing: the Banqueting Hall at Whitehall which I understand is still in use, and the Queen’s House at Greenwich.
Carew, Thomas (1595-1640)
Charles I, King of Great Britain (1600-1649)
Herbert, Edward, Lord of Cherbury (1582-1648)
Cleveland, John 1613-1658)
Corbett, Richard (1582-1635)
Crashaw, Richard (1613-1649)
Davenant, Sir William (1606-1668)
Fletcher, Phineas (1582-1650)
Ford, Thomas (1580-1648)
Greville, Fulke Baron Brooke, (1554-1628)
Herbert George (1593-1633)
Hoskyns, John (1566-1638)
King, Henry (1592-1669)
Porter, Walter (1590-1659)
Quarles, Francis (1592-1644)
Shirley, James (1596-1666)
Strode William (1602-1645)
Suckling, Sir John (1609-1641)
Waller, Edmund (1606-1687)
carpe diem - Popularly though not quite accurately translated from Latin as "seize the day." In Horace (62-27bc), the phrase is part of the longer verse:
Tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas, quiem mihi, quem tibi
Finem di dederint, Leuconoe, nec Babylonios
temptaris numeros. ut melius, quidquid erit, pati
seu pluris hiemes seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam,
quae nunc appositis debilitat pumicibus mare Tyrrhenum:
sapis, vina liques et spakie brevi
spem longam reseces dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas:
carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.
Ask not (don't ask) we cannot know (it's forbidden to know) what end
the gods have granted for you, for me; nor attempt Babylonian reckonings (fortune-telling) Leuconoe.
How much better to endure whatever (comes) will be!
Whether Jupiter grants to you many more winters
or this final one which even now wears out the Tyrrhenian
Sea upon the barrier (rocks) opposite the cliffs.
Be wise, strain the wine, and since life is brief, prune back
long (far-reaching) hopes.
Even while we speak, envious time will have fled:
Pluck the day, putting as little trust as possible in tomorrow.
Thus the phrase meant putting as little trust as possible in the future, "the future is unforeseen", and that instead one should scale back one's hopes to a brief future, and drink one's wine. This phrase must be understood against Horace's Epicurean background.
Another Italian expression "memento mori" or "remember that you are mortal" carries some of the same connotation as carpe diem.
For Horace, mindfulness of our own mortality is key in making us realize the importance of the moment. "Remember that you are mortal, "so pluck the day." Over time the phrases "memento mori" and "carpe diem" are taken as representing almost opposite approaches, with "carpe diem" urging us to savor life and "memento moria" urging us to resist life's allures. This is not at all in the original sense of the "memento mori" phrase as used by Horace.
In truth carpe literally means "to pick, pluck, pluck off, cull, crop, gather". Ovid or Publious Ovidus Naso (43bc) used the word in the sense of, "to enjoy, seize, use, make use of" in his elegaic couplets The Amores. But before Ovid there wss Catallus (84-54bc) who wrote in same this context to his love, Lesbia:
De rosis nascentibus by Ausonius (310-345bc), encourages youth to enjoy life before it is too late in this verse.
Collige, virgo, rosas, dum flos novus et nova pubes,
et memor esto aevum sic properare tuum.
O maid, while youth is with the rose and thee,
Pluck thou the rose: life is as swift for thee.
And later there is John Donne (1572-1631) in this aubade, The Sun Rising.
Busy old fool, unruly sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late schoolboys, and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
Catalan Libre Vermell de Montserrat from 1399:
Vita brevis breviter in brevi finietur,
Mors venit velociter quae neminem veretur,
Omnia mors perimit et nulli miseretur.
Ad mortem festinamus peccare desistamus.
Life is short, and shortly it will end;
Death comes quickly and respects no one,
Death destroys everything and takes pity on no one.
To death we are hastening, let us refrain from sinning.
Picked up by the 17th century English poet Robert Herrick in the poem To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time. Popularly identified as "seize the day." There are some modern examples a bit more specific if interested you could look up Frank O'Hara in Personism.
catalexis - An incomplete foot at the end of a line. A complete foot at the end of a line is called acatalexis. Catalexis comes from the Greek "kata" meaning "entire" and "lexis" meaning "word". Here is an example of catalexis in the poem The Tiger by William Blake:
Tiger Tiger. burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye.
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat.
What dread hand? and what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp.
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears
And watered heaven with their tears:
Did he smile His work to see?
Did he who made the lamb make thee?
Tiger Tiger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
catalogue verse - Verse that presents a list of people (as in the Iliad), objects, or abstract qualities without any elaboration. The most famous example is the Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) Pied Beauty:
Glory be to God for dappled things --
For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings; Landscape plotted and pieced fold, fallow, and plough; And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled, (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; a dazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
caudate sonnet - The term “caudate” is Italian meaning “tailed”. The inventor is the Tuscan poet and satiricist Francesco Berni (1497-1535). This sonnet form is strophic (single unit) followed by a ½ line and an heroic couplet, there may also be additional tails. The poem can be from 17 to 24 lines. The sonnet portion is iambic pentameter. The tail line is iambic trimeter and any subsequent couplets are iambic pentameter, rhymed abbaabbacdcdcd dee. For example John Milton’s 17 line sonnet On the New Forcers of Conscience Under the Long Parliament (1646):
Because you have thrown off your Prelate Lord,
And with stiff vows renounced his liturgy
To seize the widowed whore Plurality
From them whose sin ye envied, not abhorred,
Dare ye for this adjure the civil sword
To force our consciences that Christ set free,
And ride us with a classic hierarchy
Taught ye by mere A. S. and Rutherford?
Men whose life, learning, faith and pure intent
Would have been held in high esteem with Paul
Must now be named and printed heretics
By shallow Edwards and Scotch what d'ye call:
But we do hope to find out all your tricks,
Your plots and packing worse than those of Trent,
That so the Parliament
May with their wholesome and preventive shears
Clip your phylacteries, though balk your ears,
And succor our just fears
When they shall read this clearly in your charge:
New presbyter is but old priest writ large.
There have also been attempts to write a twenty-four line sonnet. Here is one with the rhyme scheme of abbaabbacdcdcddc ccceeefff written in 1888 by Gerard Manley Hopkins:
That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire
Cloud-puffball, torn tufts, tossed pillows | flaunt forth, then chevy on an air-
Built thoroughfare: heaven-roysterers, in gay-gangs | they throng; they glitter in marches.
Down roughcast, down dazzling whitewash, | wherever an elm arches,
Shivelights and shadowtackle ín long | lashes lace, lance, and pair.
Delightfully the bright wind boisterous | ropes, wrestles, beats earth bare
Of yestertempest's creases; in pool and rutpeel parches
Squandering ooze to squeezed | dough, crúst, dust; stánches, stárches
Squadroned masks and manmarks | treadmire toil there
Foótfretted in it. Million-fuelèd, | nature's bonfire burns on.
But quench her bonniest, dearest | to her, her clearest-selvèd spark
Mán, how fást his fíredint, | his mark on mind, is gone!
Bóth are in an únfáthomable, áll is in an enórmous dárk
Drowned. O pity and indig | nation! Manshape, that shone
Sheer off, disséveral, a stár, | death blots black out; nor mark
Is ány of him at áll so stárk
But vastness blurs and time | beats level. Enough! the Resurrection,
A héart's-clarion! Awáy grief's gásping, | joyless days, dejection.
Across my foundering deck shone
A beacon, an eternal beam. | Flesh fade, and mortal trash
Fáll to the resíduary worm; | world's wildfire, leave but ash:
In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is |, since he was what I am, and
Thís Jack, jóke, poor pótsherd, | patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond.
(The first nine lines state the message of the sonnet that is the image of clouds forming and disappearing, raining down their moisture that erases man’s footprints from the parched earth. The final seven lines, reverse the consequence of man’s failure and restores the promise of eternal life, made possible through Christ’s Resurrection.)
Cavalier poets - A group of 17th century English poets who were classical in form and style; members of an early metaphysical group. They were Robert Herrick, 1591-1674; Thomas Carew, 1594-1639; Sir John Suckling, 1609-1642; and Richard Lovelace, 1618-1657. They were so named because they supported Stuart Charles the First during the Civil War (1625-1649) against the Roundheads of Parliament. They wrote thematic material: a mix of love with war, honor, and duty to the king. Their poetry reflected the “carpe diem” or “seize the day” philosophy of Robert Herrick (1591-1674), described in his poem Gather ye Rosebuds. Others were Thomas Carew (1595-1640), and Richard Lovelace (1618-1656).
“More than the works of any other writer of the period, the poems of Thomas Carew define the aesthetic values of the aristocratic circles of the court of Charles I.” But mostly he is described as a classical amorist with texts of love as in He That loves a Rosy Cheek and To One Who, When I Praised My Mistress’s Beauty, Said I was Blind. There is one atypical poem: An Elegy Upon the Death of Dean of St. Pauls: Dr. John Donne. Atypical because Carew was noted for his libertine life and work. His poems were generally bawdy, worldly, and extremely cynical. Of the three Carew was the most controversial if not downright lewd. This quote from Sir John Suckling (1609-1642) from his Session of Poets (1637):
Tom Carew was next, but he had a fault
That would not well stand with a Laureate:
His Muse was hard bound, and th’issue of’s brain
Was seldom brought forth but with trouble and pain,
All that were present there did agree
A Laureate Muse should be easy and free...”
He was refused the sacrament as he lay dying of syphilis at the age of 45.
By comparison Robert Herrick was a saint, we do know that he was a Vicar and, according to Algernon Swinburne “The greatest song-writer ever born of English race.” As to Richard Lovelace, much like Carew in lifestyle. He was aristocratic and handsome in looks and like the the other cavaliers he was a passionate Royalist, imprisoned, and a ruined health cut short his writing and he died penniless in a London slum. His major contribution was To Althea from Prison.
chanson de geste - A form of French epic poetry that draws its subjects from legendary historical events. Most famous example is The Song of Roland written at the time of the First Crusade against
the Muslims in the Holy Land. It is believed to have been inspired by Pope Urban II’s fiery speech at the Council of Clairmont in 1095. Three centuries later backed up by the mistique of Charlemagne it
served the Crusades as a powerful piece of propaganda. The The Song of Roland rewrites history to fit the crusaders' quest. And the recount of the massacre at Roncesvals creates a theme of good and
evil. Roland, a holy warrior, who serves God and his king and the infidel Saracens. In general, the poems are long with 1,200 and may exceed 18,000 lines. The lines contain 10 syllables with a caesural pause after the fourth syllable. Verses are called laisses in French and strophes in English. Another characteristic is the assonance of the final stressed vowel.
chant royal - this form consists of 5 eleven-line stanzas with a rhyme scheme a b a b c c d d e d e and a 5 line envoi rhyming of d e d e or a 7 line envoi rhyming c c d d e d e. Similar to the Ballade. Originating from French 14th century poetry and revived early in 1876 by a group of English poets looking for unusual, more challenging, exotic forms many view the chant royal as probably the most complicated form of poetry. Ex. Death Dobson, Austin
He is the despots' Despot.
All must bide, Later or soon,
the message of his might;
Princes and potentates their heads must hide,
Touched by the awful vigil of his right;
Beside the Kaiser he at eve doth wait
And pours a potion in his cup of state;
The stately Queen his bidding must obey;
No keen-eyed Cardinal shall him affray;
And to the Dame that wantoneth he saith--
"Let be, Sweet-heart, to junket and to play."
There is no King more terrible than Death.
The lusty Lord, rejoicing in his pride,
He draweth down; before the armed Knight
With jingling bridle-rein he still doth ride;
He crosseth the strong Captain in the fight;
The Burgher grave he beckons from debate;
He hales the Abbot by his shaven pate,
Nor for the Abbess' wailing will delay;
No bawling Mendicant shall say him nay;
E'en to the pyx the Priest he followeth,
Nor can the Leech his chilling finger stay .
There is no King more terrible than Death.
All things must bow to him. And woe betide
The Wine-bibber,--the Roisterer by night;
Him the feast-master, many bouts defied,
Him 'twixt the pledging and the cup shall smite;
Woe to the Lender at usurious rate,
The hard Rich Man, the hireling Advocate;
Woe to the Judge that selleth Law for pay;
Woe to the Thief that like a beast of prey
With creeping tread the traveller harryeth:--
These, in their sin, the sudden sword shall slay . . .
There is no King more terrible than Death.
He hath no pity, -- nor will be denied.
When the low hearth is garnished and bright,
Grimly he flingeth the dim portal wide,
And steals the Infant in the Mother's sight;
He hath no pity for the scorned of fate:--
He spares not Lazarus lying at the gate,
Nay, nor the Blind that stumbleth as he may;
Nay, the tired Ploughman,--at the sinking ray,--
In the last furrow,--feels an icy breath,
And knows a hand hath turned the team astray . . .
There is no King more terrible than Death.
He hath no pity. For the new-made Bride,
Blithe with the promise of her life's delight,
That wanders gladly by her Husband's side,
He with the clatter of his drum doth fright.
He scares the Virgin at the convent grate;
The Maid half-won, the Lover passionate;
He hath no grace for weakness and decay:
The tender Wife, the Widow bent and gray,
The feeble Sire whose footstep faltereth,--
All these he leadeth by the lonely way . . .
There is no King more terrible than Death.
Youth, for whose ear and monishing of late,
I sang of Prodigals and lost estate,
Have thou thy joy of living and be gay;
But know not less that there must come a day,
Aye, and perchance e'en now it hasteneth,--
When thine own heart shall speak to thee and say,--
There is no King more terrible than Death.
Chartist poetry: A movement led by the working classes of 1838 England to force the Whigs to pass the People’s Charter. This Charter included such political reforms as: universal suffrage, annual parliaments, vote by ballot, equal representation, and the abolition of property ownership as a condition for membership in Parliament. Eventually all of the conditions were met and the Chartists, as a group, was disbanded in 1849. Their main organs were The Northern Star and The Chartist Circular. Here is an article published in the Chartist Circular, July 11, 1840:
Translation from Antologii a Chartiskoi Literatury - Kovalev
The Politics of Poets
Ebenezer Elliot, in the preface to one of his poems, says, “All genuine poets are fervid politicians.” The gentlemen critics complain that the union of poetry with politics is always hurtful to politics, and fatal to the poetry. But these great connoisseurs must be wrong, if Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Cowper, and Burns were poets. Why should the sensitive bard take less interest than other men in those things which most nearly concern mankind...What is poetry but impassioned truth-philosophy in its essence...Are there no politics in Hamlet? Is not Macbeth, is not the drama of Wallenstein...All true and lasting poetry is rooted in the business of life; that of Burns, in ‘the man’s the goud for a’that’...Homer and Demosthenes in Greece, Cicero in Rome, the poets and martyrs of the middle ages, and in later times, the voices of Burns, of Campbell, of Shelley, Byron, and Elliot have echoed through the universe, Liberty!...Take for instance, Dante, in 13th century, exposing the errors...of an arrogant state church...Chaucer did the same in England,...the Chaucer of Scotland, Sir David Lindsay, did the same...Poets and their poetry, have, and will continue to exert an extensive influence on the destinies of mankind...’Thoughts that breathe and words that burn,’ have passed, and startled mankind from their sleep of indifference, roused them into action, shaken the long-established foundation of things, revolutionized the feeble mine, and raised man, as a moral and intellectual being, to a loftier elevation.”
This poem from The Northern Star, May 7, 1842
“What is a peer? A useless thing;
A costly toy, to please a king;
A bauble near a throne;
A lump of animated clay;
A gaudy pageant of a day;
An incubus; a drone!
What is a peer? A nation’s curse
A pauper on the public purse;
Corruption’s own jackal:
A haughty, domineering blade;
A cuckold at a masquerade;
A dandy at a ball.
Ye butterflies, whom kings create;
Ye caterpillars of the state;
Know that your time is near!
This moral learn from nature’s plan,
That in creation God made man;
But never made a peer.”
And for a bit of history:
“Labour lives from hand to mouth,
Labour starveth daily;
Trade-per-cent, has rankest growth,
Mammon’s heirs live gaily.
Richard Arkwright’s* patent heir
Hath a doom too splendid;
Hargreaves dwelleth with Despair,
And crompton dies untended.
Mammon Arkwright rolls in wealth,
Hath too much to dquander:
Mammon Arkwright, child of Stealth!
Radcliffe starveth yonder.
Manchester homes cotton lords.
Peels and Cobdens many:
William Radcliffe ‘mid their hoards,
Dies unhelp’d of any.
Corn-law League can cheapen bread:
Cannot toil be cheaper?
Are you Paupers over-fed?
Can’t you starve the reaper?
Trade-per-cent, hath rankest growth,
Free-trade liveth gaily,
Saves its millions, nothing loath,
Starveth Labour Daily. William Linton The Labourer 1847, v. II p. 82
*Sir Richard Arkwright, more than suspected of stealing his ‘inventions’ left an immense fortune to his son, while Hargreaves and Crompton, the real inventors of the spinning-jenny and the mule frame, died neglected and destitute. ...William Radcliffe, of Stockport, the inventor of dressing-machines, the veritable father of the power-loom system, died at the age of 80 years, in the most abject poverty.
Our last example is an excerpt from A Christmas Garland:
...”Last year, Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol...to such of our readers as have not read it, we say, get it by all means...The moral of the book, ‘that any Christian Spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness,’ is a gem of priceless worth. Were these words written on the hearts of all men...that an Elysium might this earth be, instead of the ‘vale of tears’ which so many find it...Dickens will take his stand: and who could desire a destiny more glorious? Someone, we forget who, defines poetry to be ‘musical thought’. Tried by this test, where is be found sublimer poetry than that which breathes through every page penned by Dickens? Yes, Dickens is the poet of the poor; prouder position, greater glory, for now and for all time, no man could hope to acquire.”
The Northern Star, December 21, 1844
chastuska - From the Russian word части́ть meaning to "speak fast." This is a type of traditional Russian poetry mostly humorous, satirical, or ironic in subject. Its rigid, short structure, parallels limericks in Western culture. Chastuskas cover unlimited topics, from lewd jokes to political satire, and love songs as well as Communist propaganda. During Soviet times, the government even published large collections of the "ideologically correct" chastushka. Sometimes several chastushkas occur in sequence to form a song. In fact, in Russian, this type of song is referred to as just the plural частушек or chastushkas. After each chastuska, there is a full musical refrain without lyrics to give the listeners a chance to laugh. Originally chastushkas were a form of folk entertainment not intended for the stage. Often they were sung by a group of people taking turns like a kind of improvisation In modern culture these small group gatherings would be similar to modern-day rap sessions.
The chastuska is a single quatrain in trochaic tetrameter with an abab or abcb rhyme scheme. This is a fixed form with the last foot of a single stressed syllable rather than a full trochee. This structure requires that even the tune used to sing them is fixed and only allows regional variations. A popular example is the tune of Яросла́вские ребя́та or Yaroslavskie Rebyata (Yaroslav Guys) which is the theme of a vocal band by that name. In fact, the Yaroslav region is one of the oldest producers of chastushkas. Yaroslavian Chastushkas are a bit lewd and loaded with vulgarisms most are unprintable. We present some examples rather loosely translated in order to preserve rhyme, meter and something close to the meaning.
Птицеферма у нас есть,
И другая строится.
А колхозник яйца видит,
Когда в бане моется.
We have got a chicken farm,
And the second's not too far,
But kolkhozniks get to see eggs
Just at public baths thus far
On political and anti-religious propaganda:
Знаем Ленина заветы.
Кулаки, попы - наш враг
Призовет их всех к ответу
Большевицкий красный флаг.
We remember Lenin's words of
Our prime foes, priest and kulak
They will be called to account
By the bolshevik's red flag.
Не ругай меня, мамаша,
Что в подоле принесла.
Тож без мужа родила
Mother, spare me, don't scold me
For what I brought in my skirt.
Just think, like me, Virgin Mary
Without husband's help gave birth.
On peace propoganda:
С неба звездочка упала
Прямо милому в штаны,
Пусть бы всё там разорвала,
Лишь бы не было войны.
Shooting star straight from the heavens
Fell into my boyfriend's shorts.
His burnt manhood's no biggie;
My main wish is no more wars.
On the introducion of daylight saving time Russia:
Время сдвинули на час
На Советском глобусе
Раньше хрен вставал в постели
А теперь в автобусе
Time got shifted by an hour
From on the soviet globa.
Morning I wood'd been in the shower,
Now I have it on the bus.
Here is an example from the American contemporary poet Loyd Taylor.
How to Get Rid of Your Preacher
Once there was a preacher twas claimed,
"Hes so boring and out of touch,
All his sermons are dead, they said;
And he was soft spoken too much.
He had heard an awful rumor
From the church folk it had been told,
They would get rid of their preacher
Get a young one handsome and bold.
He sought counsel from an elder,
Lest he should lose his position,
He gleaned ample bits of wisdom
That soon changed his disposition.
The words shared with the old preacher
Were so simple, but o so wise;
Just preach Heaven sweet and Hell hot,
Raise your voice look them in the eye!
The preacher put into practice
The good advice of the old man,
And the crowds began to pour in
He grew in fame throughout the land.
But the church got their wish you see,
For the parson became so grand,
For a larger congregation
Came and took him right off their hands.
Then the small church then grew tiny,
From the pulpit there was no sound,
And so many stopped attending,
That they had to shut the church down.
So let this be a lesson saint,
When you are at your preacher sore,
For some other church may take him
Then you will have to close the doors.
Chaucerian heptastich - A verse in iambic pentameter introduced by Chaucer (1343-1400) in the 15th century. It has seven lines (hepta from the Greek "seven") with the rhyme pattern of ababbcc. See this example from The Complaint of Chaucer in His Purse:
To yow, my purse, and to no other wight
Complayne I, for ye be my lade dere!
I am so sory , now that ye been lyght,
For certes, but ye make me hevy chere,
Me were as leef be layd upon by bere;
For which unto your mercy hus I crye:
Beth hevy ageyn or elles moote I dye!
The context of the poem is an appeal to the newly crowned Henry IV for a raise in his pension. For a more recent example we offer William Morris' (1836-1896) The Earthly Paradise.
Of heaven or hell I have no power to sing,
I cannot ease the burden of your fears,
Or make quick-coming death a little thing,
Or bring again the pleasure of past years,
Nor for my words shall ye forget your tears,
Or hope again for aught that I can say,
The idle singer of an empty day.
But rather, when aweary of your mirth,
From full hearts still unsatisfied ye sigh,
And, feeling kindly unto all the earth,
Grudge every minute as it passes by,
Made the more mindful that the sweet days die--
Remember me a little then I pray,
The idle singer of an empty day.
The heavy trouble, the bewildering care
That weighs us down who live and earn our bread,
These idle verses have no power to bear;
So let me sing of names remembered,
Because they, living not, can ne'er be dead,
Or long time take their memory quite away
From us poor singers of an empty day.
Dreamer of dreams, born out of my due time,
Why should I strive to set the crooked straight?
Let it suffice me that my murmuring rhyme
Beats with light wing against the ivory gate,
Telling a tale not too importunate
To those who in the sleepy region stay,
Lulled by the singer of an empty day.
Folk say, a wizard to a northern king
At Christmas-tide such wondrous things did show,
That through one window men beheld the spring,
And through another saw the summer glow,
And through a third the fruited vines a-row,
While still, unheard, but in its wonted way,
Piped the drear wind of that December day.
So with this Earthly Paradise it is,
If ye will read aright, and pardon me,
Who strive to build a shadowy isle of bliss
Midmost the beating of the steely sea,
Where tossed about all hearts of men must be;
Whose ravening monsters mighty men shall slay,
Not the poor singer of an empty day.
For more detail see rhyme royal.
chiasmus - From the Greek "khiasmos" is a rhetorical inversion of the second of two parallel structures. Portions of text parallel each other in reverse order. Earliest examples are found in the Old Testament of the Bible. For example "but many that are first shall be last, and many that are last shall be first." The term "chiasmus" was first given official recognition by scholars in 1820 as a type of antithesis in which the second half of an expression is balanced against the first with the parts reversed. Poets of all periods have used the form for emphasis. There are numerous examples in literature beginning with sixth century BC when Croesus writes "In peace sons bury their fathers but in war fathers bury their sons." Also Shakespeare's "To be or not be" speech. For later chaistics we look at John Keats in Ode on a Grecian Urn - "Beauty is truth, truth beauty."
The classic chiasmus does not require the the words be the same as in Samuel Johnson's The Vanity of Human Wishes - "By day the frolic, and the dance by night." And Alexander Pope in Essay on Man, Epistle I "His time a moment, and a point his space."
Speech writers for politicians use this form beginning with John Kennedy's "Ask not what you can do for your country..." Senator Hilary Clinton in a speech "The true test is not the speeches the president delivers; it's if the president delivers on the speeches." From the bible President Obama gives us "do unto others as we would have them do unto us." And later " "My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington." Another political chiasmus comes from Mitt Romney in "Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom."
Chiasmus is a favorite of ad-men and cliche driven therapists as well. Most notable is therapist, Mardy Grohe who wrote "Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You." Another Grohe chiastic quote: "Almost all politicians would like to become great, but nobody great has ever aspired to be a politician."
Note that a chiasmus includes anadiplosis, but not every anadiplosis reverses itself in the manner of a chiasmus.
choriambics - An Early Greek metrical foot consisting of four syllables, two stressed syllables enclosing two unstressed and a trochee followed by an iamb. The choriambi are never used alone, but are usually preceded by a spondee and followed by an iambus occuring rarely in English poetry exceptions below.
In ancient Greek the line formed in this manner is called the Asclepiades or asclepiad. An asclepiad is a line of poetry following a particular metrical pattern. The form is attributed to Asclepiades of Samos and is one of the Aeolic metres. As with other Aeolic metrical lines, the asclepiad is built around a choriamb, to which two (lesser asclepiad) or three (greater asclepiad) other choriambs are added. Around this core of choriambs, iambic, spondaic, trochaic feet may be added to introduce and conclude the line. A common example of a lesser asclepiad is a spondee followed by two choriambs and an iamb ( | '' | '~~' | '~~' | '~~' | '~ | ). The island of Samos also spawned the choriambus or choriambic verse of Sappho (7th6th centuries B.C.). Later by Callimachus and Theocritus. Among the Romans were the choriambics from the odes of Horace (65 B.C.), also Seneca. Here is an example from Horace Ode I-11 To Leuconce, where Horace speaks to a Leuconoe, though probably not her name from the Greek meaning "Empty Head". This ode also contains a "carpe diem" line:
Tu ne quaesieris, scire nefas, quem mihi, quem tibi finem di dederint, Leuconoe, nec Babylonios temptaris numeros.
Ut melius, quidquid erit, pati,
Seu pluris hiemes seu tribuit Iuppiter ultimam, quae nunc oppositis debilitat pumicibus mare
Tyrrheneum. Sapias, vina liques, et spatio brevi
Spem longam reseces; dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas: carpe diem quam nimium credula postero.
Don't you keep asking, to know is forbidden, what end to you, what end to me. The gods may have assigned, Leuconoe, nor meddle with Babylonian
numbers. How much better, whatever will be, to deal with it,
Whether Juppiter grants us many more winters, or this is the last,
which weakens the Tyrrhenian Sea upon the exposed pumice.
Be sensible, strain the wine and restrain your long hopes within this
brief space; while we are talking, jealous time will have fled:
Pluck the day, trusting in the next as little as possible.
There are several good examples from English poetry. Here the choriamb is often found in the first four syllables of iambic pentameter as in Keats' Ode to Autumn:
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Also Charles Swinburne's Choriambics:
Love, what ailed thee to leave life fthat was made lovely. we thought, with love
What sweet visions of sleep lured thee away, down from the light above?
What strange faces of dreams voices that called, hands that were raised to wave,
Lured or lead thee, alas, out of the sun, down to the sunless grave?
Ah, thy luminous eyes! once was their light fed with the fire of day;
Now their shadowy lids cover them close, hush them and hide away.
Ah, thy snow-coloured hands! once were they chains, mighty to bind me fast;
Now no blood in them burns, mindless of love, senseless of passion past.
Ah, thy beautiful hair! so was it once braided for me, for me;
Now for death is it crowned, only for death, lover and lord of thee.
Sweet, the kisses of death set on thy lips, colder are they than mine;
Colder surely than past kisses that love poured for thy lips as wine.
Lov'st thou death? is his face fairer than love's, brighter to look upon?
Seest thou light in his eyes, light by which love's pales and is overshone?
Lo the roses of death, grey as the dust, chiller of leaf than snow!
Why let fall from thy hand love's that were thine, roses that loved thee so?
Large red lilies of love, sceptral and tall, lovely for eyes to see;
Thornless blossom of love, full of the sun, fruits that were reared for thee.
Now death's poppies alone circle thy hair, girdle thy breasts as white;
Bloodless blossoms of death, leaves that have sprung never against the light.
Nay then, sleep if thou wilt; love is content; what should he do to weep?
Sweet was love to thee once; now in thine eyes sweeter than love is sleep.
And yet two more examples from Rupert Brooks' Choriambics I and II:
Ah! not now, when desire burns, and the wind calls, and the suns of spring
Light-foot dance in the woods, whisper of life, woo me to wayfaring;
Ah! not now should you come, now when the road beckons, and good friends call,
Where are songs to be sung, fights to be fought, yea! and the best of all,
Love, on myriad lips fairer than yours, kisses you could not give!
Dearest, why should I mourn, whimper, and whine, I that have yet to live?
Sorrow will I forget, tears for the best, love on the lips of you,
Now, when dawn in the blood wakes, and the sun laughs up the eastern blue;
I'll forget and be glad!
Only at length, dear, when the great day ends,
When love dies with the last light, and the last song has been sung,
All are perished, and gloom strides on the heaven:then, as alone I lie,
Mid Death's gathering winds, frightened and dumb, sick for the past, may I
Feel you suddenly there, cool at my brow; then may I hear the peace
Of your voice at the last, whispering love, calling, ere all can cease
In the silence of death; then may I see dimly, and know, a space,
Bending over me, last light in the dark, once, as of old, your face.
Here the flame that was ash, shrine that was void, lost in the haunted wood,
I have tended and loved, year upon year, I in the solitude
Waiting, quiet and glad-eyed in the dark, knowing that once a gleam
Glowed and went through the wood. Still I abode strong in a golden dream,
Unrecaptured. For I, I that had faith, knew that a face would glance
One day, white in the dim woods, and a voice call, and a radiance
Fill the grove, and the fire suddenly leap and, in the heart of it,
End of labouring, you! Therefore I kept ready the altar, lit the flame, burning apart.
Face of my dreams vainly in vision white
Gleaming down to me, lo! hopeless I rise now. For about midnight
Whispers grew through the wood suddenly, strange cries in the boughs above
Grated, cries like a laugh. Silent and black then through the sacred grove
Great birds flew, as a dream, troubling the leaves, passing at length.
I knew long expected and long loved, that afar, God of the dim wood, you
Somewhere lay, as a child sleeping, a child suddenly reft from mirth,
White and wonderful yet, white in your youth, stretched upon foreign earth,
God, immortal and dead!
Therefore I go; never to rest, or win peace, and worship of you more, and the dumb wood and the shrine therein.
cinquain - A five line (quintain) adaptation of Japanese forms tanka and haiku. Invented by the American poet Adelaide Crapsey (1848-1914) in the early 1900's. It has no fixed rhyme but the number of syllables is fixed at two, four, six, eight, and two in that order. In contrast to Japanese forms, the cinquain is always titled, used initial capitalization, and the title was actually the fifth line of the poem. These are examples of the Crapsey cinquain.
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
Three silent things
The falling snow - the hour
Before the dawn - the mouth of one
The Crapsey form has disappeared. Modern poets have developed their own variations of the original form. Here are some adaptations:
Didactic - Which dictates word count, not syllables or stresses. The first word is one-word; subject of the poem. Second line, two adjectives describing the title; third line a three word phrase about the subject; fourth line describe how the poet feels about the subject using adverbs and adjectives; and the fifth or last line is a single word synonym for line one. Frequently used to familiarize students with the parts of speech and their use. In syllabic form one, two, three, four, one. Look for examples on PBS Kids.
Reverse - has one five-line stanza in a syllabic pattern of two, eight, six, four, two.
Mirror - a standard cinquain of 5-line stanzas consisting of a cinquain followed by a reverse cinquain.
Butterfly - a nine-line syllabic form with the pattern two, four, six, eight, two, eight, six, four, two.
Crown - cinquain a sequence of five cinquain stanzas functioning to construct one larger poem.
Garland - cinquain a series of six cinquains in which the last is formed of lines from the preceding five, typically line one from stanza one, line two from stanza two, and continuing the pattern.
circumlocution - See periphrasis.
clerihew - A form of frivolous biographical poetry invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956) as a schoolboy of sixteen. The structure is fixed it has four lines of irregular length and meter. The subject is a famous person or historical character in a humorous way, never satirical or negative. The rhyme structure is AABB, usually double dactylic. The first line contains the subject's name.
Some Bentley clerihews:
Sir Humphrey Davy
He lived in a odium
Of having invented sodium.
The art of biography
Is different from geography
Geography is about maps,
But biography is about chaps.
The above is an interesting example from the inventor of the form in that it violates his own first requirement: the subject's name must be the first line.
Sir Christopher Wren
Said, "I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls
Say I am designing St. Paul's."
George the Third
Ought never to have occurred.
One can only wonder
At so grotesque a blunder.
John Stuart Mill,
By a mighty effort of will,
Overcame his natural bonhomie
And wrote Principles of Political Economy.
By Richard Rhodes, inventor of the Dewar flask:
Sir James Dewar
Is smarter than you are
None of you asses
Can liquify gases.
This clerihew was the winner of Games Magazine's "Do You Clerihew?" competition:
With the thought
"Therefore I'm not"?
climax - We suggest Herbert Spencer’s definition from On the Philosophy of Style which reads “the great art in prose and verse is to leave on the reader’s mind the most distinct and sharp impression possible.” A rising power leading to a major turning point or action. The writer has a choice as to the approach to the climax. For example in Paradise Lost, Book 4, where Eve speaks to Adam that “nothing” Milton uses the comparison.
“neither breath of Morn, when she ascends
With charm of earliest birds, nor rising sun
On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, flower,
Glistning with dew, not fragrance after showers,
Nor grateful Evening mild, nor silent Night
With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon
Or glittering starlight, without thee is sweet.”
Milton could have shortened the stanza to read only “nothing without thee is sweet” omitting the rise to a climax. Another example of rise by comparison is from Shakespeare's Tempest, Act IV:
“The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind.”
Another type is to rise by descriptive climax as in Sir Walter Scott’s Marmion, Verse VI:
“When, fast as shaft can fly,
Bloodshop his eyes, his nostrils spread,
The loose rein dangling from his head,
Housing and saddle bloody red,
Lord Marmion’ s steed rushed by.”
For an oratorical climax look at Marc Antony’s speech to the citizens or Hamlet’s famous "to be or not to be." And there is also the poetic climax, and for this we turn to Coleridge’s Mont Blanc who, unlike Shelley who wrote but never visited the site, actually visited this site. He wrote this climactic final verse:
“Thou too; hoar Mount! With thy sky-pointing peaks,
Oft from whose feet the avalanche, unheard,
Shoots downward, glittering through the pure serene
Into the depth of clouds, that veil thy breast-
Thou too again stupendous Mountain! Thou
That as I raise my head, awhile bowed low
In adoration, upward from thy base
Slow travelling with dim eyes suffused with tears,
Solemnly seemest like a vapory cloud,
To rise before me – Rise, O ever rise,
Thou kingly Spirit throned among the hills,
Thou dread ambassador from Earth to Heaven,
Great Hierarch! Tell thou the silent sky,
And tell the star, and tell yon rising sun.,
Earth, with her thousand voices, praises GOD.”
And this last example the favorite of Dr. Johnson from Pope’s The Dunciad:
“In vain, in vain – the all-composing hour
Resistless falls: the muse obeys the pow’r.
She comes! She comes! The sable throne behold
Of Night primaeval and of Chaos old!...
See skulking truth to her old cavern fled,
Mountains of casuistry heap’d o’er her head!
Philosophy, that lean’d on heaven before,
Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more.
Physic of Metaphysic begs defence,
And Metaphysic calls for aid on Sense!
See Mystery to Mathematics fly!
In vain! They gaze, turn giddy, rave, and die.
Religion blushikng veils her sacred fires,
And unawards Morality expires.
For public flame, nor private, dares to shine;
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!
Lo! Thy dread empire, CHAOS! Is restor’d;
Light dies before thy uncreating work’
Thy hand, great Anarch! Lets the curtain fall
And universal darkness buries all.
clogyrnach - A Welsh sestet verse form joining two three-syllable lines to become a six syllable line with rhyme becoming a a ab b a. Here is a translated example of the twelfth-century from Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd, In Summer:
Summer I love, stallions abroad.
Knights courageous before their lord;
the comber booming,
apple tree blooming,
Shield shining, war-shouldered.
Longing, I went craving, alack
The bowing of the slim hemlock,
in bright noon, dawn's sleight;
fair frail form smooth, white,
Her step light on the stalk.
Silent is the small deer's footfall,
Scarcely older than she is tall.
Passion will heed her call.
But no vile word will pass her lips.
I pace, I plead when shall we tryst?
when will you meet me?
love drowns me deeply
Christ keep me! He knows best.
comic relief - A device used by writers of serious plays and novels to either relax or increase tension building within the reader/audience by interjecting a humorous reaction or speech as a distraction from a threatening event about to happen. Numerous examples can be found in Shakespeare.
From Macbeth the porter’s sililoquy following a knocking at the gate, Act II, Scene 3:
Porter. Here’s a knocking indeede: if a man were porter of Hell Gate he should have old turning the Key. ... Who’s there in th’ name of Belzebub? Here’s a Farmer, that hang’d himselfe on th’ expectation of Plentie...Never at quiet: What are you? But this place is too cold for Hell...I had thought to have let in some of all Professions, that go the Prinrose way to th’ everlasting Bonfire.
From Hamlet Act V, Scene 5. Here Hamlet exchanges in a question and answer period with a grave digger (actually two) about the casualness of his work with the burial of the dead.. Pointing out that even Alexander the Great would now be mud that would be used to fill in wall cracks to keep out the winter wind. Also the famous “Poor Yorick” line.
From A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens. In an attempt to reform Scrooge, Jacob tells of his error in life that of ignoring the suffering of his fellow man. Scrooge replies: “You must have been very slow. Seven years dead and still travelling around the whole time.. the whole time, no rest, no peace...you might have got over a great quantity of ground in seven years”. Furious Jacob shakes his chains.
common meter - In English it is called the ballad meter or hymnody. It is a four-line stanza, with two pairs of a line of iambic tetrameter followed by a line of iambic trimeter; the rhymes usually fall on the lines of trimeter, although in many instances the tetrameter also rhymes. This is the meter of most Scots-English ballads. In hymnody most common of the named hymn meters used to pair many hymn lyrics with melodies, such as Drink to me Only With Thine Eyes.
Here we show how Robert Burns writes the same poem and changes common meter (tetrameter, trimeter, tetrameter, trimeter) to long meter (tetrameter, tetrameter, tetrameter, tetrameter) and short meter (trimeter, trimeter, tretrameter, trimeter).
Ye flowery banks o' bonnie Doon
How can ye bloom sae fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae fu o' care?
Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon,
How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae weary fu' o' care?
Ye banks and braes o'bonnie Doon
How can ye blume sae fair?
How can ye cnat, ye little birds,
And I sae fu' o' care?
Emily Dickinson wrote much of here poetry in ballad meter. Example: Great Streets of Silence
Great streets of silence led away
To neighborhoods of pause
Here was no notice no dissent
No universe no laws.
By Clocks, 'twas Morning, and for Night
The Bells at Distance called --
But Epoch had no basis here
For Period exhaled.
Here is an example by the formalist Howard Nemerov (1920-1991). He writes strictly in fixed forms and meter.
The Common Wisdom
Their marriage is a good one. In our eyes
What makes a marriage good" Well, that the tether
Fray but not break, and that they stay together.
One should be watching while the other dies.
compound epithet - Epithet: Greek word for adjective. The compound epithet or the practice of adding a word before the adjective was characteristic of poetic or stock words of the late 18th century. There were seven types:
- 1- noun plus noun:
- 2- noun plus adjective;
- 3- noun plus present participle
- 4- noun plus past participle
- 5- adjective or adjective used adverbially plus a participle
- 6- adverb plus a participle
- 7- adjective plus noun or noun plus -ed
In addition to the types or grammaticals for the iambic meter epithets were also used to help convey a message: attibutive, objective or instrumental. For example:
- attributive: anger-glow
- objective: anger-kindling
- instrumental: anger-boiling
The compound epithet has a long history in poetic construction going back to Anglo-Saxon verse. Various doctoral studies of poetic diction have cited Emerson in his Outline of the English Language 1906 as identifying epithets in Beowulf with eighteen for the word “sword,” twenty-three for “ocean,” and numerous ones for “ship”. There were very few compound epithets used by Shakespeare or Milton, but those that were used were imaginative. In Milton’s Sabrina we find examples of attributive (“amber-dropping”) and examples of type seven in “coral-paven” “rushy-fringed”:
Song for Sabrina
Listen where thou art sitting
Under the glassy, cool, translucent wave,
In twisted braids of lilies knitting
The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair;
Listen for dear honour`s sake,
Goddess of the silver lake,
Listen and save!
By Thetis` tinsel-slippered feet,
And the songs of Sirens sweet;
By dead Parthenope`s dear tomb,
And fair Ligea`s golden comb,
Wherewith she sits on diamond rocks
Sleeking her soft alluring locks;
By all the nymphs that nightly dance
Upon thy streams with wily glance;
Rise, rise, and heave thy rosy head
From thy coral-paven bed,
And bridle in thy headlong wave,
Till thou our summons answered have.
Listen and save!
By the rushy-fringed bank,
Where grows the willow and the oiser dank,
My sliding chariot stays,
Thick set with agate, and the azurn sheen
Of turkish blue, and emerald green,
That in the channel strays:
Whilst from off the waters fleet
Thus I set my printless feet
O`er the cowslip`s velvet head,
That bends not as I tread.
Gentle swain, at thy request
I am here!
The creative Milton is believed to have originated the “poetic diction.” Unfortunately it was then aped and imitated by weak poets, “the landscape gardeners and travelling pedlars” of the 18th century. Thus we have Pope’s “passion for correctness” and “impatience for innovation” coupled with a group of poets who, following the mechanical imitative rules, succeeded in reducing Milton’s creative dictionary into a resource of stock words to be used over and over. So in truth there was “no Pope style only a weak neo-Miltonian.”
Pope writes: “The happy audacities of the Elizabethans...are no longer possible. In the mock heroic Dunciad written in 1728 in iambic pentameter we discover the following epithets:
To isles of fragrance, lily-silver’d vales
Diffusing languor in the panting gales;
To lands of singing or of dancing slaves
Love-whisp’ring woods and lute-resounding waves.
The 18th century crafted a movement against two aspects of the early Augustans: the revival of archaic and obsolete words; and attempts to imitate Chaucer and Spencer. Pope leveled this attack against the use of such classic archaisms and “would not admit any words not immediately intelligible to his readers or requiring a footnote to explain them”. He wrote of Homer’s compound epithets “only such that can be done literally into English without destroying the purity of our language” should be adopted. Samuel Johnson wrote Lines Written In Ridicule Of Certain Poems in 1777 .
Whereso’er I turn my view,
All is strange, yet nothing new;
Endless labour all along,Endless labour to be wrong;Phrase that time hath flung away,Uncouth words in disarray,Trick'd in antique ruff and bonnet, Ode, and elegy, and sonnet.
Pope fined and refined everything: verse: manner, thought, and style. “Natural man” became “artificial man”. It was Thomas Gray first, followed by Wordsworth and Coleridge, who led the charge against Pope “the literary dictator of the age” and the heroic couplet who made:
poetry a mere mechanic art
and every warbler had his tune by heart;
a “common stock of dead and colourless epithets”.
In History of English Prosody Saintsbury writes:
“The uniformity and maximum swiftness that marked his manipulation of the stopped couplet was achieved not only by means of a large proportion of monosyllabic final words, but also by an evident avoidance of long and heavy vocables in the interiors of the lines themselves” referring to stock “watery”, “languid”, “starry”, “feathered” and so forth.
Here are two examples from William Shenstone (1713-1763). The first deserves the label of “dead and colourless”; the tone of the second is more personal, more genuine but still not an original read:
Romantic scenes of pendant hills
And verdant vales, and falling rills
And mossy banks, the fields adorn
Where Damon, simple swain was born.
In his The Schoolmistress (1742) softer somewhat more genuine:
Behind some door, in melancholy thought,
Mindless of food, he, dreary caitiff, pines,
Ne for his fellows joyance careth aught,
But to the wind all merriment resigns.
Edward Young (1683-1765) in Night Thoughts, where the title hints at an opportunity for creative words to add to “star vocabulary” instead, gave us the stock “tuneful spheres” “nocturnal sparks” “lucid orbs” “ethereal armies” “mathematic glories”, and “radiant choirs”. In in his essay Conjectures on Original Composition of 1759 he wrote “Words tarnished, by passing through the mouths of the vulgar, are laid aside as inelegant and obsolete” thus defending plain talk over word-craft. So now we have everyday language; language that does not require footnotes and in its place the repeated use of a trite stock of words. Young notes in this same work that few works of real originality exist because those that are original “incite, prejudice, and intimidate, preventing us from being able to energize our own talent.” Incidently there are numerous citations and more details of his comments in Conjectures available on the internet.
The “gaudy and inane phraseology”; “the colloquial idiom of living society”; the heroic couplet of Pope; all were finally eclipsed by the Romantic era and “blank verse”. To paraphrase men wearied to death with artificiality here is the cry of the Savoyards: Give us nature! Give us life! Abandon the rules and barriers! Free our souls! All hail Romanticism! All hail Naturalism!
“Hail, Poetry, thou heaven-born maid!
Thou gildest e'en the pirate's trade:
Hail, flowing fount of sentiment!
All hail, Divine Emollient!”
conceit - An extended metaphor or simile first. The metaphysical poets fell into a pattern of writing comparisons of characteristically odd unrelated things. The practice was brought to perfection by John Donne (1572-1631). These incredible, audacious, far-fetched comparisons of incredibly unlike things became known as the "conceits." Conceits often employ the devices of hyperbole, paradox, and oxymoron with purpose to draw attention to the construct, thus the word "conceit." Described by Samuel Johnson as "a combination of dissimilar images or discovery of occult resemblances" where "the most heterogeneous ideas are yoked by violence together." The conceits covered any subject: love, religion, everyday life, etc.
For some classic examples we begin with John Donne's The Flea in which a flea-bite is compared to love. See if this grabs your attention:
Mark but this flea, and mark in this
How little that which thou deniest me is;
It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flew our two bloods mingled be,
Thou knowest that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead;
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pampered swells with one blood made of two,
And this, alas, is more than we would do.
Batter my Heart Three-personed God, for You
Batter my hear, three-personed God, for You
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend.
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new
I, like a usurped town to another due,
Labor to admit You, but Oh? to no end.
Reason. Your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love You, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto Your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again;
Take me to You, imprison me, for I
Except You enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except You ravish me.
Note the conceits: the usurper to a usurped town; Reason
to a viceroy; onslaught of God's love with carnal knowledge.
Yet another Donne that appears quite frequently literature classes:
As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls, to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
"The breath goes now," and some say, "No:"
So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
'Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.
Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears;
Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.
Dull sublunary lovers' love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.
But we by a love so much refin'd,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.
Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to airy thinness beat.
If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if the' other do.
And though it in the centre sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.
Such wilt thou be to me, who must
Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end, where I begun.
Conceits in the poem:
Donne and wife as celestial bodies; as points of a compass.
The wedding ring as the path of a planet: alchemical symbol for gold: path traced out by a compass.
Emotions of people: earthquakes and tempests
Another metaphysical poet inclined to conceits is Thomas Carew (1595-1640) in this example To a Lady that Desired I Would Love Her:
Now you have freely given me leave to love,
What will you do?
Shall I your mirth, or passion move,
When I begin to woo;
Will you torment, or scorn, or love me too?
Each petty beauty can disdain, and I
Spite of your hate
Without your leave can see, and die;
Dispense a nobler fate!
Tis easy to destroy, you may create.
Then give me leave to love, and love me too
Not with design
To raise, as Loves cursed rebels do,
When puling poets whine,
Fame to their beauty, from their blubbered eyne.
Grief is a puddle, and reflects not clear
Your beauty's rays;
Joys are pure streams, your eyes appear
Sullen in sadder lays;
In cheerful numbers they shine bright with praise,
Which shall not mention to express you fair,
Wounds, flames, and darts,
Storms in your brow, nets in your hair,
Suborning all your parts,
Or to betray, or torture captive hearts.
Ill make your eyes like morning suns appear,
As mild, and fair;
Your brow as crystal smooth, and clear,
And your disheveled hair
Shall flow like a calm region of the air.
Conceits: dying men: the compass;
A good example of a modern-day conceit is Michael Donaghy's (1954-2004) Machines:
Dearest, note how these two are alike:
This harpsicord pavane by Purcell
And the racer's twelve-speed bike.
The machinery of grace is always simple.
This chrome trapezoid, one wheel connected
To another of concentric gears,
Which Ptolemy dreamt of and Schwinn perfected,
Is gone. The cyclist, not the cycle, steers.
And in the playing, Purcell's chords are played away.
So this talk, or touch if I were there,
Should work its effortless gadgetry of love,
Like Dante's heaven, and melt into the air.
If it doesn't, of course, I've fallen. So much is chance,
So much agility, desire, and feverish care,
As bicyclists and harpsichordists prove
Who only by moving can balance,
Only by balancing move.
Conceits here are: hapsichord pavane to twelve-speed bike; Ptolemy trapezoid and bike; cylist steers the Purcell plays.
Note the "chiasmus" in the last two lines.
See Petrarchan conceit.
confessional - Poetry embodying intimate, personal feelings is usually identified as lyric. Some analysts feel that poetry which expressing a private feeling of something extraordinary horrifying, or ugly currently referred to as black humor should have it’s own identifier. So we come to the confessional. Other terms sometimes used are personal or autobiographical. This is poetry of the 1950's and 1960's most still under copyright. Anne Sexton To Bedlam; John Berryman’s Dream Songs; and Sylvia Plath’s Ariel. All three of these poets committed suicide. For examples we cite lines from Robert Lowell’s Waking Early Sunday Morning:
Through the fog the white spire and white flag-pole sticking out “like old white-china door-knobs, useless
things to calm the mad”
couplet - A pair of verse lines of similar meter and rhyme as in aa,bb,cc.dd... One of the oldest and most widely used of all verse forms established by Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales. Historically the couplet was a run-on (enjambment) or open couplet. Shakespeare introduced the the closed couplet which he used for emphasis or support usually following a long speech see this example from Richard the Second, Act II:
O my liege,
Pardon me, if you please; if not, I, pleas'd
Not to be pardoned, am content withal.
Seek you to seize and gripe into your hands
The royalties and rights of banish'd Hereford?
Is not Gaunt dead? and doth not Hereford live?
Was not Gaunt just? and is not Harry true?
Did not the one deserve to have an heir?
Is not his heir a well-deserving son?
Take Hereford's rights away, and take from Time
His charters and his customary rights;
Let not to-morrow then ensue to-day;
Be not thyself-for how art thou a king
But by fair sequence and succession?
Now, afore God-God forbid I say true!-
If you do wrongfully seize Hereford's rights,
Call in the letters patents that he hath
By his attorneys-general to sue
His livery, and deny his off'red homage,
You pluck a thousand dangers on your head,
You lose a thousand well-disposed hearts,
And prick my tender patience to those thoughts
Which honour and allegiance cannot think.
Think what you will, we seize into our hands
His plate, his goods, his money, and his lands.
I'll not be by the while. My liege, farewell.
What will ensue hereof there's none can tell;
But by bad courses may be understood
That their events can never fall out good.
Also Alexander Pope's (1588-1744) Eloise and Abelard where the entire poem written in couplets. Here is an excerpt:
Alas, how chang'd! what sudden horrors rise!
A naked lover bound and bleeding lies!
Where, where was Eloise? her voice, her hand,
Her poniard, had oppos'd the dire comand.
Barbarian, stay! that bloody stroke restrain;
The crime was common, common be the pain.
I can no more; by shame, by rage suppress'd
Let tears, and burning blushes speak the rest.
The couplet, in its natural form is called the heroic couplet. Heroic signifies iambic pentameter to put it another way, all forms built on iambic pentameter are referred to as heroic that is two rhymed lines of five stresses each. Perfected by John Dryden and Alexander Pope in scansion it is:
u / u / u / u / u/
u / u / u / u / u/
u = unstressed / = stressed
To review then the couplet is closed then the two lines are complete as in Swift's A Description of Morning:
Now hardly here and there a hackney-coach
Appearing, show'd the ruddy morn's approach.
Now Betty from her master's bed had flown,
And softly stole to discompose her own.
The slip-shod 'prentice from his master's door
Had par'd the dirt, and sprinkled round the floor.
Now Moll had whirl'd her mop with dext'rous airs,
Prepar'd to scrub the entry and the stairs.
The youth with broomy stumps began to trace
The kennel-edge, where wheels had worn the place.
The small-coal man was heard with cadence deep;
Till drown'd in shriller notes of "chimney-sweep."
Duns at his lordship's gate began to meet;
And brickdust Moll had scream'd through half a street.
The turnkey now his flock returning sees,
Duly let out a-nights to steal for fees.
The watchful bailiffs take their silent stands;
And schoolboys lag with satchels in their hands.
The couplet is open when the thought runs past two rhymed lines as in Browning's My Last Duchess:
That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Fr Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will 't please you sit and look at her? I said
"Fr Pandolf" by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps
Fr Pandolf chanced to say, "Her mantle laps
Over my Lady's wrist too much," or "Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat"; such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart . . . how shall I say? . . . too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace--all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men,--good; but thanked
Somehow . . . I know not how . . . as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech--(which I have not)--to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark"--and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
--E'en then would be some stooping; and I chuse
Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will 't please you rise? We'll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your Master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go
Together down, Sir! Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me.
In this example we have the three requirements for an open couplet: two lines, end rhyme, and lines that are enjambed (a complete thought or sentence is carried over from one line into the next without pause.)
You may have read of octo-syllabic couplets. These are so-called because iambic or trochaic tetrameter contains eight syllables to the line. There are also didactic or primer couplets found in the Bible and in early school school textbooks. They attempt to introduce a moral lesson in verse form for example: "In Adam's fall, We sinned all"
The couplet has its own form but at the same time combines the characteristics of other forms such as the ghazal, sonnet, epic, and narrative. For example the Shakespearean sonnet has a concuding couplet. In French narrative poetry the rhyming twelve syllable becomes the alexandrine couplet. The French literary termfor a stanza of eight lines is "square couplet" with each line containing eight syllables.
There are also elegaic couplets occurring most often in ancient Greek and Roman poetry. The elegaic couplet consists of alternating lines of dactylic hexameter and pentameter: two dactyls followed by a long syllable, a caesura, then two more dactyls followed by a long syllable.
Samuel Coleridge has given us these two lines to describe the elegaic couplet. Memorize it, it may come in handy in a quiz:
In the Hexameter rises the fountain's silvery column,
In the pentameter aye falling in melody back.
Frequently epitaphs are written in couplet form see this one written by John Dryden:
Here lies my wife: here let her lie!
Now she's at rest and so am I.
cretic verse - Cretic or amphimacer (Greek meaning long at each end) also paeon diagyiosis, is a metrical foot containing three syllables: long, short, long. Some linguists prefer the term "paeonic rhythm." In Greek poetry, the cretic was usually a form of paeonic or aeolic verse. However, any line mixing iambs and trochees could employ a cretic foot as a transition. In other words, a poetic line might have two iambs and two trochees, with a cretic foot in between ( s L s L; L s L L s; L s L s). However the cretic foot is always "Long short Long."
It was Thrasymachus (Θρασύμαχος 459-400 BC) a sophist of Ancient Greece best known as a character in Plato's Republic who should be credited with the use of rhythmic character in Greek oratory, especially the use of the paeonic rhythm in prose. Interestingly he was the first to discover use the period and colon. See this example of Thrasymachus and his paeonic prose:
οὕτως, ὦ Σώκρατες, καὶ ἰσχυρότερον καὶ ἐλευθεριώτερον καὶ δεσποτικώτερον ἀδικία δικαιοσύνης ἐστὶν ἱκανῶς γιγνομένη, καὶ ὅπερ ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἔλεγον, τὸ μὲν τοῦ κρείττονος συμφέρον τὸ δίκαιον τυγχάνει ὄν, τὸ δ᾽ ἄδικον ἑαυτῷ λυσιτελοῦν τε καὶ συμφέρον.
Thus, Socrates, injustice on a sufficiently large scale is a stronger, freer, and a more masterful thing than justice, and, as I said in the beginning, it is the advantage of the stronger that is the just, while the unjust is what profits man's self and is for his advantage."
In ancient prosody, it most often appears as one long and three short syllables.
The paeon had four types according to the place of the long syllable: (L s L: L s s s; s L L L; s s L s; s s s L) and as a rule was used to replace the feet equal to it in length, the bacchius (s L L) and the cretic (L s L). In tonic prosody the paeon sometimes denotes a pair of iambic or trochaic feet with the stress omitted from one of them. In Russian poetry for example, Ubv na poe dinke draga (second paeon) or Do dvadtsat shesti godov (fourth paeon). Some Russian poets, among them S. Gorodetskii (1884-1967), attempted to write in pure paeons, systematically omitting a metrical stress from every other foot. Such verse, however, is scarcely distinguishable from that written in ordinary iambs and trochees. In translation see this example:
Mother, blind, stares in the window;
Answering spring her wrinkles laugh.
But her heart is dedicated to ache,
With growing pain it beats in the sun.
We need neither light nor beauty!
We need no blessings from outside!
How my son in his distant exile
Counts the deathly hours in his cell.
For an example from French literature a good example is the cretic opening in this 14th century renaisance love verse by Christine de Pisan (1354-1430):
Grief desespoir, plein de forsennement,
Langour sansz fin et vie malere
Pleine de plour, d'angoisse et de tourment,
Cuer doloreux qui vit obscurement,
Tenebreux corps sur le point de partir
Ay, sanz cesser, continuellement;
Et si ne puis ne garir ne morir.
Fiert, durt de joye separe,
Triste penser, parfont gemissement,
Angoisse grant en las cuer enserre,
Courroux amer port couvertement
Morne maintien sanz resjossement,
Espoir dolent qui tous biens fait tarir,
Si sont en moy, sanz partir nullement;
Et si ne puis ne garir ne morir.
Soussi, anuy qui tous jours a dure,
Aspre veillier, tressaillir en dorment,
Labour en vain, chiere alangoure
En grief travail infortunement,
Et tout le mal, qu'on puet entierement
Dire et penser sanz espoir de garir,
Me tourmentent desmesurement;
Et si ne puis ne garir ne morir.
Grievous despair, full of madness,
Endless languor and cursed life,
Filled with tears, anguish and torment,
Doleful heart which lives in darkness,
Ghostly body at the brink of death,
I have ceaselessly, continually;
And so I can neither be healed nor die.
Disdain harshness without joy,
Sad thoughts, deep sighs,
Great anguish locked in the weary heart.
Fierce bitterness borne secretly,
Mournful expression or without joy,
Dread which silences all hope,
Are in me and never leave me;
And so I can neither be healed nor die.
Cares and concerns which have continued forever,
Bitter waking, shuddering sleep,
Pointless labor, with languid expression,
Doomed to the torment of grief,
And all the evils which one could ever
Tell or think about, without hope of cure,
Torment me immeasurably;
And so I can neither be healed nor die.
And another example from the English Renaissance period there is the familiar Christmas carol What Child Is This? Also, look at another anonymous verse of that period:
"Greensleeves was all my joy.
Greensleeves was my delight:
Greensleeves was my heart of gold"
For an example of cretic verse from the Elizabethan period see Tennyson's(1880-1892) poem The Oak:
Live thy life,
Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
Then; and then
All his leaves Fall'n at length,
Look, he stands,
Trunk and bough,
In English poetry we frequently find a trochee in the first position of an otherwise iambic line meaning a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one. In the 20th-21st centuries, because of its stressed based characteristic, ad-men seek it out when preparing advertising slogans and adages. Think about: "Please Don't Squeeze the Charmin"; "Where's the Beef?" "Once you Pop You Can't Stop."
curlism - A synonym for literary indecency. See Advice to the Grub Street Verse-writers
cyhydedd naw ban - A Welsh form invented after the 13th century. The form has lines of nine syllables. The poet is free to divide them into consecutive lines that rhyme. In this translated example from the twelfth century, by bard Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr, the rhyme pattern of the first stanza is a a a b b c c d d. Here is In Praise of Owain Gwynedd:
I hail a boonsman hearty in war,
Battlewolf, boastful, first to the fore
I sing of serving him with fervor,
Sing his mead-fed and worthy power,
Sing his ardor, this wind-winged falcon,
Sing hid thoughts, lofty as the welkin,
Sing his praises they may know no bounds,
Sing odes for my magnanimous thane;
I sing paeans of praise for Owain.
Armed for angles in Tegeingl's realms.
Blood's spouting strreams, our blades' spating storms,
We met dragons, the warriors of Rome,
A prince's son costly their winestream.
Striving with the Dragon of the East
The western Dragon showed which was best.
Lusty our lord, his bright blade unsheathed
The sword poured forth, the spear was strife-bathed,
Blade in hand and all hands hewing heads,
Hand on hilt and edge on Norman hordes
At the sight of death, constant wailing
And swashbuckling and loud revelling,
Blood flowing from brave men's riven skulls
I heard flesh pledged to the brids' bowels
In the fierch thrust of the sharp ash-haft,
In the raven-beckoning blood-path
On corpses to feed a thousand shrikes
Brynnich's riders rode, Owain's war kites,
Carcasses, carrion by the bushels,
The tast of battle, killed men's entrails!
For his prize we fought and for his praise,
Hosts and bards, for Owain's bounteous ways,
To Cadell Hiriell Hirtein's scion
For reward, guardian of Coel's line,
Battlefield's lance-thrust, praise-lavishing,
Shield-carrying, eagle onrushing
Court's stalwart, vigilant defender
Beward his thrusting, three-colored spear!
They harvested Aberteifi's spears
With battle cries, as at Badon Fawr.
I saw war-stags, corpses stiff and red
We let the fierce wolf put them to bed;
They ran without arms some without hands,
Mighty warriors under talons;
I saw their rout three hundred were slain;
I saw bowels on thorns, the war won.
I saw the strife, heard the battleshout,
Saw knights belaboring troops in flight.
I saw men falling from the calk heights,
The foe slaughtered among their redoubts;
I saw pikes blooming about the wall
And lances rushing at Owain's call
I saw the charge make Saxon carnage
And princes reaping the day's courage.
Prince of princes! His battle is won,
Bought dearly he is pursued by none.
I saw a Rhuddian a ruddy tide,
A hero's host heroic in pride.
I saw in Penfro a prince peerless;
I saw in Penardd a lord fearless;
I saw their slaughter of the doughty
Borne by a brave land, the fern's bounty,
I saw men thronging and scurrying
Heard alarums, saw troops hurrying,
Saw them taken, saw comrades in pain,
Saw strife near Caer and Coen Llywfain.
Gwynedd's valor was proven again
You were dauntless, shepherd of Britain!
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