Glossary D

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Universal Elements of Poetry

dactyl - Dactyl is Greek for "finger". There are 3 phalanges in a finger and, likewise, there are 3 parts of a dactyl. Presumably, the first phalanx is the longest in the ideal finger, while the others are shorter and about the same length, therefore long, short, short is the form of the dactyl foot. The phalanges refer to the syllables; thus, there is a long syllable, followed by two short ones, in the basic form. Technically, a short syllable is one mora and a long is two moraea. The dactyl us a three-syllable foot with the accent on the first syllable. In scansion / u u. Dactylic verse is rare in English verse it is most associated with classical Greek and Latin Verse. See Dactylic Hexameter. Here are three familiar English examples: the first is Longellow's epic poem Evangeline in dactylic verse.

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?
Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed!
Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October
Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o'er the ocean.
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pr.
Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,
Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman's devotion,
List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest;
List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.

When a dactylic line drops the unstressed syllables at the end of the line as in this familiar Mother Goose: "Pussy cat, Pussy cat where have you been" The " ^ " is used to indicate the omission. So in scansion we have / u u| / u u| / u u / ^ .

Reference to dactylic verse would not be complete without including this lovely, poignant poem by Thomas Hood (1799-1845) Bridge of Sighs:

One more unfortunate
Weary of breath,
Rashly importunate,
Gone to her death!

Take her up tenderly,
Lift her with care;
Fashiond so slenderly,
Young, and so fair!

Look at her garments
Clinging like cerements;
Whilst the wave constantly
Drips from her clothing;
Take her up instantly,
Loving, not loathing.

Touch her not scornfully;
Think of her mournfully,
Gently and humanly;
Not of the stains of her?
All that remains of her
Now is pure womanly.

Make no deep scrutiny
Into her mutiny
Rash and undutiful:
Past all dishonour,
Death has left on her
Only the beautiful.

Still, for all slips of hers,
One of Eves family?
Wipe those poor lips of hers
Oozing so clammily.

Loop up her tresses
Escaped from the comb,
Her fair auburn tresses;
Whilst wonderment guesses
Where was her home?

Who was her father ?
Who was her mother?
Had she a sister?
Had she a brother?
Or was there a dearer one
Still, and a nearer one
Yet, than all others?

Alas! for the rarity
Of Christian charity
Under the sun!
O! it was pitiful!
Near a whole city full,
Home she had none.

Sisterly, brotherly,
Fatherly, motherly
Feelings had changed:
Love, by harsh evidence,
Thrown from its eminence,
Even Gods providence
Seeming estranged.

Where the lamps quiver
So far in the river,
With many a light
From window and casement,
From garret to basement,
She stood, with amazement,
Houseless by night.

The bleak wind of March
Made her tremble and shiver;
But not the dark arch,
Or the black flowing river:
Mad from lifes history,
Glad to deaths mystery
Swift to be hurld
Anywhere, anywhere
Out of the world!

In she plunged boldly,
No matter how coldly
The rough river ran,
Over the brink of it,
Picture it, think of it,
Dissolute Man!
Lave in it, drink of it,
Then, if you can!

Take her up tenderly,
Lift her with care;
Fashiond so slenderly,
Young, and so fair!

Ere her limbs frigidly
Stiffen too rigidly,
Decently, kindly,
Smooth and compose them;
And her eyes, close them,
Staring so blindly!

Dreadfully staring
Thro muddy impurity,
As when with the daring
Last look of despairing
Fixd on futurity.

Perishing gloomily,
Spurrd by contumely,
Cold inhumanity,
Burning insanity,
Into her rest.
Cross her hands humbly
As if praying dumbly,
Over her breast!

Owning her weakness,
Her evil behaviour,
And leaving, with meekness,
Her sins to her Saviour!

Note the places where the " ^ " should be placed.

dactylic hexameter - In dactylic hexameter there are six sets of the dactyls (reminder the dactylic foot is formed with one long followed by two short syllables. This may be represented in with a long mark (/) followed by two short marks (u). A line of poetry written in dactylic hexameter could be written like this: / u u / u u / u u / u u / u u / u u

Dactylic hexameter lines can also be composed using substitutions for the dactyls. Remember: The dactyl, as stated above, is one long and two short or four morae. See mora That is the equivalent of two longs, and so the meter known as spondee (/ /), (the equivalent of four morae) can substitute for a dactyl. In this case there would be two longs. In contrast with the other five feet, the last foot of the line of dactylic hexameter is usually not a dactyl. It may be a spondee or a shortened spondee, with only three morae. In a shortened spondee, there would be two syllables, the first long and the second short. There is one additional important bit of confusing information: the meter used in dactylic hexameter can be either dactyl (long, short, short) or spondee (long, long). Why? Because they have the same number of morae.

Syllable length doesn't seem significant in oral English. Take a word like "laboratory." There is no doubt that it has five syllables, but when spoken it drops to four. The other factor is that the four syllables are not the same length. Americans stress the first syllable. Brits stress the second. In other words we have added a "time" factor. The Latin for time is "tempus" and the word for the duration of time, especially in linguistics, is "mora." Two short syllables or "morae" count for one long syllable. Latin and Greek have rules about whether a given syllable is long or short and in their poetry length is very important. See more at "morae."

In addition to the actual form of the line of the dactylic hexameter, there are various rules about where substitutions are possible and where word and syllable breaks such as the caesura (∥) and diaresis should appear.

Dactylic hexameter describes Homeric epic meter (Iliad and Odyssey) and that of Vergil's Aeneid. It is also used in Ovid's shorter poetry. Ovid uses two meters; dactylic hexameter and dactylic pentameter (elegiac couplets.) Ovid uses the dactylic hexameter for his Metamorphoses.

Opening lines of the Iliad:

Μῆνιν ἄειδε, θεὰ, Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος
"Sing, o goddess, the rage || of Achilles, the son of Peleus."

Notice that Greek poets the caesura after the feminine.

Opening lines of Virgil's Aeneid

Arma virumque cano, || Troiae qui primus ab oris
"Of arms and the man, I sing. Who first from the shores of Troy. . .

In dactylic hexameter, a caesura occurs any time the ending of a word does not appear as the beginning or end of a metrical foot; in modern prosody, however, it is only so-called only when the ending also coincides with an obvious pause in the line. The ancient elegiac couplet form of the Greeks and Romans contained a line of dactylic hexameter followed by a line of pentameter; the pentameter created an obvious caesura: this from the Latin poet Horace (65bc-8bc).

Cynthia prima fuit; || Cynthia finis erit.
"Cynthia was the first; Cynthia will be the last"

And from Beowulf:

Hwt! we Gar-Dena || on geardagum
"Lo! we Spear-Danes, in days of yore. . ."

To offer some clarification if you are familiar with musical notation think of a metrical foot as a one measure of four beats, the long syllable as like a half note and the short syllables are like quarter notes. Visually you have half note, quarter note, and quarter note in a measure.

deachnadh mor - (da-gnaw-moor) This is a complex Irish fixed syllabic form.

The form is a stanzaic quatrain form. Lines one and three have eight syllables. Lines two and four have six syllables. The stanza finishes in an alternating abab. There are at least two cross-rhymes in each couplet. The final word of line three rhymes with a word in the interior of line four. The internal rhyme in the first couplet does not need to be a true rhyme. In the second couplet, rhymes are exact. Two words alliterate in each line. In line four, the final word alliterates with the previous stressed word. The poem should end as it began, with a word, phrase or line the same. See dunadh. See cinquain.

didactic - From Greek meaning teaching. A poem with a message or moral lesson or teach a body of knowledge the focus is on education over art. Didactic poetry was a favorite of classical Latin poets and by English poets of the eighteenth century. Latin examples are Ovid's Ars amatoria or "Art of Love," an instructional elegy in three books instructing men how and where to find women and how to keep them. Roughly translated by A.S. Kline it reads:

While youre still free, and can roam on a loose rein,
pick one to whom you could say: You alone please me.
She wont come falling for you out of thin air:
the right girl has to be searched for: use your eyes.
The hunter knows where to spread nets for the stag,
he knows what valleys hide the angry boar:
the wild-fowler knows the woods: the fisherman
knows the waters where the most fish spawn:
You too, who search for the essence of lasting love,
must be taught the places that the girls frequent.
I dont demand you set your sails, and search,
or wear out some long road to discover them.
Perseus brought Andromeda from darkest India,
and Trojan Paris snatched his girl from Greece,

Also De rerum natura or On the Nature of Things. An epic poem by the Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius (99-55BC) with the goal of explaining Epicurean philosophy. The poem, written in dactylic hexameter, is divided into six books, and explores Epicurean physics in poetic language. Lucretius presents the principles of atomism; the nature of the mind and soul; explanations of sensation and thought; the development of the world and its phenomena; and explains a variety of celestial and terrestrial phenomena. The universe described in the poem operates according to physical principles, guided by "fortuna," or accident and not divine intervention by Roman deities.

Substance is Eternal

This terror, then, this darkness of the mind,
Not sunrise with its flaring spokes of light,
Nor glittering arrows of morning can disperse,
But only Nature's aspect and her law,
Which, teaching us, hath this exordium:
Nothing from nothing ever yet was born.
Fear holds dominion over mortality
Only because, seeing in land and sky
So much the cause whereof no wise they know,
Men think Divinities are working there.
Meantime, when once we know from nothing still
Nothing can be create, we shall divine
More clearly what we seek: those elements
From which alone all things created are,
And how accomplished by no tool of Gods.
Suppose all sprang from all things: any kind
Might take its origin from any thing,
No fixed seed required. Men from the sea
Might rise, and from the land the scaly breed,
And, fowl full fledged come bursting from the sky;
The horned cattle, the herds and all the wild
Would haunt with varying offspring tilth and waste;
Nor would the same fruits keep their olden trees,
But each might grow from any stock or limb
By chance and change. Indeed, and were there not
For each its procreant atoms, could things have
Each its unalterable mother old?
But, since produced from fixed seeds are all,
Each birth goes forth upon the shores of light
From its own stuff, from its own primal bodies.
And all from all cannot become, because
In each resides a secret power its own.

For English poets see The Fleece by John Dyer a poem in four books. Written in 1757, The Fleece is about the wool trade and the progress of the fleece from the sheep's back through processes of textile manufacturing to export abroad. Book I introduces the reader to land management veterinary science shepherding and the sheep-breeding revolution; Books II-III cover the manufacturing processes and machinery involved in the treatment of wool and the history of the wool industry.

From Book I

To mend thy mounds, to trench, to clear, to soil
Thy grateful fields, to medicate thy sheep,
Hurdles to weave, and cheerly shelters raise,
Thy vacant hours require: and ever learn
Quick ther's motions: oft the scene is turn'd;
Now the blue vault, and now the murky cloud,
Hail, rain, or radiance; these the moon will tell,
Each bird and beast, and these thy fleecy tribe:
When high the sapphire cope, supine they couch,
And chew the cud delighted; but, ere rain,
Eager, and at unwonted hour, they feed:
Slight not the warning; soon the tempest rolls,
Scattering them wide, close rushing at the heels
Of th' hurrying o'ertaken swains: forbear
Such nights to fold; such nights be theirs to shift
On ridge or hillock; or in homesteads soft,
Or softer cotes, detain them. Is thy lot
A chill penurious turf, to all thy toils
Untractable? Before harsh winter drowns
The noisy dykes, and starves the rushy glebe,
Shift the frail breed to sandy hamlets warm:
There let them sojourn, till gay Procne skims
The thickening verdure, and the rising flowers.
And while departing autumn all embrowns
The frequent-bitten fields.

Also Shakespeare from Love's Labor's Lost Winter.

When icicles hang by the wall,
And ick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipped and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-whit; Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marion's nose looks ree and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-whit; While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

A bit subtle but the advice is to stock up on wood; feed the birds; and avoid grease.

In modern times see Emily Dickinson's Success Is Counted Sweetest a three stanza poem with the rhyme scheme abcb:

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple host
Who took the flag today
Can tell the definition,
So clear, of victory

As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Break agonized and clear

Here only the dying vanquished who hears "distant strains of triumph?" can understand victory not "the purple Host" which represents members of the victorious army "Who took the flag today." Much of Dickinson's poetry is of a didactic nature taken from homilies and short moral sayings.

dimeter - From the Greek "dimetro": 'di' means 'two' 'meter' means 'rhythm'; in Latin "dimetrus - having two verses." In classical poetry, the line of verse consists of two primary stresses per foot. In Western poetry a line of verse consisting of two metrical feet is rarely found. It is most often used to vary the rhythm of long poems. We offer two short poems of dimeter: Thomas Carlyle's didactic poem To-Day, and Thomas Hood's Bridge of Sighs (may be found under dactyl):


So here hath been dawning
Another blue Day:
Think wilt thou let it
Slip useless away.

Out of Eternity
This new Day is born;
Into Eternity,
At night, will return.

Behold it aforetime
No eye ever did:
So soon it forever
From all eyes is hid.

Here hath been dawning
Another blue Day:
Think wilt thou let it
Slip useless away.

For an example where line length and foot are used to change the rhythmic flow in a much longer poem look at Tennyson's The Mermaid. Here the poet begins in short meter then livens up the pace in the second stanza then uses dimeter to slow it down slightly and then picks up the pace again.

Who would be
A mermaid fair,
Singing alone,
Combing her hair
Under the sea,
In a golden curl
With a comb of pearl,
On a throne?

I would be a mermaid fair;
I would sing to myself the whole of the day;
With a comb of pearl I would comb my hair;
And still as I comb'd I would sing and say,
Who is it loves me? who loves not me?
I would comb my hair till my ringlets would fall
Low adown, low adown,
From under my starry sea-bud crown
Low adown and around,
And I should look like a fountain of gold
Springing alone
With a shrill inner sound,
Over the throne
In the midst of the hall;
Till that great sea-snake under the sea
From his coiled sleeps in the central deeps
Would slowly trail himself sevenfold
Round the hall where I sate, and look in at the gate
With his large calm eyes for the love of me.
And all the mermen under the sea
Would feel their immortality
Die in their hearts for the love of me.

But at night I would wander away, away,
I would fling on each side my low-flowing locks,
And lightly vault from the throne and play
With the mermen in and out of the rocks;
We would run to and fro, and hide and seek,
On the broad sea-wolds in the crimson shells,
Whose silvery spikes are nighest the sea.
But if any came near I would call, and shriek,
And adown the steep like a wave I would leap
From the diamond-ledges that jut from the dells;
For I would not be kiss'd by all who would list,
Of the bold merry mermen under the sea;
They would sue me, and woo me, and flatter me,
In the purple twilights under the sea;
But the king of them all would carry me,
Woo me, and win me, and marry me,
In the branching jaspers under the sea;
Then all the dry pied things that be
In the hueless mosses under the sea
Would curl round my silver feet silently,
All looking up for the love of me.
And if I should carol aloud, from aloft
All things that are forked, and horned, and soft
Would lean out from the hollow sphere of the sea,
All looking down for the love of me.

dipody - Two different feet

dirge - Differs from the elegy in the depth of the grief or lamentation. The elegy reflects melancholy and nostagia. The dirge expresses deep sense of loss as in the poem Man Was Made To Mourn by Robert Burns.

distitch - A two line Greek stanza frequently found in Greek unrimed elegiac verse consisting of one line of dactylic hexameter and one line of dactylic pentameter usually sung. In classical verse the elegiac couplet is made up of two lines actually called the elegiac distich the first of which is just a Homeric dactylic hexameter. The second line of the couplet is the so-called pentameter although more accurately two hemiepes (/uu/uu/|/uu/uu/). In Persian poetry called the "dobeiti". The bicolon or distitch proverb is among the most common in two books of the bible: Book of Proverbs and Book of Job. It is also a common pattern in Egyptian literature. A distich in modern and riming poetry is more generally called a couplet.

dithyramb - Dithyramb was a choral hymn sung by fifty men or boys, under the leadership of an exarchon. The dithyramb became a feature of Greek tragedy and is considered by Aristotle to be the origin of Greek tragedy, passing first through a satyric phase. Herodotus says the first dithyramb was organized and named by one Arion of Corinth in the late 7th century B.C. By the fifth century B.C. there were dithyramb competitions between tribes of Athens. Rabinowitz says the competition involved 50 men and boys from each of the ten tribes, amounting to one thousand competitors at least according to Herodotus.

Simonides, Pindar, and Bacchylides were important dithyrambic poets. The form was known as early as the 7th century BC in Greece, where an improvised lyric was sung by banqueters under the leadership of a man who, according to the poet Archilochus, was wit-stricken by the thunderbolt
of wine. It was contrasted with the more sober paean, sung in honour of Apollo. The words etymology is uncertain, although, like other words that end in amb, it seems to be of pre-Hellenic origin. The dithyramb began to achieve literary distinction about 600 BC. According to Plutarch the dithyramb consisted of songs, with lyrics drawn from Dionysus life and his adventures. Some of them were sad, symbolizing the suffering of God were sung during Lenea, in January, when the nature mourns and others symbolizing the joy of God were sung during the Great Dionysia, in March, with the revival of the nature. His followers, formed a parade representing symbols of Dionysus. First, was a satyr holding a urn full of wine and some branches of wine tree, followed by a satyr carrying a goat, then by a satyr carrying figs and at last by a satyr holding a phallus. Behind them followed the people singing the dithyramb. The parade ended in a circular threshing floor where the goat was sacrificed.

At the end of the 7th century BC Arion from Methemna introduced a more sophisticated form of dithyramb by separating one satyr from the chorus of fifty men. The leading "coryphaeus" or satyr recited stories about Dionysus in Doric the dialect of Corinth. Across the centuries the poets continued composing dithyrambs each year for Dionysian worship. In the middle of 6th century BC Thespis of Athens began to insert into the dithyramb some verses in another meter, without melody, written in Attic dialect and recited by a leading actor. The leading actor or hypocrite as he was called replied to the chorus. The word "hypocrite" derives from the verb "apocrinomai", which in Greek means "to reply". Thus the lyric and epic elements came together with the dancing movements of the chorus and ancient drama was born in the form of tragedy called solemn dithyramb or comedy and satiric drama or scoptic dithyramb.

For a more modern example of dithyramb we offer Alexander's Feast an irregular ode by John Dryden:

'T was at the royal feast, for Persia won
By Philip's warlike son:
Aloft in awful state
The godlike hero sate
On his imperial throne;
His valiant peers were plac'd around;
Their brows with roses and with myrtles bound:
(So should desert in arms be crown'd.)
The lovely Thais, by his side,
Sate like a blooming Eastern bride
In flow'r of youth and beauty's pride.
Happy, happy, happy pair
None but the brave,
None but the brave,
None but the brave deserves the fair.


Happy, happy, happy pair!
None but the brave,
None but the brave,
None but the brave deserves the fair.


Timotheus, plac'd on high
Amid the tuneful choir,
With flying fingers touch'd the lyre:
The trembling notes ascend the sky,
And heav'nly joys inspire.
The song began from Jove,
Who left his blissful seats above,
(Such is the pow'r of mighty love.)
A dragon's fiery form belied the god:
Sublime on radiant spires he rode,
When he to fair Olympia press'd;
And while he sought her snowy breast:
Then, round her slender waist he curl'd,
And stamp'd an image of himself, a sov'reign of the world.
The list'ning crowd admire the lofty sound,
"A present deity," they shout around:
"A present deity," the vaulted roofs rebound.
With ravish'd ears
The monarch hears,
Assumes the god,
Affects to nod,
And seems to shake the spheres.


With ravish'd ears
The monarch hears,
Assumes the god,
Affects to nod,
And seems to shake the spheres.


The praise of Bacchus then the sweet musician sung,
Of Bacchus ever fair and ever young:
The jolly god in triumph comes;
Sound the trumpets; beat the drums;
Flush'd with a purple grace
He shews his honest face:
Now give the hautboys breath; he comes, he comes.
Bacchus, ever fair and young
Drinking joys did first ordain;
Bacchus' blessings are a treasure,
Drinking is the soldier's pleasure;
Rich the treasure,
Sweet the pleasure,
Sweet is pleasure after pain.


Bacchus' blessings are a treasure,
Drinking is the soldier's pleasure;
Rich the treasure,
Sweet the pleasure,
Sweet is pleasure after pain.


Sooth'd with the sound, the king grew vain;
Fought all his battles o'er again;
And thrice he routed all his foes; and thrice he slew the slain.
The master saw the madness rise,
His glowing cheeks, his ardent eye;
And, while he heav'n and earth defied,
Chang'd his hand, and check'd his pride.
He chose a mournful Muse,
Soft pity to infuse;
He sung Darius great and good,
By too severe a fate,
Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen,
Fallen from his high estate,
And welt'ring in his blood;
Deserted, at his utmost need
By those his former bounty fed;
On the bare earth expos'd he lies,
With not a friend to close his eyes.
With downcast looks the joyless victor sate,
Revolving in his alter'd soul
The various turns of chance below;
And, now and then, a sigh he stole,
And tears began to flow.


Revolving in his alter'd soul
The various turns of chance below;
And, now and then, a sigh he stole,
And tears began to flow.


The mighty master smil'd to see
That love was in the next degree;
'T was but a kindred sound to move,
For pity melts the mind to love.
Softly sweet, in Lydian measures,
Soon he sooth'd his soul to pleasures.
"War," he sung, "is toil and trouble;
Honour, but an empty bubble.
Never ending, still beginning,
Fighting still, and still destroying:
If the world be worth thy winning,
Think, O think it worth enjoying.
Lovely Thais sits beside thee,
Take the good the gods provide thee."
The many rend the skies with loud applause;
So Love was crown'd, but Music won the cause.
The prince, unable to conceal his pain,
Gaz'd on the fair
Who caus'd his care,
And sigh'd and look'd, sigh'd and look'd,
Sigh'd and look'd, and sigh'd again:
At length, with love and wine at once oppress'd,
The vanquish'd victor sunk upon her breast.


The prince, unable to conceal his pain,
Gaz'd on the fair
Who caus'd his care,
And sigh'd and look'd, sigh'd and look'd,
Sigh'd and look'd, and sigh'd again:
At length, with love and wine at once oppress'd,
The vanquish'd victor sunk upon her breast.


Now strike the golden lyre again:
A louder yet, and yet a louder strain.
Break his bands of sleep asunder,
And rouse him, like a rattling peal of thunder.
Hark, hark, the horrid sound
Has rais'd up his head:
As wak'd from the dead,
And amaz'd, he stares around.
"Revenge, revenge!" Timotheus cries,
"See the Furies arise!
See the snakes that they rear,
How they hiss in their hair,
And the sparkles that flash from their eyes!
Behold a ghastly band,
Each a torch in his hand!
Those are Grecian ghosts, that in battle were slain,
And unburied remain
Inglorious on the plain:
Give the vengeance due
To the valiant crew.
Behold how they toss their torches on high,
How they point to the Persian abodes,
And glitt'ring temples of their hostile gods!"
The princes applaud, with a furious joy;
And the king seiz'd a flambeau with zeal to destroy;
Thais led the way,
To light him to his prey,
And, like another Helen, fir'd another Troy.


And the king seiz'd a flambeau with zeal to destroy;
Thais led the way,
To light him to his prey,
And, like another Helen, fir'd another Troy.


Thus long ago,
Ere heaving bellows learn'd to blow,
While organs yet were mute;
Timotheus, to his breathing flute,
And sounding lyre,
Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft desire.
At last, divine Cecilia came,
Inventress of the vocal frame;
The sweet enthusiast, from her sacred store,
Enlarg'd the former narrow bounds,
And added length to solemn sounds,
With nature's mother wit, and arts unknown before.
Let old Timotheus yield the prize,
Or both divide the crown:
He rais'd a mortal to the skies;
She drew an angel down.


At last, divine Cecilia came,
Inventress of the vocal frame;
The sweet enthusiast, from her sacred store,
Enlarg'd the former narrow bounds,
And added length to solemn sounds,
With nature's mother wit, and arts unknown before.
Let old Timotheus yield the prize,
Or both divide the crown:
He rais'd a mortal to the skies;
She drew an angel down.

Some background: the poem was written in 1697 for the annual festival of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music. The poet represents Alexander the Great, after his defeat of Darius in 331 B.C., celebrating the victory by a banquet, at which the famous flute-player, Timotheus, entertains the guests with music.

double dactyl - A light verse form sometimes called "higgledy piggledy". A word game early in the 19th century. Like a the other types of light verse it is usually humorous. The double dactyl is more difficult to write because of its rigid structure. There must be eight lines arranged in two stanzas of two dactyls each. The two stanzas have to rhyme on their last line. The first line of the first stanza is repetitive nonsense “jiggery-piggery”. The second line of the first stanza is the subject of the poem, a double dactylic proper noun. There is also a traditional requirement for at least one line of the second stanza to be entirely a single one double dactyl word. Some follow the Hecht and Pascal original rule that no single six-syllable word, once used in a double dactyl, should never be repeated. The original:

Higgledy Piggledy,
My black hen,
She lays eggs
For gentlemen;

Sometimes nine,
And sometimes ten,
Higgledy Piggledy,
My black hen

The double-dactyl:

Emily Dickinson
Amherst had nothing more
Noble than she.

Sconced in her house with the
Curtains pulled back just so
Serving up tea.

drab - The term "drab" given by C.S. Lewis to 16th century poetry which characteristically was not metaphored to death, contained little in contrived syntax, and ignored idyllic heroes, their wars and loves, as subject matter. It was not intended to be derogatory just a matter of preference. It would have been better to use the positive connotative "plain" in discussing such verse rather than the negative "drab". In "drab" unadorned poetry the images were written to relate to everyday realism. Both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I wrote in this style. Here is an example by Henry VIII (1491-1547):

Green groweth the holly,
So doth the ivy.
Though winter blasts blow never so high,
Green groweth the holly.
As the holly groweth green
And never changeth hue,
So I am, ever hath been,
Unto my lady true.
As the holly groweth green
With ivy all alone
When flowers cannot be seen
And greenwood leaves be gone,

Now unto my lady
Promise to her I make,
From all other only
To her I me betake.

Adieu, mine own lady,
Adieu, my special
Who hath my heart truly
Be sure, and ever shall.

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) wrote poetry in the everyday style of the Tudor age so much so that C.S. Lewis called him the father of the Drab Age.
Here is a Wyatt example of "drab" poetry:

What should I say,
Since faith is dead,
And truth away
From you is fled?
Should I be led
With doubleness?
Nay, nay, mistress!
I promised you,
and you promised me,
To be as true
As I would be.
But since I see
Your double heart.
Farewell my part!
Though for to take
It is not my mind,
But to forsake
One so unkind.
And as I find
So will I trust:
Farewell, unjust!
Can you say nay?
But you said
That I alway
Should be obeyed?
And thus betrayed
Or that I wist
Farewell, unkissed.

Now that's pretty plain even for a poet.

dramatic comedy or tragicomedy - A literary genre that combines tragic drama and comedy. It was introduced by the Roman dramatist, Plautus, in 2 B.C. under the Latin word tragicocomoedia. In his play Amphitruo the characters, representing two levels of society: gods and heroes and slaves and mortals, reverse roles. Gods and heroes become buffoons and clowns while slaves and mortals are dignified and poised. In the Renaissance this genre also maintained the tragic elements: serious dialogue, re-enactment of public events, and compassion for the victim. The comic characters were usually from the lower classes. In short form there is threat of danger, punishment, reversal, and happy ending. A good example would be John Fletcher’s The Faithful Shepherdess. In the Romantic period it is Shakespeare’s As You Like It that is suggested. In the Shakespeare example the court characters represent “artifice, ambition, avarice, cruelty, and deception” while the forest roles involve “openness, tolerance, simplicity, and freedom.” In the 19th century writers placed the tragic event on a heavier, more serious act as in Ibsen’s Ghosts and The Wild Duck. In the next century it took on another change into a sub-genre, absurdist drama with Samuel Beckett’s Endgame and Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter.

dramatic monologue - A poem in which one character (I) speaks throughout as in a soliloguy but the the reader in quickly introduced to the presence, actions, and words of others. The dominant rhythm is iambic and may be rhymed or unrhymed. In shorter verse the reader enters in media res as the "speaker" tells his story and how it involves others. There is the obvious bias, as the "others" are not allowed to speak. The speaker or "I" is generally the "poet" or his "alter ego." He sets the stage, incident, and conflict.

An example would be Thomas Carew's Secrecy Protested:

Fear not, dear love, that I'll reveal
These hours of pleasure we two steal ;
No eye shall see, nor yet the sun
Descry, what thou and I have done.
No ear shall hear our love, but we
Silent as the night will be ;
The god of love himself (whose dart
Did first wound mine and then thy heart),
Shall never know that we can tell
What sweets in stol'n embraces dwell.
This only means may find it out ;
If, when I die, physicians doubt
What caused my death, and there to view
Of all their judgements which was true,
Rip up my heart, oh ! then, I fear,
The world will see thy picture there.

In Carew's simpler monologue the main interest is the situation as we move into the nineteenth century, the main interest is the speaker's character. This new direction was introduced by the Victorian poet Robert Browning (1812-1889) in what he terms the "dramatic lyric." In his remarkable The Ring and the Book he presents ten dramatic monologues where a story about a mysterious death of "Lucrezia" who at fourteen was abandoned after a three day marriage to the Duke of Alfonso and died shortly thereafter under mysterious circumstances. The story is told over and over from the viewpoint of ten different personalities. Here is the opening monologue given by the Duke:

That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will 't please you sit and look at her? I said
"Frà 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
Frà 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 a similar way Edgar Lee Masters wrote Spoon River Anthology where each character returns from the grave to give testimony on the incidence of their death. Here is the monologue of the unrhymed The Circuit Judge:

Take note, passers-by, of the sharp erosions
Eaten in my head-stone by the wind and rain --
Almost as if an intangible Nemesis or hatred
Were marking scores against me,
But to destroy, and not preserve, my memory.
I in life was the Circuit Judge, a maker of notches,
Deciding cases on the points the lawyers scored,
Not on the right of the matter.
O wind and rain, leave my head-stone alone!
For worse than the anger of the wronged,
The curses of the poor,
Was to lie speechless, yet with vision clear,
Seeing that even Hod Putt, the murderer,
Hanged by my sentence,
Was innocent in soul compared with me.

For a short example of Robert Browning read the ever chilling Porphyria's Lover, where the poet speaks for a psychopathic killer. The description "dramatic" is well laid out for us in this poem where Browning sets the stage "a rainy, night, a sullen wind, and a remote cottage by a lake" for the action to take place.

The rain set early in to-night,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And called me. When no voice replied,
She put my arm about her waist,
And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
And all her yellow hair displaced,
And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
And spread, o'er all, her yellow hair,
Murmuring how she loved me - she
Too weak, for all her heart's endeavour,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me for ever.
But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could to-night's gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.
Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshipped me; surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew
While I debated what to do.
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.
And I untightened next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propped her head up as before,
Only, this time my shoulder bore
Her head, which droops upon it still:
The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
That all it scorned at once is fled,
And I, its love, am gained instead!
Porphyria's love: she guessed not how
Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now,
And all night long we have not stirred,
And yet God has not said a word!

Most of Browning's monologue characters are a sorry lot: pitiful, foolhardy, and just downright vile, mean and ugly. And for evidence of this we offer Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister:

Gr-r-r---there go, my heart's abhorrence!
  Water your damned flower-pots, do!
If hate killed men, Brother Lawrence,
  God's blood, would not mine kill you!
What? your myrtle-bush wants trimming?
  Oh, that rose has prior claims---
Needs its leaden vase filled brimming?
  Hell dry you up with its flames!

At the meal we sit together:
  Salve tibi! I must hear
Wise talk of the kind of weather,
  Sort of season, time of year:
Not a plenteous cork-crop: scarcely
  Dare we hope oak-galls, I doubt:
What's the Latin name for "parsley"?
  What's the Greek name for Swine's Snout?

Whew! We'll have our platter burnished,
  Laid with care on our own shelf!
With a fire-new spoon we're furnished,
  And a goblet for ourself,
Rinsed like something sacrificial
  Ere 'tis fit to touch our chaps
Marked with L for our initial!
  (He-he! There his lily snaps!)

Saint, forsooth! While brown Dolores
  Squats outside the Convent bank
With Sanchicha, telling stories,
  Steeping tresses in the tank,
Blue-black, lustrous, thick like horsehairs,
  Can't I see his dead eye glow,
Bright as 'twere a Barbary corsair's?
  (That is, if he'd let it show!)

When he finishes refection,
  Knife and fork he never lays
Cross-wise, to my recollection,
  As do I, in Jesu's praise.
I the Trinity illustrate,
  Drinking watered orange-pulp
In three sips the Arian frustrate;
  While he drains his at one gulp.

Oh, those melons? If he's able
  We're to have a feast! so nice!
One goes to the Abbot's table,
  All of us get each a slice.
How go on your flowers? None double
  Not one fruit-sort can you spy?
Strange! And I, too, at such trouble,
  Keep them close-nipped on the sly!

There's a great text in Galatians,
  Once you trip on it, entails
Twenty-nine distinct damnations,
  One sure, if another fails:
If I trip him just a-dying,
  Sure of heaven as sure can be,
Spin him round and send him flying
  Off to hell, a Manichee?

Or, my scrofulous French novel
  On grey paper with blunt type!
Simply glance at it, you grovel
  Hand and foot in Belial's gripe:
If I double down its pages
  At the woeful sixteenth print,
When he gathers his greengages,
  Ope a sieve and slip it in't?

Or, there's Satan! one might venture
  Pledge one's soul to him, yet leave
Such a flaw in the indenture
  As he'd miss till, past retrieve,
Blasted lay that rose-acacia
  We're so proud of! Hy, Zy, Hine
St, there's Vespers! Plena grati
  Ave, Virgo! Gr-r-r you swine!

How's this for an example of a pius monk?

Research gives us some answers as to what gave rise to this exploration into the minds and actions of others and the interest in human individuality. During the nineteeth century the field of psychology broke away from epistemology, ethics, and political philosophy and became a study of human behavior, of madness, and a search for the "authentic voice" of man. No surprise that the dominant form of nineteenth century Western literature were steeped in psychological observation thus the verse of Edgar Allan Poe, the novels of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, Dean Howels, the Brontes and others.

But controversy as to whether the monologue is a generic category of sympathy or subject to change through literary periods or dramatic monologue and the dramatic lyric monologue of the romantic period. For example there is Browning’s Pauline, which hardly qualifies as the speaker/listener quality but more as an autobiographical, prompting John Stuart Mill to comment: “the writer seems to me possessed with a more intense and morbid self-consciousness that I ever knew in any sane human being”. Ezra Pound expands with “drama is less poetic than other kinds of poetry because the maximum verbal meaning cannot be used(expressed) on the stage.”

When we explore the style of Browning and Yeats, Tennyson and Keats, with that of T.S. Eliot and Pound, differences that appear in how they influence the sympathy of the listener. Browning seeks to make a philosophical/moral as in Rabbi Ben Ezra (some challenge this work as a monologue) or the Duke or the Duchess; Crazy Jane and the Bishop, the Druid, Ribh from Supernatural Songs; Pound and Yeats introduce the historical emotion with an ancient as speaker first Propertius. While Tennyson with oblivion and “life-weariness”; Keats with The Nightingale:

“A Trojan and adulterous person came to Menelaus
Under the rites of hospitium,
And there as a case in Colchis, Jason and that woman
In Coldhis;
And besides, Lynceus, you were drunk.”

Then Rihaku:

“The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden’
They hurt me, I grow oldler.
If you are coming down through the na rrowqs of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to met you
As far as Cho-fu-Sa”

And Yeats in Lapis Lazuli:

“Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.”

dunadh - Celtic word for "end" or "conclusion"; a verse where the poem begins and ends with the same syllable, word or line. Similar to the cinquain. To the ancient Celts, poetry was magic. Their forms are very complex to keep the magic among the priestly Druidic classes.

Finnigin to Flannigan
Superintindint waz Flannigan;
Boss av the siction wuz Finnigin;
Whiniver the kyars got offen th track
An muddled up things t th divil an back
Finnigin writ it to Flannigan,
Afther the wrick wuz all on agin:
That is, this Finnigin
Repoorted to Flannigan.

Whin Finnigin furst writ to Flannigan,
He writ tin pages-did Finnigin.
An he tould jist how the smash occurred;
Full minny a tajus, blunderin wurrd
Did Finnigin write to Flannigan
Afther the cars had gone on agin.
Thats th way Finnigin
Repoorted to Flannigan.

Now Flannigan knowed more than Finnigin-
Hed more idjucation-had Flannigan;
An it wore m clane an complately out
To tell what Finnigin writ about
In his writin to Muster Flannigan.
So he writed this here: Masther Finnigin:
Dont do sich a sin agin;
Make em brief, Finnigin!

Whin Finnigin got this from Flannigan,
He blushed rosy rid-did Finnigin;
An he said: Ill gamble a whole months pa-ay
That itll be minny an minny a da-ay
Befoore Suprintindint-thats Flannigan-
Gits a whack at that very same sin agin.
From Finnigin to Flannigan
Repoorts wont be so long agin.

Wan da-ay on the siction av Finnigin,
On the road suprintinded be Flannigan,
A rail give way on a bit av a curve
An some kyars went off as they made th shwerrve.
theres nobody hurted, sez Finnigin,
But repoorts must be made to Flannigan,
An he winked at Mike Corrigan,
As married a Finnigin.

He wuz shantyin thin, wuz Finnigin,
As minny a railroaders been agin,
An his shmoky ol lamp wuz burnin bright
In Finnigins shanty all that night-
Bilin down his repoort was Finnigin
An he writed this here: Muster Flannigan:
Off agin, on agin,
Gone agin.-Finnigin.

Dymock group - A group of poets of the early 20th century Georgian period who made their home in the Gloucestershire village of Dymock between 1911 and 1014. Members were Lascelles Abercrombie, Rupert Brooke, Edward Thomas, Wilfred Wilson Gibson, John Drinkwater, and John Keats. They group published poems in a their own quarterly. The outbreak of World War I ended the movement. Rupert Brooke enlisted and left by sea with the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force for the Dandanelles in early 1915 at the rank of sub-lieutenant. He died of blood poisoning at sea near Scyros on April 23, 1915, and was buried there.

Here are lines thirty-five to one hundred forty-five the poem written in Germany villiage:

The Old Vicarage

Just now the lilac is in bloom,...
eithe genoimen ... would I were
In Grantchester, in Grantchester! --
Some, it may be, can get in touch
With Nature there, or Earth, or such.
And clever modern men have seen
A Faun a-peeping through the green,
And felt the Classics were not dead,
To glimpse a Naiad's reedy head,
Or hear the Goat-foot piping low: ...
But these are things I do not know.
I only know that you may lie
Day long and watch the Cambridge sky,
And, flower-lulled in sleepy grass,
Hear the cool lapse of hours pass,
Until the centuries blend and blur
In Grantchester, in Grantchester. ...
Still in the dawnlit waters cool
His ghostly Lordship swims his pool,
And tries the strokes, essays the tricks,
Long learnt on Hellespont, or Styx.
Dan Chaucer hears his river still
Chatter beneath a phantom mill.
Tennyson notes, with studious eye,
How Cambridge waters hurry by ...
And in that garden, black and white,
Creep whispers through the grass all night;
And spectral dance, before the dawn,
A hundred Vicars down the lawn;
Curates, long dust, will come and go
On lissom, clerical, printless toe;
And oft between the boughs is seen
The sly shade of a Rural Dean ...
Till, at a shiver in the skies,
Vanishing the Satanic cries,
The prim ecclesiastic rout
Leaves but a startled sleeper-out,
Grey heavens, the first bird's drowsy calls,
The falling house that never falls.

God! I will pack, and take a train,
And get me to England once again!
For England's the one land, I know,
Where men with Splendid Hearts may go;
And Cambridgeshire, of all England,
The shire for Men who Understand;
And of that district I prefer
The lovely hamlet Grantchester.
For Cambridge people rarely smile,
Being urban, squat, and packed with guile;
And Royston men in the far South
Are black and fierce and strange of mouth;
At Over they fling oaths at one,
And worse than oaths at Trumpington,

And Ditton girls are mean and dirty,
And there's none in Harston under thirty,
And folks in Shelford and those parts
Have twisted lips and twisted hearts,
And Barton men make Cockney rhymes,
And Coton's full of nameless crimes,
And things are done you'd not believe
At Madingley, on Christmas Eve.
Strong men have run for miles and miles,
When one from Cherry Hinton smiles;
Strong men have blanched, and shot their wives,
Rather than send them to St. Ives;
Strong men have cried like babes, bydam,
To hear what happened at Babraham.
But Grantchester! ah, Grantchester!
There's peace and holy quiet there,
Great clouds along pacific skies,
And men and women with straight eyes,
Lithe children lovelier than a dream,
A bosky wood, a slumbrous stream,
And little kindly winds that creep
Round twilight corners, half asleep.
In Grantchester their skins are white;
They bathe by day, they bathe by night;
The women there do all they ought;
The men observe the Rules of Thought.
They love the Good; they worship Truth;
They laugh uproariously in youth;
(And when they get to feeling old,
They up and shoot themselves, I'm told) ...
Ah God! to see the branches stir
Across the moon at Grantchester!
To smell the thrilling-sweet and rotten
Unforgettable, unforgotten
River-smell, and hear the breeze
Sobbing in the little trees.
Say, do the elm-clumps greatly stand
Still guardians of that holy land?
The chestnuts shade, in reverend dream,
The yet unacademic stream?
Is dawn a secret shy and cold
Anadyomene, silver-gold?
And sunset still a golden sea
From Haslingfield to Madingley?
And after, ere the night is born,
Do hares come out about the corn?
Oh, is the water sweet and cool,
Gentle and brown, above the pool?
And laughs the immortal river still
Under the mill, under the mill?
Say, is there Beauty yet to find?
And Certainty? and Quiet kind?
Deep meadows yet, for to forget
The lies, and truths, and pain? ... oh! yet
Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?

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