Glossary F

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

feet - Two kinds: the ascending called the iamb; younger students should think of it like walking – heel to toe ˘ / as in before

descending: toe to heel marked / ˘; three kinds: the trochee would be / ˘ as in raining
the dactyl would be / ˘ ˘ as in tenderly
the paeon would be / ˘ ˘ ˘ as in exquisitely
(paeon may be iamb or trochee when spoken).

feminine ending - This is an unstressed syllable at the close of a line. It is sometimes called light ending. A good example would be Shakespeare’s Sonnet 20. For mixed feminine and masculine see Richard Wilbur’s Looking Into History, line 3 is feminineL

Let me now rejoice
In all impostures, take
The shape of lion or leopard,
Boar, or watery snake.

Another example can be found in the concluding verse in a collection of Robert Browning called Men and Women:

“There they are, my fifty Men and Women.
Naming me the fifty poem finished.”

five wits - There are several references in poetic writing to “ the five wits.” Their first reference is from Stephen Hawes, an English poet of the court of Henry VII, in The Passe-tyme of Pleasure (1506). The five wits are common sense (thought), imagination, fantasy, estimation, and memory. They exist in combinations: imagination the “wit” of the mind or thought; imagination and judgement must combine for fantasy; estimation is to include place, time, and space; memory and estimation must be present for recall.

“These are the five witts removying inwardly:
First “Common witte, and then “Ymagination,” “Fantasy,” and “Estimation” ,
And “Memory.”

In recent time they are quoted in the opening of Chapter 13 Memory on the TV series The Scarecrow and Mrs King.

In Much Ado About Nothing (1599) Shakespeare wrote of four of the five, the missing being one we learn from text is common sense:

“Four of his five wits went halting off.”

But later Tennyson writes in The Owl reverts to the more basic common use or requisites: see, hear, smell, taste, touch.

“When cats run home and light is come,
And dew is cold upon the ground,
And the far-off stream is dumb,
And the whirring sail goes round,
And the whirring sail goes round;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

When merry milkmaids click the latch,
And rarely smells the new-mown hay,
And the cock hath sung beneath the thatch
Twice or thrice his roundelay,
Twice or thrice his roundelay;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.”

Fleshly School (see Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood) - An article published in the Contemporary Review Oct. 1871 written by Robert Buchanan over the signature of Thomas Maitland . Buchanan attacked the poetry and literary methods of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (Swinburne, Wm. Rossetti his chief victim, Wm. Morris, and others). Originally Buchanan denied but later admitted to viciously attacking the group’s morbidity, nastiness, perverted sensuality, while ignoring the more exalted aims of poetry. The Swinburne replied with the trenchant Under the Microscope which included The Session of the Poets and rejoinders.

AUGUST, 1866
Dî magni, salaputium disertum!—CAT. LIB. LIII

“Mr. Swinburne’s volume of Poems and Ballads having excited a fluster in 1866, a burlesque poem appeared in the Spectator for 15 September, 1866, named The Session of the Poets. It was anonymous; but rumour—since then confirmed by himself—ascribed it to Mr. Buchanan.” Dante Gabriel Rossetti: His Family Letters, with a Memoir by W. M. Rossetti. (Octavo, 2 vols. London, 1895.) Vol. I, p. 294.

At the Session of Poets held lately in London,
The Bard of Freshwater was voted the chair:
With his tresses unbrushed, and his shirt-collar undone,
He lolled at his ease like a good-humoured Bear:
“Come, boys!” he exclaimed, “we’ll be merry together!”
And lit up his pipe with a smile on his cheek;—
While with eye, like a skipper’s, cocked up at the weather,
Sat the Vice-Chairman Browning, thinking in Greek.

The company gathered embraced great and small bards,
Both strong bards and weak bards, funny and grave,
Fat bards and lean bards, little and tall bards,
Bards who wear whiskers, and others who shave.
Of books, men, and things was the bards’ conversation,—
Some praised Ecce Homo, some deemed it so-so,—
And then there was talk of the state of the nation,
And when the Unwashed would devour Mister Lowe.

Right stately sat Arnold,—his black gown adjusted
Genteelly, his Rhine wine deliciously iced,—
With puddingish England serenely disgusted,
And looking in vain (in the mirror) for “Geist”;
He hearked to the Chairman, with “Surely!” And “Really?”
Aghast at both collar and cutty of clay,—
Then felt in his pocket, and breathed again freely,
On touching the leaves of his own classic play.

Close at hand, lingered Lytton, whose Icarus-winglets
Had often betrayed him in regions of rhyme,—
How glittered the eye underneath his gray ringlets,
A hunger within it unlessened by time!
Remoter sat Bailey,—satirical, surly,—
Who studied the language of Goethe too soon,
And sang himself hoarse to the stars very early,
And cracked a weak voice with too lofty a tune.

How name all that wonderful company over?—
Prim Patmore, mild Alford,—and Kingsley alsoe?
Among the small sparks, who was realler than Lover?
Among Misses, who sweeter than Miss Ingelow?
There sat, looking moony, conceited, and narrow,
Buchanan,—who, finding, when foolish and young,
Apollo asleep on a coster-girl’s barrow,
Straight dragged him away to see somebody hung.

What was said? what was done? was there prosing or rhyming?
Was nothing noteworthy in deed or in word?—
Why, just as the hour of the supper was chiming,
The only event of the evening occurred.
Up jumped, with his neck stretching out like a gander,
Master Swinburne, and squealed, glaring out thro’ his hair,
“All Virtue is bosh! Hallelujah for Landor!
I disbelieve wholly in everything!—There!”

With language so awful he dared them to treat ’em,—
Miss Ingelow fainted in Tennyson’s arms,
Poor Arnold rushed out, crying “Sœcl’ inficetum!”
And great bards and small bards were full of alarms;
Till Tennyson, flaming and red as a gypsy,
Struck his fist on the table and uttered a shout:
“To the door with the boy! Call a cab! He is tipsy!”
And they carried the naughty young gentleman out.

After that, all the pleasanter talking was done there,—
Who ever had known such an insult before?
The Chairman tried hard to rekindle the fun there,
But the Muses were shocked, and the pleasure was o’er.
Then “Ah!” cried the Chairman, “this teaches me knowledge,—
The future shall find me more wise, by the powers!
This comes of assigning to younkers from college
Too early a place in such meetings as ours!”


THE poets of “the fleshly school” across the water are having a lively, but not an edifying, fight among themselves. The young Scottish knight, Robert Buchanan, threw down the gauntlet; and Sir Swinburne of Brittany has picked it up, and has also picked up Robert Buchanan, and put him “Under the Microscope,”—that being the title of Swinburne’s thunderbolt. With this prelude, the following verses from the last number of the Saint Pauls Magazine require no explanation:—
(EVERY SATURDAY, Boston, August 31st, 1872.)

“Once, when the wondrous work was new,
I deemed Darwinian dreams untrue;
But now I must admit with shame
The caudal stock from which we came,—
Seeing a sight to slay all hope:
A monkey with a Microscope!
A clever monkey,—he can squeak,
Scream, bite, munch, mumble, all but speak;
Studies not merely monkey-sport,
But vices of a human sort;
Is petulant to most, but sweet
To those who pat him, give him meat;
Can imitate to admiration
Man’s gestures, gait, gesticulation;
Is amorous, and takes no pain
To hide his aphrodital vein;
And altogether, trimly drest
In human breeches, coat, and vest,
Looks human; and, upon the whole,
Lacks nothing, save, perchance, a soul.

For never did his gestures strike
As so absurdly human-like,
As now, when, having found with joy
Some poor old human Pedant’s toy,
A microscope, he squats to view it,
Turns up and down, peers in and thro’ it,
Screws up his cunning eye to scan,
Just like a clever little man!
And from his skin, with radiant features,
Selecting small inferior creatures,
Makes mortal wonder in what college he
Saw real men study entomology?

A clever monkey!—worth a smile!
How really human is his style;
How worthy of our admiration
Is such delicious imitation!
And I believe with all my might
Religion wrong, and Science right,—
Seeing a sight to slay all hope:
A monkey use a Microscope!”

Buchanan’s Apologia

It is well to give the exact language used by Buchanan in making his amende honourable to Rossetti. The letter was addressed to Mr. Hall Caine after the poet’s death (Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. London, 1882. Pp. 71, 72), and read as follows:

“In perfect frankness, let me say a few words concerning our old quarrel. While admitting freely that my article in the Contemporary Review was unjust to Rossetti’s claims as a poet, I have ever held, and still hold, that it contained nothing to warrant the manner in which it was received by the poet and his circle. At the time it was written, the newspapers were full of panegyric; mine was a mere drop of gall in an ocean of eau sucrée. That it could have had on any man the effect you describe, I can scarcely believe; indeed, I think that no living man had so little to complain of as Rossetti, on the score of criticism. Well, my protest was received in a way which turned irritation into wrath, wrath into violence; and then ensued the paper war which lasted for years. If you compare what I have written of Rossetti with what his admirers have written of myself, I think you will admit that there has been some cause for me to complain, to shun society, to feel bitter against the world; but happily, I have a thick epidermis, and the courage of an approving conscience. I was unjust, as I have said; most unjust when I impugned the purity and misconceived the passion of writings too hurriedly read and reviewed currente calamo; but I was at least honest and fearless, and wrote with no personal malignity. Save for the action of the literary defence, if I may so term it, my article would have been as ephemeral as the mood which induced its composition. I make full admission of Rossetti’s claims to the purest kind of literary renown, and if I were to criticise his poems now, I should write very differently. But nothing will shake my conviction that the cruelty, the unfairness, the pusillanimity has been on the other side, not on mine. The amende of my Dedication in God and the Man was a sacred thing; between his spirit and mine; not between my character and the cowards who have attacked it. I thought he would understand,—which would have been, and indeed is, sufficient. I cried, and cry, no truce with the horde of slanderers who hid themselves within his shadow. That is all. But when all is said, there still remains the pity that our quarrel should ever have been. Our little lives are too short for such animosities. Your friend is at peace with God,—that God who will justify and cherish him, who has dried his tears, and who will turn the shadow of his sad life-dream into full sunshine. My only regret now is that we did not meet,—that I did not take him by the hand; but I am old-fashioned enough to believe that this world is only a prelude, and that our meeting may take place—even yet.”

It is also well to quote Mr. W. M. Rossetti’s final comment on the foregoing retractation:

“Let me sum up briefly the chief stages in this miserable, and in some aspects disgraceful, affair. 1. Mr. Buchanan, whether anonymously or pseudonymously—being a poet, veritable or reputed—attacked another poet, a year and a half after the works of the latter had been received with general and high applause. 2. He attacked him on grounds partly literary, but more prominently moral. 3. After he had had every opportunity for reflection, he repeated the attack in a greatly aggravated form. 4. At a later date he knew that the author in question was not a bad poet, nor a poet with an immoral purpose. The question naturally arises—If he knew this in or before 1881, why did he know or suppose the exact contrary in 1871 and 1872? Here is a question to which no answer (within my cognizance) has ever been given by Mr. Buchanan, and it is one to which some readers may risk their own reply. That is their affair. If Mr. Robert Buchanan concludes that Mr. Thomas Maitland told an untruth, it is not for me to say him nay.”
Dante Gabriel Rossetti: His Family Letters, with a Memoir by William Michael Rossetti, 2 vols. Octavo, London, 1895. Vol. I, p. 301.

Let us close this old unhappy subject by reprinting the dedication prefixed to Buchanan’s romance of God and the Man (1881):

I would have snatch’d a bay-leaf from thy brow,
Wronging the chaplet on an honoured head;
In peace and tenderness I bring thee now
A lily-flower instead.
Pure as thy purpose, blameless as thy song,
Sweet as thy spirit, may this offering be;
Forget the bitter blame that did thee wrong,
And take the gift from me!

In a later edition the following verses were added to the dedication:

Calmly, thy royal robe of death around thee,
Thou sleepest, and weeping brethren round thee stand—
Gently they placed, ere yet God’s angel crown’d thee,
My lily in thy hand!
I never knew thee living, O my brother!
But on thy breast my lily of love now lies;
And by that token, we shall know each other,
When God’s voice saith “Arise!”

foot - A group of two or more syllables. In poetry, the next largest metrical unit after the syllable. The foot (pl. feet) is the unit of measure used to analyze the rhythm of a poem it consists of a certain number of syllables forming part of a line of verse. Poems do not use a single meter form for obvious reasons.. Poetic feet are made up of combinations of accented (/) and unaccented (u) syllables. However many languages do not have definitive stress patterns. For example, the Russian poet, Valadimir Nabokov, notes that overlaid on top of the obvious pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of verse there is a second pattern of accent that is the result of the pitch of the words when spoken.

In Western poetry feet are described in Greek terms:

monometer - one foot
dimeter - two feet
trimeter - three feet
tetreameter - four feet
pentameter - five feet
hexameter - six feet
heptameter - seven feet
octometer - eight feet

The six most common kinds of feet in English metric poetry are:

1. The iambic foot consists of an unaccented syllable followed by an accented. u / The natural rhythm of the English language
2. The trochaic consists of an accented syllable followed by an unaccented. / u
3. the dactylic consists of an accented syllable followed by two unaccented syllables. / u u ex. The Night Before Christmas
4. the anapest consists of two unaccented syllables followed by an accented syllable. u u / Most Nursery Rhymes are in this pattern.
5. the spondaic consists of two accented syllables. / /
6. the pyrrhic consists of two unaccented syllables. u u This pattern is rarely used and when it does appear it ends the dactylic hexameter.

Details may be found under each individual foot type.

form - The meter and stanzaic organization of a poem.

frame verse - An occasion for one or more characters to while away the time by telling stories. The earliest examples come from India, principally The Ramayana and The Panchatantra, but quickly spread west. In A Thousand and One Nights, the narrator is Scheherazade. In Ovid's Metamorphoses the narrators are allowed to tell their versions of the same tale using the technique of nesting. In Boccaccio's The Decameron the narrators are a group of young aristocrats who have fled into the countryside for protection from the plague that is sweeping through Europe. In England, Geoffrey Chaucer's (1343-1400) The Canterbury Tales, heavily influenced by the works of Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch, switches from the French octocyllabic couplet to decasyllabic couplets. Only twenty-four of the originally planned thirty were finished. He also altered the form slightly to allow for multiple narrators rather the customary single. The narratives are preceded by prologues wherein the characters argue amongst themselves. For example the participant list for the Canterbury Tales is:

Canon"s Yeomans Tale - the fraudulent alchemist Clerk's Tale - patient Griselda Cook's Tale - Perkin Franklin's Tale - Dorigen, Arveragus, and Aurelius Friar's Tale - the summoner and the Devil Knight's Tale - Palamon and Arcite Manciple's Tale - the tell-tale crow Man of Law's tale - Constance Melibee - told by Chaucer Merchant's Tale - January and August Miller's Tale - Nicholas, Alison, and Absolon Monk's Tale - the falls of illustrious men Nun's Priest's Tale - Chantecleer and Pertelote Pardoner's Tale - the revellers who seek Death Parson's tale - sermon on Penitence Physician's tale - Virginius Prioriss's Tale - the murdered boy who sings Reeve's Tale - the miller's family and the students Second Nun's tale - life of St. Cecilia Shipman's tale - the miserly merchant, his wife, and the monk Squire's Tale - Cambuscan and Canacee Summoner's Tale - Thomas and the friar Thopas, Sir - told by Chaucer Wife of Bath's Tale - the knight and the hag

As an example here is The Physician's Tale told by Virginius:

1 Ther was, as telleth Titus Livius,
2 A knyght that called was Virginius,
3 Fulfild of honour and of worthynesse,
4 And strong of freendes, and of greet richesse.
5 This knyght a doghter hadde by his wyf;
6 No children hadde he mo in al his lyf.
7 Fair was this mayde in excellent beautee
8 Aboven every wight that man may see;
9 For Nature hath with sovereyn diligence
10 Yformed hire in so greet excellence,
11 As though she wolde seyn, "Lo! I, Nature,
12 Thus kan I forme and peynte a creature,
13 Whan that me list; who kan me countrefete?
14 Pigmalion noght, though he ay forge and bete,
15 Or grave, or peynte; for I dar wel seyn
16 Apelles, Zanzis, sholde werche in veyn
17 Outher to grave, or peynte, or forge, or bete,
18 If they presumed me to countrefete.
19 For He that is the formere principal
20 Hath maked me his vicaire general,
21 To forme and peynten erthely creaturis
22 Right as me list, and ech thyng in my cure is
23 Under the moone, that may wane and waxe,
24 And for my werk right no thyng wol I axe;
25 My lord and I been ful of oon accord.
26 I made hire to the worshipe of my lord;
27 So do I alle myne othere creatures,
28 What colour that they han or what figures."
29 Thus semeth me that Nature wolde seye.
30 This mayde of age twelve yeer was and tweye,
31 In which that Nature hadde swich delit.
32 For right as she kan peynte a lilie whit,
33 And reed a rose, right with swich peynture
34 She peynted hath this noble creature,
35 Er she were born, upon hir lymes fre,
36 Where as by right swiche colours sholde be;
37 And Phebus dyed hath hire tresses grete
38 Lyk to the stremes of his burned heete.
39 And if that excellent was hire beautee,
40 A thousand foold moore vertuous was she.
41 In hire ne lakked no condicioun
42 That is to preyse, as by discrecioun.
43 As wel in goost as body chast was she,
44 For which she floured in virginitee
45 With alle humylitee and abstinence,
46 With alle attemperaunce and pacience,
47 With mesure eek of beryng and array.
48 Discreet she was in answeryng alway;
49 Though she were wis as Pallas, dar I seyn,
50 Hir facound eek ful wommanly and pleyn,
51 No countrefeted termes hadde she
52 To seme wys, but after hir degree
53 She spak, and alle hire wordes, moore and lesse,
54 Sownynge in vertu and in gentillesse.
55 Shamefast she was in maydens shamefastnesse,
56 Constant in herte, and evere in bisynesse
57 To dryve hire out of ydel slogardye.
58 Bacus hadde of hir mouth right no maistrie;
59 For wyn and youthe dooth Venus encresse,
60 As men in fyr wol casten oille or greesse.
61 And of hir owene vertu, unconstreyned,
62 She hath ful ofte tyme syk hire feyned,
63 For that she wolde fleen the compaignye
64 Where likly was to treten of folye,
65 As is at feestes, revels, and at daunces,
66 That been occasions of daliaunces.
67 Swich thynges maken children for to be
68 To soone rype and boold, as men may se,
69 Which is ful perilous and hath been yoore.
70 For al to soone may she lerne loore
71 Of booldnesse, whan she woxen is a wyf.
72 And ye maistresses, in youre olde lyf,
73 That lordes doghtres han in governaunce,
74 Ne taketh of my wordes no displesaunce.
75 Thenketh that ye been set in governynges
76 Of lordes doghtres oonly for two thynges:
77 Outher for ye han kept youre honestee,
78 Or elles ye han falle in freletee,
79 And knowen wel ynough the olde daunce,
80 And han forsaken fully swich meschaunce
81 For everemo; therfore, for Cristes sake,
82 To teche hem vertu looke that ye ne slake.
83 A theef of venysoun, that hath forlaft
84 His likerousnesse and al his olde craft,
85 Kan kepe a forest best of any man.
86 Now kepeth wel, for if ye wole, ye kan.
87 Looke wel that ye unto no vice assente,
88 Lest ye be dampned for youre wikke entente;
89 For whoso dooth, a traitour is, certeyn.
90 And taketh kep of that that I shal seyn:
91 Of alle tresons sovereyn pestilence
92 Is whan a wight bitrayseth innocence.
93 Ye fadres and ye moodres eek also,
94 Though ye han children, be it oon or mo,
95 Youre is the charge of al hir surveiaunce,
96 Whil that they been under youre governaunce.
97 Beth war, if by ensample of youre lyvynge,
98 Or by youre necligence in chastisynge,
99 That they ne perisse; for I dar wel seye
100 If that they doon, ye shul it deere abeye.
101 Under a shepherde softe and necligent
102 The wolf hath many a sheep and lamb torent.
103 Suffiseth oon ensample now as heere,
104 For I moot turne agayn to my matere.
105 This mayde, of which I wol this tale expresse,
106 So kepte hirself hir neded no maistresse,
107 For in hir lyvyng maydens myghten rede,
108 As in a book, every good word or dede
109 That longeth to a mayden vertuous,
110 She was so prudent and so bountevous.
111 For which the fame out sprong on every syde,
112 Bothe of hir beautee and hir bountee wyde,
113 That thurgh that land they preised hire echone
114 That loved vertu, save Envye allone,
115 That sory is of oother mennes wele
116 And glad is of his sorwe and his unheele.
117 (The Doctour maketh this descripcioun.)
118 This mayde upon a day wente in the toun
119 Toward a temple, with hire mooder deere,
120 As is of yonge maydens the manere.
121 Now was ther thanne a justice in that toun,
122 That governour was of that regioun.
123 And so bifel this juge his eyen caste
124 Upon this mayde, avysynge hym ful faste,
125 As she cam forby ther as this juge stood.
126 Anon his herte chaunged and his mood,
127 So was he caught with beautee of this mayde,
128 And to hymself ful pryvely he sayde,
129 "This mayde shal be myn, for any man!"
130 Anon the feend into his herte ran,
131 And taughte hym sodeynly that he by slyghte
132 The mayden to his purpos wynne myghte.
133 For certes, by no force ne by no meede,
134 Hym thoughte, he was nat able for to speede;
135 For she was strong of freendes, and eek she
136 Confermed was in swich soverayn bountee
137 That wel he wiste he myghte hire nevere wynne
138 As for to make hire with hir body synne.
139 For which, by greet deliberacioun,
140 He sente after a cherl, was in the toun,
141 Which that he knew for subtil and for boold.
142 This juge unto this cherl his tale hath toold
143 In secree wise, and made hym to ensure
144 He sholde telle it to no creature,
145 And if he dide, he sholde lese his heed.
146 Whan that assented was this cursed reed,
147 Glad was this juge, and maked him greet cheere,
148 And yaf hym yiftes preciouse and deere.
149 Whan shapen was al hire conspiracie
150 Fro point to point, how that his lecherie
151 Parfourned sholde been ful subtilly,
152 As ye shul heere it after openly,
153 Hoom gooth the cherl, that highte Claudius.
154 This false juge, that highte Apius,
155 (So was his name, for this is no fable,
156 But knowen for historial thyng notable;
157 The sentence of it sooth is, out of doute),
158 This false juge gooth now faste aboute
159 To hasten his delit al that he may.
160 And so bifel soone after, on a day,
161 This false juge, as telleth us the storie,
162 As he was wont, sat in his consistorie,
163 And yaf his doomes upon sondry cas.
164 This false cherl cam forth a ful greet pas,
165 And seyde, "Lord, if that it be youre wille,
166 As dooth me right upon this pitous bille,
167 In which I pleyne upon Virginius;
168 And if that he wol seyn it is nat thus,
169 I wol it preeve, and fynde good witnesse,
170 That sooth is that my bille wol expresse."
171 The juge answerde, "Of this, in his absence,
172 I may nat yeve diffynytyf sentence.
173 Lat do hym calle, and I wol gladly heere;
174 Thou shalt have al right, and no wrong heere."
175 Virginius cam to wite the juges wille,
176 And right anon was rad this cursed bille;
177 The sentence of it was as ye shul heere:
178 "To yow, my lord, sire Apius so deere,
179 Sheweth youre povre servant Claudius
180 How that a knyght, called Virginius,
181 Agayns the lawe, agayn al equitee,
182 Holdeth, expres agayn the wyl of me,
183 My servant, which that is my thral by right,
184 Which fro myn hous was stole upon a nyght,
185 Whil that she was ful yong; this wol I preeve
186 By witnesse, lord, so that it nat yow greeve.
187 She nys his doghter nat, what so he seye.
188 Wherfore to yow, my lord the juge, I preye,
189 Yeld me my thral, if that it be youre wille."
190 Lo, this was al the sentence of his bille.
191 Virginius gan upon the cherl biholde,
192 But hastily, er he his tale tolde,
193 And wolde have preeved it as sholde a knyght,
194 And eek by witnessyng of many a wight,
195 That al was fals that seyde his adversarie,
196 This cursed juge wolde no thyng tarie,
197 Ne heere a word moore of Virginius,
198 But yaf his juggement, and seyde thus:
199 "I deeme anon this cherl his servant have;
200 Thou shalt no lenger in thyn hous hir save.
201 Go bryng hire forth, and put hire in oure warde.
202 The cherl shal have his thral, this I awarde."
203 And whan this worthy knyght Virginius
204 Thurgh sentence of this justice Apius
205 Moste by force his deere doghter yiven
206 Unto the juge, in lecherie to lyven,
207 He gooth hym hoom, and sette him in his halle,
208 And leet anon his deere doghter calle,
209 And with a face deed as asshen colde
210 Upon hir humble face he gan biholde,
211 With fadres pitee stikynge thurgh his herte,
212 Al wolde he from his purpos nat converte.
213 "Doghter," quod he, "Virginia, by thy name,
214 Ther been two weyes, outher deeth or shame,
215 That thou most suffre; allas, that I was bore!
216 For nevere thou deservedest wherfore
217 To dyen with a swerd or with a knyf.
218 O deere doghter, endere of my lyf,
219 Which I have fostred up with swich plesaunce
220 That thou were nevere out of my remembraunce!
221 O doghter, which that art my laste wo,
222 And in my lyf my laste joye also,
223 O gemme of chastitee, in pacience
224 Take thou thy deeth, for this is my sentence.
225 For love, and nat for hate, thou most be deed;
226 My pitous hand moot smyten of thyn heed.
227 Allas, that evere Apius the say!
228 Thus hath he falsly jugged the to-day" --
229 And tolde hire al the cas, as ye bifore
230 Han herd; nat nedeth for to telle it moore.
231 "O mercy, deere fader!" quod this mayde,
232 And with that word she bothe hir armes layde
233 Aboute his nekke, as she was wont to do.
234 The teeris bruste out of hir eyen two,
235 And seyde, "Goode fader, shal I dye?
236 Is ther no grace, is ther no remedye?"
237 "No, certes, deere doghter myn," quod he.
238 "Thanne yif me leyser, fader myn," quod she,
239 "My deeth for to compleyne a litel space;
240 For, pardee, Jepte yaf his doghter grace
241 For to compleyne, er he hir slow, allas!
242 And, God it woot, no thyng was hir trespas,
243 But for she ran hir fader first to see,
244 To welcome hym with greet solempnitee."
245 And with that word she fil aswowne anon,
246 And after, whan hir swownyng is agon,
247 She riseth up, and to hir fader sayde,
248 "Blissed be God that I shal dye a mayde!
249 Yif me my deeth, er that I have a shame;
250 Dooth with youre child youre wyl, a Goddes name!"
251 And with that word she preyed hym ful ofte
252 That with his swerd he wolde smyte softe;
253 And with that word aswowne doun she fil.
254 Hir fader, with ful sorweful herte and wil,
255 Hir heed of smoot, and by the top it hente,
256 And to the juge he gan it to presente,
257 As he sat yet in doom in consistorie.
258 And whan the juge it saugh, as seith the storie,
259 He bad to take hym and anhange hym faste;
260 But right anon a thousand peple in thraste,
261 To save the knyght, for routhe and for pitee,
262 For knowen was the false iniquitee.
263 The peple anon had suspect in this thyng,
264 By manere of the cherles chalangyng,
265 That it was by the assent of Apius;
266 They wisten wel that he was lecherus.
267 For which unto this Apius they gon
268 And caste hym in a prisoun right anon,
269 Ther as he slow hymself; and Claudius,
270 That servant was unto this Apius,
271 Was demed for to hange upon a tree,
272 But that Virginius, of his pitee,
273 So preyde for hym that he was exiled;
274 And elles, certes, he had been bigyled.
275 The remenant were anhanged, moore and lesse,
276 That were consentant of this cursednesse.
277 Heere may men seen how synne hath his merite.
278 Beth war, for no man woot whom God wol smyte
279 In no degree, ne in which manere wyse;
280 The worm of conscience may agryse
281 Of wikked lyf, though it so pryvee be
282 That no man woot therof but God and he.
283 For be he lewed man, or ellis lered,
284 He noot how soone that he shal been afered.
285 Therfore I rede yow this conseil take:
286 Forsaketh synne, er synne yow forsake.

Heere is ended the Phisiciens Tale

There was, as Titus Livius tells,
A knight who was called Virginius,
Filled with honor and with worthiness,
And having powerful friends, and great wealth.
This knight had a daughter by his wife;
No more children had he in all his life.
Fair was this maid in excellent beauty
Above every person that one may see;
For Nature has with her greatest diligence
Formed her in such great excellence,
As though she would say, "Lo! I, Nature,
Thus can I form and paint a creature,
When I wish; who can counterfeit my work?
Not Pygmalion, though he always forge and beat,
Or carve, or paint; for I dare well say
Apelles or Zeuxis, should work in vain
Either to carve, or paint, or forge, or beat,
If they presumed to imitate me.
For He who is the principal creator
Has appointed me his Chief Deputy,
To form and paint earthly creatures
Right as I wish, and in my control is each thing
Under the moon, which may grow less or grow larger,
And nothing at all will I ask for my work;
My lord and I are fully in agreement.
I made her to the worship of my lord;
So do I all my other creatures,
Whatever complexion they have or whatever shapes."
It seems to me that Nature would say thus.
This maid was twelve years of age and two,
In whom Nature had such delight.
For just as she can paint a lily white,
And a rose red, just so with such pigments
Has she painted this noble creature,
Before she was born, upon her noble limbs,
Where such colors should rightly be;
And Phebus has dyed her great tresses
Resembling the rays of his burnished sunbeams.
And if her beauty was excellent,
A thousand times more virtuous was she.
In her there lacked no characteristic
That is to be praised by (one with) sound moral judgement.
As well in spirit as in body chaste was she,
For which she flourished in virginity
With all humility and abstinence,
With all temperance and patience,
With moderation also in demeanor and dress.
She was always discreet in conversation;
Though she was wise as Pallas, I dare say,
Her manner of speaking was also very womanly and plain,
No pretentious terms had she
To seem wise, but in accordance with her rank in life
She spoke, and all her words, long speeches and brief,
In accord with virtue and nobility.
Modest she was in maidenly modesty,
Constant in heart, and ever diligent
To keep herself away from idle sluggishness.
Bacchus had no mastery of her mouth at all;
For wine and youth does increase (the power of) Venus,
As if men would cast oil or grease into a fire.
And of her own moral strength, of her own free choice,
She has very often pretended to be ill,
Because she wanted to flee the company
Where there was likely to be talk of folly,
As is at feasts, revels, and at dances,
That provide opportunities for flirtations.
Such things make children to be
Too soon ripe and bold, as anyone can see,
Which is very perilous and has been since long ago,
For all too soon may she learn the lore
Of boldness, when she is grown to be a wife.
And you mistresses, in your old age,
Who have lords' daughters in governance,
Do not take of my words any displeasure.
Think that you are set in charge
Of lords' daughters only for two things:
Either because you have kept your chastity,
Or else you have fallen into frailty,
And know very well the tricks of the trade,
And have fully renounced such misconduct
For evermore; therefore, for Christ's sake,
Look that you do not desisit from teaching them virtue.
A thief of venison, who has abandoned
His greedy appetite and all his old craft,
Can guard a forest better than any other man.
Now guard well, for if you want (to do it), you can.
Take good care that you assent unto no vice,
Lest you be damned for your wicked intent;
For whoever does so, is a traitor, certainly.
And pay attention to what I shall say:
Of all betrayals the supreme wickedness
Is when a person betrays innocence.
You fathers and you mothers also as well,
If you have children, be it one or more,
Yours is the responsibility for all their supervision,
While they are under your governance.
Beware, lest by example of your (manner of) living,
Or by your negligence in chastising,
That they should perish; for I dare well say
If they do, you shall dearly pay for it.
Under a soft and negligent shepherd
The wolf has many a sheep and lamb torn to pieces.
Let one ensample sufficefor the present,
For I must turn again to my subject.
This maiden, of whom I will narrate this tale,
So guarded herself she needed no governess
For in her manner of life maidens might read,
As in a book, every good word or deed
That is proper to a virtuous maiden,
She was so prudent and so filled with good.
For which sprang out all around the fame,
Both of her beauty and her goodness widespread,
So that throughout that land they praised her everyone
Who loved virtue, save Envy alone,
Who is sorry of other men's prosperity
And is glad of his sorrow and his misery.
(The Doctor [St. Augustine] makes this description.)
This maid upon a day went in the town
Toward a temple, with her mother dear,
As is the manner of young maidens.
Now was there then a justice in that town,
Who was governor of that region.
And it so happened that this judge cast his eyes
Upon this maid, considering her very intently,
As she passed by where this judge stood.
Immediately his heart changed and his mood,
So was he caught by the beauty of this maid,
And to himself very secretly he said,
"This maid shall be mine, despite what any man (may do)!"
Immediately. the fiend ran into his heart,
And taught him suddenly that he by trickery
Could win the maiden to his purpose.
For certainly, not by any force nor by any bribery,
He thought, would he be able to succeed;
For she had powerful friends, and also she
Was confirmed in such supreme goodness
That he knew well he could never win her
And make her sin with her body.
For which, after great deliberation,
He sent for a churl, who was in the town,
Whom he knew for trickery and for boldness.
This judge unto this churl his tale has told
Secretly, and made him swear
He should tell it to no creature,
And if he did, he should lose his head.
When this cursed plot was agreed upon
Glad was this judge, and made much of him (the churl),
And gave him precious and expensive gifts.
When all their conspiracy was planned
In great detail, how his lechery
Should be accomplished very subtly,
As you shall later hear it clearly,
Home goes the churl, who is called Claudius.
This false judge, who is called Apius,
(Such was his name, for this is no fable,
But known for a noteworthy historical fact;
The substance of it is true, beyond doubt),
This false judge goes now fast about
Hastening his delight all that he can.
And so it happened soon after, on a certain day,
This false judge, as the story tells us,
As he was accustomed, sat in his court,
And gave his judgements upon various cases.
This false churl came forth at a very rapid pace,
And said, "Lord, if it be your will,
Do me justice concerning this piteous formal complaint,
In which I complain about Virginius;
And if he will say it is not thus,
I will prove it, and find good evidence,
That what my formal complaint will express is truth."
The judge answered, "Of this, in his absence,
I can not give definitive judgment.
Let him be called, and I will gladly hear (the case);
Thou shalt have all justice, and no wrong here."
Virginius came to learn the judge's will,
And right away this cursed complaint was read;
The substance of it was as you shall hear:
"To you, my lord, Sir Apius so dear,
Your poor servant Claudius shows
How a knight, called Virginius,
Against the law, against all equity,
Expressly against my will, holds
My servant, who is my slave by right,
Who was stolen from my house upon one night,
While she was very young; this will I prove
By evidence, lord, providing that you be not displeased.
She is not his daughter, whatever he may say.
Therefore to you, my lord judge, I pray,
Yield me my slave, if it be your will."
Lo, this was all the substance of his complaint.
Virginius began to look upon the churl,
Hastily, before he finished telling his tale,
And would have proven it as a knight should (by battle),
And also by the evidence of many a person,
That all that his adversary said was false,
This cursed judge would not at all delay,
Nor hear one word more from Virginius,
But gave his judgment, and said thus:
"I decide that this churl should have his slave right now;
Thou shalt no longer keep her in thine house.
Go bring her forth, and put her in our guardianship.
The churl shall have his slave, this I decree."
And when this worthy knight Virginius
Because of the verdict of this justice Apius
By force had to give his dear daughter
Unto the judge, to live in lechery,
He goes home, and sat himself in his hall,
And immediately had his dear daughter called,
And with a face as dead as cold ashes
Upon her humble face he did behold,
With a father's pity stabbing through his heart,
Although he would not deviate from his purpose.
"Daughter," said he, "Virginia, by thy name,
There are two ways, either death or shame,
That thou most suffer; alas, that I was born!
For never thou deservedest for whatever reason
To die by a sword or by a knife.
O dear daughter, ender of my life,
Whom I have nurured with such pleasure
That thou were never out of my thoughts!
O daughter, who art my greatest woe,
And in my life my greatest joy also,
O gem of chastity, in patience
Take thou thy death, for this is my decision.
For love, and not for hate, thou must be dead;
My piteous hand must smite off thy head.
Alas, that ever Apius saw thee!
For that reason he has falsely judged thee to-day" --
And told her the whole business, as you before
Have heard; there is no need to tell it again.
"O mercy, dear father!" said this maid,
And with that word she both her arms laid
About his neck, as she was accustomed to do.
The tears burst out of her two eyes,
And said, "Good father, must I dye?
Is there no grace, is there no remedy?"
"No, certainly, dear daughter mine," said he.
"Then give me time, father mine," said she,
"To lament my death for a little while;
For, truly, Jeptha gave his daughter grace
To lament, before he slew her, alas!
And, God knows it, her trespass was nothing,
Except that she ran first to see her father,
To welcome him with great solemnity."
And with that word immediately she fell in a swoon,
And afterwards, when her swooning is gone,
She rises up, and to her father said,
"Blessed be God that I shall die a maid!
Give me my death, before I have dishonor;
Do with your child your will, in God's name!"
And with that word she prayed him repeatedly
That with his sword he would smite gently;
And with that word down she fell in a swoon.
Her father, with very sorrowful heart and will,
Struck off her head, and by the hair siezed it,
And he did present it to the judge,
As he sat yet rendering judgements in court.
And when the judge saw it, as says the story,
He ordered [his men] to take him and hang him at once;
But right away a thousand people burst in,
To save the knight, for compassion and for pity,
For the false wickedness was known.
The people immediately suspected in this matter,
Because of the manner of the churl's claim,
That it was by the conspiring of Apius;
They knew well that he was lecherous.
For which unto this Apius they go
And cast him in a prison straightway,
Where he slew himself; and Claudius,
Who was servant unto this Apius,
Was condemned to hang upon a tree,
Except that Virginius, of his pity,
So prayed for him (Claudius) that he was exiled;
And also, certainly, he had been tricked (by Apius).
The remnant were hanged, high ranking and low,
Who were accessories to this crime.
Here may men see how sin has its reward.
Beware, for no man knows whom God will smite
In any rank, nor in what sort of way;
The worm of conscience may tremble for fear
Because of a wicked life, though it so secret be
That no man knows about it but God and he.
For be he ignorant man, or else learned,
He knows not how soon he shall be terrified.
Therefore I advise you to take this counsel:
Abandon sin, before sin abandons you.

Here is ended The Physician's Tale

Lines 1-29 lay the framework about a knight called Virginius and his wife and daughter; from 30-71 extol the beauty of their daughter; 72-104 give some advice on how to raise a daughter; 118-148 the conspiracy begins; 149-190 Claudius claims the daughter is his stolen servant for obvious reasons; 191-212 Judge Appius takes the side of Claudius and does not allow Virginius to give testimony; 213-250 Virginius decides that the best plan is to kill his daughter; 251-276 the death of the daughter exposes the plan and the last lines 277-286 give the moral.

The retelling of a dream is another element of the frame story used by Chaucer in The Book of the Duchess, The House of Fame, and The Legend of Good Women. This last title also uses nesting. The nineteenth century became a popular genre for fruition in the novel with various examples such as Ichabod Crane, Frankenstein, and Wuthering Heights.

free verse - In French "vers libre." More accurately termed "polyrhythmic verse." This describes poetry that organizes its lines without meter. Not a new form (the Bible-Psalms as the earliest example) but it is the predominating type of poetry now being written. It may be rhymed, but is usually not. "Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down." in the words of Robert Frost. The description is rejected as inaccurate by William Carlos Williams who says that "being an art form verse cannot be free in the sense of having no limitations or guiding principles." These are questions to ask: Does not repeating words create rhythm? Does not having to take a breath, white space, and the need for a caesura (||) provide meter? Yes, all of these develop from the inner requirements of the individual poem rather than from an established form. Rhyme is another story, some of the greatest poetry has no rhyme. This example of the use of repetition from Sir Walter Scott Ulrica's Song in Ivanhoe:

Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,
Out of the mocking-bird's throat, the musical shuttle,
Out of the Ninth-month midnight,
Over the sterile sands and the fields beyond, where the child
leaving his bed wander'd alone, bareheaded, barefoot,
Down from the shower'd halo,
Up from the mystic play of shadows twining and twisting as if they
were alive,
Out from the patches of briars and blackberries,
From the memories of the bird that chanted to me,
From your memories sad brother, from the fitful risings and fallings
I heard,
From under that yellow half-moon late-risen and swollen as if with
From those beginning notes of yearning and love there in the mist,
From the thousand responses of my heart never to cease,
From the myriad thence-arous'd words,
From the word stronger and more delicious than any,
From such as now they start the scene revisiting,
As a flock, twittering, rising, or overhead passing,
Borne hither, ere all eludes me, hurriedly,
A man, yet by these tears a little boy again,
Throwing myself on the sand, confronting the waves,
I, chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter,
Taking all hints to use them, but swiftly leaping beyond them,
A reminiscence sing.

Most of Shakespeare is in free verse. Here from King Richard the Third (Act6 V,iv,):

A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!

From King Richard the Second (Act III,iii):

I'll give my jewels for a set of beads;
My gorgeous palace for a hermitage;
My gay apparel for an almsman's gown'
My figured goblets for a dish of wood;
My sceptre for a palmer's walking staff;
My subjects for a pair of carved sanits,
And my large kingdom for a little grave,
A little, little grave, an obscure grave...

Then to Walt Whitman from his Song of Myself:

Verse 11
Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore,
Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly;
Twenty-eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome.

Verse 13.
I believe in those wing'd purposes,
And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me,
And consider green and violet and the tufted crown intentional,
And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something
And the in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills pretty well
to me,
And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.

Another Walt Whitman example from A Noiseless Patient Spider:

A noiseless patient spider,
I marked where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Marked how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launched forth filament, || filament, || filament, || out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, || ever tirelessly speeding them.

In more modern times this poem from Robert Lowell (1917-1977), founder of the Confessional Poetry movement, wrote several hundred fourteen line unrhymed poems. But this is a favorite of mine Waking Early Sunday Morning:

Waking Early Sunday Morning

O to break loose, like the chinook
salmon jumping and falling back,
nosing up to the impossible
stone and bone-crushing waterfall
raw-jawed, weak-fleshed there, stopped by ten
steps of the roaring ladder, and then
to clear the top on the last try,
alive enough to spawn and die.
Stop, back off. The salmon breaks
water, and now my body wakes
to feel the unpolluted joy
and criminal leisure of a boy
no rainbow smashing a dry fly
in the white run is free as I,
here squatting like a dragon on
time's hoard before the day's begun!

Fierce, fireless mind, running downhill.
Look up and see the harbor fill:
business as usual in eclipse
goes down to the sea in ships
wake of refuse, dacron rope,
bound for Bermuda or Good Hope,
all bright before the morning watch
the wine-dark hulls of yawl and ketch.

I watch a glass of water wet
with a fine fuzz of icy sweat,
silvery colors touched with sky,
serene in their neutrality
yet if I shift, or change my mood,
I see some object made of wood,
background behind it of brown grain,
to darken it, but not to stain.

O that the spirit could remain
tinged but untarnished by its strain!
Better dressed and stacking birch,
or lost with the Faithful at Church
anywhere, but somewhere else!
And now the new electric bells,
clearly chiming, "Faith of our fathers,"
and now the congregation gathers.

O Bible chopped and crucified
in hymns we hear but do not read,
none of the milder subtleties
of grace or art will sweeten these
stiff quatrains shoveled out four-square
they sing of peace, and preach despair;
yet they gave darkness some control,
and left a loophole for the soul.

When will we see Him face to face?
Each day, He shines through darker glass.
In this small town where everything
is known, I see His vanishing
emblems, His white spire and flag-
pole sticking out above the fog,
like old white china doorknobs, sad,
slight, useless things to calm the mad.

Hammering military splendor,
top-heavy Goliath in full armor
little redemption in the mass
liquidations of their brass,
elephant and phalanx moving
with the times and still improving,
when that kingdom hit the crash:
a million foreskins stacked like trash ...

Sing softer! But what if a new
diminuendo brings no true
tenderness, only restlessness,
excess, the hunger for success,
sanity or self-deception
fixed and kicked by reckless caution,
while we listen to the bells
anywhere, but somewhere else!

O to break loose. All life's grandeur
is something with a girl in summer ...
elated as the President
girdled by his establishment
this Sunday morning, free to chaff
his own thoughts with his bear-cuffed staff,
swimming nude, unbuttoned, sick
of his ghost-written rhetoric!

No weekends for the gods now. Wars
flicker, earth licks its open sores,
fresh breakage, fresh promotions, chance
assassinations, no advance.
Only man thinning out his kind
sounds through the Sabbath noon, the blind
swipe of the pruner and his knife
busy about the tree of life ...

Pity the planet, all joy gone
from this sweet volcanic cone;
peace to our children when they fall
in small war on the heels of small
war until the end of time
to police the earth, a ghost
orbiting forever lost
in our monotonous sublime.

French forms - French forms: French forms or formes fixes were poetic forms that were designed to be accompanied by music. In France during the early Middle Ages poets were also musicians mostly from Provence. They were called troubadours. Their poems were polyphonic songs; meaning music that consists of several melodic lines. It was the troubadour Guillaume de Machaut (1300-1377) who introduced the virelais, lai and, by refining the polyphonic song forms, the ballade and rondeau. It is these last two forms that became the dominant fixed forms through the next era. Here is Machaut's virelai Dame de valour:

Aymi! dame de valour,
Que j'aim et desir,
De vous me vient la dolour
Qui me fait languir.

Tres douce creature,
Comment puet vo fine douçour
Estre vers moy si dure,
Quant mon cuer, mon corps et m'amour
Vous ay donné sans retour
Et sans repentir?
Or me tenez en langour
Dont je criem morir.
Aymi! dame.

Et tout par enmesure,
Gentil dame, pleinne d'onnour,
Sui je à desconfiture;
Car onques ne quis deshonnour
Vers vous, ains ay sans sejour
Fait vo dous plaisir
Et feray sans mauvais tour
Jusques au morir.
Aymi! dame de valour.

Mais vo douce figure,
Vo fine biauté que j'aour
Et vo noble faiture
Parée de plaisant atour
En plour tiennent nuit et jour,
Sans joie sentir,
Mon cuer qui vit en tristour,
Dont ne puet garir.
Aymi! dame de valour,
Que j'aim et desir,
De vous me vient la dolour
Qui me fait languir.

The development of the monophonic art song of the England coupled with the political opposition in France ended the era of troubadours. But in the Middle Ages poets of other countries looked to the formes fixes of France as the source for new forms. In Spain around the fifteenth century there was the cantiga which was an octosyllabic quatrain limited to one strophe dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The Portuguese wrote cantiga d'amor, cantiga d'amigo and cantigas d'escarnio e maldizer (songs of scorn and insult, and the Italian's wrote lauda.

By the late sixteenth century and well into the eighteenth century the rules for classic French forms had changed but the rigidity remained. For example: two awkward vowel sounds were to be avoided "il y a a": alternating masculine and feminine rhymes were required, a word could not be made to rhyme with itself, and there was to be no enjambment. There may have been others these I am familiar with.

Because of the nature of the fixed form along with all other restraints writing of French forms has long been regarded as a stiff and mechanical exercise rather than an exercise in creative imagination. But many of these French forms are still available to poets today. Their rhythm and meter characteristics are given individually in Poetic Forms Reference. See: ballade, chant royal, kyrielle, lai, pantoum, rondelet, roundel, sestina, triolet, villanelle, and viralai.

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