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Universal Elements of Poetry


hack - In literary terms a hack is a writer whose services are for hire. Described in an Epitaph by Goldsmith as:

“Here lies poor Ned Purdon from misery freed,
Who long was a bookseller’s hack;
He led such a damnable life in this world,
I don’t think he’ll wish to come back.”

haiku - Oriental primarily Japanese (Basho, Kekigodo) lyric form having a specific meter of seventeen syllables in three lines. the first line has five syllables. The second line has seven syllables, the third and final line as five syllables. It should comment on some element of nature.

Ex:

To the sun’s path
The hollyhocks lean
in the May rains.

half rhyme - also called para-rhyme, imperfect rhyme, slant rhyme, near rhyme, used most often in Irish, Icelandic and Welsh verse. Where the change occurs in the beginning or ending consonant. Like -ed - -et as in cropped/crept; sell/shall. First used by Henry Vaughan, then later in the 20th cent.. W. B. Yeats and Gerard Manley Hopkins. Ex. Easter, 1916 William Butler Yeats:

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
from counter or desk among grey
eighteenth-century houses.

I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words
Or have lingered awhile and said.

heptameter - A metrical line of seven feet most commonly found in English poetry produced in the 16th and 17th centuries. Rarely used alone but generally broken into four and three rhyming lines. The basic form for ballads is iambic heptameter or seven sets of unstressed, stressed sylables per line, in sets of four, with the second and fourth lines rhyming. A good example is Thomas Hardy's Lacking Sense:

"O Time, whence comes the Mother's moody look amid her labours,
As of one who all unwittingly has wounded where she loves?
Why weaves she not her world-webs to according lutes and tabors,
With nevermore this too remorseful air upon her face,
As of angel fallen from grace?"

"Her look is but her story: construe not its symbols keenly:
In her wonderworks yea surely has she wounded where she loves.
The sense of ills misdealt for blisses blanks the mien most
queenly,
Self-smitings kill self-joys; and everywhere beneath the sun
Such deeds her hands have done."

"And how explains thy Ancient Mind her crimes upon her creatures,
These fallings from her fair beginnings, woundings where she
loves,
Into her would-be perfect motions, modes, effects, and features
Admitting cramps, black humours, wan decay, and baleful blights,
Distress into delights?"

"Ah! know'st thou not her secret yet, her vainly veiled deficience,
Whence it comes that all unwittingly she wounds the lives she
loves?
That sightless are those orbs of hers?--which bar to her
omniscience
Brings those fearful unfulfilments, that red ravage through her zones
Whereat all creation groans.

"She whispers it in each pathetic strenuous slow endeavour,
When in mothering she unwittingly sets wounds on what she loves;
Yet her primal doom pursues her, faultful, fatal is she ever;
Though so deft and nigh to vision is her facile finger-touch
That the seers marvel much.

"Deal, then, her groping skill no scorn, no note of malediction;
Not long on thee will press the hand that hurts the lives it
loves;
And while she dares dead-reckoning on, in darkness of affliction,
Assist her where thy creaturely dependence can or may,
For thou art of her clay."

I remember the lecture on the heptameter that cited the opening theme of the 70's television show Gilligan's Island.

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip
That started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship.

Better yet read Rudyard Kipling's poem Tommy:

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

The heptmeter is very popular in Vietnamese poetry. Two varieties exist of the heptameter: the Tú Tuyệt and the Duong Luat or Tang model, which consists of eight heptameters.

The short variety consists of a stanza of four seven-syllable verses, known as the Tú Tuyệt heptameter quatrain. Short and concise, the form is the perfect challenge to attempt to express images, sounds, and feelings in just four heptameters. It is perfect fit for inscribing on most surfaces. The Native Vietnamese Style is the six-eight metrical Lines or hexameter-octameter Couplet called "Luc bt."

Following are some illustrations of the heptameter quatrain. First one is LyLan Nhan's Dewdrop in the Rose:

Gio.t suong trong nhuy. hô`ng

Nu. hô`ng hé nhu.y ðón xuân phong,
Môt gio.t suong sa giu~a ðáy lòng.
´p u? tình riêng xuân mâ´y ðô.,
Hu~ng hò chiê´c lá luo.n ngoài song.

Translated.

Behold the rose in bloom amid spring breeze
That blows the dewdrop tumbling in my heart.
For long years have I kept my love in peace
Till autumn leaves fly past the pane and part.

L Lng Nhn A Charming request:

Gió thô?i hôm nay lá ru.ng nhiê`u,
Câ.y em ðan hô. tâ´m tình yêu
Ðêm vê` âp u? lòng anh la.nh,
Cho khoa?n ðêm truo`ng ðo~ qua.nh hiu.

Luu Trong Lu

The wind today felled down huge loads of leaves.
Pray weave me up a blanket full of love
To keep me good and warm this chilly eve
Away from loneliness throughout the night.

Luu Trong Lu

L Lng Nhn wrote this heptameter as a soaring vision of love:

Huyê`n Trân Ca

Anh vói Huyê`n Trân tuy cách xa,
He.n cùng non nuóc bô´n mùa hoa,
Là ðôi nha.n tráng tròi xanh biê´c,
Nhi.p cánh tung mây vuo.t ha?i hà.

The Song of Huyen Tran

Though distance keeps my dear Huyen Tran from me
We swear to this our land and four seasons
To be the white swallows in azure sky
That fly through clouds over the vast ocean.

The Duong verse accounts is so straitforward that it is no surprise at its popularity when attempting satire or humor. This example of Le Van Hanh is found on the title page of a book:

Có tiê`n sám lâ´y ðê? mà coi
Tói mu'o'.n không cho nói hep hòi
Quân tu'? trao ra lòng cha?ng nga.i,
Mâ´t công cho mu'o'.n mâ´t công ðòi.

This book sure cost a lot of money to buy.
Don't fret if it's not for lending.
(I) will lend to honest people.
Yet if (I) don't, (I) don't have to collect.

Reminder: In Vietnamese the "I" is never written, the speaker is understood as "I"

The other variation of the seven-word form, the Eight-Heptameter Stanza, involves eight verses, known as the duo`ng Lu?t. Structurally it is divided into four pairs of verses: the first couplet serves as an introduction, and the last couplet as a conclusion that summarizes the author's feelings. The main theme is developed by the second or expository couplet, and a third couplet or lu?n or discursive couplet. These middle pairs abide by strict rules of parallelism and balance in sound and sense on the word or syllable level while maintaining rhyming scheme, tonal pattern and symmetrical rhythm. See this example of Nguyen Khuyen:

Mùa thu ngô`i câu cá

Ao thu la.nh le~o nuóc trong veo,
Mô.t chiê´c thuyê`n câu bé te?o teo.
Sóng biê´c theo làn hoi go.n tí,
Lá vàng truóc gió se? ðua vèo,
Tùng mây lo lu~ng tròi xanh ngát,
Ngo~ trúc quanh co khách váng teo.
Tu.a gô´i ôm câ`m lâu cha?ng ða.ng,
Cá ðâu ðóp ðô.ng duo´i chân bèo.

Fishing in Autumn

On the clear water of a chilly autumn pond
There sits a tiny fishing boat.
Blue waves move in gentle ripples,
Yellow leaves fall on breezy gusts.
Cloud masses float in azure sky,
Bamboo paths meander in lonely quiet.
Leaning on the pillow (I) hold my lyre.
Fish bite somewhere beneath the hyacynth.
Thu tha huong

Another by L Lng Nhn

Thu tha huong

Lâ´m tâ´m mua bay phu? dâ.m ngàn
Nghe hô`n cô qua.nh mô~i thu sang
Ðêm suong gieo na.ng cành xo xác
Ngày lá bay dâ`y da. ngô?n ngang

Lua? ha. tro vùi non nuo´c cu~
Mây thu bo.t biê?n giâ´c Luong Hoàn
Ngâ.m ngùi liê~u ru~ hô` man mác
Ghê´ ðá riêng ngô`i ta tho? than

Autumn Nostalgia

As the drizzly mist covers the thousand-mile road
I feel the loneliness of my soul when comes fall.
The foggy night rests heavy on the spindly boughs
Throwing my heart in turmoil when the dead leaves fall.

Where are the summer's heat, my home in time's deep ash?
Where are the fall's clouds and the sea foams of years past?
By the willows of the doleful lake languish I,
And on the rocky perch I heave my lonely sigh.

I hope these are correct and my apologies if translations are slightly amiss.

heroic couplet - A rhymed couplet in iambic pentameter whose second line is end-stopped. The type of couplet dominated poetry in the 18th century. John Dryden frequently wrote in this form. See In the Memory of Mr. Oldham.

hexameter - A line of verse containing six feet, usually dactyls / u but may also be spondee / u u. Dactylic hexameter is a form of meter in poetry or a rhythmic scheme. It is traditionally associated with classical epic poetry, both Greek and Latin. In classical verse forms the last syllable can be short or long but the first syllable is always long. Hexameters also have a primary caesura || that functions as a comma. The meter consists of lines made from six ("hexa") feet. In strict dactylic hexameter, each of these feet would be dactyl, but classical meter allows for the substitution of a spondee in place of a dactyl in most positions. Specifically, the first four feet can either be dactyls or spondees. The fifth foot is a dactyl most of the time in Homeric poetry less so in classic Latin meter. The sixth foot is always a spondee. Thus the dactylic line most normally looks like this from Ovid's first line of Metamorphoses:

/ u u | / u u | / u u | / u u | / u u | \ \

In nova fert animus mutatus dicere formas.

Hexameters have two places where there is rarely a break in a spoken unit. Hexameters are frequently enjambed, which helps to create the long, flowing narrative of epic. The first line of Homer's Iliad is in Greek hexameter as well as Virgil's opening line for the Aeneid as an example of Latin hexameter:

Arme virumque cano, Trojae qui primus ab oris (dactyl,dactyl,spondee,spondee,dactyl,spondee)
Italium fato profugus, Lavinaque venit
Litora. Multum ille et terris jactatus et alto
vi superum, saevae memorem Junonis ob iram.

By the Augustan Age the strict rules of meter of place and number of dactyls and spondees had begun to vary so that in Virgil's Aeneid lines no longer consisted of all spondees or a series of dactyls and a closing dactyl as in these lines of five dactyls and a closing spondee from the Aeneid:

quadrupedante putrem sonitu quatiti ungul campum (a hoof shakes the crumbling field with a galloping sound)

An English example of the dactylic hexameter, in quantitative meter is the first line of Longfellow's Evangeline:

"This is the forest primeval the murmuring pines and the hemlocks"

If we break up the line into six feet we divide the seventeen syllables into six parts.

The best example of dactylic hexameter is Dante's The Divine Comedy. Written in his native Tuscan, not the traditional Latin, helped to establish his Tuscan dialect as the ancestor of modern Italian.

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
ché la diritta via era smarrita.

When I had journeyed half of our life's way,
I found myself within a shadowed forest,
for I had lost the path that does not stray.

Homeric epithet - Compound adjective in early Greek literature, especially Homer, whereby a descriptive feature was added to a name to signal in a colorful fashion a person as a type of person. In the two major works of Homer, Iliad and Odyssey, most characters are introduced first with their name plus the compound adjective. Ex. the goddess Athena, followed by “thea glaukopis” or “grey-eyed”; Agamemnon would be “anaxis andron” or “lord of men”; and “rhodo dyktalos” is the “rosy fingered” Eos; while the goddess Iris “pode demos” or “wind-swift”.

Horatian ode - An ode that repeats the same irregular stanza pattern throughout the poetic form of multiple quatrain stanzas. Lines one and two are in iambic tetrameter; lines three and four are in iambic trimeter and indented. It is sometimes called a stanzaic ode. It is the Latin descendant of the Aeolic ode, both of which were written to project a tranquil, contemplative tone meant for meditation. It is a personal statement not public, historical rather than anecdotal, general rather than occasional, tranquil rather than combative, and intended to be read in private not to the public.

The survival of the Horatian form is attributed to Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Venusia, December 8, 65 BC;Rome, November 27, 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace, the leading Roman lyric poet during the Augustan Age. Here is his most often quoted "carpe diem" ode:

Tu ne quaesteris---scire nefasquem milu, quem tibi
finem di dederint, Leuconoe, nec Babylonios
temptaris numeros. Ut melius, quicquid erit, pati!
seu plures hiemes, seu tribuit Iuppipter ultiman,
quae nunc oppositis debilitate pumicibus mare
Tyrrhenum, Sapia, vina liques, et spatio brevi
spem longam teseces. Dum loquimur, fugerit invida
aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.

Ask not we cannot know
what end the gods have set for you,
for me; nor attempt the Babylonian reckonings
Leuconoe.
How much better to endure whatever comes,
whether Jupiter grants us additional winters
or whether this is our last,
which not bears out the Tuscan Sea
upon the barriers of the cliffs.
Be wise, strain the wine; and since life is brief,
prune back far-reaching hopes!
Even as we speak, envious time has passed:
pluck the day, putting as little trust
as possible in tomorrow!

The French poets Boileu (1636-1711) and La Fontaine preserved the Homeric Ode and believed it to be the noblest of all its forms the true vehicle for the sublime in lyric verse (Le Vritable Champ du Sublime} for its "grandeur, and clat, its beau dsordre and its enthousiasme."

The most often cited Horatian Ode is this one by Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) Upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland:

The forward youth that would appear
Must now forsake his Muses dear,
Nor in the shadows sing
His numbers languishing.

'Tis time to leave the books in dust,
And oil the unused armour's rust,
  Removing from the wall
  The corslet of the hall.

So restless Cromwell could not cease
In the inglorious arts of peace,
  But through adventurous war
  Urgd his active star:

And like the three-fork'd lightning, first
Breaking the clouds where it was nurst,
  Did thorough his own side
  His fiery way divide:

For 'tis all one to courage high,
The emulous, or enemy;
  And with such, to enclose
  Is more than to oppose.

Then burning through the air he went
And palaces and temples rent;
  And Csar's head at last
  Did through his laurels blast.

'Tis madness to resist or blame
The face of angry Heaven's flame;
  And if we would speak true,
  Much to the man is due,

Who, from his private gardens, where
He lived reservd and austere
  (As if his highest plot
  To plant the bergamot),

Could by industrious valour climb
To ruin the great work of time,
  And cast the Kingdoms old
  Into another mould;

Though Justice against Fate complain,
And plead the ancient rights in vain
  But those do hold or break
  As men are strong or weak

Nature, that hateth emptiness,
Allows of penetration less,
  And therefore must make room
  Where greater spirits come.

What field of all the civil war
Where his were not the deepest scar?
  And Hampton shows what part
  He had of wiser art;

Where, twining subtle fears with hope,
He wove a net of such a scope
  That Charles himself might cease
  To Caresbrooke's narrow case;

That thence the Royal actor borne
The tragic scaffold might adorn:
  While round the armd bands
  Did clap their bloody hands.

He nothing common did or mean
Upon that memorable scene,
  But with his keener eye
  The axe's edge did try

Nor call'd the gods, with vulgar spite,
To vindicate his helpless right;
  But bow'd his comely head
  Down, as upon a bed.

This was that memorable hour
Which first assured the forcd power:
  So when they did design
  The Capitol's first line,

A Bleeding Head, where they begun,
Did fright the architects to run;
  And yet in that the State
  Foresaw its happy fate!

And now the Irish are ashamed
To see themselves in one year tamed:
  So much one man can do
  That does both act and know.

They can affirm his praises best,
And have, though overcome, confest
  How good he is, how just
  And fit for highest trust.

Nor yet grown stiffer with command,
But still in the republic's hand
  How fit he is to sway
  That can so well obey!

He to the Commons' feet presents
A Kingdom for his first year's rents,
  And, what he may, forbears
  His fame, to make it theirs:

And has his sword and spoils ungirt
To lay them at the public's skirt.
  So when the falcon high
  Falls heavy from the sky,

She, having kill'd, no more doth search
But on the next green bough to perch;
  Where, when he first does lure,
  The falconer has her sure.

What may not then our Isle presume
While victory his crest does plume?
  What may not others fear,
  If thus he crowns each year?

As Csar he, ere long, to Gaul,
To Italy an Hannibal,
  And to all States not free
  Shall climacteric be.

The Pict no shelter now shall find
Within his particolour'd mind,
  But, from this valour, sad
  Shrink underneath the plaid;

Happy, if in the tufted brake
The English hunter him mistake,
  Nor lay his hounds in near
  The Caledonian deer.

But thou, the war's and fortune's son,
March indefatigably on;
  And for the last effect,
  Still keep the sword erect:

Besides the force it has to fright
The spirits of the shady night,
  The same arts that did gain
  A power, must it maintain.

There have been lesser-known poets that have written in the Horatian Ode form but they are reluctant to call their poems odes because they are afraid of being compared to some of the great verse by Wordsworth or Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn and this one To Autumn both are Horatian:

John Keats (1795-1821)

To Autumn

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Here is an example of an Horatian or stanzaic ode by Richard Wilbur (1921) titled The Beautiful Changes:

One wading a fall meadow finds on all sides
The Queen Anne's Lace lying like lilies
On water; it glides
So from the walker it turns
Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of you
Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.

The beautiful changes as a forest is changed
By a chameleon's turning his skin to it;
As a mantis arranged
on a green leaf, grows
Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves
Any greeness is deeper than anyone knows.

Your hands hold roses always in a way that says
They are not only yours, the beautiful changes
In such kind ways,
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things' selves for a second finding, to lose
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.

And this one Abraham Lincoln by Richard Henry Stoddard (1825-1907):

Not as when some great Captain falls
In battle, where his Country calls,
  Beyond the struggling lines
  That push his dread designs

To doom, by some stray ball struck dead:
Or, in the last charge, at the head
  Of his determined men,
  Who _must_ be victors then!

Nor as when sink the civic Great,
The safer pillars of the State,
  Whose calm, mature, wise words
  Suppress the need of swords--

With no such tears as e'er were shed
Above the noblest of our Dead
  Do we to-day deplore
  The Man that is no more!

Our sorrow hath a wider scope,
Too strange for fear, too vast for hope,--
  A Wonder, blind and dumb,
  That waits--what is to come!

Not more astounded had we been
If Madness, that dark night, unseen,
  Had in our chambers crept,
  And murdered while we slept!

We woke to find a mourning Earth--
Our Lares shivered on the hearth,--
  The roof-tree fallen,--all
  That could affright, appall!

Such thunderbolts, in other lands,
Have smitten the rod from royal hands,
  But spared, with us, till now,
  Each laurelled Cesar's brow!

No Cesar he, whom we lament,
A Man without a precedent,
  Sent, it would see, to do
  His work--and perish too!

Not by the weary cares of State,
The endless tasks, which will not wait,
  Which, often done in vain,
  Must yet be done again:

Not in the dark, wild tide of War,
Which rose so high, and rolled so far,
  Sweeping from sea to sea
  In awful anarchy:--

Four fateful years of mortal strife,
Which slowly drained the Nation's life,
  (Yet, for each drop that ran
  There sprang an armed man!)

Not then;--but when by measures meet,--
By victory, and by defeat,--
  By courage, patience, skill,
  The People's fixed _"We will!"_

Had pierced, had crushed Rebellion dead,--
Without a Hand, without a Head:--
  At last, when all was well,
  He fell--O, _how_ he fell!

The time,--the place,--the stealing Shape,--
The coward shot,--the swift escape,--
  The wife--the widow's scream,--
  It is a hideous Dream!

A Dream?--what means this pageant, then?
These multitudes of solemn men,
  Who speak not when they meet,
  But throng the silent street?

The flags half-mast, that late so high
Flaunted at each new victory?
  (The stars no brightness shed,
  But bloody looks the red!)

The black festoons that stretch for miles,
And turn the streets to funeral aisles?
  (No house too poor to show
  The Nation's badge of woe!)

The cannon's sudden, sullen boom,--
The bells that toll of death and doom,--
  The rolling of the drums,--
  The dreadful Car that comes?

Cursed be the hand that fired the shot!
The frenzied brain that hatched the plot!
  Thy Country's Father slain
  By thee, thou worse than Cain!

Tyrants have fallen by such as thou,
And Good hath followed--May it now!
  (God lets bad instruments
  Produce the best events.)

But he, the Man we mourn to-day,
No tyrant was: so mild a sway
  In one such weight who bore
  Was never known before!

Cool should he be, of balanced powers,
The Ruler of a Race like ours,
  Impatient, headstrong, wild,--
  The Man to guide the Child!

And this _he_ was, who most unfit
(So hard the sense of God to hit!)
  Did seem to fill his Place.
  With such a homely face,--

Such rustic manners,--speech uncouth,--
(That somehow blundered out the Truth!)
  Untried, untrained to bear
  The more than kingly Care?

Ay! And his genius put to scorn
The proudest in the purple born,
  Whose wisdom never grew
  To what, untaught, he knew--

The People, of whom he was one.
No gentleman like Washington,--
  (Whose bones, methinks, make room,
  To have him in their tomb!)

A laboring man, with horny hands,
Who swung the axe, who tilled his lands,
  Who shrank from nothing new,
  But did as poor men do!

One of the People! Born to be
Their curious Epitome;
  To share, yet rise above
  Their shifting hate and love.

Common his mind (it seemed so then),
His thoughts the thoughts of other men:
  Plain were his words, and poor--
  But now they will endure!

No hasty fool, of stubborn will,
But prudent, cautious, pliant, still;
  Who, since his work was good,
  Would do it, as he could.

Doubting, was not ashamed to doubt,
And, lacking prescience, went without:
  Often appeared to halt,
  And was, of course, at fault:

Heard all opinions, nothing loth,
And loving both sides, angered both:
  Was--_not_ like Justice, blind,
  But watchful, clement, kind.

No hero, this, of Roman mould;
Nor like our stately sires of old:
  Perhaps he was not Great--
  But he preserved the State!

O honest face, which all men knew!
O tender heart, but known to few!
  O Wonder of the Age,
  Cut off by tragic Rage!

Peace! Let the long procession come,
For hark!--the mournful, muffled drum--
  The trumpet's wail afar,--
  And see! the awful Car!

Peace! Let the sad procession go,
While cannon boom, and bells toll slow:
  And go, thou sacred Car,
  Bearing our Woe afar!

Go, darkly borne, from State to State,
Whose loyal, sorrowing Cities wait
  To honor all they can
  The dust of that Good Man!

Go, grandly borne, with such a train
As greatest kings might die to gain:
  The Just, the Wise, the Brave
  Attend thee to the grave!

And you, the soldiers of our wars,
Bronzed veterans, grim with noble scars,
  Salute him once again,
  Your late Commander--slain!

Yes, let your tears, indignant, fall,
But leave your muskets on the wall:
  Your Country needs you now
  Beside the forge, the plough!

(When Justice shall unsheathe her brand,--
If Mercy may not stay her hand,
  Nor would we have it so--
  She must direct the blow!)

And you, amid the Master-Race,
Who seem so strangely out of place,
  Know ye who cometh? He
  Who hath declared ye Free!

Bow while the Body passes--Nay,
Fall on your knees, and weep, and pray!
  Weep, weep--I would ye might--
  Your poor, black faces white!

And, Children, you must come in bands,
With garlands in your little hands,
  Of blue, and white, and red,
  To strew before the Dead!

So, sweetly, sadly, sternly goes
The Fallen to his last repose:
  Beneath no mighty dome,
  But in his modest Home;

The churchyard where his children rest,
The quiet spot that suits him best:
  There shall his grave be made,
  And there his bones be laid!

And there his countrymen shall come,
With memory proud, with pity dumb,
  And strangers far and near,
  For many and many a year!

For many a year, and many an Age,
While History on her ample page
  The virtues shall enroll
  Of that Paternal Soul!

Horace Dobson (1840-1921) wrote several Horatian odes here is one of them To the King's Most Excellent Majesty this also happens to be written in long hymnal measure.

Not with high-vaulting phrase, or rush
  Of weak-winged epithets that tire
With their own weight, or formal gush,
  We greet thee, Sire!

To flights less lofty we aspire,
  We pray, in speech unskilled to feign,
That all good things good men desire
  May crown Thy reign;

That our State "Dreadnought" once again
  May leave in broken seas to veer,
And shape her course direct and plain,
  With Thee to steer.

Into blue sky and water clear,
  Where she on even keel shal ride,
Secure from reef and shoal, or fear
  Of wind and tide.

So May it be, Sire! so abide!
  Till, by God's grace, this Empire shine
More great in power than great in pride,
  Through Thee and Thine;

Not from her honoured past resign
  One least bequest; or vail her claim
To aught that dowers an ancient line
  An ancient fame!

hymnal measure - From the Greek word "hymnos", which means "a song of praise." The preferred form for the English Protestant hymnal. It is a quatrain usually in iambic but it can be in any foot pattern. A familiar example would be John Newton's hymn Amazing Grace. There are many examples that are not hymnal in nature, for example, William Wordsworth wrote his A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal in hymnal measure:

A slumber did my spirit seal;
I had no human fears:
She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.

No motion has she now, no force;
She neither hears nor sees;
Rolle round in earth's diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees.

A very early example is The Mower to the Glow-Worms written by Andrew Marvel (1621-1678):

Ye living lamps, by whose dear light
The nightingale does sit so late,
And studying all the summer night,
Her matchless songs does meditate;

Ye county comets, that portend
No war nor prince's funeral,
Shining unto no higher end
Than to presage the grass's fall;

Ye glow-worms, whose officious flame
To wand'ring mowers shows the way,
That in the night have lost their aim,
And after foolish fires do stray;

Your courteous lights in vain you waste,
Since Juliana here is come,
For she my mind hath so displac'd
That I shall never find my home.

Another early example is I Cannot Mind My Wheel written by Walter Landor (1775-1864):

Mother, I cannot mind my wheel;
My fingers ache, my lips are dry:
Oh! if you felt the pain I feel!
But Oh, who ever felt as I!

No longer could I doubt him true;
All other men may use deceit:
He always said my eyes were blue,
And often swore my lips were sweet.

Even John Dryden (1631-1700) wrote this one in hymnal measure:

You charm'd me not with that fair face
Though it was all divine:
To be another's is the grace,
That makes me wish you mine.

The Gods and Fortune take their part
Who like young monarchs fight;
And boldly dare invade that heart
Which is another's right.

First mad with hope we undertake
To pull up every bar;
But once possess'd, we faintly make
A dull defensive war.

Now every friend is turn'd a foe
In hope to get our store:
And passion makes us cowards grow,
Which made us brave before.

Here is one written by Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) Nothing "hymnal" about this poem except the measure.

Advice to the Grub Street Verse-writers:

Ye poets ragged and forlorn,
Down from your garrets haste;
Ye rhymers, dead as soon as born,
Not yet consign'd to paste;

I know a trick to make you thrive;
O, 'tis a quaint device:
Your still-born poems shall revive,
And scorn to wrap up spice.

Get all your verses printed fair,
Then let them well be dried;
And Curll must have a special care
To leave the margin wide.

Lend these to paper-sparing Pope;
And when he sets to write,
No letter with an envelope
Could give him more delight.

When Pope has fill'd the margins round,
Why then recall your loan;
Sell them to Curll for fifty pound,
And swear they are your own.

A variation is the short hymnal measure so-called because lacks one foot in the opening line. The best example I can think of is Emily Dickinson's I never saw a moor.

I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea,
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a billow be.

I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in heaven
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the checks were given.

hyperbaton - From the Greek word for “over-step” the inversion of word order for example noun-adjective.

hyperbole - Gross exaggeration; beyond belief. See the close of John Donne’s Italian Sonnet Death, be not Proud: “Death, thou shalt not die.”


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Appendix