iambic verse - The father of Iambic verse was Archilochos of Paros (around 700 B.C.). It was later taken by Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus 65 B.C.) as the model for his epodes. This is the most common English verse form or ta tum. It is a foot of two syllables, the first unaccented. the second accented (u /). The spoken rhythm is given as ta tum. It is the nature of the English language. In Greek, an iambus is a lame man, one who walks with a cane, with first a light step, then a heaver or accented step. Thus the verb forms of "to seek", "to find", "to go," and other similar structures.
Now you may be thinking that most two syllabled words in English are trochees or / u. That is true, both iamb and trochee are two syllable meters. For example: being, number, favor, chalkboard and so forth. But actually these trochaic syllables usually must be introduced by an article, preposition, or conjunction as in: the number, a favor, the chalkboard etc. In English verse, a line usually opens with an unaccented one-syllabled word, followed by a word accented on the first syllable this is the iambic effect. So let's see how that works out in verse:
Words that are naturally trochaic fit perfectly into the iambic pattern:
One other matter needs to be addressed and that is the end syllable. In iambic verse any variance is possible. That is, the ending syllable may be masculine (accented) or feminine (unaccented).
There is no shortage of English iambic verse in any literary era. Here is The Lie (1618) of attibuted to Raleigh but not authenticated probably because it satirises the leading institutions of the land which in the Renaissance could have resulted in imprisonment at the least. However, Raleigh was already in a chamber in the Tower of London awaiting execution so nothing much to lose there:
Here is an example of a masculine ending iambic verse. This famous verse was written in nursery rhyme form by the satirical English poet, Tom brown (1663-1704) while he was a student at the Oxford university of Christ Church. He got into some trouble and was sent to the Dean who was at that time Dr. John Fell (soon to become the Bishop of Oxford), not someone to make light of:
Here is another example by Christina Rossetti:
And more recently The Illiterate by William Meredith:
image - May be a concrete detail or a figure of speech that appeals to the reader’s senses: visual, touch, sound, taste, smell, motion, or emotion. An example of touch, sound, motion is from Shakespeare in King Lear, Act III, Scene IV: “Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind.” Or from T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land: “Then a damp gust bringing rain.” One can find any number of senses in Keat’s The Eve of St. Agnes.
Les Imagistes poets were mostly American: Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, Hilda Doolittle, William Carlos. I’ve always like Ezra Pound’s In a Station of the Metro. It’s only one sentence and according to Pound it took him months to condense it into two lines:
William Carlos Williams also wrote a poem filled with imagery in just one sentence, The Great Figure:
imagery - This is a general term for exploring in both prose and poetry where a writer selects a representation i.e. something that will stand-in for an object rather than the object itself. It may occur as a comparison if explicit as a simile, if implicit as metaphor, in narrative explicit form it would be a parable or fable; if narrative implicit the form would allegory. Some minor forms would be metonymy, personification, and synecdoche. A substitution without comparison would be by symbolism more accurately emblematic. Most texts on prose and poetic writing offer any or all of such examples but students should be reminded that imagery is at the heart of all good poetry but it is in prose that there is a need for deeper exploration of meaning the lack of which results in the student complaint: “Why can’t they write in real English?” Here are some examples any one of which could be used to discuss meaning in oral or written format:
Matthew Arnold in The Buried Life:
In The Morality of the Profession of Letters, Stevenson wrote “If you meditate a subject, you should first long roll the subject under the tongue to make sure you like the flavor before you brew a volume that shall taste of it from end to end.”
Professor Ney MacMinn on the Gaelic Language “It is also inquired whether the imagined stampeded of students flying in panic from the Irish language is not a disagreeable dream arising from indigestion of facts.”
Joyce Kilmer her poem beginning “I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree…”
H.W. Wells from Poetic Imagery “We are concerned with what the mind does when it takes the leap of metaphor: whether it skips in a delicate conceit, or places us for the moment on an imaginative elevation.”
Hugh Walpole, born in New Zealand but educated in England wrote in The Cathedral “Everyone has known, at one time or another in life, that strange unexpected calm that always falls like sudden snow on a a storm- tossed country after some great crisis or upheaval.”
Samuel Coleridge in Christabel:
Thomas Carlyle from his Sartor Resartus (there are numerous examples) here he writes: “For the last three centuries, above all for the last three-quarters of a century, that same Pericardial Nervous Tissue of religion, where lies the life-essence of Society, has been smote at and perforated, needfully and needlessly; till now it is quite rent into shreds; and Society, long pining, diabetic, consumptive, can be regarded as defunct; for these spasmodic, galvanic sprawlings are not life.”
Another from Sartor Resartus: “For the present, it is contemplated that when man’s whole Spiritual Interests are once divested, these innumerable stript-off garments shall mostly be burnt; but the sounder rags among them be quilted together into one huge Irish waistcoat for the defence of the body only.” And yet another:
“Art thou not by this time made aware that all symbols are properly clothes;l that all forms whereby Spirit manifests itself to sense, whether outwardly or in the imagination, are Clothes; and thus not only the parchment Magna Charta, which a Tailor was nigh cutting into measures, but the Pomp and Authority of Law, the sacredness of Majesty, and all inferior Worships are properly a Vesture and a Raiment; and the Thirty-nine Articles themselves are articles of wearing apparel…”
From the Times Literary Supplement, July, 1925: “But efforts to heal deep wounds by superficial plasters are likely to breed disappointment.”
Thomas Lowell in The English Poets: “He needed not to mask familiar thoughts in the weeds of unfamiliar phraseology”.
Speaking of Collins’ Ode on the Passions F. Thompson wrote, “Despite its beauty, there is still a soupcon of formalism, a lingering trace of powder from the eighteenth century periwig, dimming the bright locks of poetry.”
Tennyson in In Memoriam used the comparative “In words like weeds I’ll wrap me o’er like coarsest clothes against the cold…”
A critic on Rupert Brooke’s Heaven wrote “His passion for loading his lines, like the fingers of some South American beauty, with gem after gem.”
Harris in Studies in Romantic Literature writes “Above all, must the mind be disencumbered, clean and plastic when, like a sensitive plate, it is set to receive the impression of a work of art.?”
Lowell wrote of Shakespeare in speaking of his use of the English language. “Wherever he dipped, it came up clear and sparkling, undefiled as yet by the drainage of literary factories, or of those dye-houses where the machine-woven fabrics of sham culture are coloured up to the last desperate style of sham sentiment.”
Professor Bennett would say “Don’t fly through the shires of literature on a motor-car with motion as you sole object. Think as well as read.”
This one from Max Beerbohm on Walter Pater “that he should treat English as a dead language, bored by that sedulous ritual wherewith he laid out every sentence as in a shroud – hanging, like a widower, long over its marmoreal beauty or ever he could lay it at length in his book, its sepulcher.”
Not sure where this one is from: “the supreme felicities of Keats or Shelly seem to come when the engine of the brain is shut off and the mind glides serene but unconscious.”
Francis Thompson of the Aesthetic Movement of the 1890’s wrote in The Hound of Heaven:
Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Aurora Leigh:
Merchant of Venice
(note that the candle is “he”)
Richard III Act 1
Dante Gabriel Rossetti in House of Life:
About Browning as a Philosophical and Religious Thinker “The pure idea that dwells in a poem is suffused in the poetic utterance, as sunshine breaks into beauty in the mist, as life beats and flushes in the flesh, or as an impassioned thought breathes in a thinker’s face.”
From John Earles a favorite poet of Charles I: “The line of watershed between Poetry and Prose is a narrow edge, ticklish for the foot of travelers who like travelling along the crests.”
The German philologist Friedrich Muller wrote this: “We ourselves, speaking the language which we speak, move about, as it were, in the innermost chambers, in the darkest recesses of the primeval palace, but we cannot tell by what steps and through what passages we arrived there, and we look in vain for the thread of Ariadne which in leading us out of the enchanted castle of our language would disclose to us the way by which we ourselves or our fathers and forefathers before us, have entered into it.”
There are many, many more but we end with this from Tennyson’s The Princess:
inscape - A term given to mostly nature poetry coined by Gerard Manley Hopkins referring to the elements inherent in the internal characteristic of objects which come to light on introspection and reflection. In Hopkins words "individually distinctive beauty...the inner essence of things."
Irony - Language having a meaning different from the given (spoken,written) one. There are four kinds of irony:
Socratic irony: used in debate or argument to lead an opponent by feigning ignorance in questioning until the opponent is tripped up thus, defeated . The opponent, through long responses, agrees to what he has previously denied; or denies what he previously agreed to.
Verbal irony: is a figure of speech in which what is meant is the opposite of what is said. In literature there is no finer example than Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal:
“It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads and cabbin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in stroling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country, to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.
I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the common-wealth, would deserve so well of the publick, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.
But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars: it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age, who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them, as those who demand our charity in the streets.
There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas! too frequent among us, sacrificing the poor innocent babes, I doubt, more to avoid the expence than the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman breast.
The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couple, who are able to maintain their own children, (although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom) but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand, for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remain an hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, How this number shall be reared, and provided for? which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses, (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing till they arrive at six years old; except where they are of towardly parts, although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier; during which time they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers: As I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me, that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.
I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.
I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasie, or a ragoust.
I have reckoned upon a medium, that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, encreaseth to 28 pounds.
Infant's flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after; for we are told by a grave author, an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolifick dyet, there are more children born in Roman Catholick countries about nine months after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of Popish infants, is at least three to one in this kingdom, and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of Papists among us.
I have already computed the charge of nursing a beggar's child (in which list I reckon all cottagers, labourers, and four-fifths of the farmers) to be about two shillings per annum, rags included; and I believe no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child, which, as I have said, will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat, when he hath only some particular friend, or his own family to dine with him. Thus the squire will learn to be a good landlord, and grow popular among his tenants, the mother will have eight shillings neat profit, and be fit for work till she produces another child.
Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flea the carcass; the skin of which, artificially dressed, will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen.
As to our City of Dublin, shambles may be appointed for this purpose, in the most convenient parts of it, and butchers we may be assured will not be wanting; although I rather recommend buying the children alive, and dressing them hot from the knife, as we do roasting pigs.
A very worthy person, a true lover of his country, and whose virtues I highly esteem, was lately pleased, in discoursing on this matter, to offer a refinement upon my scheme. He said, that many gentlemen of this kingdom, having of late destroyed their deer, he conceived that the want of venison might be well supply'd by the bodies of young lads and maidens, not exceeding fourteen years of age, nor under twelve; so great a number of both sexes in every country being now ready to starve for want of work and service: And these to be disposed of by their parents if alive, or otherwise by their nearest relations. But with due deference to so excellent a friend, and so deserving a patriot, I cannot be altogether in his sentiments; for as to the males, my American acquaintance assured me from frequent experience, that their flesh was generally tough and lean, like that of our school-boys, by continual exercise, and their taste disagreeable, and to fatten them would not answer the charge. Then as to the females, it would, I think, with humble submission, be a loss to the publick, because they soon would become breeders themselves: And besides, it is not improbable that some scrupulous people might be apt to censure such a practice, (although indeed very unjustly) as a little bordering upon cruelty, which, I confess, hath always been with me the strongest objection against any project, how well soever intended.
But in order to justify my friend, he confessed, that this expedient was put into his head by the famous Salmanaazor, a native of the island Formosa, who came from thence to London, above twenty years ago, and in conversation told my friend, that in his country, when any young person happened to be put to death, the executioner sold the carcass to persons of quality, as a prime dainty; and that, in his time, the body of a plump girl of fifteen, who was crucified for an attempt to poison the Emperor, was sold to his imperial majesty's prime minister of state, and other great mandarins of the court in joints from the gibbet, at four hundred crowns. Neither indeed can I deny, that if the same use were made of several plump young girls in this town, who without one single groat to their fortunes, cannot stir abroad without a chair, and appear at a play-house and assemblies in foreign fineries which they never will pay for; the kingdom would not be the worse.
Some persons of a desponding spirit are in great concern about that vast number of poor people, who are aged, diseased, or maimed; and I have been desired to employ my thoughts what course may be taken, to ease the nation of so grievous an incumbrance. But I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because it is very well known, that they are every day dying, and rotting, by cold and famine, and filth, and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected. And as to the young labourers, they are now in almost as hopeful a condition. They cannot get work, and consequently pine away from want of nourishment, to a degree, that if at any time they are accidentally hired to common labour, they have not strength to perform it, and thus the country and themselves are happily delivered from the evils to come.
I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject. I think the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.
For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the number of Papists, with whom we are yearly over-run, being the principal breeders of the nation, as well as our most dangerous enemies, and who stay at home on purpose with a design to deliver the kingdom to the Pretender, hoping to take their advantage by the absence of so many good Protestants, who have chosen rather to leave their country, than stay at home and pay tithes against their conscience to an episcopal curate.
Secondly, The poorer tenants will have something valuable of their own, which by law may be made liable to a distress, and help to pay their landlord's rent, their corn and cattle being already seized, and money a thing unknown.
Thirdly, Whereas the maintainance of an hundred thousand children, from two years old, and upwards, cannot be computed at less than ten shillings a piece per annum, the nation's stock will be thereby encreased fifty thousand pounds per annum, besides the profit of a new dish, introduced to the tables of all gentlemen of fortune in the kingdom, who have any refinement in taste. And the money will circulate among our selves, the goods being entirely of our own growth and manufacture.
Fourthly, The constant breeders, besides the gain of eight shillings sterling per annum by the sale of their children, will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year.
Fifthly, This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns, where the vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection; and consequently have their houses frequented by all the fine gentlemen, who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good eating; and a skilful cook, who understands how to oblige his guests, will contrive to make it as expensive as they please.
Sixthly, This would be a great inducement to marriage, which all wise nations have either encouraged by rewards, or enforced by laws and penalties. It would encrease the care and tenderness of mothers towards their children, when they were sure of a settlement for life to the poor babes, provided in some sort by the publick, to their annual profit instead of expence. We should soon see an honest emulation among the married women, which of them could bring the fattest child to the market. Men would become as fond of their wives, during the time of their pregnancy, as they are now of their mares in foal, their cows in calf, or sow when they are ready to farrow; nor offer to beat or kick them (as is too frequent a practice) for fear of a miscarriage.
Supposing that one thousand families in this city, would be constant customers for infants flesh, besides others who might have it at merry meetings, particularly at weddings and christenings, I compute that Dublin would take off annually about twenty thousand carcasses; and the rest of the kingdom (where probably they will be sold somewhat cheaper) the remaining eighty thousand.
I can think of no one objection, that will possibly be raised against this proposal, unless it should be urged, that the number of people will be thereby much lessened in the kingdom. This I freely own, and 'twas indeed one principal design in offering it to the world. I desire the reader will observe, that I calculate my remedy for this one individual Kingdom of Ireland, and for no other that ever was, is, or, I think, ever can be upon Earth. Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients: Of taxing our absentees at five shillings a pound: Of using neither cloaths, nor houshold furniture, except what is of our own growth and manufacture: Of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury: Of curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our women: Of introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence and temperance: Of learning to love our country, wherein we differ even from Laplanders, and the inhabitants of Topinamboo: Of quitting our animosities and factions, nor acting any longer like the Jews, who were murdering one another at the very moment their city was taken: Of being a little cautious not to sell our country and consciences for nothing: Of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants. Lastly, of putting a spirit of honesty, industry, and skill into our shop-keepers, who, if a resolution could now be taken to buy only our native goods, would immediately unite to cheat and exact upon us in the price, the measure, and the goodness, nor could ever yet be brought to make one fair proposal of just dealing, though often and earnestly invited to it.
Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, 'till he hath at least some glympse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice.
But, as to myself, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal, which, as it is wholly new, so it hath something solid and real, of no expence and little trouble, full in our own power, and whereby we can incur no danger in disobliging England. For this kind of commodity will not bear exportation, and flesh being of too tender a consistence, to admit a long continuance in salt, although perhaps I could name a country, which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it.
Obviously the plan is unacceptable – Swift is attempting to arouse the need for love and Christian charity.
A more modern example would be the poem Oh! No by Robert Creeley:
Is this really something to look forward to in our old age? Nothing to smile about really.
Then there is Dramatic Irony or tragic irony or the irony of fate where most of the examples occur in early theater where characters utter words which have a hidden meaning which only the audience is privy to . In Greek drama Sophocles’ King Oedipus tells of Laius, King of Thebes, where an oracle foretold that the child born to him by his queen Jocasta would slay his father and wed his mother. So when in time a son was born the infant's feet were riveted together and he was left to die on Mount Cithaeron. But a shepherd found the babe and tended him, and delivered him to another shepherd who took him to his master, the King of Corinth. Polybus being childless adopted the boy, who grew up believing that he was indeed the King's son. Afterwards doubting his parentage he inquired of the Delphic god and heard himself the word declared before to Laius. Wherefore he fled from what he deemed his father's house and in his flight he encountered and unwillingly slew his father Laius. Arriving at Thebes he answered the riddle of the Sphinx and the grateful Thebans made their deliverer king. So he reigned in the room of Laius, and espoused the widowed queen. Children were born to them and Thebes prospered under his rule, but again a grievous plague fell upon the city. Again the oracle was consulted and it bade them purge themselves of blood-guiltiness. Oedipus denounces the crime of which he is unaware, and undertakes to track out the criminal. Step by step it is brought home to him that he is the man. The closing scene reveals Jocasta slain by her own hand and Oedipus blinded by his own act and praying for death or exile. Also see The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake.
The last type of irony is Situation irony. For an example go to Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner and the words beginning “water, water, everywhere…” Also O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. The Greek myth King Midas the legendary king of Phrygia who requested of the gods that everything he touched might be turned to gold. His request was granted, but as his food became gold the moment he touched it he had nothing to eat.
Italian sonnet - The Italian sonnet or Petrarchan is the "starting point" for modern lyric poetry. It was introduced by the fourteenth century Italian poet, Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374). Up to the time of Petrarch the sonnet form consisted of fourteen lines of iambic pentameter. Petrarch divided the sonnet into an eight line octave and a six line sestet. This is the basic meter of all sonnets. Its primary theme is hopeless love, "a spritualized passion for the unattainable" inspired by Petrarch's desire for the elusive "Laura" for whom he wrote a total of three-hundred and sixty-six sonnets. Some have speculated that without this passion for the unidentified "Laura" Petrarch would never have been bestowed the laurel wreath, or crown of the poet laureate, in Rome, in April of 1341.
As to the form, the octave has strict rhyming abba,abba. For the sestet, variety is allowed so that it may have cde,cde; cdc,dcd, or any other pattern as long as it does not suggest a couplet.
The Italian or Petrarchan sonnets have survived through the years and are still widely read. Now for some examples first look at this one by Petrarch in translation:
Another Italian or Petrarchan in the original Italian with translation, is The Deceased Wife:
Much later John Milton (1608-1674) Sonnet XVIII: On the Late Massacre in Piemont, with a pattern of abba,abba; cdc,cdc. The theme is not traditional Petrarchan:
Another Milton Sonnet VII: How soon hath Time, the Subtle Thief of Youth. This is the original title rather than this one given in so many texts on poetry On His Being Arrived to the Age of Twenty-Three:
Here we have in rhyming abba,abba,cde,dce.
Later we move to Wordsorth's sonnet in tribute to Milton in the Italian Sonnet pattern abba,abba,cdd,ece. Here is Scorn not the Sonnet:
In 1530, Sir Thomas Wyat introduced this form to England, although the theme was retained the form was changed with the introduction of the final couplet.