Glossary I

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Universal Elements of Poetry


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:

one foot line would be: They came.
two foot line would be: They came to me.
three foot line would be: They came to me, by rail.
four foot line would be: They came again to me by rail
five foot line would be: They came again to me to stay and sleep.

The unaccented one-syllable word is "They".

Words that are naturally trochaic fit perfectly into the iambic pattern:

They, broken off, I tremble not.

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:

Go, Soul, the body's guest,
Upon a thankless errand;
Fear not to touch the best;
The truth shall be thy warrant:
Go, since I needs must die,
And give the world the lie.

Say to the court, it glows
And shines like rotten wood;
Say to the church, it shows
What's good, and doth no good:
If church and court reply,
Then give them both the lie.

Tell potentates, they live
Acting by others' action;
Not loved unless they give,
Not strong but by a faction.
If potentates reply,
Give potentates the lie.

Tell men of high condition,
That manage the estate,
Their purpose is ambition,
Their practice only hate:
And if they once reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell them that brave it most,
They beg for more by spending,
Who, in their greatest cost,
Seek nothing but commending.
And if they make reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell zeal it wants devotion;
Tell love it is but lust;
Tell time it is but motion;
Tell flesh it is but dust:
And wish them not reply,
For thou must give the lie.

Tell age it daily wasteth;
Tell honour how it alters;
Tell beauty how she blasteth;
Tell favour how it falters:
And as they shall reply,
Give every one the lie.

Tell wit how much it wrangles
In tickle points of niceness;
Tell wisdom she entangles
Herself in overwiseness:
And when they do reply,
Straight give them both the lie.

Tell physic of her boldness;
Tell skill it is pretension;
Tell charity of coldness;
Tell law it is contention:
And as they do reply,
So give them still the lie.

Tell fortune of her blindness;
Tell nature of decay;
Tell friendship of unkindness;
Tell justice of delay:
And if they will reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell arts they have no soundness,
But vary by esteeming;
Tell schools they want profoundness,
And stand too much on seeming:
If arts and schools reply,
Give arts and schools the lie.

Tell faith it's fled the city;
Tell how the country erreth;
Tell manhood shakes off pity
And virtue least preferreth:
And if they do reply,
Spare not to give the lie.

So when thou hast, as I
Commanded thee, done blabbing
Although to give the lie
Deserves no less than stabbing
Stab at thee he that will,
No stab the soul can kill.

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:

I do not like thee, Dr. Fell
Exactly why I cannot tell,
But this I know and know full well
I do not like thee, Dr. Fell.

Here is another example by Christina Rossetti:

I heard a fly buzz when I died
The stillness in the room
Was like the stillness in the air
Between the heaves of storm

The eyes around had wrung them dry
And breaths were gathering firm
For that last onset when the king
Be witnessed in his power.

I willed my keepsakes signed away
What portions of me be I
Could make assignable and then
There interposed a fly.

With blue uncertain, stumbling buzz
Between the light and me;
And then the windows failed, and then
I could not see to see.

And more recently The Illiterate by William Meredith:

Touching your goodness I am like a man
Who turns a letter over in his hand
And you might think this was because the hand
Was unfamiliar but, truth is, the man
Has never had a letter from anyone;
And now he is both afraid of what it means
And ashamed because he has no other means
To find out what it says than to ask someone.

His uncle could have left the farm to him,
Or his parents died before he sent them word,
Or the dark girl changed and want him for beloved.
Afraid and letter-proud, he keeps it with him.
What would you call his feeling for the words
That keep him rich and orphaned and beloved?

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:

"The apparition of these faces in the crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough.”

William Carlos Williams also wrote a poem filled with imagery in just one sentence, The Great Figure:

“Among the rain and lights I saw the figure in gold on a red fire truck moving tense, unheeded to gong clangs, siren howls and wheel rumbling through the dark city.”

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:

“Fate…
Bade thought the deep recesses of our breast
The unregarded river of our life
Pursue with indiscernible flow its way;
And that we should not see
The buried stream, and seem to be
Eddying at large in blind uncertainty,
Though driving on with it eternally.”

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:

They parted ne’er to meet again!
They stood aloof the scdars remaining,
Like cliffs that had been rent asunder;
A dreary sea now flows between,
But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder,
Shall wholly do away I ween,
The marks of that which once hath been.”

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:

“And now my hear is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Aurora Leigh:

“And set him up as ninepin in their talk
To bowl him down with jestings.”

In Desert

Full desertness
In souls, as countries, lieth silent, bare,
Under the blenching, vertical, eye-glare
Of the absolute Heavens.”

From Shakespeare
Richard II Act. 3

“For e’er the six years that he hath to spend
Can change their moons and bring their times about,
My oil-dried lamp and time-bewasted light
Shall be extinct with age and endless night.”

Merchant of Venice

“How far that little candle throws his beams
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”

(note that the candle is “he”)

Richard III Act 1

“Now is winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by the sun of York”

Dante Gabriel Rossetti in House of Life:

“The lost days of my life until today,
What were they, could I see them on the street
Lie as they fell? Would they be ears of wheat
Sown once for food but trodden into clay?
Or golden coins squandered and still to pay?
Or drops of blood dabbling the guilty feet?
Or such spilt water as in dreams must cheat
The throats of men in Hell, who thirst alway?”

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:

And thus your pains
May only make that footprint upon sand
Which old recurring waves of prejudice
Resmooth to nothing.”

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.
As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many years, upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of our projectors, I have always found them grossly mistaken in their computation. It is true, a child just dropt from its dam, may be supported by her milk, for a solar year, with little other nourishment: at most not above the value of two shillings, which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps, by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them in such a manner, as, instead of being a charge upon their parents, or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall, on the contrary, contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing of many thousands.

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 am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old, is no saleable commodity, and even when they come to this age, they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half a crown at most, on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriments and rags having been at least four times that value.

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 do therefore humbly offer it to publick consideration, that of the hundred and twenty thousand children, already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle, or swine, and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore, one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in sale to the persons of quality and fortune, through the kingdom, always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump, and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends, and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt, will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

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.
I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.

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.
Many other advantages might be enumerated. For instance, the addition of some thousand carcasses in our exportation of barrel'd beef: the propagation of swine's flesh, and improvement in the art of making good bacon, so much wanted among us by the great destruction of pigs, too frequent at our tables; which are no way comparable in taste or magnificence to a well grown, fat yearly child, which roasted whole will make a considerable figure at a Lord Mayor's feast, or any other publick entertainment. But this, and many others, I omit, being studious of brevity.

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.
After all, I am not so violently bent upon my own opinion, as to reject any offer, proposed by wise men, which shall be found equally innocent, cheap, easy, and effectual. But before something of that kind shall be advanced in contradiction to my scheme, and offering a better, I desire the author or authors will be pleased maturely to consider two points. First, As things now stand, how they will be able to find food and raiment for a hundred thousand useless mouths and backs. And secondly, There being a round million of creatures in humane figure throughout this kingdom, whose whole subsistence put into a common stock, would leave them in debt two million of pounds sterling, adding those who are beggars by profession, to the bulk of farmers, cottagers and labourers, with their wives and children, who are beggars in effect; I desire those politicians who dislike my overture, and may perhaps be so bold to attempt an answer, that they will first ask the parents of these mortals, whether they would not at this day think it a great happiness to have been sold for food at a year old, in the manner I prescribe, and thereby have avoided such a perpetual scene of misfortunes, as they have since gone through, by the oppression of landlords, the impossibility of paying rent without money or trade, the want of common sustenance, with neither house nor clothes to cover them from the inclemencies of the weather, and the most inevitable prospect of intailing the like, or greater miseries, upon their breed forever.”

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:

“If you wander far enough
You will come to it
and when you get there
they will give you a place to sit
for yourself only, in a nice chair,
and all you friends will be there
with smiles on their faces
and they will likewise all have places.”

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:

Being one day at my window all alone,
So manie strange things happened me to see,
As much as it grieveth me to thinke thereon.
At my right hand a hynde appeard to mee,
So faire as mote the greatest god delite;
Two eager dogs did her pursue in chace.
Of which the one was blacke, the other white:
With deadly force so in their cruell race
They pincht the haunches of that gentle beast,

That at the last, and in short time, I spide,
Under a rocke, where she alas, opprest,
Fell to the ground, and there untimely dide.
Cruell death vanquishing so noble beautie
Oft makes me wayle so hard a desire.

Another Italian or Petrarchan in the original Italian with translation, is The Deceased Wife:

Gli occhi di ch'io parlai s caldamente,
et le braccia et le mani e i piedi e 'l viso,
che m'avean s da me stesso diviso,
et fatto singular da l'altra gente;
le crespe chiome d'r puro lucente
'l lampeggiar de l'angelico riso,
che solean fare in terra un paradiso,
poca polvere son, che nulla sente.

Et io pur vivo, onde mi doglio e sdegno,
rimaso senza 'l lume ch'amai tanto,
in gran fortuna e 'n disarmato legno.
Or sia qui fine al mio amoroso canto:
secca la vena de l'usato ingegno,
et la cetera mia rivolta in pianto.

The eyes I spoke of with such warmth,
The arms and hands and feet and face
Which took me away from myself
And marked me out from other people;
The waving hair of pure shining gold,
And the flash of her angelic smile,
Which used to make a paradise on earth,
Are a little dust, that feels nothing.

And yet I live, for which I grieve and despise myself,
Left without the light I loved so much,
In a great storm on an unprotected raft.
Here let there be an end to my loving song:
The vein of my accustomed invention has run dry,
And my lyre is turned to tears.

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:

Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughter' saints, whose bones
Lie scatter'd on the Alpine mountains cold,
Ev'n them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshipp'd stocks and stones;
Forget not: in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep and in their ancient fold
Slain by the bloody Piemontese that roll'd
Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans

The vales redoubl'd to the hills, and they
To Heav'n. Their martyr'd blood and ashes sow
O'er all th' Italian fields where still doth sway
The triple tyrant; that from these may grow
A hundred-fold, who having learnt thy way
Early may fly the Babylonian woe.

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:

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stol'n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth
I to manhood am arriv'd so near;
And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
That some more timely-happy spirits endu'th.

Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
It shall be still in strictest measure ev'n
To that same lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav'n:
All is, if I have grace to use it so
As ever in my great Task-Master's eye.

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:

Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned,
Mindless of its just honours; with this key
Shakespeare unlocked his heart; the melody
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch's wound;
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound;
With it Camens soothed an exile's grief;
The Sonnet glittered a gay myrtle leaf
Amid the cypress with which Dante crowned

His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp,
It cheered mild Spenser, called from Faery-land
To struggle through dark ways; and, when a damp
Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew
Soul-animating strains--alas, too few!

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.


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Appendix