Glossary S

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Universal Elements of Poetry

Sapphic meter - Named after the Greek poetess Sappho whose Aeolic verse consisted of four lines. The first two verses were in hendecasyllabic, the third verse beginning the same way and continuing with a fourth verse of five additional syllables. Example:

The Craftsman by Rudyard Kipling.

Once, after long-drawn revel at The Mermaid,
He to the overbearing Boanerges
Jonson, uttered (if half of it were liquor,
Blessed be the vintage!)

Saying how, at an alehouse under Cotswold,
He had made sure of his very Cleopatra,
Drunk with enormous, salvation-condemning
Love for a tinker.

How, while he hid from Sir Thomas's keepers,
Crouched in a ditch and drenched by the midnight
Dews, he had listened to gipsy Juliet
Rail at the dawning.

How at Bankside, a boy drowning kittens
Winced at the business; whereupon his sister--
Lady Macbeth aged seven--thrust 'em under,
Sombrely scornful.

How on a Sabbath, hushed and compassionate--
She being known since her birth to the townsfolk--
Stratford dredged and delivered from Avon
Dripping Ophelia

So, with a thin third finger marrying
Drop to wine-drop domed on the table,
Shakespeare opened his heart till the sunrise--
Entered to hear him.

London wakened and he, imperturbable,
Passed from waking to hurry after shadows . . .
Busied upon shows of no earthly importance?
Yes, but he knew it!

satire - Defined in numerous sources as a mode - a form of writing in prose or verse; used to stir emotions and opinions through parody, through complaint, through irony, through mock epic. through invectiveness, through burlesque, through humor, through epithet and -taph. It is to the reader to decide the intent of the satire: to shame, to reform, to ruin, to inform, to punish, to anger. Criticism does not define Satire but if one looks closely at the connotative language it will point the reader toward Satire. Whatever tone the satire takes it does so primarily to circumvent the obstacle of the “politically correct” and to avoid the pillory, gaol, excommunication, or exile. Although some never escaped. Years earlier Ben Jonson called satire “a poem in which wickedness and folly is censured.” Much later Jonathan Swift tells us that “satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholden do generally discover everybody’s face but their own.”

“The vices that call for the scourge of satire are those which pervade the whole frame of society, and which, under some specious pretence of private duty, or the sanction of custom and precedent, are almost permitted to assume the semblance of virtue, or at least to pass unstigmatized in the crowd of congenial transgressions.” writes a critic of Thomas Peacock’s (1785-1866), Melincourt, where a group of eccentrics gather together for a bit of a chin-wag and after discussion decide on an orangutan called Sir Oran Haut-Ton should be put forward as a candidate for election as a member of parliament.

Satire as a form covers a full range of feeling from a complaint, a parody, humor, burlesque, irony to satyric slander; from the early Greek and Roman poets to Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock to The Colbert Report; Thus Byron’s words: “Tantaene animis coelistibus irae” “In heavenly minds can such resentments dwell?”

The Priscus Grammaticus or Horace’s odes are the best source for grasping the intent of satire. Written in two books mostly in fourteen meters covering: ambition, anger, art, avarice and covetousness, books, the booktrade, cities and towns, clothing and dress, court and courtiers, death, deceit, divinity, drama and performance, drunkenness, envy, fame and reputation, fate and fortune, food and drink, personal and public freedom, illness and disease, gluttony, honesty, household management, idleness or sloth, idolatry, Italy, immorality, law, magic and witchcraft, myths and legends, gentility and nobility, old age, painting, passions and emotions, peace, philosophy, plots and conspiracies, literature and poetry, government and politics, poverty and the poor, pride and vanity, eloquence and rhetoric, riches, religious conflict, doctrine and worship, church of Rome, slaves and slavery, social relations, reason, manners, music, superstition, conduct, friendship, corruption, morals, temperance, thrift, travel, urban life, vice, virtue, war-civil and otherwise, wisdom, youth, patronage, theatre, courage, flattery, and madness.

The satire has a long history. It began as a “complaint” as a kind of intermediate stage where the personal attacks aim more at attempting to correct faults and follies some resemble “maledizione”. Archilochus (675-635 BC) was the first great master of satire. Archilochus wrote in iambic pentameter but also in dactylic tetrapody followed by a trochaic tripody or dactylic tripody catalectic. Today it is referred to as “the Archilochean strophe consisting of six lines, a dactylic hexameter followed by a lesser archilochean, a dactylic hexameter followed by an iambilegus, and a greater archilochean followed by an iambic trimeter catalectic.” He elevated the rhetoric to a more extreme in nastiness. Archilochus also gave satiric poetry a traditional form by the invention of the iambic trimeter, some later poets favored the scazonic or choliamb meter. (Choliamb, from Greek meaning “to limp”). This meter is designed to imitate halting or limping movement with the iambic or trochaic verse being followed by a spondee. Actually there is an oft-told story that it was the iambics of Archilochus that drove Hipponax to suicide. Here is:

Curse Archilochus, the poet of Paros

Let him go to sea, find storm and wreck, and be
driven ashore by the waves as Salmydessus,
And may the wiry haird barbarian Thracians
seize him bereft of kin and friends,
where he will suffer great calamities;
chewing upon the bread of slaves,
he will shudder stiff-frozen with cold, and let him be befouled
in a tangle of seaweed from the roaring sea;
his teeth chattering, as he lies shattered like a dog
his mouth stuffed in the sand
by the water-side, spitting out the brackish sea,
his mouth stuffed in the sand
by the water-side, spitting out the brackish sea,
This exquisite sight would I be enraptured to behold,
for he abused me and trampled underfoot our bond
He, who was formerly my friend.

We saw in Chaucer’s satiric parody Sir Thopas. Here is another example: Robert Graves’ (1895-1985) Curse After Misdirection:

May They stumble, stage by stage
On an endless pilgrimage,
Dawn and dusk, mile after mile,
At each and every step a stile;
May they catch their feet and fall;
At each and every fall they take
May a bone within them break;
And may the bond that breaks within
Not be, for variation’s sake,
Now rib, now thigh, now arm, now shin,
But always, without fail, THE NECK.

Of the early Greek early satires only fragments remain not that they would be printable anyway. The most famous Roman satirist is Horace known as Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 BC-8 BC). He was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus. Homer’s first satire was a comedic epic poem Margites writeen before his epic Iliad and the Odyssey. Margites is a a sort of foolish, inept character who stumbles around engaging in one failure after another not unlike 20th century English comedy’s Mr. Bean. “He knew many things but he knew them badly” wrote Plato. Homer wrote three books of Odes around 23 BC. Here from Book IV is Ode 13:

The gods have heard me, Lyce,
The gods have heard my prayer,
Now you, who were so ice,
Observe with cold despair
Your thin and snowy hair.

Your cheeks are lined and sunken,
Your smiles have turned to leers;
But still you sing, a drunken
Appeal to Love, who hears
With unattentive ears.

Young Chia, with her fluty
Caressing voice compels,
Love lives upon her beauty;
Her cheeks in which he Dwells,
Are his fresh citadels.

He saw the battered ruin,
This old and twisted tree;
He marked the scars, and flew in
Haste that he might not see
Your torn senility.

No silks, no purple gauzes
Can hide the lines that last.
Time, with his iron laws, is
Implacable and fast,
You cannot clear the past.

Where not are all you subtle
Disguises and your fair
Smile like a gleaming shuttle?
Your shining skin, your rare
Beauty half-breathless where?

Only excelled by Cinara,
Your loveliness ranked high.
You even seemed the winner, a
Victor as years went by,
And she was first to die.

But now the young men lightly
Laugh at your wrinkled brow.
The torch that burned so brightly

Is only ashes now;
A charred and blackened bough.

Also from Xenobius “The fox knows many a wile, but the hedgehog’s one trick can beat them all.”

Also Book I Ode 5. Quis Multa Gracilis

What slim, unthinking youth amid the roses
Under the maple where the hedge is thickest
Pants, Pyrrha, smitten silly by your glances,
Vamped by your purring?

Who is it now for whom your frocks are rustling,
Tastefully swell? Soon he, alas, poor booby,
Will wail and curse and raise the very devil
Because he’s jilted;

Because his train, which ran along so smoothly,
Slam-bang! Plunged off the track and hurled the dreamer
Into a cornfield on his head amongst the
Other fat pumpkins.

And I? I’ve dropped such nonsense now , thank Fortune!
Smash-ups are past for me. Grateful for safety,
I’ll will my spare change to the broken-hearted
To build a mad-house.

Homer also attacked a particular group of “scholar/teachers” called Sophists. Sophists were itinerant poets and teachers who spread learning and culture wherever they found an audience ready to pay. It is the latter phrase “ready to pay” that particularly irritated Homer in that so many well-versed Greeks such as Sophocles were already their services free. The last of the Greek poetic satires faded with Hipponax, He never gained popularity mostly because of his grotesque features which gave name to the ugliest of animals. Here is his epitaph written by Theocritus in the 3rd century BC:

Behold Hipponax' burialplace,A true bard's grave.Approach it not, if you're a baseAnd base-born knave.But if your sires were honest men
And unblamed you,
Sit down thereon serenely then,
And eke sleep too

Satire was most successful in the dramatic comedies of Aristophanes, The didactic discourse of Gaius Lucilius (180-103 B.C.) whom Homer credits with originating the genre of satire. The satiric philosophy of Persius (34-17BC), also in the didactic element. Persius wrote his six satires following the pattern of Lucilius. They consisted of six hundred lines in hexameter choliambics.

But a few centuries later came the another form of satire, the rhetorical, introduced by the Roman poet and stage performer Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis or in English, Juvenal (55-140 AD). The sixteen satires in five books are written in dactylic hexameter and contain caustic attacks on public ethics, manners and morals of the Romans.

He announces that “Whatever men do, their devotion, their fear, their rage, their pleasure, their joys, their conversations-all these will make up the potpourri of my little work.” Also declares satire as truly Roman “satura quidem tota nostra est” and satura as a formal literary genre not an tonal expression as in the complaint. Each book covers the reign of four emperors: Domitian (AD 81-96), Nerva (AD 96-98), Trajan (AD 98-117), Hadrian (AD117-138.

In the opening Satire he describes the content:

ex quo Deucalion nimbis tolllentibus aequor
nauigio montem ascendit sortesque poposcit
paulatimque anima caluerunt mollia saxa
et maribus nudas ostendit pyrrha peellas,
quidquid agunt homines, uotum, timor, ira,
gaudia, discursus, nostri farrago libelli est.
back from when Deucalion climbed a mountain in a boat
as the clouds lifted the waters, and then asked for an oracle,
and then little by little spirit warmed the soft stones
and Pyrrha showed naked girls to their husbands,
whatever men do - payer, fear, rage, pleasure,
joy, running about - is the grist of my little book.

The theme of the first satire is given in the opening statement:

difficile est saturam non scribere. nam quis iniquae
tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se...

It is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant
of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself...

Followed by Hypocrites are Intolerable; There is No Room in Rome for a Roman; The Emperor’s Fish; Patronizing Patronage.The Decay of Feminine Virtue; The Emperor is the Best Patron; True Nobility; Don’t Obsess over Liars and Crooks; Avarice is not a Family Value; People without Compassion are Worse than Animals; Soldiers are not Above the Law.

Here is Satire III Fleeing Rome

It’s enough to Drive Old Friends Away
Though I’m disturbed by an old friend’s departure, still
I approve his decision to set up home in vacant Cumae
And devote at least one more citizen to the Sibyl.
It’s the gateway to Baiae, a beautiful coast, sweetly

Secluded. I prefer Prochyta’s isle to the noisy Subura.
After all, is there anywhere that’s so wretched and lonely
You wouldnt rather be there than in constant danger of fire,
Of collapsing buildings, and all of the thousand perils
Of barbarous Rome, with poets reciting all during August
Now, while his whole house was being loaded onto a cart,
He lingered there by the ancient arch of sodden Capena.
We walked down to Egeria’s vale with its synthetic grottos.
How much more effective the fountain’s power would be,
If its waters were enclosed by a margin of verdant grass,
And if marble had never desecrated the native tufa.
Here, where Numa established his night-time girlfriend,
The grove and shrine of the sacred fount are rented out
To the Jews, who are equipped with straw-lined baskets;
Since the grove has been ordered to pay the nation rent,
The Muses have been ejected, and the trees go begging.

The Dishonest and Dishonourable

Here it was that Umbricius spoke:
There’s no joy in Rome For honest ability,
and no reward any more for hard work.
My means today are less than yesterday, and tomorrow
Will wear away a bit more, that’s why I’m resolved
To head for Cumae, where weary Daedalus doffed his wings.
While my white-hairs are new, while old age stands upright,
While Lachesis has thread left to spin, and I can still walk,
On my own two feet, without needing a staff in my hand,
I’ll leave the ancestral land. Let Arturius, let Catulus live
In Rome. Let the men who turn black into white remain,
Who find it easy to garner contracts for temples, and Rivers,
Harbours, draining sewers, and carrying corpses to the pyre,
Who offer themselves for sale according to auctioneer’s rules.
Those erstwhile players of horns, those perpetual friends
Of public arenas, noted through all the towns for their
Rounded cheeks, now mount shows themselves, and kill
To please when the mob demand it with down-turned thumbs;
Then it’s back to deals for urinals, why not the whole works?
Since they’re the ones Fortune raises up to the highest sphere
Out of the lowest gutter, whenever she fancies a laugh.
What’s left for me in Rome? I cant tell lies, I can’t praise
A book that’s bad, beg a copy; I’ve no notion of the motion
Of stars; I can’t and I won’t prophesy someone’s father
Death; I’ve never guessed a thing from the entrails of frogs;
Carrying to some adulterous wife whatever her lover sends,

Whatever his message, others know how to do; I’d never
Help out a thief; and that’s why I’m never one of the boys,
More like a cripple, with useless body and paralysed hand.
Who is esteemed now unless he’s someone’s accomplice,
His mind seething with things that should never be told.
There’s nothing they think they owe, they’ll give nothing,
To a person who’s only their partner in harmless secrets.
Verrus only cares for those who can make a case against
Verrus whenever they wish. May the sand of Tagus mean
Less to you, with all its gold that is washed down to the sea,
Than lost sleep, and the sadness of taking regular bribes,
And thus being forever afraid of some powerful friend.

And What About all Those Greeks?

That race most acceptable now to our wealthy Romans,
That race I principally wish to flee, I’ll swiftly reveal,
And without embarrassment. My friends, I can’t stand
A Rome full of Greeks, yet few of the dregs are Greek
For the Syrian Orontes has long since polluted the Tiber,
Bringing its language and customs, pipes and harp-strings,
And even their native timbrels are dragged along too,
And the girls forced to offer themselves in the Circus.
Go there, if your taste’s a barbarous whore in a painted veil
See, Romulus, those rustics of yours wearing Greek slippers,
Greek ointments, Greek prize medallions round their necks.
He’s from the heights of Sicyon, and he’s from Amydon,
From Andros, Samos, they come, from Tralles or Alabanda,
Seeking the Esquiline and the Viminal, named from its willows.
To become both the innards and masters of our great houses.
Quick witted, of shamelessly audacity, ready of speech, more
Lip than Isaeus, the rhetorician. Just say what you want them
To be. They’ll bring you, in one person, whatever you need:
The teacher of languages, orator, painter, geometer, trainer,
Augur, rope-dancer, physician, magician, they know it all,
Your hungry Greeks: tell them to buzz off to heaven, they’ll go.
That’s why it was no Moroccan, Sarmatian, or man from Thrace
Who donned wings, but one Daedalus, born in the heart of Athens.
Should I not flee these people in purple? Should I watch them sign
Ahead of me, then, and recline to eat on a better couch than mine,
Men propelled to Rome by the wind, with the plums and the figs?
Is it nothing that in my childhood I breathed the Aventine air,
Is it nothing that in my youth I was nurtured on Sabine olives?
And aren’t they the people most adept at flattery, praising
The illiterate speech of a friend, praising his ugly face,

Likening a weak, scrawny neck to that of brave Hercules,
When he lifted the massive Antaeus high above earth,
And lost in their admiration for a voice as high-pitched
As the cockerel when he pecks at his hen as they mate?
We too can offer praise in just the same way: but they
Are the ones believed. What comic actor’s better at playing
Thais, the whore, or the wife, or Doris, the slave-girl, out
Without her cloak? It’s as if a woman were speaking not
Merely a mask: you’d think all was smooth and lacking
Below the belly, and only split there by a slender crack.
Yet our comic turn, Antiochus, would be no great wonder
In Greece, Demetrius, Stratocles, or effeminate Haemus:
They’re a nation of comics. Laugh, and they’ll be shaken
With fits of laughter. They weep, without grief, if they see
A friend in tears; if you pine for a little warmth in the winter
They don a cloak; if you remark it’s hot they’ll start to sweat.
So we’re unequal: they’ve a head start who always, day or night,
Can adopt the expression they see on someone’s face,
Who’re always ready to throw up their hands and cheer
If their friend belches deeply, or perhaps pisses straight,
Or gives a fart when the golden bowl’s turned upside down.
Besides, nothing’s sacred to them or safe from their cocks
Not the lady of the house, or the virgin daughter, not
Even her smooth-faced fiancé, or the unbroken son.
Failing that, they’ll have the friend’s grandma on her back.
They like to own the secrets of the house, and so be feared.
And since I’m mentioning the Greeks, then let’s pass on
From their gymnastics to a crime of a darker colour. Celer,
The old Stoic turned informer, brought about Barea’s death,
His friend and pupil; Celer, of Tarsus, raised by the Cydnus,
Where a feather from Pegasus, the Gorgon’s child, landed.
Theres no room here for the Romans; it’s some Greek;
Protogenes, or Diphilus, or Hermachus who reigns here,
Who never shares a friend, since that their races defect,
But monopolises him alone. For once they’ve dripped a drop
Of their country’s native poison in a ready ear, I’m driven
From the threshold, and my long years of slavery are lost.
Nowhere is the casting off of a client more casually done.

Better Not Be Poor Here

Then, not to flatter ourselves, what office or service is left
For a poor man here, even if he dons his toga and dashes
About in the dark, given the praetor’s hurrying his lictor
Already, to run on with a morning greeting to rich Albina,

Or childless, sleepless Modia, lest his colleague’s there first?
Here, a freeborn son is detailed to escort a rich man’s slave:
The latter can hand out gifts, worth as much as a military
Tribune earns, to aristocratic Calvina or Catiena, just
To writhe around on top of her once or twice; while you
In love with the look of Chione’s finery, halt in your tracks
Hesitant about helping a whore descend from her high horse.
Find me a knight in Rome as holy as Nasica, who escorted
The image of Cybele, let Numa advance, or Caecilius Metellus,
Who rescued Minerva’s fire-threatened statue, from Vesta’s temple:
His character would be the very last thing discussed: money first.
“How many slaves does he own? How many acres of farmland?
How extravagant are his banquets, how many courses served?”
The number of coins a man keeps in his treasure chest, that’s
All the credit he earns. Swear your oath on the altars of Rome
Or Samothrace, they’ll maintain, as you’re poor, you’ll just flout
The divine lightning bolt, with the gods themselves acquiescing.
And what of the fact that the same poor beggar provides them all
With matter and cause for amusement, if his cloak’s dirty and torn,
If his toga is weathered and stained, one shoe gaping open where
The leather has split, or when there’s more than one patch showing
Where a rent has been stitched, displaying the coarse new thread?
There’s nothing harder to bear about poverty’s wretchedness
Than how it leaves you open to ridicule. “Off you go” they’ll say,
If you’ve any shame: don’t dare sit here on a knight’s cushion,
If you’ve insufficient wealth under the law, but theyll sit there
All those sons of pimps, born in some vile brothel or other,
Here the auctioneer’s slick son can sit to applaud the show,
Beside the well-dressed lads of the gladiators and trainers.
That’s how that fool Otho was pleased to dispose of us all.
What prospective son-in-law can pass the test, here, if his wealth
Is less, or his luggage worse than the girl’s? What pauper inherits?
When do aediles vote them onto the council? The indigent citizens
Should all have assembled, long ago, and migrated from the City.

It’s Hard to Climb the Ladder

It’s hard to climb the ladder when constricted private resources
Block your talents, but at Rome the effort is greater still:
They’re expensive, wretched lodgings; expensive, the bellies
Of slaves; and a meagre supper is just as expensive too.
You’re ashamed to dine off earthenware plates, though you
Would feel no disgust if suddenly spirited off to a Sabellan
Or Marsian table, content in a poor man’s coarse, blue hood.
To tell you the truth, in most of Italy, no one wears a toga

Unless they’re dead. Even on days of major festival when
The traditional farce returns once more to the wooden stage,
When the rustic infant cowers in its mother’s lap, at sight
Of a white gaping mask, even then you’ll see everyone,
There, still dressed the same, those in the senatorial seats
And those elsewhere. White tunics are quite sufficient for
The highest aediles, as a garb to adorn their glorious office.
Here our smart clothes are beyond our means, here at Rome
A little bit extra has to be borrowed from someone’s purse.
It’ a common fault; here we all live in pretentious poverty,
What more can I say? Everything in Rome comes at a price.
What do you not pay so you can say: Good morning, Cossus
So Veiento will condescend to give you a tight-lipped glance?
This slave’s beard is clipped, that one’s lock of hair dedicated;
The house is full of celebratory cakes you’ve paid for: take one
And keep your frustration to yourself. Clients are forced to pay
Such tribute-money, and supplement the savings of sleek slaves.

The Very Houses are Unsafe

Who fears, or ever feared, that their house might collapse,
In cool Praeneste, or in Volsinii among the wooded hills,
Or at unpretentious Gabii, or the sloping hills of Tibur?
We inhabit a Rome held up for the most part by slender
Props; since that’s the way management stop the buildings
Falling down; once they’ve covered some ancient yawning
Crack, they’ll tell us to sleep soundly at the edge of ruin.
The place to live is far from all these fires, and all these
Panics in the night. Ucalegon is already summoning a hose,
Moving his things, and your third floor’s already smoking:
You’re unaware; since if the alarm was raised downstairs,
The last to burn will be the one a bare tile protects from
The rain, up there where gentle doves coo over their eggs.
Cordus had a bed, too small for Procula, and six little jugs
Of earthenware to adorn his sideboard and, underneath it,
A little Chiron, a Centaur made of that very same ‘marble’
And a box somewhat aged now, to hold his Greek library,
So the barbarous mice gnawed away at immortal verse.
Cordus had nothing, who could demur? Yet, poor man,
He lost the whole of that nothing. And the ultimate peak
Of his misery, is that naked and begging for scraps, no one
Will give him a crust, or a hand, or a roof over his head.
If Assaracus’s great mansion is lost, his mother’s in mourning,
The nobles wear black, and the praetor adjourns his hearing.
Then we bewail the state of Rome, then we despair of its fires.

While it’s still burning, they’re rushing to offer marble, already,
Collect donations; one man contributes nude gleaming statues,
Another Euphranor’s master-works, or bronzes by Polyclitus,
Or antique ornaments that once belonged to some Asian god,
Here books and bookcases, a Minerva to set in their midst,
There a heap of silver. Persicus, wealthiest of the childless,
Is there to replace what’s lost with more, and better things.
He’s suspected, and rightly so, of setting fire to his house.
If you could tear yourself from the Games, you could buy
A most excellent place, at Sora, at Fabrateria or Frusino,
For the annual rent you pay now, for a tenement in Rome.
There you’d have a garden, and a well not deep enough
To demand a rope, so easy watering of your tender plants.
Live as a lover of the hoe, and the master of a vegetable bed,
From which a hundred vegetarian Pythagoreans could be fed.
You’d be somebody, whatever the place, however remote,
If only because you’d be the master of a solitary lizard.

And Then There’s the Traffic

Many an invalid dies from insomnia here, though the illness
Itself is caused by partially digested food, that clings tight
To the fevered stomach; for, where can you lodge and enjoy
A good night’s sleep? You have to be filthy rich to find rest
In Rome. That’s the source of our sickness. The endless traffic
In narrow twisting streets, and the swearing at stranded cattle,
Would deprive a Claudius of sleep, or the seals on the shore.
When duty calls, the crowd gives way as the rich man’s litter,
Rushes by, right in their faces, like some vast Liburnian galley,
While he reads, writes, sleeps inside, while sped on his way:
You know how a chair with shut windows makes you drowsy
Yet, he gets there first: as I hasten, the tide ahead obstructs me,
And the huge massed ranks that follow behind crush my kidneys;
This man sticks out his elbow, that one flails with a solid pole,
This man strikes my head with a beam, that one with a barrel.
Legs caked with mud, I’m forever trampled by mighty feet
From every side, while a soldier’s hobnailed boot pierces my toe.
Do you see all the smoke that rises, to celebrate a hand-out?
There’s a hundred diners each followed by his portable kitchen.
Corbulo, that huge general, could scarce carry all those vast pots,
With all the rest that the poor little slave transports, on his head.
Fanning the oven, he runs along, his body held perfectly upright.
Recently-mended tunics are ripped, while a long fir log judders
As it looms near, while another cart’s bearing a whole pine-tree.
They teeter threateningly over the heads of those people below.

Now, if that axle breaks under the weight of Ligurian marble,
And spills an upturned mountain on top of the dense crowd,
What will be left of the bodies? What limbs, what bones will
Survive? Every man’s corpse wholly crushed will vanish along
With his soul. Meanwhile his household, oblivious, are scouring
The dishes; are puffing their cheeks at the embers; are clattering
The oily back-scrapers; by full oil-flasks, arranging the towels.
The slave-boys bustle about on various tasks, while their master,
Is now a newcomer on the banks of the Styx, shuddering there
At the hideous ferryman, without hope, poor wretch, of a ride
Over the muddy river, and no coin in his mouth for the fare.

And The Violence

And now let’s consider all the other varied dangers, at night:
What a long way it is for a tile from the highest roof to fall
On your head; how often a cracked and leaky pot plunges down
From a sill; what a crash when they strike the pavement, chipping
And cracking the stones. If you go out to dinner without making
A will, you’re thought of as simply careless, dismissive of those
Tragic events that occur: there are as many opportunities to die,
As there are open windows watching you, when you go by, at night.
So I’d make a wretched wish and a prayer, as you go, that they’ll
Rest content with simply emptying their brimming pots over you.
The impudent drunk’s annoyed if by chance there’s no one at all
To set upon, spending the whole night grieving, like Achilles for
His friend, lying now on his face, and then, turning onto his back:
Since it’s the only way he can tire himself; it takes a brawl or two
To send him to sleep. But however worked up he is, fired by youth
And neat wine, he steers clear of him in the scarlet cloak, who issues
A warning as he goes on his way, with his long retinue of attendants,
And plenty of torches besides and lamps of bronze. Yet despises me,
As I pass by, by the light of the moon, as usual, or the flickering light
Of a candle, whose wick I take great care off, and cautiously regulate.
Take note of the setting awaiting a wretched fight, if you call it a fight
Where one of us lashes out, and the other one, me, takes a beating.
He stands up, and he tells me to stop. I’ve no choice but to obey;
What can you do, when a madman is giving the orders, who’s stronger
Than you as well? “Where’ve you been?” he shouts, “Whose sour wine
And beans have you been downing? Which shoemaker’s were you at,
Filling your face with boiled sheep’s head, gorging it on fresh leeks?
Nothing to say? You’d better speak up fast, or get a good kicking
Tell me where you’re staying: what far field are you praying in?”
If you try to say something, or try to retreat in silence, it’s all the same:
He’ll give you a thumping regardless, and then still full of anger, say

He’s suing you for assault. This is the freedom accorded to the poor:
When they’re beaten, knocked down by fists, they can beg and plead
To be allowed to make their way home afterwards with a few teeth left.
And that’s not all we need to fear; there’ll be no shortage of thieves
To rob you, when the houses are all locked up, when all the shutters
In front of the shops have been chained and fastened, everywhere silent.
And, ever so often, there’s a vagabond with a sudden knife at work:
Whenever the Pontine Marsh, or the Gallinarian Forest and its pines,
Are temporarily rendered safe by an armed patrol, the rogues skip
From there to here, heading for Rome as if to a game preserve.
Where is the furnace or anvil not employed for fashioning chains?
The bulk of our iron is turned into fetters; you should worry about
An imminent shortage of ploughshares, a lack of mattocks and hoes.
You might call our distant ancestors fortunate, fortunate those ages
Long ago, when lives were lived under the rule of kings and tribunes,
Those generations, that witnessed a Rome where a single prison sufficed.

So Farewell

I could add a host of other reasons to these, but the beasts of burden
Are braying, the sun is setting. It’s time for me to leave; the muleteer
Has been waving his whip, to signal he’s been ready to go for a while.
So farewell, keep me in your memory, and whenever Rome sends
You hastening back, for a rest in the country, to your own Aquinum,
Invite me from Cumae too, to visit the Ceres of Helvius, and your
Diana. I’ll come in my nail-shod boots, I’ll come and visit your chilly.

These would play well on the Op-ed pages of today. In fact here is a modern translation of Satire III by Professor William Harris of Middlebury College:

Really, this just can't, can't go on..... the morning light Comes through the windows bulging out the shutter slats,While we shoot out a snore to take the frothOff last night's undigested drinks that roll inside,A given angle or the sun at this moment marks, Telling across the dial, outside, the hour five.
Where ARE you...? The parching raging sun of hot July,Inclining more, is cooking up the land, the lowing herdHas moved beneath the spreading chestnut tree.Really... a friend begins, No quick, come here,Hurry - - - a basin... Where...?  the bile runs greenit's coming up... You'd think a wart-hog roared.
Into thick fingers passing book and pen,Parchment sheeetwhite with red lines neatly ruled Across.

Complaint, thick ink caked on the nib, Thinned now with water, its color disappears, Complaint it spits double dots upon the page. 0 poor sad slob, and sadder every day,We've come to this... biddy birdie, or baby No want 'licious num-num, drink a mil-mil.Write with a pen like this ?These wordsThis whimpering sniffling. The joke's on you,Leaking witless. Jar not cooked with green clay,Struck lightly, proves by sound it's made no good..Clay? It's mud Quick, quick, back to the potter's wheel, Around and around form him up as the slime slips down....
..........but you have fields of wheat and barley grain,An ancient sterling saltsellar without stain,
And sets of plate for snug bites by the hearth...
You worry...? Or should you snap your lungFor Etruscan forebears double square removed, Or greet our senator in proper regal dress.Dress?..... off with the baubles to the rabble,
I KNOW YOU Under the skin. You feel no shame
Living the life of a Riley, all gone limp
Jaw hung open in old degeneracy,No shame, idea of loss, sunkThird time undernobubblesanymore.
Father of Gods, you could not ever wishTo punish tyrants pricked with poisoned lust
With other punishment than to see Virtue dieAnd know she's gone forever. Tell me, was it worseWhen bronze bull roared with roasting man inside?Or sword hung over royal head by just one thread?..........than when you say I'm cracking, I'm over the edge...And go all pale inside, a secret thingYour wife in bed beside you never knew.
I still remember when I was a boy, I'd giveMy eyes a touch of the olive to make them smear,Unwilling to memorize the dying speechOf Cato --- it was great praise, to be sure
From nutty master while my father satAmong his friends, hot in a prideful sweat.You bet

What I really wanted to know
Was how much winning from double six eye throw,How much snake eyes lost, pitching penniesInto the narrow bottle neck, real expertiseSpinning the top the best in all the gang.But you, Sir, you know the ways of catching curvesIn Morals, Porticos of the Schools, the nightwatchOf shaven, sleepless scholars munching pilesOf cabbage with their mushy porridge mess,And u-psilon with the binary moral choiceSwinging up higher on the right-hand side......
Still snoring? Head and neck joint all gone slack,Cheeks unstitched, yawning off yesterday's.....?Tell me Have you any aim in life,Or is it enough to live for the moment now,Following footsteps where the footstep leads, Slinging rocks or mud at croaking fleeting crows?
Medicine can't do much when the skin is swollen and green,
Why pay the doctors thousands?
Catch and check the disease.
For God's sake get the basic issues clear - - -What are we humans, what's the aim of Life,The shape of it, where is the hairpin turnBest to be taken, and when? What's the right use of gold,Of hope and prayer, what barb's on the dollar bill?What would you give to country, family, friends?
What sort of a man did God wish you to be,Playing what sort of role?...Don't skew off, hear
Just because you have cupboards of foodstuff rotting silently,
Reward for a rich case won in Umbria,
and hams Gift of a Marsian client, and wine sauce herring jars Hardly yet opened...
One of the hairy army sergeants says:For me, what 1 know is enough,, I don't give a damn
For nutty Solons and sad sack Socrates,Dragging along and staring at the ground,Chawing on mumbles and hydrophobic silences,Balancing ---uhh--- every word ---uhh--- on lip ---aaaahMusing on nightmares of some sick old dead one long agoNOTHING CAN COME FROM NOTHING OR CAN NOTHING BEREDUCED TO NOTHINGNESS. Go pale for this,Sit and miss your dinner?The ring of listeners roars,And the big army boys, nose crinkled, double roars.

Doctor, 1'm upset, a funny tight feeling in my chest,Bad breath, and indigestion; I thought you should take a look. Told to be quiet, take a rest, within three daysHe felt his blood circulate in the usual ways.Out to a friend's estate, asks for a decent stein In which to drink a mild and soothing wineBefore the baths. His friend: My boy, you're pale.
I'm notYou should see how you look, pale and quite yellow..
Not as much as you. Think you're my guardian?
I thought I buried him some time ago. OK, go on, I'm doneHe takes his bath, stuffed from his meal, distended gut,Throat fetching up an awful sulphurous fume,A shaking gets the fellow as be bathes,He drops his toddy, teeth begin to sound,Chattering he spills his dinner on the floor.
Result? A fine processional with trumpets and tapers too,Our poor fellow now looking quite relaxedAll cosmetized with powder and some sweet smellsHigh on a bier with feet turned toward the door,Borne out by his slaves (smiling day-old Roman citizens).
OK, feel my pulse, Sir, put your hand right here,Here on my chest. Quite calm Fingers and toesAre warm and normal... But if you seeA bit of fast cash or the neighbor's daughter's knee,Your heart runs normal? If I put on a chilly plateCoarse cabbage and plebeian rough-ground bread,
You think of your gums, that ulcer in the throat,You would not rub it raw, get it inflamed with beets.
You're cold when fear erects a gooseflesh skin.Now passion hots you up, the blood begins to boil,
Eyes flashing with wrath... Consider Orestes' padded cell,
There's a case for you. What you do and daily sayWould be enough for any sane judge to put you away.

Of the two Roman satirists, Horace and Juvenal, Horace adopted a conventional tone and meter while Juvenal preferred a conversational in tone and meter. Both contributed proverbs which remain in modern use. Of those the most popular are:

mens sana in corpore sano “A sound mind in a sound body”

“l’homme moyen sensuel mais...panem et circenses”. A metaphor for the common people who rather than caring about their civic duty would rather engage in food and entertainment.

Paraphrased by the modern day author Robert Heinlein, Once the monkeys learn they can vote themselves bananas, they'll never climb another tree. To others it refers to the period in Roman history where the common people were plied with various types of arena activities as a distraction from their civic and ethical duties.

Rara avis in terris nigroquer simillima cycno “A perfect wife is a rare bird.” Presumably the black swan was the rare bird.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes. Literally “who will watch the guardians themselves”. In modern verse “who will watch the watchers”.

The Juvenalian satire in later times is characterized as censurious poetry. The Juvenalian is an attack dog. Mind these words of Bishop Joseph Hall (1574-1656):

“The Satire should be like the porcupine
That shoots sharp quilles out in each angry line.
And wounds the blushing cheek and fiery eye
Of him that hears and readeth guiltily.
Ye antique Satires, how I bless your days,
That brooked your bolder style, their own dispraise.”

Later he writes of the effect of satire on its victim:

“Now see I fire-flakes sparkle from his eyes,
Like a comet’s tail in the angry skies;
His pouting cheeks puff up above his brow
Like a swollen toad touched with the spider’s blow.”

In this selection Bishop Hall, writer of satires attacking moral issues, takes aim at Stanihurst for introducing hexametrical versification into the English tongue after a translation of the first four books of Virgil’s Aeneid.

“recalled to life whatever hissed barbarianism hath been buried this hundred years; and revived by his rugged quill such earthly varieties, as no hedge plowman in a country would have held as the extremitie of clownerie.” Here is Satire VI:

Another scorns the homespun tread of rhymes,
Matched with the lofty feet of elder times;
Give me the numbered verse that Virgil sun,
And Virgil’s self shall speak the English tongue:
“Manhood and garboils shall he chant:
with changed feet,
And head-strong dactyl making music meet.
The nimble dactyl striving to outgo,
The drawling spondees, pacing it below,
The lingering spondees, labouring to delay,

The breathless dactyls with a sudden stay,
Whoever saw a colt wanton and wild,
Yoked with a slow foot ox on the fallow field,
Can right areed how handsomely besets
Dull Spondees with the English dactylets?
If Jove speak English in a thundering cloud,
Thick-thwack and riff-raff, roars he out aloud.
Fie on the forged mint that did create
New coin of words never ariticulate.

Samuel Johnson is the perfect Juvenalist about London he writes: “Some frolic drunkard stabs you for a fest.” Here is his imitation of Juvenal’s “The Vanity of Human Wishes” in rhymed couplets. T. S. Eliot declares this to be Johnson’s finest writing “offers Christian tolerance to the characteristic caustic Juvenal.”

Let observation with extensive view, Survey mankind, from China to Peru;Remark each anxious toil, each eager strife,
And watch the busy scenes of crowded life;Then say how hope and fear, desire and hate,
Overspread with snares the clouded maze of fate,Where wavering man, betrayed by venturous pride
To tread the dreary paths without a guide,As treacherous phantoms in the mist delude,Shuns fancied ills, or chases airy good. 10
How rarely reason guides the stubborn choice,Rules the bold hand, or prompts the suppliant voice,How nations sink, by darling schemes oppressed,When vengeance listens to the fool's request.Fate wings with every wish th' afflictive dart,Each gift of nature, and each grace of art,
With fatal heat impetuous courage glows,With fatal sweetness elocution flows,
Impeachment stops the speaker's powerful breath,
And restless fire precipitates on death. 20
But scarce observed the knowing and the bold,Fall in the general massacre of gold;
Wide-wasting pest that rages unconfined,And crowds with crimes the records of mankind,For gold his sword the hireling ruffian draws,For gold the hireling judge distorts the laws;Wealth heaped on wealth, nor truth nor safety buys,

The dangers gather as the treasures rise.Let history tell where rival kings command, And dubious title shakes the madded land, 30
When statutes glean the refuse of the sword,How much more safe the vassal than the lord,
Low skulks the hind beneath the rage of power,
And leaves the wealthy traitor in the Tower,
Untouched his cottage, and his slumbers sound,Tho' confiscation's vultures hover round.The needy traveller, serene and gay,Walks the wild heath, and sings his toil away.Does envy seize thee? crush th' upbraiding joy,
Increase his riches and his peace destroy, 40
New fears in dire vicissitude invade,
The rustling brake alarms, and quivering shade,Nor light nor darkness bring his pain relief.One shews the plunder, and one hides the thief.Yet still one general cry the skies assails,And gain and grandeur load the tainted gales,Few know the toiling statesman's fear or care,The insidious rival and the gaping heir.Once more, Democritus, arise on earth,
With cheerful wisdom and instructive mirth, 50
See motley life in modern trappings dressed,And feed with varied fools the eternal jest:
Thou who couldest laugh where want enchained caprice,Toil crushed conceit, and man was of a piece;Where wealth unloved without a mourner died;
And scarce a sycophant was fed by pride;Where ne'er was known the form of mock debate,
Or seen a new-made mayor's unwieldy state;
Where change of favorites made no change of laws,And senates heard before they judged a cause; 60
How wouldst thou shake at Britain's modish tribe,
Dart the quick taunt, and edge the piercing gibe?
Attentive truth and nature to decry,And pierce each scene with philosophic eye.
To thee were solemn toys or empty show,The robes of pleasure and the veils of woe:All aid the farce, and all thy mirth maintain,
Whose joys are causeless, or whose griefs are vain.Such was the scorn that filled the sage's mind,

Renew'd at every glance on humankind; 70

How just that scorn ere yet thy voice declareSearch every state, and canvas every prayer. Unnumbered suppliants crowd Preferment’s gate,
Athirst for wealth, and burning to be great;Delusive Fortune hears the incessant call,They mount, they shine, evaporate, and fall.
On every stage the foes of peace attend,
Hate dogs their flight, and insult mocks their end.
Love ends with hope, the sinking statesman's door
Pours in the morning worshiper no more; 80
For growing names the weekly scribbler lies,
To growing wealth the dedicator flies
From every room descends the painted face,That hung the bright Palladium of the place,And smok'd in kitchens, or in auctions sold,To better features yields the frame of gold;For now no more we trace in every lineHeroic worth, benevolence divine:The form distorted justifies the fall,And detestation rids the indignant wall. 90
But will not Britain hear the last appeal,
Sign her foe’s doom, or guard her favourite’s zeal?
Through Freedom’s sons no more remonstrance rings.
Degrading nobles and controlling kings:
Our supple tribes repress their patriot throats,
And ask no questions but the price of votes;
With weekly libels and septennial ale,
Their wish is full to riot and to rail.
In full-blown dignity, see Wolsey stand,
Law in his voice, and fortune in his hand. 100

To him the church, the realm, their powers consign,
Through him the ray’s of regal bounty shine,
Turned by his nod the stream of honor flows,
Still to new heights his restless wishes tower,
Claim leads to claim, and power advances power;
Till conquest unresisted ceased to please,
And rights submitted, left him none to seize.
At length his sovereign frowns the train of state.
Mark the keen glance, and watch the sign of hate.
Wherever he turns he meets a stranger’s eye,

His suppliants scorn him, and his followers fly; 120

At once he lost the pride of awful state,
The golden canopy , the glittering plate,
The regal palace, the luxurious board,
The liveried army, and the mental lord.
With age, with cares, with maladies oppressed,
He seeks the refuge of monastic rest.
Grief aids disease, remembered folly stings,
And his last sights reproach the faith of kings,
Speak thou, whose thoughts at humble peace repine,
Shall Wolsey’s wealth, with Wolsey’s end, be thine? 130

Or livest thou now, with safer pride content,
The wisest justice on the banks of Trent?
For why did Wolsey near the steeps of fate
On weak foundations raise the enormous weight
Why but to sink beneath misfortune’s blow,
With louder ruin to the gulphs below?
What gave great Villiers to the assassin’s knife,
And fixed disease on Harley’s closing life?
What murdered Wentworth, and what exiled Hyde,
By king protected and to kings allied? 140

When first the college rolls receive his name,
The young enthusiast quits his ease for fame;
Through all his veins the fever of renown
Burns from the strong contagion of the gown;
Over Bodley’s dome his future labors spread,
And Bacon’s mansion trembles over his head.
Are these thy views? Proceed, illustrious youth,
And Virtue guard thee to the throne of Truth
Yet should thy soul indulge the generous heat,
Till captive Science yields her last retreat: 150

Should reason guide thee with her brightest ray,
And pour on misty Doubt resistless day;
Should no false Kindness lure to loose delight,
Nor Praise relax, nor Difficulty fright;
Should tempting Novelty thy cell refrain,
And Sloth effuse her opiate fumes in vain;
Should Beauty blunt on fops her fatal dart,
Nor claim the triumph of a lettered heart;
Should no disease thy torpid veing invade,
Nor Melancholy’s phantoms haunt thy shade; 160

Yet hope not life from grief or danger free,Nor think the doom of man revers'd for thee:Deign on the passing world to turn thine eyes,And pause awhile from letters, to be wise;There mark what ills the scholar's life assail,
Toil, envy, want, the patron, and the jail.
See nations slowly wise, and meanly just,
To buried merit raise the tardy bust.If dreams yet flatter, once again attend,
Hear Lydiat's life, and Galileo's end. 170
Nor deem, when learning her last prize bestowsThe glittering eminence exempt from woes;See when the vulgar escape, despised or awed,Rebellion's vengeful talons seize on Laud.From meaner minds, tho' smaller fines contentThe plundered palace or sequestered rent;
Marked out by dangerous parts he meets the shock,And fatal Learning leads him to the block:Around his tomb let Art and Genius weep,
But hear his death, ye blockheads, hear and sleep. 180

The festal blazes, the triumphal show, The ravished standard, and the captive foe, The senate's thanks, the gazette's pompous tale, With force resistless o'er the brave prevail. Such bribes the rapid Greek over Asia whirled, For such the steady Romans shook the world; For such in distant lands the Britons shine, And stain with blood the Danube or the Rhine; This power has praise, that virtue scarce can warm, Till fame supplies the universal charm. 190
Yet Reason frowns on War's unequal game, Where wasted nations raise a single name, And mortgaged states their grandsires wreaths regret,From age to age in everlasting debt; Wreaths which at last the dear-bought right convey To rust on medals, or on stones decay.
On what foundation stands the warrior's pride, How just his hopes let Swedish Charles decide;A frame of adamant, a soul of fire,No dangers fright him, and no labours tire; 200

Over love, over fear, extends his wide domain,Unconquered lord of pleasure and of pain;No joys to him pacific scepters yield,
War sounds the trump, he rushes to the field;Behold surrounding kings their power combine,And one capitulate, and one resign; Peace courts his hand, but spreads her charms in vain;'Think nothing gained,' he cries, 'till nought remain,'On Moscow's walls till Gothic standards fly,'And all be mine beneath the polar sky.' 210
The march begins in military state,And nations on his eye suspended wait;Stern Famine guards the solitary coast,And Winter barricades the realms of Frost;He comes, not want and cold his course delay
Hide, blushing Glory, hide Pultowa's day:
The vanquished hero leaves his broken bands,And shews his miseries in distant lands;Condemned a needy supplicant to wait,While ladies interpose, and slaves debate. 220
But did not Chance at length her error mend?Did no subverted empire mark his end?Did rival monarchs give the fatal wound?Or hostile millions press him to the ground?His fall was destined to a barren strand,A petty fortress, and a dubious hand; He left the name, at which the world grew pale,To point a moral, or adorn a tale.
All times their scenes of pompous woes afford,From Persia's tyrant to Bavaria's lord. 230
In gay hostility, and barbarous pride,With half mankind embattled at his side,Great Xerxes comes to seize the certain prey,And starves exhausted regions in his way;Attendant Flattery counts his myriads o'er,Till counted myriads sooth his pride no more; Fresh praise is tryed till madness fires his mind,The waves he lashes, and enchains the wind;New powers are claimed, new powers are still bestowed,Till rude resistance lops the spreading god; 240
The daring Greeks deride the martial show,And heap their valleys with the gaudy foe;

The insulted sea with humbler thoughts he gains,A single skiff to speed his flight remains;The encumbered oar scarce leaves the dreaded coastThrough purple billows and a floating host.
The bold Bavarian, in a luckless hour,Tries the dread summits of Cesarean power,With unexpected legions bursts away,And sees defenceless realms receive his sway; 250
Short sway fair Austria spreads her mournful charms,The queen, the beauty, sets the world in arms;From hill to hill the beacons rousing blazeSpreads wide the hope of plunder and of praise;The fierce Croatian, and the wild Hussar,And all the sons of ravage crowd the war;The baffled prince in honor's flattering bloomOf hasty greatness finds the fatal doom,His foe's derision, and his subjects' blame,And steals to death from anguish and from shame. 260

“Enlarge my life with multitude of days”In health, in sickness, thus the suppliant prays;Hides from himself his state, and shuns to know,That life protracted is protracted woe.Time hovers o'er, impatient to destroy,And shuts up all the passages of joy:In vain their gifts the bounteous seasons pour,The fruit autumnal, and the vernal flower,With listless eyes the dotard views the store,He views, and wonders that they please no more; 270

Now pall the tasteless meats, and joyless wines,And Luxury with sighs her slave resigns.Approach, ye minstrels, try the soothing strain,And yield the tuneful lenitives of pain:No sounds alas would touch th' impervious ear,Though dancing mountains witnesed Orpheus near;Nor lute nor lyre his feeble powers attend,
Nor sweeter music of a virtuous friend,But everlasting dictates crowd his tongue,
Perversely grave, or positively wrong. 280

The still returning tale, and lingering jest,Perplex the fawning niece and pampered guest,

While growing hopes scarce awe the gathering sneer,And scarce a legacy can bribe to hear;The watchful guests still hint the last offence,
The daughter's petulance, the son's expense,Improve his heady rage with treacherous skill,And mold his passions till they make his will.
Unnumbered maladies his joints invade,
Lay siege to life and press the dire blockade; 290

But unextinguished Avarice still remains,
And dreaded losses aggravate his pains;
He turns, with anxious heart and crippled hands,
His bonds of debt, and mortgages of lands;Or views his coffers with suspicious eyes,
Unlocks his gold, and counts it till he dies.But grant, the virtues of a temperate prime
Bless with an age exempt from scorn or crime;An age that melts in unperceived decay,And glides in modest innocence away; 300
Whose peaceful day Benevolence endears,Whose night congratulating Conscience cheers;The general favorite as the general friend:
Such age there is, and who could wish its end?Yet even on this her load Misfortune flings,To press the weary minutes' flagging wings:New sorrow rises as the day returns,A sister sickens, or a daughter mourns.Now kindred Merit fills the sable bier,Now lacerated Friendship claims a tear. 310
Year chases year, decay pursues decay,Still drops some joy from withering life away;New forms arise, and different views engage,Superfluous lags the veteran on the stage,Till pitying Nature signs the last release,And bids afflicted worth retire to peace.But few there are whom hours like these await,Who set unclouded in the gulfs of fate.
From Lydia's monarch should the search descend,By Solon cautioned to regard his end, 320

In life's last scene what prodigies surprise,
Fears of the brave, and follies of the wise?From Marlborough's eyes the streams of dotage flow,

And Swift expires a driveler and a show.The teeming mother, anxious for her race,Begs for each birth the fortune of a face:Yet Vane could tell what ills from beauty spring;And Sedley cursed the form that pleased a king.
Ye nymphs of rosy lips and radiant eyes,
Whom Pleasure keeps too busy to be wise, 330

Whom Joys with soft varieties invite,By day the frolic, and the dance by night,
Who frown with vanity, who smile with art,And ask the latest fashion of the heart,
What care, what rules your heedless charms shall save,Each nymph your rival, and each youth your slave?Against your fame with fondness hate combines,
The rival batters and the lover mines.With distant voice neglected Virtue calls,Less heard and less, the faint remonstrance falls; 340
Tired with contempt, she quits the slippery reign,And Pride and Prudence take her seat in vain.
In crowd at once, where none the pass defend,The harmless freedom, and the private friend.The guardians yield, by force superior plied;By Interest, Prudence; and by Flattery, Pride.Now Beauty falls betrayed, despised, distressed,
And hissing Infamy proclaims the rest.Where then shall Hope and Fear their objects find?Must dull Suspense corrupt the stagnant mind? 350
Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate,Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate?Must no dislike alarm, no wishes rise,No cries attempt the mercies of the skies?Enquirer, cease, petitions yet remain,Which Heaven may hear, nor deem religion vain.Still raise for good the supplicating voice,But leave to Heaven the measure and the choice.Safe in his power, whose eyes discern afarThe secret ambush of a specious prayer. 360
Implore his aid, in his decisions rest,Secure whatever he gives, he gives the best.
Yet when the sense of sacred presence fires,And strong devotion to the skies aspires,

Pour forth thy fervor for a healthful mind,Obedient passions, and a will resigned;
For love, which scarce collective man can fill;For patience, sovereign over transmuted ill;For faith, that panting for a happier seat,
Counts death kind Nature's signal of retreat: 370
These goods for man the laws of Heaven ordain,These goods he grants, who grants the power to gain;With these celestial wisdom calms the mind,And makes the happiness she does not find.
To growing wealth the dedicator flies,From every room descends the painted face,That hung the bright Palladium of the place,
And smok'd in kitchens, or in auctions sold,
To better features yields the frame of gold;
For now no more we trace in ev'ry lineHeroic worth, benevolence divine:
The form distorted justifies the fall,
And detestation rids th' indignant wall.When first the college rolls receive his name,The young enthusiast quits his ease for fame;Through all his veins the fever of renown
Spreads from the strong contagion of the gown;O'er Bodley's dome his future labours spread,And Bacon's mansion trembles o'er his head.Are these thy views? proceed, illustrious youth,
And virtue guard thee to the throne of TruthYet should thy soul indulge the gen'rous heat,Till captive Science yields her last retreat;
Should Reason guide thee with her brightest ray,And pour on misty Doubt resistless day;Should no false Kindness lure to loose delight,Nor Praise relax, nor Difficulty fright;Should tempting Novelty thy cell refrain,And Sloth effuse her opiate fumes in vain;Should Beauty blunt on fops her fatal dart,Nor claim the triumph of a letter'd heart;Should no disease thy torpid veins invade,Nor Melancholy's phantoms haunt thy shade;Yet hope not life from grief or danger free,Nor think the doom of man revers'd for thee:

Deign on the passing world to turn thine eyes,And pause awhile from letters, to be wise;

There mark what ills the scholar's life assail,
Toil, envy, want, the patron, and the jail.See nations slowly wise, and meanly just,
To buried merit raise the tardy bust.If dreams yet flatter, once again attend,
Hear Lydiat's life, and Galileo's end.
Nor deem, when learning her last prize bestowsThe glitt'ring eminence exempt from foes;See when the vulgar 'scape, despis'd or aw'd,Rebellion's vengeful talons seize on Laud.From meaner minds, tho' smaller fines contentThe plunder'd palace or sequester'd rent;
Mark'd out by dangerous parts he meets the shock,And fatal Learning leads him to the block:
Around his tomb let Art and Genius weep,
But hear his death, ye blockheads, hear and sleep....
Enlarge my life with multitude of days,In health, in sickness, thus the suppliant prays;Hides from himself his state, and shuns to know,That life protracted is protracted woe.Time hovers o'er, impatient to destroy,And shuts up all the passages of joy:
In vain their gifts the bounteous seasons pour,
The fruit autumnal, and the vernal flow'r,With listless eyes the dotard views the store,
He views, and wonders that they please no more;Now pall the tasteless meats, and joyless wines,
And Luxury with sighs her slave resigns.Approach, ye minstrels, try the soothing strain,
And yield the tuneful lenitives of pain:No sounds alas would touch th' impervious ear,Though dancing mountains witness'd Orpheus near;
Nor lute nor lyre his feeble pow'rs attend,
Nor sweeter music of a virtuous friend,But everlasting dictates crowd his tongue,Perversely grave, or positively wrong.The still returning tale, and ling'ring jest,Perplex the fawning niece and pamper'd guest,
While growing hopes scarce awe the gath'ring sneer,And scarce a legacy can bribe to hear;

The watchful guests still hint the last offence,The daughter's petulance, the son's expense,Improve his heady rage with treach'rous skill,And mould his passions till they make his will.Unnumber'd maladies his joints invade,
Lay siege to life and press the dire blockade;But unextinguish'd Av'rice still remains,
And dreaded losses aggravate his pains;He turns, with anxious heart and crippled hands,
His bonds of debt, and mortgages of lands;Or views his coffers with suspicious eyes,Unlocks his gold, and counts it till he dies.But grant, the virtues of a temp'rate primeBless with an age exempt from scorn or crime;An age that melts in unperceiv'd decay,And glides in modest innocence away;
Whose peaceful day Benevolence endears,Whose night congratulating Conscience cheers;
The gen'ral fav'rite as the gen'ral friend:Such age there is, and who could wish its end?Yet ev'n on this her load Misfortune flings,To press the weary minutes' flagging wings:New sorrow rises as the day returns,A sister sickens, or a daughter mourns.Now kindred Merit fills the sable bier,Now lacerated Friendship claims a tear.Year chases year, decay pursues decay,Still drops some joy from with'ring life away;New forms arise, and diff'rent views engage,
Superfluous lags the vet'ran on the stage,Till pitying Nature signs the last release,
And bids afflicted worth retire to peace.But few there are whom hours like these await,Who set unclouded in the gulfs of fate.
From Lydia's monarch should the search descend,By Solon caution'd to regard his end,
In life's last scene what prodigies surprise,
Fears of the brave, and follies of the wise?From Marlb'rough's eyes the streams of dotage flow,
And Swift expires a driv'ler and a show.The teeming mother, anxious for her race,

Begs for each birth the fortune of a face:Yet Vane could tell what ills from beauty spring;And Sedley curs'd the form that pleas'd a king.Ye nymphs of rosy lips and radiant eyes,Whom Pleasure keeps too busy to be wise,Whom Joys with soft varieties invite,
By day the frolic, and the dance by night,
Who frown with vanity, who smile with art,And ask the latest fashion of the heart,
What care, what rules your heedless charms shall save,Each nymph your rival, and each youth your slave?
Against your fame with fondness hate combines,The rival batters and the lover mines.With distant voice neglected Virtue calls,Less heard and less, the faint remonstrance falls;Tir'd with contempt, she quits the slipp'ry reign,And Pride and Prudence take her seat in vain.In crowd at once, where none the pass defend,
The harmless freedom, and the private friend.The guardians yield, by force superior plied;
By Int'rest, Prudence; and by Flatt'ry, Pride.
Now Beauty falls betray'd, despis'd, distress'd,And hissing Infamy proclaims the rest.Where then shall Hope and Fear their objects find?Must dull Suspense corrupt the stagnant mind?Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate,Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate?Must no dislike alarm, no wishes rise,No cries attempt the mercies of the skies?Enquirer, cease, petitions yet remain,Which Heav'n may hear, nor deem religion vain.Still raise for good the supplicating voice,But leave to Heav'n the measure and the choice.Safe in his pow'r, whose eyes discern afarThe secret ambush of a specious pray'r.Implore his aid, in his decisions rest,
Secure whate'er he gives, he gives the best.Yet when the sense of sacred presence fires,And strong devotion to the skies aspires,
Pour forth thy fervours for a healthful mind,Obedient passions, and a will resign'd;
For love, which scarce collective man can fill;For patience, sov'reign o'er transmuted ill;For faith, that panting for a happier seat,
Counts death kind Nature's signal of retreat:These goods for man the laws of Heav'n ordain,

These goods he grants, who grants the pow'r to gain;With these celestial wisdom calms the mind,And makes the happiness she does not find.

The invective satire, or direct verbal attack, excludes parody, irony, and mock-heroic and includes the epithet, the curse, the metaphor and simile, and epigram like this one by Wilmot Rochester (1647-1680), noted Restoration wit, in his tribute to Charles II:

Here lies our Sovereign Lord the King;
Whose word no man relies on,
Who never said a foolish thing,
Nor ever did a wise one.

And the Italian poet Count Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837) who endured a life-long curse of spinal deformity was “unalterably hostile to man” and self-designated pessimist wrote this one:

For I am infinitely tired
With this old sphere we once admired,
With this old earth we loved to well;
Digusted more than words can tell;
And sould not mind a change of Hell,
The same old solid hills and leas,
The same old stupid patient trees,
Puffed up with the old windy creeds;
Old toil. Old care, old worthless treasures,
Old gnawing sorrows, swindling pleasures;
The cards are shuffled to and fro,
The hands may verify somewhat so..

A 17th century invective satirist John Cleveland (1613-1658) wrote:

“Ring the bells backward! I am all on fire.
Not all the buckets in a country quire
Shall quench my rage. A poet should be feared
When angry, like a comet’s flaming beard.”

But soon there was a pale toward the fury and flame of attacks of Swift’s “each line shall stab, shall blast, like daggers, and like fire” and a leaning toward the refined calm and dignity of Dryden” leading David Worster to write “Dryden’s stroke was so fine that the victims actually enjoyed being decapitated.”

O early ripe! To thy abundant Store
What could advancing Age have added more?
It might (what Nature never gives the Young)
Have taught the numbers of thy Native Tongue.
But Satire needs not those, and Wit will shine
Through the harsh Cadence of a rugged Line. John Dryden

At this point we are well into English Restoration marked by the calendar date 1660. A period referred to as the Age of Enlightenment and dominated by John Dryden (1631-1700), Alexander Pope (1688-1744), Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), and Samuel Johnson (1700-1784). The monarchy and the church relegated to their own affairs, literary figures who had fled to France while awaiting the outcome of the religious conflict, returned to England with Charles II; filled with renewed energy, sprinkled with French literary taste and Romanism. There were attempts at “word banks”, the printing press was much improved. and Samuel Johnson began work on a first dictionary. There was: a rise in the middle class; a need for streamlining communication through the heroic couplet and abandonment of the verse paragraph; a clarification of word meaning, synonyms and the like; and the need for different types of printed matter- magazines, journals, pamphlets. And “lines in the sand” were still drawn along political lines Dryden was a Tory; Shadwell was a Whig. Both chose Satire as their powerhouse for informing the public of what was good and bad in their lives. Some suggest that their differences stemmed from Dryden’s (a conservative) refusal to take an oath of support for the new monarchs, William and Mary thus losing the title Poet Laureate to Shadwell. Might it not have been just personal dislike or even jealousy? Anyway, Shadwell attacks Dryden in The Medal of John Bayes (1682); Dryden responds with Mac Flecknoe and Absalom and Achitophel (1682). These pieces become the finest examples of mock epic satire in the English language. Here is Mac Flecknoe, in real life an Irish priest noted for his bad verse and where Dryden annoints Shadwell as his successor.

It was John Dryden’s satiric poem The Medal that provoked Shadwell to write The Medal of John Bayes which provoked Dryden’s Mac Flecknoe, and so the battle raged. The medal commemorates the acquittal for High Treason of the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury in November 1681. He was a supporter of the Duke of Monmouth, as heir to the throne and was briefly imprisoned in the Tower of London. Shaftesbury was acquitted of the treason charges and his followers commissioned the medallist, George Bower, to design a medal which they all wore.

Today we refer to the Age of Satire from Samuel Butler to Alexander Pope; from 1660-1740; where the advent popular mags like The Tattler and The Spectator encouraged writers to publish their grievances and expose misdeeds. The first newspaper, Mercurious Gallobelgious (published.in1594) had already created a public eager to be informed.

Once the printed word captured the Victorian population it was the novel that became the chief purveyor of satire. Poetic satire became less barbed, but more deceptive, more humorous less overt; more compressed into epithets, metaphors, similes, witticisms and a declining desire to abuse. The Horatian model prevails. Here is Pope’s The Characters of Women, 1735:

Chloe, the Impeccable Heartless

Yet Chloe sure was formed without a spot?
Nature in her then erred not, but forgot.
“With every pleasing, every prudent part,
Say, what can Chloe want?” She wants a heart.
She speaks, behaves and acts just as she ought;
But never, never, reached one generous thought.
Virtue she finds too painful an endeavour,
Content to dwell in decencies forever.

So very reasonable, so unmoved,
As never yet to love, or to be loved.
She, while her lover pants upon her breast,
Can mark the figures on an Indian chest;
And when she sees her friend in deep despair,
Observes how much a chintz exceeds mohair.
Forbid it Heaven a favor or a debt
She ever should cancel but she may forget.
Safe is your secret still in Chloe’s ear;
But none of Chloe’s shall you ever hear.
Of all her dears she never slandered one,
But cares not if a thousand are undone.
Would Chloe know if you’re alive or dead?
She bids her footman put it in her head.
Chloe is prudent Would you too be wise?
Then never break your heart when Chloe dies.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) had his own idea of satire. Did he write satire or just burlesque or burlesque form for the purposes of satire? For example, in A Modest Proposal he recommended as an effective economic solution to the poverty of Irish peasants that they sell their own children as food for the rich and he was serious. Can’t believe it Read on:

“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... 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 cloathing of many thousands...

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... 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 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 profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavouring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the publick good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich. I have no children, by which I can propose to get a single penny; the youngest being nine years old, and my wife past child-bearing.”

In A Tale of a Tub he wrote of the Poet Laureate Nahum Tate: “There is another, called Nahum Tate, who is ready to make oath, that he has caused many reams of verse to be published, whereof both himself and his book-seller (if lawfully required), can still produce authentic copies, and therefore wonders why the world is pleased to make such a secret of it.” Known more for his prose than his poetry. Dryden, once told him he would never make a poet. But he exceeded himself in prose where he dealt with man’s perversities, false pride and most remaining societal flaws in Gulliver’s Travels And the form he chose was “reductio ad absurdum”.

We would like to bring some attention to Swift’s metrical use of the heroic couplet in these examples:

“Triumphant Tories, and desponding Whigs
Forget their feuds, and join to save their wigs”

“Here various kinds by various fortune led
Commence acquaintance underneath a shed.”

“In every mouth the question most in vogue
Was when will they turn out this odious rogue?”

After Alexander Pope’s satirical contribution The Rape of the Lock, satire found a new home in prose and epigrams, witticisms, anywhere and everywhere, in essays, the theater, pamphlets, magazines, and now in present-day television.

A word or two about the poet laureate Robert Southey (1774-1843). A colleague of Coleridge and regular contributor to the local newspapers and magazines his poetry has not survived neither has his prose but his satirical poem The Vision of Judgment (1821) written in twelve cantos of long hexameter deserves our attention. It would be even better to accompany this reading with the satirical rebuttal written by Lord Byron also titled The Vision of Judgment written in ottava rima.

Eventually satire moved across the ocean into a briefer, time conscious world and spoke more like G.K.Chesterton, Dorothy Parker, A.P. Herbert, E.E. Cummings, Robert Frost, E.A. Robinson in these words:

G.K. Chesterton A Ballad of Suicide

The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall;
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours on the wall
Are drawing a long breath to shout Hurray

The strangest whim has seized me. . . . After all
I think I will not hang myself to-day.
To-morrow is the time I get my pay
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall
I see a little cloud all pink and grey—

Perhaps the rector's mother will not call
I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way
I never read the works of Juvenal

I think I will not hang myself to-day.
The world will have another washing-day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H.G. Wells has found that children play,
and Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall,
Rationalists are growing rational
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray

So secret that the very sky seems small—
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,

The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even to-day your royal head may fall,
I think I will not hang myself to-day

Unfortunate Coincidence

By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and signing,
And, he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying. D.P.

I Can’t Think What He Sees In Her

I wouldn’t say a word against the girl be sure of that
It’s not the creature’s fault she has the manners of a rat,
Her dresses may be dowdy, but here hair is always new,
And if she squints a little bit well, many people do.

Though an ordinary woman would explode;
I’d only like to know
What he sees in such a crow
As that insinuating, calculating, irritating, titivating, sleepy,
little, creepy little, sticky little TOAD! A.P.H.

The Hipppopotamus

The ‘potamus can never reach
The mango on the mango-tree:
But fruits of pomegranate and peach
Refresh the Church from oversea

Blood of the Lamb shall wash him clean
And him shall heavenly arms enfold,
Among the saints shall he be seen
Performing on a harp of gold. T.S.E..

Finally from 1944.

The coffee in the Army
Is very, very fine:
It’s good for cuts and bruises
And it tastes like iodine. Anon.

saturnian - A term used to describe rough, crude verse from the satires of ancient Roman or fescinnine carmina referenced by Horace, in his Epistle to Augustus and from Duckworth’s The Nature of Roman Comedy.

satyr - Early satire was so repugnant in tone that Donatus annointed it satyra to indicate that it was the utterance of satyrs already known to the world as "dirty, lascivious woodland deities". Thus, the satyr was free to attack citizens in realistic language as long as no names were produced. When legal prohibition caught on to this subterfuge the term was reinvented as "nova comoedia." The first century AD produced several comic novels and plays from writers such as Satyricon; Widow of Ephesus wirtten in prose fiction Petronius Arbiter; The only complete satyr play still available today is Euripides Cyclops. The difference between satyr and satire is best explained by Thomas Drant (1540- 1578) in Priscus Grammaticus de Satyra and Pierre Le Roy in A Pleasant Satyre (1595).

Priscus Grammaticus de Satyra is in quatrains with rhymed couplets and alliteration. It opens with Satyra est carmen acerbum, instrumentum mordax Satyre, is a tarte and carpying kind of verse, An instrument to pynche the prankes of men, And for as muche as pyncheinge instruments do persist, Yelept it was full well a Satyre then A name of Arabique to it they gaue:
For Satyre there, doothe signifie a glaue.
Or Satyra, of Satyrus, the mossye rude,
Vnciule god: for those that wyll them write With taunting gyrds and glikes and gibes must vexe the lewde, Strayne curtesy: ne reck of mortall spyte.
Shrouded in Mosse, not shrynkying for shower Deemying a mosse as of a regall bower.
Satyre of writhled wasp she Saturne may be named The Satyrist must be a wasper in moode, Testie and wrothe with vice and hers, to see bothe blamde But courteous and frendly to the good.
As Saturne cuttes of tymes with equall sythe; So this man cutes downe synne, to coy and blythe.
Or Satyra of Satur, the authors must be full Of fostred, in farst in ballasde breste.
To teach the worldlyngs wyt, whose witched braines are dull The worste wyll pardie hearken to the best.
If that the Poet be not learnde in deede, Much maye he chatte, but fewe wyll marke his reede, Lysill, (I wene) was parent of this nyppying ryme; Next hudlyng Horace, braue in Satyres grace.
The praysed Pamphlet (Persie) well detected cryme Syt Juvenall deserves the latter place.
The Satyrist louves Truthe, none more than he, An utter foe to fraude in each degree.
Or this one from Tuttenhams The Arte of English Poesie: "...all they which have been brought up in learning, know very well, that this word Satyre, doth not only signifie a poesie, containing evil speech in it...but also all sorts of writings... pagan comments..." Here is another definition more to your liking from Pierre LeRoy in his A Pleasant Sayre or Poesie of 1595.
...all they which have been brought up in learning, know very well, that this word Satyre,doth not only signify a poesie, containing evil speech in it, for the reproof, either of public vices, or of particular faults of some certain persons, of which sort are those of Lucilius, Horace, Juvenal, and Persius; but also all sorts of writings, replenished with sundry matters, and divers arguments, having prose and verse intermingled therewithall, as if it were powdered neats tongues interlarded. Saith, that in ancient times, men called by this name, a certain sorte of pie or pudding , into which pen but divers kinds of herbes, and of meats."

scansion - Scanning a verse to determine its metrical feet and rhythmical pattern by encoding stressed and unstressed syllables using graphic notation. This is the accepted notation for poetry written in English.

- unstressed syllables (slack) an half-quarter upturned circle or tilde ~
- stressed syllable, an icius or acute accent
- double-stressed syllables, two acute accents to distinguish between primary and secondary stress
- hovering stress, the circumflex
- the boundary between metrical feet, the virgule
- a caesura, the parallel bar

Scazon meter - See choriambic. Valerius Barius, in 2 AD wrote a collection of fables in this meter. His work was similar to that of Aesop but with a satirical tone.

Sennacherib - This is the subject of a Byron lyric poem The Destruction of the Sennachrerib (1815). The background is taken from the Bible as opposed to any historical authenticity. In history, B.C. 688, Sennacherib defeated the Elamites and Babylonians and became king of the two kingdoms. Byron’s version is taken from Second Kings; Verse 19. Jerusalem was then under the rule of Hezekiah. The Assyrians attacked and “in the night the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand”. Byron put a spin on the story and declared the destruction of Sennacherib’s army by disease.

scorpion - Like the toad, carries a deadly poisonous oil. Curiously the oil also offers the cure. Scorpio is the eighth sign of the zodiac and follows the story line of the giant Orion, son of Poseidon and invention of the Greeks, who, while in Crete, boasted to Leto and Artemis that he was able kill every animal on the earth. Angered, the two goddesses sent a scorpion to sting him to death. The Poet Samuel Butler makes use of this effect in the 17th century English mock-heroic Hudibras:

“Tis true, a scorpion’s oil is said
To cure the wounds the venom made,
And weapons dressed with salve restore
And heal the hurts they gave before.”

The scorpion was used as a metaphor by Lord Byron in his 1813 epic poem Giaour. In Medieval times the belief was that if the scorpion was surrounded by a circle of fire it would commit suicide by stinging itself with its own tail.

“The mine, that broods o’er guilty woes,
Is like the Scorpion girt by fire;
In circle narrowing as it glows,
The flames around the captive close.”

Note: In 1782, William Thomas Beckford wrote a gothic novel Vathek where the villain’s name is Giaour. The word is used by the Muslim world as an insult to all Christian Balkans. Some critics attribute much of the later vampire stories to Byron in that the poem mentions how “after telling the reader how the giaour killed Hassan – his punishment will be condemned to become a vampire and forced to drink blood.” The theme was in a later unfinished story of Byron, Mazeppa. The French artist Delacroix illustrated the occasion with an oil, Combat of the Giaour and the Pasha, seen at the Art Institute of Chicago.

serpentine verse - A line of verse beginning and ending with the same word. Best example would be Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold. This line:

“Begin, and cease, and then again begin.”

sestet - From the Italian sestetto or six. The sestet is a six-line stanza mostly iambic with no set rhyme scheme. The sestet may occur as an independent form or as the last six lines of the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet. Just as the octave is a first person poem, the sestet, is a second. Thus, the division corresponds to a response thought the octave presenting a situation and the sestet answering or the reverse. The point of response is called the volta, or "turn"; the turn being the essential element of this sonnet form. Here is an example of the sestet as part of the sonnet form. Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1576) Sonnet LXXI:

Who will in fairest book of Nature know
How Virtue may best lodged in Beauty be,
Let him but learn of Love to read in thee,
Stella, those fair lines, which true goodness show.
There shall he find all vices' overthrow,
Not by rude force, but sweetest sovereignty
Of reason, from whose light those night-birds fly;
That inward sun in thine eyes shineth so.

And not content to be Perfection's heir
Thyself, dost strive all minds that way to move,
Who mark in thee what is in thee most fair.
So while thy beauty draws the heart to love,
As fast thy Virtue bends that love to good.
"But, ah," Desire still cries, "give me some food."

In this particular example the poet delays the "volta" until the last line. The rhyme scheme for the sestet is ababcc.

In this example by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) the rhyme scheme in his poem The Last Leaf. This is an American form called the Split Sestet in iambic trimeter with a single anapest serving as lines three and six with rhyme scheme a a b a a b:

I saw him once before
As he passed by the door,
And again
The pavement stones resound,
As he totters o'er the ground
With his cane.

They say that in his prime,
Ere the pruning-knife of Time
Cut him down,
Not a better man was found
By the Crier on his round
Through the town.

But now he walks the streets,
And he looks at all he meets
Sad and wan,
And he shakes his feeble head,
That it seems as if he said,
"They are gone!"

The mossy marbles rest
On the lips that he has prest
In their bloom,
And the names he loved to hear
Have been carved for many a year
On the tomb.

My grandmamma has said--
Poor old lady, she is dead
Long ago--
That he had a Roman nose,
And his cheek was like a rose
In the snow;

But now his nose is thin,
And it rests upon his chin
Like a staff,
And a crook is in his back,
And a melancholy crack
In his laugh.

I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin
At him here;
But the old three-cornered hat,
And the breeches, and all that,
Are so queer!

And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
In the spring,
Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
Where I cling.

The sestet has other variations with special names as in the Heroic Sestet, which is actually a Sicilian Quatrain joined to a heroic couplet.
The rhyme scheme is a b a b c c. The most famous example, the precursor to T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, is James Thomson's (1834-1882) (pseudonym Bysshe Vanolis) The City of Dreadful Night. After a series of sestets the poet switches to a Sicilian Quatrain joined by a Heroic Couplet:

Because he seemed to walk with an intent
I followed him; who, shadowlike and frail,
Unswervingly though slowly onward went,
Regardless, wrapt in thought as in a veil:
Thus step for step with lonely sounding feet
We travelled many a long dim silent street.

At length he paused: a black mass in the gloom,
A tower that merged into the heavy sky;
Around, the huddled stones of grave and tomb:
Some old God's-acre now corruption's sty:
He murmured to himself with dull despair,
Here Faith died, poisoned by this charnel air.

Then turning to the right went on once more
And travelled weary roads without suspense;
And reached at last a low wall's open door,
Whose villa gleamed beyond the foliage dense:
He gazed, and muttered with a hard despair,
Here Love died, stabbed by its own worshipped pair.

Then turning to the right resumed his march,
And travelled street and lanes with wondrous strength,
Until on stooping through a narrow arch
We stood before a squalid house at length:
He gazed, and whispered with a cold despair,
Here Hope died, starved out in its utmost lair.

When he had spoken thus, before he stirred,
I spoke, perplexed by something in the signs
Of desolation I had seen and heard
In this drear pilgrimage to ruined shrines:
Where Faith and Love and Hope are dead indeed,
Can Life still live? By what doth it proceed?

As whom his one intense thought overpowers,
He answered coldly, Take a watch, erase
The signs and figures of the circling hours,
Detach the hands, remove the dial-face;
The works proceed until run down; although
Bereft of purpose, void of use, still go.

Then turning to the right paced on again,
And traversed squares and travelled streets whose glooms
Seemed more and more familiar to my ken;
And reached that sullen temple of the tombs;
And paused to murmur with the old despair,
Hear Faith died, poisoned by this charnel air.

I ceased to follow, for the knot of doubt
Was severed sharply with a cruel knife:
He circled thus forever tracing out
The series of the fraction left of Life;
Perpetual recurrence in the scope
Of but three terms, dead Faith, dead Love, dead Hope.

He stood alone within the spacious square
Declaiming from the central grassy mound,
With head uncovered and with streaming hair,
As if large multitudes were gathered round:
A stalwart shape, the gestures full of might,
The glances burning with unnatural light:

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: All was black,
In heaven no single star, on earth no track;
A brooding hush without a stir or note,
The air so thick it clotted in my throat;
And thus for hours; then some enormous things
Swooped past with savage cries and clanking wings:
    But I strode on austere;
    No hope could have no fear.

As I came through the desert thus it was,
As I came through the desert: Eyes of fire
Glared at me throbbing with a starved desire;
The hoarse and heavy and carnivorous breath
Was hot upon me from deep jaws of death;
Sharp claws, swift talons, fleshless fingers cold
Plucked at me from the bushes, tried to hold:
    But I strode on austere;
    No hope could have no fear.

Another alteration is the Sicilian Sestet which is traditionally in iambic pentameter but alternately rhymed a b a b a b. This is an example by George Herbert (1583-1633) Jordan II:

When first my lines of heavnly joyes made mention,
Such was their lustre, they did so excell,
That I sought out quaint words and trim invention;
My thoughts began to burnish, sprout, and swell,
Curling with metaphors a plain intention,
Decking the sense, as if it were to sell.

Thousands of notions in my brain did runne,
Offring their service, if I were not sped:
I often blotted what I had begunne;
This was not quick enough, and that was dead.
Nothing could seem too rich to clothe the sunne,
Much lesse those joyes which trample on his head.

As flames do work and winde, when they ascend,
So did I weave my self into the sense.
But while I bustled, I might heare a friend
Whisper, How wide is all this long pretence!
There is in love a sweetnesse readie pennd;
Copie out onely that, and save expense.

The Short Sestet is American in origin and may be iambic or anapestic. The rhyme scheme has both unrhyming (x) and rhymed lines. In this example by the modern poet Dan Masterson, a b x b x a:

It was more like a dream than an ending,
the lawn chairs adrift on the grass,
the elm trees parting politely
so that ladies kept waiting might pass
before Bartlett returns from the pantry
where he's won some affection at last.

They enter the lake without Barlett,
and settle down in the sand;
the windows are closed, except Bartlett's
the handle comes off in the hand;
and Bartlett goes right on romancing
knowing that they'll understand.

They sit as they sat as they waited
for Bartlett in fine livery
who's taking them all Sunday driving
and bringing them back for tea,
but Bartlett has conquered some virtue
and lingers inside wistfully.

And now though he's diving to find them,
and even holds open the door,
there is little to say of his sorrow
as he floats them each back to the shore
where the others have come verandas
to see the five ladies once more.

sestina - A French form of thirty-nine lines. There are six line stanzas concluding with an envoi or tornada of three lines. It seems strange that the most elaborate and intricate of all French troubadour forms is the only one that survived that era. The inventor was Arnaut Daniel, a thirteenth century troubadour of Provencal, who tweaked the French form "causa" or Italian "canzone" and came up with the sestina now referred to as the Everest of Provencal. The Italian poets Dante Aleghieri and Petrach helped make the form popular for audiences outside Provencal. Here is an example by Dante called Sestina:

I have come, alas, to the great circle of shadow,
to the short day and to the whitening hills,
when the colour is all lost from the grass,
though my desire will not lose its green,
so rooted is it in this hardest stone,
that speaks and feels as though it were a woman.

And likewise this heaven-born woman
stays frozen, like the snow in shadow,
and is unmoved, or moved like a stone,
by the sweet season that warms all the hills,
and makes them alter from pure white to green,
so as to clothe them with the flowers and grass.

When her head wears a crown of grass
she draws the mind from any other woman,
because she blends her gold hair with the green
so well that Amor lingers in their shadow,
he who fastens me in these low hills,
more certainly than lime fastens stone.

Her beauty has more virtue than rare stone.
The wound she gives cannot be healed with grass,
since I have travelled, through the plains and hills,
to find my release from such a woman,
yet from her light had never a shadow
thrown on me, by hill, wall, or leaves green.

I have seen her walk all dressed in green,
so formed she would have sparked love in a stone,
that love I bear for her very shadow,
so that I wished her, in those fields of grass,
as much in love as ever yet was woman,
closed around by all the highest hills.

The rivers will flow upwards to the hills
before this wood, that is so soft and green,
takes fire, as might ever lovely woman,
for me, who would choose to sleep on stone,
all my life, and go eating grass,
only to gaze at where her clothes cast shadow.

Whenever the hills cast blackest shadow,
with her sweet green, the lovely woman
hides it, as a man hides stone in grass.

His six nouns are: shadow, hills, grass, green, stone, woman. Note that in the envoi these same words are embedded within the final three lines.

Unlike other forms, the sestina is concerned not with rhyme but with the repetition of a given set of words. In the French form there were twelve syllables or alexandrines. The Italian version was hendecasyllabic or 11 syllables. In English the lines were usually decasyllabic pentameter. The lines of the six stanzas end with the same six non-rhyming words. In the classic sestina these end words or teleutons are chosen exclusively from two syllable nouns. The closing three line stanza uses the six terminal words; three at the end of its lines and three at its centers. These end-words or teleutons are used in different order so that no sestets have the same order (see the Dante example). In modern usage there have been some variants. But the six ending words must repeat, unchanged in sound and spelling, throughout each succeeding stanza.

It may help to know something of the Medieval background that gave rise to this form. In Medieval times the belief was that earthly time was linear, all life leading toward death but religious time was eternal, or circular as the universe - never ending. Thus the poem marches forward in time but at the same time circles back around just as a clock moves in circular order. Thus the sestina by numbering each teleuton (end-word) the order would be:

First stanza:123456
Second stanza: 615243
Third stanza:364125
Fourth stanza: 532614
Fifth stanza:451362
Sixth stanza:246531

The poet then arranged the end or teleuton words in the envoi to correspond to their original order.

The first-known example in England written in 1590 by Philip Sidney was a pastoral or dramatic dialogue and a double sestina titled You Gote-heard Gods, part of his unfinished epic Old Arcadia. The six, two syllable teleutons or end-words are: mountaines, vallies, forets, musique, morning, evening. This example has lines of eleven syllables that are iambic pentameter with an extra syllable at the end:

You Gote-heard Gods, that loue the grassie mountaines,
You Nimphes that haunt the springs in pleasant vallies,
You Satyrs ioyde with free and quiet forests,
Vouchsafe your silent eares to playning musique,
Which to my woes giues still an early morning;
And drawes the dolor on till wery euening.

Mercurie, foregoer to the euening,
O heauenlie huntresse of the sauage mountaines,
O louelie starre, entitled of the morning,
While that my voice doth fill these wofull vallies,
Vouchsafe your silent eares to plaining musique,
Which oft hath Echo tir'd in secrete forrests.

I that was once free-burges of the forrests,
Where shade from Sunne, and sports I sought at euening,
I that was once esteem'd for pleasant musique,
Am banisht now among the monstrous mountaines
Of huge despaire, and foule afflictions vallies,
Am growne a shrich-owle to my selfe each morning.

I that was once delighted euery morning,
Hunting the wilde inhabiters of forrests,
I that was once the musique of these vallies,
So darkened am, that all my day is euening,
Hart-broken so, that molehilles seeme high mountaines,
And fill the vales with cries in steed of musique.

Long since alas, my deadly Swannish musique
Hath made it selfe a crier of the morning,
And hath with wailing strength clim'd highest mountaines:
Long since my thoughts more desert be then forrests:
Long since I see my ioyes come to their euening,
And state throwen downe to ouer-troden vallies.

Long since the happie dwellers of these vallies,
Haue praide me leaue my strange exclaiming musique,
Which troubles their dayes worke, and ioyes of euening:
Long since I hate the night, more hate the morning:
Long since my thoughts chase me like beasts in forrests,
And make me wish my selfe layd vnder mountaines.

Me seemes I see the high and stately mountaines,
Transforme themselues to lowe deiected vallies:
Me seemes I heare in these ill changed forrests,
The Nightingales doo learne of Owles their musique:
Me seemes I feele the comfort of the morning
Turnde to the mortall serene of an euening.

Me seemes I see a filthie clowdie euening,
As soon as Sunne begins to clime the mountaines:
Me seemes I feele a noysome sent, the morning
When I doo smell the flowers of these vallies:
Me seemes I heare, when I doo heare sweete musique,
The dreadfull cries of murdred men in forrests.

I wish to fire the trees of all these forrests;
I giue the Sunne a last farewell each euening;
I curse the fidling finders out of Musicke:
With enuie I doo hate the loftie mountaines;
And with despite despise the humble vallies:
I doo detest night, euening, day, and morning.

Curse to my selfe my prayer is, the morning:
My fire is more, then can be made with forrests;
My state more base, then are the basest vallies:
I wish no euenings more to see, each euening;
Shamed I hate my selfe in sight of mountaines,
And stoppe mine eares, lest I growe mad with Musicke.

For she, whose parts maintainde a perfect musique,
Whose beautie shin'de more then the blushing morning,
Who much did passe in state the stately mountaines,
In straightnes past the Cedars of the forrests,
Hath cast me wretch into eternall euening,
By taking her two Sunnes from these darke vallies.

For she, to whom compar'd, the Alpes are vallies,
She, whose lest word brings from the spheares their musique,
At whose approach the Sunne rose in the euening,
Who, where she went, bare in her forhead morning,
Is gone, is gone from these our spoyled forrests,
Turning to desarts our best pastur'de mountaines.

Strephon. Klaius.
These mountaines witnesse shall, so shall these vallies,
These forrests eke, made wretched by our musique,
Our morning hymne is this, and song at euening.

There were some attempts to compose the sestina with rhymed words, notably Pontus de Tyard, whose rhyme pattern was a,b,c,c,b,a. Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) introduced the rhyming sestina and used a mix of rhyme schemes. Here is one titled Sestina:

I saw my soul at rest upon a day
As a bird sleeping in the nest of night,
Among soft leaves that give the starlight way
To touch its wings but not its eyes with light;
So that it knew as one in visions may,
And knew not as men waking, of delight.

This was the measure of my soul's delight;
It had no power of joy to fly by day,
Nor part in the large lordship of the light;
But in a secret moon-beholden was
Had all its will of dreams and pleasant night,
And all the love and life that sleepers may.

But such life's triumph as men waking may
It might not have to feed its faint delight
Between the stars by night and sun by day,
Shut up with green leaves and a little light;
Because its way was as a lost star's way,
A world's not wholly known of day or night.

All loves and dreams and sounds and gleams of night
Made it all music that such minstrels may,
And all they had they gave it of delight;
But in the full face of the fire of day
What place shall be for any starry light,
What part of heaven in all the wide sun's way?

Yet the soul woke not, sleeping by the way,
Watched as a nursling of the large-eyed night,
And sought no strength nor knowledge of the day,
Nor closer touch conclusive of delight,
Nor mightier joy nor truer than dreamers may,
Nor more of song than they, nor more of light.

For who sleeps once and sees the secret light
Whereby sleep shows the soul a fairer way
Between the rise and rest of day and night,
Shall care no more to fare as all men may,
But be his place of pain or of delight,
There shall he dwell, beholding night as day.

Song, have thy day and take thy fill of light
Before the night be fallen across thy way;
Sing while he may, man hath no long delight.

In this next example Swinburne wrote a twelve-line sestina with rhymed stanzas, The Complaint of Lisa:

There is no woman living that draws breath
So sad as I, though all things sadden her.
There is not one upon life's weariest way
Who is weary as I am weary of all but death.
Toward whom I look as looks the sunflower
All day with all his whole soul toward the sun;
While in the sun's sight I make moan all day,
And all night on my sleepless maiden bed
Weep and call out on death, O Love, and thee,
That thou or he would take me to the dead,
And know not what thing evil I have done
That life should lay such heavy hand on me.

Alas, Love, what is this thou wouldst with me?
What honour shalt thou have to quench my breath,
Or what shall my heart broken profit thee?
O Love, O great god Love, what have I done,
That thou shouldst hunger so after my death?
My heart is harmless as my life's first day:
Seek out some false fair woman, and plague her
Till her tears even as my tears fill her bed:
I am the least flower in thy flowery way,
But till my time be come that I be dead
Let me live out my flower-time in the sun
Though my leaves shut before the sunflower.

O Love, Love, Love, the kingly sunflower!
Shall he the sun hath looked on look on me,
That live down here in shade, out of the sun,
Here living in the sorrow and shadow of death?
Shall he that feeds his heart full of the day
Care to give mine eyes light, or my lips breath?
Because she loves him shall my lord love her
Who is as a worm in my lord's kingly way?
I shall not see him or know him alive or dead;
But thou, I know thee, O Love, and pray to thee
That in brief while my brief life-days be done,
And the worm quickly make my marriage-bed.

For underground there is no sleepless bed:
But here since I beheld my sunflower
These eyes have slept not, seeing all night and day
His sunlike eyes, and face fronting the sun.
Wherefore if anywhere be any death,
I would fain find and fold him fast to me,
That I may sleep with the world's eldest dead,
With her that died seven centuries since, and her
That went last night down the night-wandering way.
For this is sleep indeed, when labour is done,
Without love, without dreams, and without breath,
And without thought, O name unnamed! of thee.

Ah, but, forgetting all things, shall I thee?
Wilt thou not be as now about my bed
There underground as here before the sun?
Shall not thy vision vex me alive and dead,
Thy moving vision without form or breath?
I read long since the bitter tale of her
Who read the tale of Launcelot on a day,
And died, and had no quiet after death,
But was moved ever along a weary way,
Lost with her love in the underworld; ah me,
O my king, O my lordly sunflower,
Would God to me too such a thing were done!

But if such sweet and bitter things be done,
Then, flying from life, I shall not fly from thee.
For in that living world without a sun
Thy vision will lay hold upon me dead,
And meet and mock me, and mar my peace in death.
Yet if being wroth God had such pity on her,
Who was a sinner and foolish in her day,
That even in hell they twain should breathe one breath,
Why should he not in some wise pity me?
So if I sleep not in my soft strait bed
I may look up and see my sunflower
As he the sun, in some divine strange way.

O poor my heart, well knowest thou in what way
This sore sweet evil unto us was done.
For on a holy and a heavy day
I was arisen out of my still small bed
To see the knights tilt, and one said to me
"The king," and seeing him, somewhat stopped my breath,
And if the girl spake more, I heard not her,
For only I saw what I shall see when dead,
A kingly flower of knights, a sunflower,
That shone against the sunlight like the sun,
And like a fire, O heart, consuming thee,
The fire of love that lights the pyre of death.

Howbeit I shall not die an evil death
Who have loved in such a sad and sinless way,
That this my love, lord, was no shame to thee.
So when mine eyes are shut against the sun,
O my soul's sun, O the world's sunflower,
Thou nor no man will quite despise me dead.
And dying I pray with all my low last breath
That thy whole life may be as was that day,
That feast-day that made trothplight death and me,
Giving the world light of thy great deeds done;
And that fair face brightening thy bridal bed,
That God be good as God hath been to her.

That all things goodly and glad remain with her,
All things that make glad life and goodly death;
That as a bee sucks from a sunflower
Honey, when summer draws delighted breath,
Her soul may drink of thy soul in like way,
And love make life a fruitful marriage-bed
Where day may bring forth fruits of joy to day
And night to night till days and nights be dead.
And as she gives light of her love to thee,
Give thou to her the old glory of days long done;
And either give some heat of light to me,
To warm me where I sleep without the sun.

O sunflower made drunken with the sun,
O knight whose lady's heart draws thine to her,
Great king, glad lover, I have a word to thee.
There is a weed lives out of the sun's way,
Hid from the heat deep in the meadow's bed,
That swoons and whitens at the wind's least breath,
A flower star-shaped, that all a summer day
Will gaze her soul out on the sunflower
For very love till twilight finds her dead.
But the great sunflower heeds not her poor death,
Knows not when all her loving life is done;
And so much knows my lord the king of me.

Aye, all day long he has no eye for me;
With golden eye following the golden sun
From rose-coloured to purple-pillowed bed,
From birthplace to the flame-lit place of death,
From eastern end to western of his way.
So mine eye follows thee, my sunflower,
So the white star-flower turns and yearns to thee,
The sick weak weed, not well alive or dead,
Trod underfoot if any pass by her,
Pale, without colour of summer or summer breath
In the shrunk shuddering petals, that have done
No work but love, and die before the day.

But thou, to-day, to-morrow, and every day,
Be glad and great, O love whose love slays me.
Thy fervent flower made fruitful from the sun
Shall drop its golden seed in the world's way,
That all men thereof nourished shall praise thee
For grain and flower and fruit of works well done;
Till thy shed seed, O shining sunflower,
Bring forth such growth of the world's garden-bed
As like the sun shall outlive age and death.
And yet I would thine heart had heed of her
Who loves thee alive; but not till she be dead.
Come, Love, then, quickly, and take her utmost breath.

Song, speak for me who am dumb as are the dead;
From my sad bed of tears I send forth thee,
To fly all day from sun's birth to sun's death
Down the sun's way after the flying sun,
For love of her that gave thee wings and breath,
Ere day be done, to seek the sunflower.

Here is a more modern example written by Ezra Pound using these words: peace, music, opposing, rejoicing, crimson, clash, rejoicing:

Damn it all! all this our South stinks peace.
You whoreson dog, Papiols, come! Let's to music!
I have no life save when swords clash.
But ah! when I see the standards gold, vair, purple,opposing
And the broad fields beneath them turn crimson,
Then howels my heart nigh mad rejoicing.

In hot summer have I great rejoicing
When tempests kill the earths foul peace,
And the lightnings from black heavn flash crimson,
And the fierce thunders roar me their music
And the winds shriek through the clouds mad, opposing,
And through all the riven Gods swords clash.

Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash!
And the shrill neighs of destriers in battle rejoicing,
Spiked breast to spiked breast opposing!
Better one hours stour than a years peace
With fat boards, bawds, wine and frail music!
Bah! theres no wine like the bloods crimson!

And I love to see the sun rise blood-crimson.
And I watch his spears through the dark clash
And it fills my heart with rejoicing
And pries wide my mouth with fast music
When I see him so scorn and defy peace,
His lone might 'gainst all darkmess opposing.

The man who fears war and squats opposing
My words for stour, hath no blood of crimson
But it is fit only to rot in womanish peace
Far from where worths won and the swords clash
For the death of sluts I go rejoicing;
Yea, I fill all the air with my music.

Papiols, Papiols, to the music!
Theres no sound like to swords swords opposing,
No cry like the battles rejoicing
When our elbows and swords drip the crimson
And our charges 'gainst "The Leopard's" rush clash.
May God damn for ever all who cry "Peace!"

And let the music of the swords make them crimson!
Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash!
Hell blot black for always the thought "Peace"!

One complaint about the sestina is the restriction placed upon the poet when he is confined to six words. When teaching the writing of the sestina you try to emphasize the iimportance of choosing the six words before you even begin to think about the text. Here is another modern example by Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979). The six words are: house, grandmother, child, almanac, stove, and tears:

September rain falls on the house.
In the failing light, the old grandmother
sits in the kitchen with the child
beside the Little Marvel Stove,
reading the jokes from the almanac,
laughing and talking to hide her tears.

She thinks that her equinoctial tears
and the rain that beats on the roof of the house
were both foretold by the almanac,
but only known to a grandmother.
The iron kettle sings on the stove.
She cuts some bread and says to the child,

It's time for tea now; but the child
is watching the teakettle's small hard tears
dance like mad on the hot black stove,
the way the rain must dance on the house.
Tidying up, the old grandmother
hangs up the clever almanac

on its string. Birdlike, the almanac
hovers half open above the child,
hovers above the old grandmother
and her teacup full of dark brown tears.
She shivers and says she thinks the house
feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove.

It was to be, says the Marvel Stove.
I know what I know, says the almanac.
With crayons the child draws a rigid house
and a winding pathway. Then the child
puts in a man with buttons like tears
and shows it proudly to the grandmother.

But secretly, while the grandmother
busies herself about the stove,
the little moons fall down like tears
from between the pages of the almanac
into the flower bed the child
has carefully placed in the front of the house.

Time to plant tears, says the almanac.
the grandmother sings to the marvellous stove
and the child draws another inscrutable house.

Silver poets - A rare term more frequently given the Spenserian school, a group of writers from the Elizabethan era who rejected the “classicals” and their choice of form over content, elaborate style over emotional expression. From this group of the simpler lyric would be William Basse, Sir John Davies, Sir Walter Raleigh and their leader Edmund Spenser.

simile - A comparison preceded by the words like, as, and as in. Most familiar line is from Robert Burns: "My love is like a red, red, rose."

slant rhyme - Also half-rhyme - Imperfect rhyming of consonants or vowels such as years;yours. hours;ours; Example from Thomas Hardy’s The Darkling Thrush:

Verse 3

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;

An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast be-ruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

sonnet - The sonnet, "little song" from the Latin "sonus" meaning sound. The most popular and longest-lasting of all poem forms with the largest number of writers. The traditional sonnet is a lyric poem with a fixed form of fourteen iambic five-foot lines with a definite rhyme scheme that determines the type of sonnet. The sonnet belongs to the familiy of quartorzains. The sonnet originated in Italy in the early thirteenth century by the poet Jacopo da Lentini. Like so many poetic forms of that periodm they were sung with a lute accompaniment known as a "strambatto". Here is his Io m'agio posto in core a Dio servire:

Io m'agio posto in core a Dio servire,
com'io potesse gire in paradiso,
al santo loco ch'agio audito dire,
u' si mantien sollazzo, gioco e riso.
Sanza la mia donna non vi voria gire,
quella ch'ha blonda testa e claro viso,
ché sanza lei non poteria gaudere,
estando da la mia donna diviso.

Ma non lo dico a tale intendimento,
perch'io pecato ci volesse fare;
se non veder lo suo bel portamento
e lo bel viso e 'l morbido sguardare:
ché lo mi teria in gran consolamento,
veggendo la mia donna in ghiora stare.

This shows one important characteristic of the sonnet, that of unequal stanzas of rhyming lines. The longer stanza is always first. The first stanza is an octet; the last and shorter is a sestet. This last stanza is the second and most important characteristic of the sonnet form. It is the "volta" or "turn" which presents the resolution, point of view, or opinion follows the mood, thought, problem, or focus of the first stanza.

Guittone d’Arezzo (1230-1294) of Tuscany established what we now call the classical "Italian sonnet" with a strict a b b a a b b a; c d c d c d rhyme scheme. The first stanza must be inviolate, however the shorter sestet may follow any variation. d'Arezzo also introduced the "kissing rhyme" pattern to the sonnet, which is a b b a a b b a.

Ai! bella gioia, noia e dolor meo,
che punto fortunal, lasso, fu quello
di vostro dipartir, crudel mia morte;
che doblo mal torn tutto meo bello,
si del meo mal mi duol; ma piu, pardeo,
e me lo vostro amor crudele e fello,
ca s'eo tormento d'una parte forte,
e voi dell' altra piu stringe il chiavello

come la piu distretta e inamorata
che mai fosse aprovata;
che ben fa forzo dimession d'avere
talor basso omo in donna alta capare,
ma ci non v'agradio gia ne agrada,
dunque d'amor coral fue ben volefe.

Another important Italian sonnet writer is Cavalcanti (1255-1300) here is an example in which there is an intentional asymmetrical rhyme scheme a b b b b a a a; c d d d c c:

L’anima mia vilment’è sbigotita1 a
de la battaglia ch’e l’ave dal core: b
che'ss’ella sente pur un poco Amore b
più presso a lui che non sòle, ella more. b
Sta come quella che non à valore, b
ch’è per temenza da lo cor partita; a
e chi vedesse com’ell’è fuggita a
diria per certo: Questi non ha vita. a

Per li occhi venne la battaglia impria, c
che ruppe ogni valore immantenente, d
sí che del colpo fu strutta la mente. d
Qualunqu’è quei che più allegrezza sente, d
se vedesse li spirti11 fuggir via, c
di sua grande pietate piangeria. c

Translated becomes:

My spirit is so vilely distressed
By the war raging in my heart:
It dies if it feels Love’s slightest start
Touch more than usually: apart,
Powerless it exists, void of art,
Shut from the heart by fearfulness;
And he who saw its flight would, yes,
Declare: ‘It lacks the living breath.’

Through the eye war entered me,
That beat down all defences so
The mind was shattered by its blow.
Whoever shall see my spirit go,
One who might live more happily,
Might weep for me, with pity.

The first sonnet sequence ever written was Dante's La Vita Nuova. The sonnet sequence is a series of twenty-five sonnets organized either to tell a story or develop an argument. These sonnets were hendecasyllablic (eleven syllables) or Alexandrine:

To every heart that the sweet pain does move,
And to which these words may now be brought
For true interpretation and kind thought,
Be greeting in our Lord’s name, which is Love.
Of those long hours wherein the stars, above,
Wake and keep watch, the third was almost nought10
When Love was shown me with such terrors fraught
As may not carelessly be spoken of.
He seemed like one who is full of joy, and had
My heart within his hand, and on his arm
My lady, with a mantle round her slept;
Whom (having wakened her) anon11 he made
To eat that heart; she ate, as fearing harm.
Then he went out; and as he went, he wept.

Translated by Gerard NeCastro Univ. of Maine at Michias

Later, the sonetti caudato or "tailed sonnet". This transformation has additional verse(s) added at the end as a b b a, a b b a, c d c, d c d, d; or a b b a a b b a c d c d c d e e. Here is John Milton's On the New Forcers of Conscience Under the Long Parliament:

Because you have thrown of your Prelate Lord,
And with stiff Vowes renounc't his Liturgie
To seize the widdow'd whore Pluralitie
From them whose sin ye envi'd, not abhor'd
Dare ye for this adjure the Civill Sword
To force our Consciences that Christ set free,
And ride us with a classic Hierarchy
Taught ye by meer A. S. and Rotherford?

Men whose Life, Learning, Faith and pure intent
Would have been held in high esteem with Paul
Must now be nam'd and printed hereticks
By shallow Edwards and Scotch what d'ye call:
But we do hope to find out all your tricks,
Your plots and packing wors then those of Trent,

That so the Parliament
May with their wholsom and preventive Shears
Clip your Phylacteries, though bauk your Ears,
And succour our just fears
When they shall read this clearly in your charge
New Presbyter is but Old Priest writ Large.

In analyzing this sonnet form the basic structure is maintained by the first fourteen lines or Petrarchan sonnet with the rhyme a b b a a b b a. The octet poses a question. The volta is at line eight which begins the response or reflection on the question. The "tail" is the six lines which follow the sestet a b c b c a and begin with the short line "That so the Parliament". The tail usually begins with a line which rhymes with the last line of the sestet followed by a couplet.

There is also the "double sonnet" invented by Pucciandone Martelli of Pisa:

Signor sensa pietansa, udit' ho dire,
deve tosto fallire,
e vana divenir sua signoria.
Sensa pietà, mia don[n]a, siete sire:
penser ho di partire
me' cor e mente da tale follia,
ché solo v'ingegnate me schernire;
tempestar e languire

e tormentar mi faite nott' e dia;
talor mostransa faitemi 'n servire,
ma non pote granire,

sì come fior che vento lo disvia.
L'albor' e 'l vento siete veramente,
ché faite 'l fror: potetelo granare;
Poi faitelo fallare,
e vana divenir la mia speransa.
Deo vi lassi trovar miglior servente,
e me signor che saccia meritare:
ché tropp'è greve amare
lo mio, se per servir ho malenansa.

Petrach spawned a “love-sonnet craze” that spread throughout Europe. In Spain, the Marques de Santillana and Inigo Lopez de Mendoza (1398-1458). Mendoza is credited with inventing the Castilian Sonnet, with two quatrains of abab; abab; and a sestet beginning with an unrhymed couplet. Here is one example:

Doradas ondas del famoso río
que bańa en torno la noble ciudad,
do es aquélla, cuyo más que mío
soy e posee la mi voluntad:
pues que en vuestro lago y poderío
es la mi barca veloce, cuytad
con todas fuerças e curso radío
e presentadme a la su beldad.
Non vos empida dubda nin temor
de dańo mío, ca yo non lo espero;
e si viniere, venga toda suerte.
E si muriere, muera por su amor:
murió Leandro en el mar por Ero:
partido es dulce al aflicto muerte.

The French sonnet was invented by Clement Marot (1496-1544). Marot's version of the sonnet was to put the couplet at the beginning of the sonnet as in c c; d e e d. Here is his Au Bon Vieulx Temps:

Au bon vieulx temps un train d'amour regnoit,
Qui sans grand art et dons se démenoit,
Si qu'un boucquet donné d'amour profonde
S'estoit donné toute la terre ronde:
Car seulement au cueur on se prenoit.
Et si, par cas, à jouyr on venoit,
Sçavez-vous bien comme on s'entretenoit?
Vingt ans, trente ans; cela duroit ung monde
Au bon vieulx temps.
Or est perdu ce qu'amour ordonnoit,
Rien que pleurs fainctz, rien que changes on n'oyt.
Qui vouldra donc qu'à aymer je me fonde,
Il fault, premier, que l'amour on refonde
Et qu'on la meine ainsi qu'on la menoit
Au bon vieulx temps.

In sixteenth century France a group called "Pleiade" led by Pierre Ronsard began the Renaissance movement. The popular meter of the French poets group, La Pleiades, was the Alexandrine or twelve syllable line. In fact, the Alexandrine is the standard French heroic line just as iambic pentameter is the standard English heroic line. The name alexandrine is taken from a collection of early French 12th century verse about the adventures of Alexander the Great, revived by the la Pleiade in the sixteenth century. The French apply the volta between the octave and the sestet by inserting a rhyming couplet (c c) at that point. Thus the frequent rhyme scheme was a b b a a b b a; c c d e d e as in these examples of Pierre de Ronsard:

Whether her golden hair curls languidly,
Or whether it swims by, in two flowing waves
That over her breasts wander there, and stray,
And across her neck float playfully:
Whether a knot, ornamented richly,
With many a ruby, many a rounded pearl,
Ties the stream of her rippling curls,
My heart delights itself, contentedly.

What delight it is, a wonder rather,
When her hair, caught above her ear,

Imitates the style that Venus employed!
Or with a cap on her head she is Adonis,
And no one knows if she’s a girl or boy,
So sweetly her beauty hides in both disguises.

And from Sonnets pour Helene:

Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir, à la chandelle,
Assise auprès du feu, dévidant et filant,
Direz, chantant mes vers, en vous émerveillant:
Ronsard me célébrait du temps que j’étais belle.

Lors, vous n’aurez servante oyant telle nouvelle,
Déjà sous le labeur à demi sommeillant,
Qui au bruit de mon nom ne s’aille réveillant,
Bénissant votre nom de louange immortelle.

Je serai sous la terre et fantôme sans os:
Par les ombres myrteux je prendrai mon repos:
Vous serez au foyer une vieille accroupie,

Regrettant mon amour et votre fier dédain.
Vivez, si m’en croyez, n’attendez à demain:
Cueillez dès aujourd’hui les roses de la vie.

In translation:

When you are very old, at evening, by the fire,
spinning wool by candlelight and winding it in skeins,
you will say in wonderment as you recite my lines:
“Ronsard admired me in the days when I was fair.”
Then not one of your servants dozing gently there
hearing my name’s cadence break through your low repines
but will start into wakefulness out of her dreams
and bless your name immortalised by my desire.

I’ll be underneath the ground, and a boneless shade
taking my long rest in the scented myrtle-glade,

and you’ll be an old woman, nodding towards life’s close,
regretting my love, and regretting your disdain.
Heed me, and live for now: this time won’t come again.
Come, pluck now today life’s so quickly-fading rose.

If we look at this French sonnet we see that the first stanza is the sestet; second the volta or turn, is a couplet that introduces the quatrain.

A contemporary of Ronsard was Joachim Du Bellay (1522-1560). Unlike Ronsard, Du Bellay favored the Italian Petrarchan form. Here is Number II of L'Olive:

D'amour de grace, and de haulte valeur
Les feux diuins estoient ceinetz, and les cieulx
S'estoient vestuz d'vn manteau precieux
A raiz ardens de diuerse couleur:
Tout estoit plein de beaute, de bonheur,
La mer tranquille, and le vent gracieulx
Quand cell la nasquit ences bas lieux
Qui a pille du monde tout l'honneur.

Ell' prist son teint des beaux lyz blanchissans,
Son chef de l'or, ses deux leures des rozes,
Et du soleil ses yeux resplendissans;
Le ciel vsant de liberalite,
Mist en l'esprit ses semences encloses
So nom des Dirux prist l'immortalite.

And another translated example titled To his Friend in Elysium:

So long you wandered on the dusky plain,
Where flit the shadows with their endless cry,
You reach the shore where all the world goes by,
You leave the strife, the slavery, the pain;
But we, but we, the mortals that remain
In vain stretch hands; for Charon sullenly
Drives us afar, we may not come a nigh
Till that last mystic obolus we gain.

But you are happy in the quiet place,
And with the learned lovers of old days,
And with your love, you wander ever-more
In the dim woods, and drink forgetfulness
Of us your friends, a weary crowd that press
About the gate, or labour at the oar.

In looking at reasons why the sonnet form was transformed as it moved North throughout Europe there are two possibilites; one, language and two nationalism.

As to the first, a major influence to the form and rhyme changes in any type of verse can be attributed to the differences between languages. For example, Italian and French have their own natural rhythm and rhyme. In English it is iambic or "di dah di dah". So the Italian sestet would be c c d e e d; The French sestet c c d c c d; the English c c d e d e.

Second, for the influence of nationalism we quote the leader of the Pleiade, Pierre Ronsard: "I beseech those of you, to whom the Muses have granted their favor, that you no more Latinize and Grecanize but take pity on you poor mother-tongue for it is a far greater thing to write in a language that flourisheth today...than to compose in a language dead and mute. It were better, like a good citizen of thine own enrich the language of thine own country."

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) was a member of the court of King Henry VIII and as such had contact with both the French Pleiade, the Italian Petrarchans and poets of the court of Spain. It is Wyatt along with his contemporary Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey brought the sonnet to England. Neither Wyatt nor Howard published their poems. The Earl of Surrey was executed for treason at the age of thirty and Wyatt also died young of a fever.

The specialty of Surrey was the apostrophe, actually sixty-two out of the one-hundred eight sonnets used apostrophes to give the illusion of the presence of a third party. Here is an example:

Sonnet 34: Come Let Me Write

Come, let me write. 'And to what end?' To ease
A burthen'd heart. 'How can words ease, which are
The glasses of thy daily vexing care?'
Oft cruel fights well pictur'd forth do please.
'Art not asham'd to publish thy disease?'
Nay, that may breed my fame, it is so rare.
'But will not wise men think thy words fond ware?'
Then be they close, and so none shall displease.

'What idler thing than speak and not be heard?'
What harder thing than smart, and not to speak?
Peace, foolish wit, with wit my wit is marr'd.
Thus write I while I doubt to write, and wreak
My harms on ink's poor loss; perhaps some find
Stella's great powers, that so confuse my mind.

In the "foolish wit" the reader is asked to imagine a third person. His finest sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella was published after his death.

Some lovers speak when they their Muses entertain,
Of hopes begot by fear, of wot not what desires:
Of force of heav'nly beams, infusing hellish pain:
Of living deaths, dear wounds, fair storms, and freezing fires.
Some one his song in Jove, and Jove's strange tales attires,
Broidered with bulls and swans, powdered with golden rain;
Another humbler wit to shepherd's pipe retires,
Yet hiding royal blood full oft in rural vein.
To some a sweetest plaint a sweetest style affords,
While tears pour out his ink, and sighs breathe out his words:
His paper pale despair, and pain his pen doth move.
I can speak what I feel, and feel as much as they,
But think that all the map of my state I display,
When trembling voice brings forth that I do Stella love.

The name "Astrophel" (meaning star-lover) is a Greek pun on Sir Philip Sidney's name. His friend Edmund Spenser wrote an elegy called Astrophel.

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) made the first major change in the sonnet form. The English sonnet form consisted of two or more quatrains and a couplet with a rhyme scheme abab;abab;cddc;ef, became the model.

Because I have thee still kept from lies and blame
And to my power always have I thee honoured,
Unkind tongue, right ill hast thou me rendered
For such desert to do me wreak and shame.

In need of succour most when that I am
To ask reward, then standest thou like one afeard,
Alway most cold; and if thou speak toward,
It is as in dream, unperfect and lame.

And ye salt tears, again my will each night
That are with me when fain I would be alone,

Then are ye gone when I should make my moan.
And you so ready sighs to make me shright,
Then are ye slack when that ye should outstart,
And only my look declareth my heart.

And this one:

Though I myself be bridled of my mind,
Returning me backward by force express,
If thou seek honour to keep thy promise,
Who may thee hold, my heart, but thou thyself unbind?

Sigh then no more since no way man may find
Thy virtue to let though that forwardness
Of fortune me holdeth; and yet as I may guess,
Though other be present, thou art not all behind.

Suffice it then that thou be ready there
At all hours, still under the defence
Of time, truth, and love to save thee from offence,
Crying, "I burn in a lovely desire

With my dear master's that may not follow,
Whereby his absence turneth him to sorrow."

In test situations the practice of counting lines and finding rhyme is not enough to identify a "sonnet" best to give it a good read.. For example:

A man was sitting underneath a tree
Outside a villge, and he asked me what
Name was upon this place, and said that he Ws never here before, He told a lot Of stories to me too. His nose was flat.
I asked him how it happened, and he said the first mate of the Mary Anne done that With a marling spike one day, but he was dead, And jolly good job too; and he'd have gone A long way to have killed him, and he had A gold ring in one ear; the other one Was bit off by a crocodile That what he said. He taught me how to chew, He was a real nice man. He like me too.

This looks like a sonnet; has a semblance of rhyme, but it's a narrative poem by James Stephens (1880-1950), the Irish poet and storyteller titled Seamus Beg.

Two sonnets from the 20th century speak the “language of human grief and sorrow.” They come not from familiar poets, laureates and such but from those who lived through a period of the life sacrifice of young yet unproven poets. First from Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967), the leading anti World War I poet and journalist in tribute to all soldiers:


Soldiers are citizens of death’s gray land,
Drawing no dividend from time’s to-morrows,
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
They think of fire-lit homes, clean beds, and wives.
I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain.
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
Bank-holidays, and picture-shows, and spats,
And going to the office in the rain.

And this one by Maurice Baring (1876-1945) to memorialize Julian Grenfell (1888-1915), young poet and war-hero, destined “to die in battle.”

Julian Grenfell

Because of you we will be glad and gay,
Remembering you, we will be brave and strong:
And hail the advent of each dangerous day,
And, as you proudly gave your jeweled gift,
We’ll give our lesser offering with a smile,
Nor falter on that path where, all too swift,
You led the way and leapt the golden stile.
Whether new paths, new heights to climb you find,
Or gallop through the un-footed asphodel,
We know you know we shall not lag behind,
Nor halt to waste a moment on a fear;
And you will speed us onward with a cheer,
And wave beyond the stars that all is well.

sonnet, English - The English or Shakespearean sonnets consists of fourteen lines with most of these lines containing ten syllables and five stresses as in "When I consider how my light is spent."

English poets experimented with a variety of forms. Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) was a member of the court of King Henry VIII and as such had contact with both the French Pleiade, the Italian Petrarchans and poets of the court of Spain. Although there are many sources that declare the origin of the English sonnet as Italian Petrachan, more authentic researchers give evidence to the contrary. The source more likely was the French pleiade. The English and Italian have certain commonalities such a the fourteen lines and an octave of two quatrains. However the internal rhymes are different due to language differences and the English sonnet comprises a sestet of a couplet and a quatrain. It is Wyatt, along with his contemporary Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547), who brought the sonnet to England. Neither Wyatt nor Howard published their poems. The Earl of Surrey was executed for treason at the age of thirty and Wyatt also died young of a fever.

The specialty of Surrey was the apostrophe. Sixty-two out of the one-hundred eight sonnets Surrey wrote used apostrophes to give the illusion of the presence of a third party. Here is an example:

Sonnet XXXIV

Come, let me write. 'And to what end?' To ease
A burthen'd heart. 'How can words ease, which are
The glasses of thy daily vexing care?'
Oft cruel fights well pictur'd forth do please.
'Art not asham'd to publish thy disease?'
Nay, that may breed my fame, it is so rare.
'But will not wise men think thy words fond ware?'
Then be they close, and so none shall displease.

'What idler thing than speak and not be heard?'
What harder thing than smart, and not to speak?
Peace, foolish wit, with wit my wit is marr'd.
Thus write I while I doubt to write, and wreak
My harms on ink's poor loss; perhaps some find
Stella's great powers, that so confuse my mind.

In the "foolish wit" the reader is asked to imagine a third person. His finest sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella with all others was published after his death.

Some lovers speak when they their Muses entertain,
Of hopes begot by fear, of wot not what desires:
Of force of heav'nly beams, infusing hellish pain:
Of living deaths, dear wounds, fair storms, and freezing fires.
Some one his song in Jove, and Jove's strange tales attires,
Broidered with bulls and swans, powdered with golden rain;
Another humbler wit to shepherd's pipe retires,
Yet hiding royal blood full oft in rural vein.
To some a sweetest plaint a sweetest style affords,
While tears pour out his ink, and sighs breathe out his words:
His paper pale despair, and pain his pen doth move.
I can speak what I feel, and feel as much as they,
But think that all the map of my state I display,
When trembling voice brings forth that I do Stella love.

The name "Astrophel" (meaning star-lover) is a Greek pun on Sir Philip Sidney's name.

A contemporary of Surrey, Edmund Spenser invented this form now called The Spenserian sonnet. This pattern is: a b a b b c b c c d c d e e, as in Sonnet LIV:

Of this World's theatre in which we stay,
My love like the Spectator idly sits,
Beholding me, that all the pageants play,
Disguising diversely my troubled wits.

Sometimes I joy when glad occasion fits,
And mask in mirth like to a Comedy;
Soon after when my joy to sorrow flits,
I wail and make my woes a Tragedy.

Yet she, beholding me with constant eye,
Delights not in my mirth nor rues my smart;
But when I laugh, she mocks: and when I cry
She laughs and hardens evermore her heart.

What then can move her? If nor mirth nor moan,
She is no woman, but a senseless stone.

Wyatt made the first major change in the sonnet form. His sonnet form consisted of two or more quatrains and a couplet with a rhyme scheme abab;abab;cddc;ef. This became the model for the early English sonnet:

Some fowls there be that have so perfect sight
Again the sun their eyes for to defend;
And some because the light doth them offend
Do never 'pear but in the dark or night.

Other rejoice that see the fire bright
And ween to play in it, as they do pretend,
And find the contrary of it that they intend.
Alas, of that sort I may be by right,

For to withstand her look I am not able
And yet can I not hide me in no dark place,
Remembrance so followeth me of that face.
So that with teary eyen, swollen and unstable,

My destiny to behold her doth me lead,
Yet do I know I run into the gleed.

And this one:

My galley charged with forgetfulness
Through sharp seas in winter nights doth pass
Tween rock and rock, and eke my foe (alas)
That is my lord, steereth with cruelness.

And every oar, a thought in readiness,
As though that death were light in such a case;
An endless wind doth tear the sail apace
Of forced sighs and trusty fearfulness;

A rain of tears, a cloud of dark distain,
Have done the wearied cords great hinderance;
Wreathed with error and eke with ignorance,
The stars be hid that lead me to this pain.

Drowned is reason that should me consort,
And I remain, despairing of the port.

And yet another example:

Though I myself be bridled of my mind,
Returning me backward by force express,
If thou seek honour to keep thy promise,
Who may thee hold, my heart, but thou thyself unbind?

Sigh then no more since no way man may find
Thy virtue to let though that forwardness
Of fortune me holdeth; and yet as I may guess,
Though other be present, thou art not all behind.

Suffice it then that thou be ready there
At all hours, still under the defence
Of time, truth, and love to save thee from offence,
Crying, "I burn in a lovely desire

With my dear master's that may not follow,
Whereby his absence turneth him to sorrow."

In 1575 the English poet George Gascoigne defined the sonnet form as having fourteen lines, a line length of ten syllables, and a rhyme scheme of of three quatrains and a couplet, now called the Shakespearean. As in the Spenserian, each quatrain develops a specific idea, but closely related to the ideas in the other quatrains. What is most interesting is their use of the volta, or turn. It can appear between quatrains or for suspense in the last couplet as in Sonnet XXXIV of Shakespeare:

When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least,
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate,
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Or Sonnet LXXIII:

That time of year thou mayst in me behold,
When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self that seals up all in rest.
In me thou seest the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed, whereon it must expire,
Consumed by that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

If we were to compare the rhyme scheme of the Petrarchan and Shakespearean Sonnet it would appear thus:






John Milton (1608-1674) wrote in the Italian sonnetti caudato or "tailed sonnet" with additional verse(s) at the end. Here is the oft-cited On the New Forcers of Conscience Under the Long Parliament:

Because you have thrown of your Prelate Lord:
And with stiff vows renounc'd his Liturgy,
To seise the widow'd whore Plurality
From them whose sin ye envi'd, not abhorr'd,
Dare ye for this adjure the civill sword
To force our consciences that Christ set free,
And ride us with a classic hierarchy
Taught ye by meer A.S. and Rotherford?

Men whose Life, Learning, Faith and pure intent
Would have been held in high esteem with Paul,
Must now he nam'd and printed Hereticks
By shallow Edwards and Scotch what d'ye call:
But we do hope to find out all your tricks,
Your plots and packing worse then those of Trent,

That so the Parlament
Say with their wholesome and preventive shears
Clip your phylacteries, though bauk your ears,
And succour our just fears,
When they shall read this clearly in your charge,
New Presbyter is but Old Priest writ large.

The basic structure is maintained by the first fourteen lines or Petrarchan sonnet with the rhyme a b b a; a b b a. The octet poses a question. The volta is at line eight which begins the response or reflection on the question. The "tail" is the six lines which follow the sestet a b c b c a and begin with the short line "That so the Parliament". The tail begins with a line which rhymes with the last line of the sestet followed by a couplet.

The finest English sonnet sequence would be that of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) Sonnets from the Portuguese. Here is one example:

What can I give thee back, O liberal
And princely giver, who hast brought the gold
And purple of thine heart, unstained, untold,
And laid them on the outside of the wall
For such as I to take or leave withal,
In unexpected largesse? am I cold,
Ungrateful, that for these most mainfold
High gifts, I render nothing back at all?
Not so; not cold, --- but very poor instead.
Ask God who knows. For frequent tears have run
The colours from my life, and left so dead
And pale a stuff, it were not fitly done
To give the same as pillow to thy head.
Go farther! let it serve to trample on.

There were two other notable variations on the sonnet form. This one from the late nineteenth century is the curtal or shortened sonnet. Invented by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) in has only ten and a half lines, which are divided as two unequal stanzas of six and four and a half as in The Caged Skylark:

As a dare-gale skylark scanted in a dull cage
     Mans mounting spirit in his bone-house, mean house, dwells?
     That bird beyond the remembering his free fells;
This in drudgery, day-labouring-out lifes age.

Though aloft on turf or perch or poor low stage,
     Both sing sometmes the sweetest, sweetest spells,
     Yet both droop deadly smetimes in their cells
Or wring their barriers in bursts of fear or rage.

Not that the sweet-fowl, song-fowl, needs no rest -
Why, hear him, hear him babble and drop down to his nest,
     But his own nest, wild nest, no prison.

Mans spirit will be flesh-bound when found at best,
But uncumbered: meadow-down is not distressed
     For a rainbow footing it nor he for his bnes rsen.

A very special type of sonnet sequence is the "corona." The corona sequence must have at least seven sonnets. In this case the first line of the second sonnet, and the last line of the second sonnet is used as the first line of the thrid sonnet and so on. The last line of the seventh sonnet is the same as the first line of the first sonnet and thus the cycle is complete. The best example would be John Donne's written at the end of the seventeeth century Deign at my hands:

Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise,
Weav'd in my low devout melancholy,
Thou which of good, hast, yea art treasury,
All changing unchanged Ancient of days,
But do not, with a vile crown of frail bays,
Reward my muse's white sincerity,
But what thy thorny crown gained, that give me,
A crown of Glory, which doth flower always;
The ends crown our works, but thou crown'st our ends,
For at our end begins our endlesse rest,
The first last end, now zealously possest,
With a strong sober thirst, my soul attends.
'Tis time that heart and voice be lifted high,
Salvation to all that will is nigh.

Salvation to all that will is nigh,
That All, which always is All everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Loe, faithful Virgin, yields himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though he there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet he'will wear
Taken from thence, flesh, which death's force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in his mind, who is thy Son, and Brother,
Whom thou conceiv'st, conceiv'd; yea thou art now
Thy maker's maker, and thy Father's mother,
Thou hast light in dark; and shutst in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves his welbelov'd imprisonment,
There he hath made himself to his intent
Weak enough, now into our world to come;
But Oh, for thee, for him, hath th'Inne no roome?
Yet lay him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars, and wisemen will travel to prevent
Th'effect of Herod's jealous general doom;
Seest thou, my Soul, with thy faith's eyes, how he
Which fills all place, yet none holds him, doth lie?
Was not his pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss him, and with him into Egypt goe,
With his kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

With his kind mother, who partakes thy woe,
Joseph turn back; see where your child doth sit,
Blowing, yea blowing out those sparks of wit,
Which himself on the Doctors did bestow;
The Word but lately could not speake, and loe
It suddenly speaks wonders, whence comes it,
That all which was, and all which should be writ,
A shallow seeming child, should deeply know?
His Godhead was not soul to his manhood,
Nor had time mellow'd him to this ripenesse,
But as for one which hath a long task, 'tis good,
With the Sunne to begin his businesse,
He in His age's morning thus began
By miracles exceeding power of man.

By miracles exceeding power of man,
He faith in some, envy in some begat,
For, what weake spirits admire, ambitious hate:
In both affections many to him ran,
But Oh! the worst are most, they will and can,
Alas, and do, unto the immaculate,
Whose creature Fate is, now prescribe a Fate,
Measuring selfe-life's infinity to a span,
Nay to an inch. Loe, where condemned he
Bears his own cross, with pain, yet by and by
When it bears him, he must bear more and die;
Now thou art lifted up, draw me to thee,
And at thy death giving such liberal dole,
Moist, with one drop of thy blood, my dry soule.

Moist, with one drop of thy blood, my dry soule
Shall (though she now be in extreme degree
Too stony hard, and yet too fleshly) be
Freed by that drop, from being starved, hard, or foul,
And life, by this death abled, shall control
Death, whom thy death slew; nor shall to me
Fear of first or last death, bring misery,
If in thy little book my name thou enroll,
Flesh in that long sleep is not putrified,
But made that there, of which, and for which 'twas;
Nor can by other means be glorified.
May then sins sleep, and deaths soon from me pass,
That waked from both, I again risen may
Salute the last, and everlasting day.

Salute the last, and everlasting day,
Joy at the uprising of this Sunne, and Sonne,
Ye whose just tears, or tribulation
Have purely washed, or burnt your drossy clay;
Behold the Highest, parting hence away,
Lightens the dark clouds, which he treads upon,
Nor doth he by ascending, show alone,
But first he, and he first enters the way.
O strong Ram which hast battered heaven for me,
Mild lamb, which with thy blood, hast marked the path;
Bright Torch, which shin'st, that I the way may see,
Oh, with thy own blood quench thy own just wrath.
And if the holy Spirit, my Muse did raise,
Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise.

Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise.
Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste,
I run to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday;
I dare not move my dim eyes any way,
Despair behind, and death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it t'wards hell doth weigh;
Only thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one hour my self I can sustain;
Thy Grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou like Adamant draw mine iron heart.

And thou like Adamant draw mine iron heart.
As due by many titles I resign
My self to Thee, O God; first I was made
By Thee, and for Thee, and when I was decayed
Thy blood bought that, the which before was Thine;
I am Thy son, made with Thy Self to shine,
Thy servant, whose pains Thou hast still repaid,
Thy sheep, thine image, and, till I betrayed
My self, a temple of Thy Spirit divine;
Why doth the devil then usurp on me?
Why doth he steal, nay ravish that's thy right?
Except thou rise and for thine own work fight,
Oh I shall soon despair, when I do see
That thou lov'st mankind well, yet wilt not choose me,
And Satan hates me, yet is loth to lose me.

And Satan hates me, yet is loth to lose me.
O might those sighs and tears return again
Into my breast and eyes, which I have spent,
That I might in this holy discontent
Mourn with some fruit, as I have mourned in vain;
In mine Idolatry what showers of rain
Mine eyes did waste! what griefs my heart did rent!
That sufferance was my sin; now I repent;
'Cause I did suffer I must suffer pain.
Th' hydropic drunkard, and night-scouting thief,
The itchy lecher, and self-tickling proud
Have the remembrance of past joys for relief
Of comming ills. To (poor) me is allowed
No ease; for long, yet vehement grief hath been
Th' effect and cause, the punishment and sin.
Oh my block soul! now art thou summoned

Oh my black soul! now art thou summoned
By sickness, death's herald, and champion;
Thou art like a pilgrim, which abroad hath done
Treason, and durst not turn to whence he is fled;
Or like a thief, which till death's doom be read,
Wisheth himself delivered from prison,
But damned and haled to execution,
Wisheth that still he might be imprisoned.
Yet grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lack;
But who shall give thee that grace to begin?
Oh make thy self with holy mourning black,
And red with blushing, as thou art with sin;
Or wash thee in Christ's blood, which hath this might
That being red, it dyes red souls to white.
At the round earth's imagined corners, blow

At the round earth's imagined corners, blow
Four trumpets, Angels, and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go,
All whom the flood did, and fire shall o'erthrow,
All whom war, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance, hath slain, and you whose eyes,
Shall behold God, and never taste death's woe.
But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space,
For, if above all these, my sins abound,
'Tis late to ask abundance of thy grace,
When we are there; here on this lowly ground,
Teach me how to repent; for that's as good
As if thou hadst seal'd my pardon, with thy blood.
If faithful souls be alike glorified

If Faithful souls be alike glorified
As angels, then my father's soul doth see,
And adds this even to full felicity,
That valiantly I hell's wide mouth o'erstride:
But if our minds to these souls be descried
By circumstances, and by signs that be
Apparent in us, not immediately,
How shall my mind's white truth by them be tried?
They see idolatrous lovers weep and mourn,
And vile blasphemous conjurers to call
On Jesus name, and Pharisaical
Dissemblers feigne devotion. Then turn,
O pensive soul, to God, for he knows best
Thy true grief, for he put it in my breast.
Death be not proud, though some have called thee

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so,
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
Spit in my face you Jews, and pierce my side

Spit in my face you Jews, and pierce my side,
Buffet, and scoff, scourge, and crucify me,
For I have sinned, and sinned, and only he
Who could do no iniquity hath died:
But by my death can not be satisfied
My sins, which pass the Jews' impiety:
They killed once an inglorious man, but I
Crucify him daily, being now glorified.
Oh let me, then, his strange love still admire:
Kings pardon, but he bore our punishment.
And Jacob came clothed in vile harsh attire
But to supplant, and with gainful intent:
God clothed himself in vile man's flesh, that so
He might be weak enough to suffer woe.
Why are we by all creatures waited on?

Why are we by all creatures waited on?
Why do the prodigal elements supply
Life and food to me, being more pure than I,
Simple, and further from corruption?
Why brook'st thou, ignorant horse, subjection?
Why dost thou, bull, and bore so seelily,
Dissemble weakness, and by one man's stroke die,
Whose whole kind you might swallow and feed upon?
Weaker I am, woe is me, and worse than you,
You have not sinned, nor need be timorous.
But wonder at a greater wonder, for to us
Created nature doth these things subdue,
But their Creator, whom sin nor nature tied,
For us, His creatures, and His foes, hath died.
What if this present were the world's last night?

What if this present were the world's last night?
Mark in my heart, O soul, where thou dost dwell,
The picture of Christ crucified, and tell
Whether that countenance can thee affright,
Tears in his eyes quench the amazing light,
Blood fills his frowns, which from his pierced head fell.
And can that tongue adjudge thee unto hell,
Which prayed forgiveness for his foes' fierce spite?
No, no; but as in my idolatry
I said to all my profane mistresses,
Beauty, of pity, foulness only is
A sign of rigour: so I say to thee,
To wicked spirits are horrid shapes assigned,
This beauteous form assures a piteous mind.
Batter my heart, three-person'd God...

Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
Wilt thou love God, as he thee? Then digest

Wilt thou love God, as he thee? Then digest,
My soul, this wholesome meditation,
How God the Spirit, by angels waited on
In heaven, doth make his Temple in thy breast.
The Father having begot a Son most blest,
And still begetting, (for he ne'er be gone)
Hath deigned to choose thee by adoption,
Co-heir t' his glory, and Sabbath' endless rest.
And as a robbed man, which by search doth find
His stol'n stuff sold, must lose or buy 't again:
The Son of glory came down, and was slain,
Us whom he'd made, and Satan stol'n, to unbind.
'Twas much that man was made like God before,
But, that God should be made like man, much more.
Father, part of his double interest

Father, part of his double interest
Unto thy kingdom, thy Son gives to me,
His jointure in the knotty Trinity
He keeps, and gives to me his death's conquest.
This Lamb, whose death with life the world hath blest,
Was from the world's beginning slain, and he
Hath made two Wills which with the Legacy
Of his and thy kingdom do thy Sons invest.
Yet such are thy laws that men argue yet
Whether a man those statutes can fulfil;
None doth; but all-healing grace and spirit
Revive again what law and letter kill.
Thy law's abridgement, and thy last command
Is all but love; Oh let this last Will stand!
Oh, to vex me, contraries meet in one

Oh, to vex me, contraries meet in one:
Inconstancy unnaturally hath begot
A constant habit; that when I would not
I change in vows, and in devotion.
As humorous is my contrition
As my profane love, and as soon forgot:
As riddlingly distempered, cold and hot,
As praying, as mute; as infinite, as none.
I durst not view heaven yesterday; and today
In prayers and flattering speeches I court God:
Tomorrow I quake with true fear of his rod.
So my devout fits come and go away
Like a fantastic ague; save that here
Those are my best days, when I shake with fear.

The sonnet form reached America at the end of the eighteenth century. There were no changes in the rhyme or line length. Every poet tried at least one type of sonnet form in his career. The American literature is filled with examples of this popular fourteen line form. As an example we offer this one read by Winston Churchill when he addressed the House of Commons during World war II. Here is If We Must Die written by the Jamaican born black poet Claude Mckay in response to the Harlem race riots of 1919:

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

Sons of Ben - See Cavalier poets. The “Ben” is Ben Jonson, the mentor of this group.

spondee - Has two accented syllables in the same foot marked with two slash lines //. Used for strong accented consecutive words. Ex. Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Pied Beauty:

Gory be to God for dappled things
For skies of couple-color as a brinded cow,
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim,
Fresh-firecoal, chestnut-falls, finshes’ wings,
Landscaped, plotted and pierced -fold, fallow, and plow
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange,
Whatever is fickly, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow, sweet, sour, adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change

Praise him.

sprung rhythm - sprung rhythm: a special use of accent meter. The original use of this rhythm came from Gerard Manley Hopkins who commented that he was not the inventor by tried to use a “sprung” something like abrupt...sense of halt...of impediments to smoothness” to approximate the natural rhythm of “common English speech” The common feet of English verse can be identified as either trochaic and dactylic or iambic and anapestic. Each foot consists of one stressed syllable and any number of sequentially unstressed syllables present in the rhythm of Piers Plowman, (which most prosodists agree superseded the rhyme of Chaucer) and children’s verse such as “ding, dong, bell; Pussy’s in the well” thus resembling something between free verse and regular meter. For example the opening lines in Spring and Fall:

/ u u u u / u
Margaret are you grieving

/ u / u u u / u
Over Goldengrove unleaving?

Although at first sight the rhythm of the nursery and the ballad resembles doggerel the prosody becomes more appealing when spoken and when one ignores stanza form. Some nursery examples are:

Misty, moisty was the morn,
Chilly was the weather;
There I met an old man
Dressed all in leather,
Dressed all in leather,
Against the wind and rain;
It was how do you do? And how do you do?
And how do you do again.

Note: In the final lines, the stresses are marked by alliteration and not on a single syllable but be spread over two or three.

There once was a man
So vain and so proud,
He walked on stilts
To be seen by the crowd,
Up above the chimney-pots
Tall as a mast,
And all the people ran about
Shouting till he passed.

At Wednesday there was a cocking,
A match between Newton and Scroggin;
And all to old Spittel’s went jogging;
To see this noble sport
Many noblemen resorted,
And though they had but little money,
Yet that little they freely sported.

In all three examples the syllables are irregular, but there is a lilt or pleasant song present.

Hopkins also preferred a “counterpoint rhythm” that is two rhythms running at once in order to avoid monotony. He measured it “by feet of one to four syllables with any number of weak syllables.”

Spenserian - A rhyme royal stanza to which a ninth line is added in hexameter (6-foot), the stanza in which Spenser wrote The Faerie Queene.

stanza - Italian for “room” meaning metaphorically a single, self-contained room In poetry, it is a unit of recurring meter and rhyme with a characteristic pattern of repetition and separation in the poem the opposite of blank verse. There are three types of stanzas. One, those that have lines of the same length or the isometric stanza. Two, the heterometric, or stanzas of lines of different lengths. And three, quasi-stanzaic, a mixture of the previous two. Some examples would be:

Chaucer’s Troilus and Cressida (Book I) (1343-1400)

For I, that God of Loves servantz serve,
Ne nar to lave, for myn unlikelynesse,
Preyen for wpeed, al sholde I therefore sterve,
So fer am I from his help in derknesse.
But natheles, if this may don gladnesse
To any lovere, and his cause availle,
Have he my thonk, and myn be this travaille!

But ye loveres, that bathen in gladnesse,
If any drope of pyte in yow be,
Remembreth yow on passed hevynesse
That you han felt, and on the adversite
Of othere folk, and thynketh how that ye
Han felt that Love dorste yow displese,
Or ye han wonne hym with to gret an ese.

Ane prieth for hem that been in the cas
Of Troilus, as ye may after here,
And ek for me preieth to God so dere
That I have myght to shewe, in som manere,
Swich peyne and wo as Loves folk endure,
In Troilus unsely aventure.

Also Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) in They Flee from Me

They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle tame and meek
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range
Busily seeking with continual change.

Thanked be fortune, it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once in special,
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her arms long and small;
And therewithal sweetly did me miss,
And softly said, “Dear heart, how like you this?”

It was no dream, I lay broad waking.
But all is turned thorough my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness
And she also to use newfangleness.
But sine that I kindely so am served,
I would fain know what she hath deserved.

And from the American Renaissance period Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) I Died for Beauty

I died for beauty-but was scarce
Adjusted in the Tomb
When One who died for Truth, was lain
In an adjoining Room

He questioned softly “Why I failed”?
“For Beauty,” I repled
“And I for Truth - Themself are One
We Brethren, are, He said

And so, As Kinsmen, met a Night
We talked between the Rooms
Until the Moss had reached our lips
And covered up our names.

And one more: Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) in The Convergence of the Twain referencing the loss of the Titanic.

In a solitude of the sea
Deep from human vanity,
And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.

Steel chambers, late the pyres
Of her salamandrine fires,
Cold currents third, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.

Over the mirrors meant
To glass the opulent
The sea-worm crawls - grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.

Jewels in joy designed
To ravish the sensuous mind
Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.

Dim moon-eyed fishes near
Gaze at the gilded gear
And query: ‘What does this vaingloriousness down here?’

Well: while was fashioning
This creature of cleaving wing,
The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything.

Prepared a sinister mate
For her - so gaily great
A Shape of Ice, for the time far and dissociate.

And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.

Alien they seemed to be:
No mortal eye could see
The intimate welding of their later history.

Or sign that they were bent
By paths coincident
On being anon twin halves of one qugust event,

Till the Spinner of the Years
Said ‘Now!’ And each one hears,
And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.

For other clear examples go to: George Herbert Easter Wings, Lord Byron So We’ll Go No More A-Roving, and William Blake The Tyger.

stanzaic form - Or the function of white spaces between verses. The two stanza verse form is the bipartite; three stanza is tripartite. To arbitrarily copy poems ignoring the verse separation may work in the case of weak poetry but it is an irreverent act that disclaims the message of the poet to say nothing of the structural integrity of the poem which is a basic requirement for endurance. We offer this reminder to students “every part of a short poem is large, just as every part of a large poem is small.” We offer these examples from Fussell and others.

For the bipartite the separation may be past and present as in one of Wordsworth’s Lucy poems:

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

No motion has she now, no force;
She nether hears nor sees;
Roll’d round in earth’s diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees.”

Or subject and predicate as in Frost’s Dust of Snow:

“The way a crow
shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.”

Or cause and effect as in Dickinson’s It Dropped So low in my Regard:

“It dropped so low in my regard,
I heard it hit the ground,
And go to pieces on the stones
At bottom of my mind.

Yet blamed the fate that fractured, less
Than I reviled myself,
For entertaining plated wares
Upon my silver shelf.”

And this “to go and to be” from Gerard Manley Hopkins Heaven – Haven:

I have desired to go
     Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
   And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be
     Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
   And out of the swing of the sea.

In similar ways the tripartite unifies three separate expressions. As in Bridge’s I Praise the Tender Flower:

“I praise the tender flower,
That on a mournful day
Bloomed in my garden bower
And made the winter gay.
Its loveliness contented
My heart tormented.

I praise the gentle maid
Whose happy voice and smile
To confidence betrayed
My doleful heart awhile:
And gave my spirit deploring
Fresh wings for soaring.

The maid for very fear
Of love, I durst not tell:
The rose could never hear,
Though I bespake her well:
So in my song I bind them
For all to find them.”

Also look at Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress, which is written as a classical syllogism beginning with the propositional if there were time –followed in the second verse there isn’t enough time – ergo we must speed up.

stress - Emphasis given a word or syllable. There are two forms of stress, stress of accent and stress of emphasis. Polysyllabic words require stress of accent. Stress of emphasis is to the reader and his thought. Ex. I have LOST again. or I have lost AGAIN.

syllabic meter - In syllabic meter only syllables are counted.

synaeresis - Where the poet merges vowels in order to maintain the rhythmic pattern. As in these lines from Ben Jonson Song from the play Cynthia’s Revels:

Droop herbs, and flόwers. flow’rs
Fall grief in shόwers. show’rs

synecdoche - A figure of speech where a part of something is used to represent the whole. In Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Letters:

Every day brings a ship,
Every ship brings a word,
Well for those who have no fear,
Looking seaward well assured
That the word the vessel brings
Is the word they wish to hear.

Also found in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge:

“The western wave was all aflame.” Where “wave” represents “sea.”

Here is another example from Puttenham’s (1589) Arte of English Poesie, Book III:

“Now will I remember you farther of that manner of speech which the Greekes call Synecdoche, and we the figure of quick conceit…as when one would tell me how the French king was overthrown at Sainyt Quintans, I am enforced to think that it was not the king himselfe in person, but the Constable of Fraunce with the French kings power.”

synesthesia - Where the poet has transposed one sense to that of another. For example:

Sound – vision

Found throughout the poetry of Edith Sitwell. From her Façade Poems here is Valse:

Daisy and Lily,
Lazy and silly,
Walk by the shore of the wan grassy sea,-
Talking once more 'neath a swan-
bosomed tree.
Rose castles
Those bustles
Where swells
Each foam-bell of ermine
They roam and determine
What fashions have been and what
fashions will be,-
What tartan leaves born,
What Crinolines worn.

By Queen Thetis,
Of tarlatine blue,
Like the thin Plaided leaves that the
Castle crags grew,
Or velours d'Afrande:
On the water-god's land
Her hair seemed gold trees on the
honey-cell sand
When the thickest gold spangles,
on deep water seen,
Were like twanging guitar and like
cold mandoline,
And the nymphs of great caves,
With hair like gold waves,
Of Venus, wore tarlatiine
Louise and Charlottine
(Borea's daughters)
And the nymphs of deep waters,
The nymph Taglioni, Grisi the ondine
Wear Plaided Victoria and thin
Like the crinolined waterfalls;
Wood-nymphs wear bonnets,
Elegant parasols
Floating are seen.
The Amazones wear balzarine of

Besides the blond lace of a deep-
falling rill;
Through glades like a nun
They run from and shun
The enormous and gold-rayed
rustling sun;
And the nymphs of the fountains
Descend from the mountains
Like elegant willows
On their deep barouche pillows,
In cashmere Alvandar, barege Isabelle
Like bells of bright water from
clearest wood-well.
Our elegantes favouring
bonnets of blond,
The stars in their apiaries,
Sylphs in their aviaries,
Seeing them, spangle these,
and the sylphs fond
From their aviaries fanned
With each long fluid hand
The manteaux espagnoles,
Mimic the waterfalls
Over the long and the light summer land.
So Daisy and Lily,
Lazy and silly
Walk by the shore of the wan grassy Sea,
Talking once more 'neath a swan-
bosomed tree.
Row Castles,
Those bustles!
Of their shade in their train follow.
Ladies, how vain, - hollow, -
Gone is the sweet swallow, -
Gone, Philomel!"

“The enormous and gold-rayed rustling sun” evoking sound to vision

Also Rudyard Kipling’s Mandalay:

“And the dawn comes up like thunder …” evoking vision to sound

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