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cent or impulse of the voice. Loudness, pitch and duration are the three foremost means employed to mark this accent. In music and in lyric poetry these modulations come at regular intervals. In other forms of poetry and in prose it is not so regular.
Rhythm may be likened to waves as they roll toward the shore. They are not all the same height, shape, or distance apart, nor do they move with the same rapidity. This modification has its counterpart in speech, song, and in the written line. The height of the waves, or accént, indicates the degree of intensity. The distance apart, or the duration expresses deliberation and strength. The rapidity denotes the degree of excitement; and the shape expresses dignity if regular, or triviality and instability if irregular.
Note the rhythm in the following lines from Tennyson's Brook:
I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows:
Against my sandy shallows;
The rhythm is short, quick, but regular, suggestive of the movement of the brook.
Again, note the rhythm of the following from Wolfe's The Burial of Sir John Moore:
We buried him darkly at dead' of night,
The sod' with our bayonets turning,
The duration of accent is longer and not regular, indicative of the solemnity and uncertainty of their expedition.
The following lines from a Russian poem express the reverence, the majesty, and the strength in the long regular rhythm:
Being above all beings! Mighty One,
Being whom we call God, and know no more! SUGGESTIONS AS TO READING POETRY. Sense must never be sacrificed to sound; however, the sound is more important in poetry than in prose. A few examples must suffice to illustrate. In the line,
The minstrel was infirm and oldthere is no accented syllable in the second foot. In reading, this should be touched lightly. If emphasis were placed on "was,” it would be mere sing-song.
The last of all the bardś was he
To sing' of border chivalry. The last measure is not complete. It should be somewhat prolonged and a secondary accent given to the ry, making it chivalrē. Guard against overdoing this. In,
The quality of mercy is not strained, the ity cannot be prolonged. When in doubt stick to the sense. In the lines,
Work, work, work;
Till the brain' begins' to swim, both lines have the same meter; and it should take no longer to read the second line than the first. But in the lines,
Break, break, break,
On thy cold'gray stones, o, sea! the "break” cannot be prolonged. If it is, the meaning is destroyed.
Time of duration is not the only element in rhythm; the
degree of emphasis must also be considered. Poetry must be read, not sung. To avoid sing-song, subordinate the meter to the idea to be expressed. Again, the other extreme is often taken, i. e., to disregard the meter altogether. The union of the meaning and the measure is the secret of good poetic reading.
Observe the rhythm in the following extracts, and justify the kind used:
I. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the
And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
O, how our organ can speak with its many and wonder
ful voices !Play on the soft lute of love, blow the loud trumpet of
Sing with the high sesquialter, or, drawing its full dia
pason, Shake all the air with the grand storm of its pedals and stops.
-STORY. III. Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
As good and as bad as I.
Or hurl the cynic's ban;
And be a friend to man.
S. W. Foss.
In their bloom,
On the tomb.
HOLMES. V. Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through his cypress trees-
And love can never lose its own.
WHITTIER. VI. How often is the case, that when impossibilities have come to pass, and dreams have condensed their misty substances into tangible reality, we find ourselves calm and even coldly self-possessed, amid circumstances which it would have been a delirium of joy or anger to anticipate.—HAWTHORNE.
VII. Some one has said, in derision, that the old men of the South, sitting down amid their ruins, reminded him of “the Spanish hidalgos sitting in the porches of the Alhambra and looking out to sea for the return of their lost Armada.” There is pathos but no derision in this picture to me. These men were our fathers. Their lives were stainless. Their hands were daintily cast, and the civilization they builded in tender and engaging grace hath not been equalled. The scenes amid which they moved, as princes among men, have vanished forever. A grosser and more material day has come, in which their gentle hands can garner but scantily and their guileless hearts fend but feebly.—GRADY.
In reading a phrase or a clause, there is usually one word that expresses the central idea; in reading a sentence, one or more words convey the main thought of the sentence; and in reading a paragraph, some one word or sentence usually contains the principal thought of the paragraph. To read with due discrimination, these words that bear the burden of the thought should be pointed out to a hearer through and by the vocal expression. This is the work of emphasis. Emphasis, then, is the art of giving the individual words the relative importance requisite to make the thought easy to seize by a listener. Now, to express this relative importance, a good reader will not only emphasize important words, but he will also trip lightly over the unimportant words. It will readily be seen, therefore, that Emphasis is a very essential element of expression. If you take the sentence, He is going with my friend, and emphasize by turn each word, as many different meanings will be expressed as there are words in the sentence. The effect of a misplaced emphasis is plainly seen if the word “lies” should be emphasized in the following line from Wordsworth:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy. Where we have no emphasis, we have no interpretation of the author's thought, and also a hum-drum, monotonous reading, which is not uncommon even with many people of intelligence. Too much emphasis, on the other hand, only detracts from the places where emphasis is chiefly needed. Again, many readers use a misplaced or habitual emphasis.