Linguistics 001 Fall 2001 Homework 6 Due Mo11/12
Scansion of English accentual/syllabic verse.
In the lecture notes on Song, verse and language games, two (of many) English accentual-syllabic metric forms are exemplified.
One, based on alternate half-lines (or lines) of four and three beats, was shown in variants due to Robert W. Service, Lewis Carroll, and Aerosmith--Run/DMC. This form is closely related to a meter known as fourteeners, since the iambic version of the seven-beat line -- the iambic heptameter -- has fourteen syllables. Its most famous early use was in Chapman's translation of Homer, published in 1611, the same year as the King James Bible. Chapman's translation begins (in modernized spelling):
Achilles' baneful wrath resound, O Goddess, that imposed
The second metrical form exemplified is the iambic pentameter, which has been the dominant form of "art poetry" in English over the past 500 years.
For both forms, we produced examples of scansion, in which the abstract metrical pattern is aligned with the concrete syllables of the poem. We did this by using the sharp sign # to indicate which syllables correspond to the "beats" or strong positions of the line, and then using periods to mark the metrically weak syllables in between. Note that this notation was chosen for typographical convenience in plain text, and is not the way that English scansion would normally be written; but the content would be exactly the same if we used (for instance) acute accents for the strong syllables and breve marks for the weak ones.
Your assignment is to scan the five selections below. A reasonable way to do this is to cut and paste the poems into a word processor (such as Microsoft Word), using a fixed width font, such as Courier. Use an additional line above each line of the verse to indicate the scansion, in the style of the examples in the lecture notes.The use of a fixed-width font will make it easier for you to line up the sharp signs and periods over the nuclear vowels of the verse syllables, in a way that is guaranteed to be preserved when you print the result, or send it by email, or whatever.
The first four selections are examples of the fourteener, at least if we stretch this term to cover mixed anapestic/iambic forms -- the first two from other parts of the same poems already analyzed, and the second two from Rudyard Kipling and Emily Dickinson.
The last selection is a sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, one of forty four that she wrote during her two-year courtship with Robert Browning in 1844-46. The most famous is sonnet 43, which begins "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."
Note that in the sonnet reproduced below, EBB makes use of a convention whereby the syllabic nasal in words like rhythm, baptism, heaven is not treated as a separate syllable, so that e.g. heaven acts like a monosyllable and baptism like a disyllable.
For extra credit, describe how the meter is used metaphorically in (line 7 of) this poem.
1. Robert W. Service
17 His eyes went rubbering round the room, and he seemed in a kind of daze,
2. Lewis Carroll
3. Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
17 The good wife's sons come home again
4. Emily Dickinson
1 If you were coming in the fall,
5. Elizabeth Barrett Browning