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These lines have seldom any points inserted in the middle, even by the most scrupulous punctuists; and yet nothing can be more palpable to the ear, than that a pause in the first at things, in the second at curb'd, in the third at land, in the fourth at parts, in the fifth at soul, is absolutely necessary to the harmony of those lines and that the sixth, by admitting no pause but at understanding, and the seventh, none but at imagination, border very nearly upon prose. The reason why these lines will not admit of a pause any where but at these words will be evident to those who have perused the former part of this work on the division of a sentence; and if the reader would see one of the most curious pieces of analysis on this subject in any language, let him peruse the chapter on versification, in Lord Kames's Elements of Criticism; where he will see the subject of pausing, as it relates to verse, discussed in the deepest, clearest, and most satisfactory manner. It will be only necessary to observe in this place, that though the most harmonious place for the capital pause is after the fourth syllable, it may, for the sake of expressing the sense strongly and suitably, and even sometimes for the sake of variety, be placed at several other intervals.
'Tis hard to say-if greater want of skill.
Of the cadence of verse.
RULE V. In order to form a cadence in a period in rhyming verse, we must adopt the falling inflection with considerable force in the cæsura of the last line but one.
One science only will one genius fit,
In repeating these lines, we shall find it necesary to form the cadence, by giving the falling inflection with a little more force than common to the word province. The same may be observed of the word prospect in the last line of the following passage:
So pleas'd at first the tow'ring Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky;
And the first clouds and mountains seem the last :
The growing labours of the lengthen'd way;
How to pronounce a simile in poetry.
RULE VI. A simile in poetry ought always to be read in a lower tone of voice than that part of the passage which precedes it.
'Twas then great Marlb'rough's mighty soul was prov'd,
That in the shock of charging hosts unmov'd,
Examin'd all the dreadful scenes of war;
This rule is one of the greatest embellishments of poetic pronunciation, and is to be observed no less in blank verse than in rhyme. Milton's beautiful description of the sports of the fallen angels affords us a good opportunity of exemplifying it.
Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal
Par. Lost. b. ii. 531.
In reading this passage, the voice must drop into a monotone at the commencement of each simile: as it proceeds, the voice gradually slides out of the monotone, to avoid too great a sameness; but the monotone itself, being so essentially different from the preceding style of pronunciation, becomes one of the greatest sources of variety.
RULE VII. Where there is no pause in the sense at the end of a verse, the last word must have exactly the same inflection it would have in prose. Of that visionary pause at the end of every line in verse, called by some writers the pause of suspension, see a full confutation in Elements of Elocution, p. 277.
Over their heads a crystal firmament,
Whereon a sapphire throne, inlaid with pure
In this example the word pure must have the falling inflection, whether we make any pause at it or not, as this is the inflection the word would have if the sentence were pronounced prosaically. For the same reason the words retir'd and went, in the following example, must be pronounced with the rising inflection.
At his command th' uprooted hills retir'd
Each to his place; they heard his voice, and went
RULE VIII. Sublime, grand, and magnificent description in poetry requires a lower tone of voice, and a sameness nearly approaching to a monotone.
This rule will surprise many, who have always been taught to look upon a monotone, or sameness of voice, as a deformity in reading. A deformity it certainly is, when it arises either from a want of power to alter the voice, or a want of judgment to introduce it properly; but I presume it may be with confidence affirmed, that when it is introduced with propriety, it is one of the greatest embellishments of poetic pronunciation.
And if each system in gradation roll,
The series of grand images which commences at the fifth line fills the mind with surprise approaching to astonishment. As this passion has a tendency to fix the body, and deprive it of motion, so it is best expressed in speaking by a deep and almost uniform tone of voice: the tone indeed may have a small slide upwards at sky, world, and God, but the words fly, hurl'd, and nod, require exactly the same monotonous sound, with which the rest of the line must be pronounced,
What has been just observed in the last lesson leads us to another rule in reading verse, which, though subject to exceptions, is sufficiently general to be of considerable use.
RULE IX. When the first line of a couplet does not form perfect sense, it is necessary to suspend the voice at the end of the line with the rising slide.
Far as creation's ample range extends,
The scale of sensual, mental pow'rs ascends.
This rule holds good even where the first line forms