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more that it covers a whole period, is pure assumption. If our view of duple verse be correct, the assumption is needless. Every duple period, containing two equal parts, has in itself action and reaction, systole and diastole. A single such period can therefore stand by itself, as we saw in an instance from Herrick; and our heroic line is stable in itself, without any imaginary additions. Not every line printed as verse is complete in itself, as we shall see in next chapter; were this theory applied to triple time it might have more likelihood. But it seems manifestly untrue of the metre of "Paradise Lost," and its untruth confirms our view of that metre. It is because that metre moves to duple, or even, not to iambic, time, that it is stable, self-poised, self-complete; and the same description would seem to hold good of all lines in duple measure, irrespective of their length.
VERSE of triple-time measure fills small place in our early prosodies. Commonly styled or coupled with "tumbling verse," it was regarded as an inferior type, useful for comic purposes. James VI. of Scotland, in his "Short Treatise" (1585),' describes it as fit only for "flyting." Throughout the seventeenth and most of the eighteenth centuries, it was still deemed of secondary importance, appropriate to "Bath Guides" and poems about haunches of venison, or at best expressing semi-serious tones of artificial feeling:
I have found out a gift for my fair,
I have found where the wood-pigeons breed.2
The great revival of romance and poetry toward the end of the latter century put new life into many forms of verse, especially into those that move to this measure. But it was reserved for the nineteenth century, and for its Victorian era in particular, to vindicate fully the rights of triple-time verse. Tenny
1 "Essays of a Prentice in the Divine Art of Poesie' (1585). Reprint by Prof. Arber (1869).
2 Shenstone (William), "Pastoral Ballad " (1737 ?).
son and the Brownings, Rossetti and Morris, Mr. Swinburne, and many of less note, have revolutionized our notions of its capability. It is known now as an equal of its elder brother, adequate to all themes, and possessing charm and flexibility peculiar to itself. Some even think that the future of English poetry belongs especially to this type of verse. At least there can be no doubt that it challenges attention, and deserves more careful consideration than it has received. Its bolder features and more strongly marked rhythm make analysis of its structure especially interesting.
Yet, strange to say, this rhythm is constantly mistaken. The names dactyl and anapaest are responsible for the error. How often we see the first line of Longfellow's " Evangeline" scanned thus:
This is the forest prim- | eval, the | murmuring | pines and
Probably the writer states that the marks denote accentuation, not length; but the time is never explained, and readers naturally suppose it to be that which these marks indicate. In reality, the time is more like this:
one time-space in the last period being left without an equivalent syllable. Tribrachs, accented on the first syllable, represent the time better than dactyls. I do not suppose that any competent critic really doubts this. He knows that the movement is to
triple time, and he knows that real dactyls and anapaests are incompatible with triple time. But he is accustomed to ignore time in English verse, accustomed to think only of syllables and their stresses, and he uses familiar marks to express these last without thinking of the confusion caused thereby. Hopeless confusion is caused, and I believe it will surprise most English readers-ladies, perhaps, more than others to be told that the time of Longfellow's line is quite different from that of Greek or Latin hexameter verse.
As duple time consists of two equal beats, so triple time consists of three. Conclusions reached by analysis of verse set to the former time hold good with verse set to the latter, and need only be recapitulated briefly. Syllables do not correspond precisely to beats. They do not keep perfect time, like notes of music, but the time itself is unvarying. On this background of rhythm our poets weave tracery-work of dactyls and anapaests. Such feet do exist in our verse, in the real not the metaphorical sense, but they occur casually, and are not its true units. They are due to a supplementing of accent by quantity. Periods are the actual units, and the way to scan a poem is to discover its time-measure, and then consider the relation of syllables to time. Words and parts of words, their stresses and quantities, are less important than rhythm; syllables need not always be contained wholly in a particular period. Such were the results of our inquiry into duple metre, and the same results may be taken as holding good in triple. Besides these, there are
others to be noted as specially applying to the latter type of verse.
The beat of triple metre is so marked that syllables can be dropped with greater ease, and pauses are longer and of more frequent occurrence. Lines can
be run into each other with freedom, the rhythm sufficiently distinguishing structure. The best way to illustrate both these points is by example, and Browning's first "Cavalier Song," referred to in an early chapter,' will answer the purpose. I take the first two stanzas, writing them as continuous verse, placing the time-notation above, and asking the reader to notice for himself where lines end, what time-beats have no corresponding syllable, and to what extent stress or quantity reproduces temporal uniformity. No particular length of time is indicated by the symbol used; relative uniformity is the one and only postulate. The sign adopted (~) is
chosen as to some extent suggesting the actual movement, but not as in any way related to that used in duple metre. No comparison between the two metres is at present intended.
Kentish Sir | Byng I stood for his | King, | Bidding the crop-headed | Parliament | swing; And, | pressing a | troop un- | able to stoop And | see the rogues | flourish and honest folk | droop, | Marched them a- | long, | fifty-score strong, | Great-hearted | gentlemen, | singing this song. ||
1 Ante, p. 12.