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Arcades.-Three lyrics or songs, in 4 xa, 3 xa, and 2 xa, variously rhymed, and with a frequent Trochaic or ax effect; together with a speech in ordinary rhymed Heroics, or the 5 xa couplet.

Comus 1634-The dialogue in the ordinary dramatic blank verse of 5 xa varied by 5 xa (the first time of Milton's use of Blank Verse); with one passage, however (lines 495-512), in ordinary rhyming Heroics or the 5 xa couplet. The interspersed lyrical pieces of two sorts, viz.: I. considerable passages of recitative in ordinary Octosyllabics or the 4 xa couplet, with the customary Trochaic liberty in many lines, and occasionally an elongation into Heroics or the 5 xa measure. 2. Songs proper in combined 2 xa, 3 xa, 4 xa, 5 xa, and 6 xa, variously rhymed, and often with a Trochaic liberty in the lines.

Lycidas: 1637-With the exception of the last eight lines, which form a separate stanza in the Ottava Rima (5 xa) of Ariosto, Tasso, and other poets, this pastoral is written in a peculiar style, which may be called "The free musical paragraph." The poet, we see, had not restricted himself beforehand by any rule, unless it were that the measure was to be Iambic or xa, and that the poem should on the whole be in rhyme. Accordingly the poem is an exquisite example of a kind of verse which theorists might perhaps pronounce the most perfect and natural of any—that in which the mechanism is elastic, or determined from moment to moment by the swell or shrinking of the meaning or feeling. Most of the lines are in 5 xa, but ever and anon this is shortened to 3xa; the rhymes are occasionally in couplets, but are more frequently at longer intervals, as if running into stanzas; sometimes a rhyme affects but two lines, but sometimes it is extended through three or four-once even through six in the same paragraph; while occasionally there is a line not rhyming at all, but so cunningly introduced that the absence of the rhyme is not felt (see Introd. to Lycidas, II. 276, and also Notes to the Poem, III. 445 et seq.)


Sixteen English Sonnets (Sonnets VIII.-XXIII. of the General Series) : 1642-1658.-These, like Sonnets I. and II., are all after the Italian form of the Sonnet in its authorized varieties (see Introduction to the Sonnets, II. 276—281). — The piece On the Forcers of Conscience, belonging to the same series, is a Sonnet with a peculiar prolongation (see Introduction to the piece, II. 289-290).—The metre in the Sonnets is, of course, always 5 xa; but in the "tail" or 'prolongation" of the Sonnet in the last-named piece two of the lines are in 3 xa.


Scraps of Translated Verse in the Prose-Pamphlets.—These are all in the ordinary Blank Verse of 5 xa.

Horace, Ode I. V., Translated.-An unrhymed piece of sixteen lines, in alternate pairs of 5 xa (or 5 xa +) and 3 xa.

Psalms LXXX.-LXXXVIII.: 1648.-All in four-line stanzas of alternate 4 xa and 3 xa, or Iambic "eights and sixes:" differing from the so-called Service Metre only in the fact that the first line of each stanza generally rhymes with the third, as well as the second with the fourth.

Psalms I.—VIII.: 1653.-Experiments in various metres and combinations of rhyme, no two alike (see Introd. II. 315, 316, and note, III. 484).—Psalm I. is in ordinary rhymed Heroics or the 5 xa couplet; the others are in various rhymed stanzas, but all the lines in the xa metre, ranging from 2 xa or 2 xa + to 5 xa or 5 xa +.

LATER LIFE: 1660-1674.

Paradise Lost: 1667.-Blank Verse of the established 5 xa or 5 xa + measure; the use of which kind of verse for an Epic Poem was regarded by Milton himself as a great innovation upon English practice (see his Preface, I. 131, and note on the same, III. 110-113).

Paradise Regained: 1671.-Ordinary Blank Verse of 5 xa or 5 xa + continued.

Samson Agonistes: 1671.-Ordinary Blank Verse of 5 xa or 5 xa + continued, save in the choruses and lyrical parts of the soliloquies of Samson. In these, as Milton has himself explained (see his Preface to the Poem, II. 98, and note on the same, III. 323, 324), he held himself released from all rule, and versified as he liked, with a view to produce in English something of the effect of the Choruses in Greek Tragedy. In the main, however, the novelty of the versification in these lyrical parts does not consist in mixture of metres, but only in the use of a blank verse of varying lengths of line in the habitual Iambic or xa metre, from 2 xa to 6 xa at pleasure. Occasionally, indeed, in a whole line, or in part of a line, there is an Anapæstic or Dactylic character, or a greater deviation from the Iambic than is normal; but the very rareness of such instances at a time when Milton was avowedly free from all law, save that of his own ear, proves how difficult it was for him to get away from his normal xa measure, with its customary ax variation. It is perhaps more remarkable that, while the verse of these choral and lyric passages of intermingled short and long lines is generally Blank, like that of the dialogue, and though Milton had publicly taken farewell of Rhyme some time before, yet now and then he here reverts to Rhyme for a subtle effect.--On the whole, the verse of the choral and lyric parts of Samson Agonistes may be described as Blank Verse of various lengths of the Iambic metre, from 2 xa to 6 xa, with occasional touches of the Anapæstic and other metres, and with occasional rhymes.

From this survey the following facts appear :-I. Milton, from first to last, used all but exclusively the Iambic or xa metre, herein agreeing with the general body of English poets. Moreover, within the xa metre, his poetry, in conspicuously the largest proportion, keeps to the 5 xa line, whether blank, or in rhyming couplets, or distributed through rhyming stanzas or through free musical paragraphs. Next in frequency is the line of 4 xa or ordinary Octosyllabics; in his use of which he so frequently omits the initial unaccented syllable as to cause a Trochaic effect, and give us the option of scanning many of his lines either as acephalous Iambic Dimeters, or as Trochaic Dimeters catalectic. For the rest, he ranges, as we have seen, from 2 xa to the Alexandrine or 6 xa. II. Milton began with Rhymed Verse, and with customary forms of such Verse--viz. Heroics, and Octosyllabics; and his originality afterwards did not display itself so much in positive inventions of new metres as in certain extensions of metrical usage :--(1.) Very early we see him extending his range in the Rhymed Stanza by the use of stanzas which may possibly be his own; and this freedom of stanza accompanies him into later life. (2.) Very early he shows his fondness for the Sonnet, after the strict Italian model. To this model he adheres in later life; and his introduction, or reintroduction, of the Italian Sonnet is, as we have elsewhere explained (II. 276—281), a fact of note in the history of English Verse. (3.) Very early we see a tendency in him to escape the bonds of the stanza altogether, and to indulge himself in free rhyming lyrics, conditioned, as to length of line, number and distance of rhymes, &c., purely by his own meaning, feeling, and musical tact at the moment. In this assertion of a liberty of rhyming lyrics. beyond any bounds of stanza Milton had had English predecessors; but his example added importance to the practice. (4.) His chief innovation in English Verse, as he himself most emphatically marked,

was his disuse in his later life of Rhyme altogether for purposes to which it had been long consecrated, and his extension and adaptation to Epic Poetry of the Blank Verse which had till then, with few exceptions, been appropriated exclusively to the Drama. He had first used Blank Verse for the drama or dialogue of his Comus, and in this had but followed custom; but, when he put forth his Paradise Lost, in 1667, wholly in Blank Verse, he could proclaim it as "an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty restored to Heroic Poem from the troublesome and modern bondage of riming." The innovation was confirmed by Paradise Regained. As Samson Agonistes was a drama, the use of Blank there for the dialogue could occasion no remark. (5.) One other innovation of Milton was his deviation occasionally from the normal Blank of 5 xa or 5 xa + into a free irregular Blank of combined short and long lines of xa. His Translation of Horace, Ode I.—V. is one specimen ; but the most interesting and abundant specimens are in the soliloquies and choruses of his Samson.


In Eckermann's Conversations of Goethe, under the date April 6, 1829, there is this story :- "We sat a while longer at table, taking some glasses of old Rhenish wine, with some good biscuits. Goethe "hummed to himself unintelligibly. The poem of yesterday [a poem "of Goethe's in three stanzas, of the date January 1788, printed in the "Zweiter Aufenthalt in Rom] came into my head again. . . . 'One peculiarity of this poem,' said I, 'is that it has upon me the effect or rhyme, and yet it is not in rhyme. How is this?' 'That is the "result of the rhythm,' he replied. The lines begin with a short "syllable, and then proceed in trochees to the dactyl near the close, "which has a peculiar effect, and gives a sad, bewailing character to "the poem.' He took a pencil, and divided the line thus :—





'Von | meiněm | brēiten | Lāgĕr | bin ĭch věr | trīeběn.'

"We then talked of rhythm in general, and came to the conclusion that no certain rules can be laid down in such matters. 'The measure,' "said Goethe, 'flows, as it were, unconsciously from the mood of the poet. If he thought about it while writing the poem, he would go "mad, and produce nothing of value."'". -A subsequent conversation on Verse and its technicalities (Feb. 9, 1831) led to remarks from Goethe which are thus reported:-" Nowadays technicalities are every"thing, and critics begin to torment themselves whether in a rhyme an "s should be followed by an s and not an s by ss. If I were young


"and bold enough, I would purposely offend against all these technical "whims : I would employ alliteration, assonance, false rhyme, and any"thing else that came into my head; but I would keep the main point "in view, and endeavour to say such good things that every one should "be tempted to read them and to learn them by heart."- -These two anecdotes are a fit preface to what is here to follow. Milton, in the act

of writing or mentally composing his poetry, did not generally think of the minutia of the verse-mechanism, but obeyed the mood of his thought, and the instinct of a musical ear as perfect and fastidious as was ever given to man. There is no doubt, however, that, like Goethe, he could become the prosodian of his own verses when he chose, and was very learned and critical in all such matters. He would not have objected, therefore, to the most microscopic examination of his verse in search of the mechanical causes or accompaniments of the poetic effects. What of this kind can be given here may divide itself between two heads-I. Milton's Metrical Management, and II. Milton's Rhymes.


It is by examining Milton's Blank Verse that we shall best learn his metrical art.

The formula of the normal line of Blank Verse is 5 xa: which means that each normal line consists of ten syllables, alternately weak and strong. Here are examples of such lines from Milton's poetry :

"At last a soft and solemn-breathing sound."-Comus, 555.

"Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen."-P. L., I. 330.

"Of flutes and soft recorders, such as raised

To highth of noblest temper heroes old."-P. L., I. 551, 552.

"The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds

Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings."-P. L., II. 494, 495.
"And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies.”—P. L., II. 950.
"And, looking round, on every side beheld

A pathless desert, dusk with horrid shades.”—P. R., I. 295, 296.
"And I shall shortly be with them that rest."-S. A. 598.

Such regular lines of five Iambi, however, are much less frequent than might be supposed, and very rarely are two or three of them found. consecutively. The reason is that any considerable series of lines of this uniform construction would be unendurable. The ear demands variety; and so, mutatis mutandis, that happens in English Blank Verse which happened in the various kinds of classic verse. The Heroic verse of Homer and Virgil is called Dactylic Hexameter, the formula of which, if we use our symbols for accent as symbols for quantity, would be 6 axx. In fact, however, no line of six Dactyls exists. Not only is the last or sixth foot invariably a Spondee (aa); but even the fifth, which generally must be a Dactyl, may now and then be a Spondee, and any of the preceding four may be either a Spondee or a Dactyl. Thus we may have lines occasionally with only one dactylic foot. The reason for the name of the verse, therefore, is that each line has a total effect equivalent to that of six Dactyls. So in the kind of verse called Iambic Trimeter or Iambic VOL. I.


Senarius, which was the verse of the Greek tragedians for the dialogue, and of their Latin followers. The norm of each line was six Iambi, or, in our notation, 6 xa, so that the verse may be taken as our Blank lengthened by a foot. Regular lines of the six Iambi do occur; but a succession of such would have been thought monotonous. In the actual practice of the poets (Greek and Latin together) the ear therefore dictated varieties, which the prosodians, coming after them and watching what they had done, expressed in these rules-that any one of the first five feet might be a Tribrach (xxx); that any of the three odd feet (the 1st, the 3rd, and the 5th) might perfectly well be a Spondee (aa); and that this Spondee might be resolved into a Dactyl (axx) or an Anapest (xxa) in any of the three places, though in the third place the Anapest, and in the 5th the Dactyl, ought to be very rare. The verse was called Iambic Senarius, in short, because each line was to consist of six Iambi, or what the cultured ear would accept as equivalent. Precisely so are we to be understood when we say that the formula of Milton's Blank Verse, or of English Blank Verse generally, is 5 xa. Lines may occur, frequently enough, that answer exactly to that formula ; but the formula only means that each line delivers into the ear a general 5 xa effect, the ways of producing this effect being various. What the ways are can be ascertained only by carefully reading and scanning a sufficient number of specimens of approved Blank Verse.


Unfortunately, the process of scanning Milton's Blank Verse, or any other English verse, is not so certain as that of scanning Greek or Latin All depends on the reading; and the reading depends on the taste and habits of the reader. It would be easy to read Milton's Blank Verse so that all the lines, or most of them, should be redacted by force into the normal 5 xa. Thus, the first line of Paradise Lost might be read::

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Ŏf mán's | first dís | ŏbéd | ience and | the frúit"

or the very abnormal line, P. L., VI. 866, might be read thus :

"Burnt áf❘ ter thém | to thé | bottóm | less pít."

This, of course, is too horrible; and such barbarous readers are imaginary. I am not sure, however, but that, in the reading of Milton or of Shakespeare, even by persons of education and taste, especially if they are punctilious about Prosody, there is a minor form of the same fault. It consists in reading so as to regularize the metre wherever it is possible to do so-in reading the xa tune into the lines through and through, wherever, by a little persuasion, they will yield to it. This, I think, is wrong. The proper way is not to impose the music upon the lines, but to let the music of each line arise out of it as it is read naturally. Only in this way can we know what metrical effect Shakespeare or Milton anywhere intended. Perhaps the elision-marks and other such devices in the old printed texts, though well-intentioned,

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