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POETRY AND PROSE.
POETRY differs from prose mainly in the fact that the words of the former are arranged upon a definite principle of order as to their sound. This principle has not been the same at all times and in all languages. Amongst the Greeks and Romans it was/ based upon quantity, i.e. the time occupied in pronouncing the syllables, those that are long taking up twice as much time as those that are short. In our own poetry the principle of arrangement is the regular recurrence of accented and unaccented syllables; the stress of the voice in uttering the accented ones occurring as regularly as the beats of the pulse or the ticks of a watch. The undulation of sound produced by this continuous flow of accents and non-accents is known as rhythm, and this it is which constitutes the essential difference between poetry and prose. Other elements, such as rhyme and alliteration, are employed, in some kinds of poetry, in the way of embellishment and aid to the rhythm, but they are not of its essence, for the larger part and the
highest achievements of our poets are constructed without them.
The words of Dr. Guest may appropriately be quoted here.* He says: He says: "Rhythm in its widest sense may be defined as the law of succession. It is the regulating principle of every whole that is made up of proportionate parts, and is as nccessary to the regulation of motion, or to the arrangement of matter, as to the orderly succession of sounds. By applying it to the first of these purposes we have obtained the dance, and sculpture and architecture are the results of its application to the second. The rhythmical arrangement of sounds not articulated produces music, while from the like arrangement of articulate sounds. we get the cadences of prose and the and the measures of verse. Verse may be defined as the succession of articulate sounds, regulated by a rhythm so definite that we can readily form the results which flow from its application. Rhythm is also met with in prose, but in the latter its range is so wide that we rarely can anticipate its flow, while the pleasure we derive from verse is founded on this very anticipation. As verse consists mainly of the arrangement of certain sounds according to a certain rhythm, it is obvious that neither poctry nor even sense can be essential to it. We may be alive to the beauty of a foreign rhythm though we do not understand the language, and the burden of many an English song has long yielded a certain plea
* Dr. Guest's "History of English Rhythms."