W. T. (William Tenney) Brewster.

English composition and style; a handbook for college students online

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line and rime are assonant Assonance is comparatively rare.
For example, in the Golden Treasury (first series) almost
the only illustrations of assonance are the following, of which
the first is forced upon the writer by the barrenness of rime
and the second is accidental :

Curst be the heart that thought the thought.
And curst the hand that fired the shot.
When in my arms burd Helen dropt,
And died to succor me ! (Fair Helen.)

The scheme of the stanzas indicates that the final words of
the first three verses should rime.

If doughty deeds my lady please
Right soon I '11 mount my steed ;

And strong his arm, and fast his seat
That bears frae me the meed.

(R, Graham of Gartmore.)

The following stanzas show that the assonance of deeds, please,
steed, seat, and meed is accidental, since only the steed-meed
rime is called for. The first verse is also interesting as show-
ing the value of an internal assonance, like alliteration. One
may possibly detect such assonance in many lines, as Shelley's

Life of Life, thy lips enkindle, (Prometheus Unbound),

where life and thy have the same quality and also lips and
enfttndle. The matter, however, may not be pressed. Of as-


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Versification 435

sonance in deliberate English poetry there is little, George

Maiden, crowned with glossy blackness,

Lithe as panther forest-roaming,
Long-armed naiad, when she dances.
On a stream of ether floating, —
Bright, O bright Fedalma !

{The Spanish Gypsy),

and the succeeding verses, being probably the best example.
It is possibly commoner in unlearned verse, as in

This little pig went to market.

This little pig stayed at home.
This little pig had roast-beef.

This little pig had none.

3. End-rime. End-rime is as fundamental to modem
verse as alliteration is to earlier poetry. Rime as used to-day
calls for correspondence between the final vowel and con-
sonantal sounds of at least two verses, written in succession,
as in Marveirs

The forward youth that would appear

Must now forsake his Muses dear. (Horatian Ode),

or separated by one or more lines, as in Hood's

Our very hopes belied our fears.

Our fears our hopes belied —
We thought her dying when she slept.

And sleeping when she died. (The Death Bed,)

It is evident that end-rimes may be continued and varied ac-
cording to one's desires and ingenuity. Thus Chaucer in the
epilogue to The Clerk's Tale, writes a remarkable jeu d'esprit
of thirty-six lines, of which the end-rimes are made up of
six, twelve, and eighteen riming words. Since rime is the
foundation of stanza, this aspect of the matter will be treated

Rime may also be complex, that is^ more than one vowel


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436 English Composition and Style

and one consonant may correspond in quality to those of an-
other line. Thus Shakspere's

Fear no more the heat o' the sun

Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,

Home art gone and ta'en thy wages.


or better still in the Coronach by Scott already quoted (p.
431). Double and triple rimes are often used for humorous
effect. Of this Byron is the great master, especially in A
Vision of Judgment and Don Juan. For example, from the
latter poem,

But — oh! ye lords of ladies intellectual,
Inform us truly, have they not hen-pecked you all ?

Rime may also be internal. Classical examples are to be
found in Poe's The Raven and Lenore, and Tennyson's

The splendor falls on castle walls.

And snowy summits old in story;
The long light shakes across the lakes.

And the wild cataract leaps in glory.

{The Princess),

which is the same meter recently and recurrently employed in
a popular railroad advertisement, though with different di-
vision of line. Another good instance is dough's

One port, mcthought, alike they sought,
One purpose hold where'er they fare, —

O bounding breeze, O rushing seas !
At last, at last, unite them there !

{Qua Cursum Ventus.)

This, from a poem of seven quatrains, is especially interest-
ing because the internal rime is used in only the last three
stanzas, which thereby become quicker and more energetic,
as becomes their substance. Internal rimes are also used


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Versification 437

with good effect in humorous verse, as in the late W. S. Gil-

Then only the cook and me was left
And a delicate question, " Which

Of us two goes to the kettle ? " arose.
And we argued it out as sich.

(The Rime of the Nancy Bell.)

4. The stanza. The stanza is a group of verses united by
some scheme of end-rimes, the same scheme, though not usu-
ally the same words, being repeated in succeeding stanzas
until the poem is complete. The word, as is indicated by the
name, means a stopping place, where the scheme comes to an
end in order to begin anew. The simplest form of stanza
is the quatrain; for blank verse and the rimed couplet, com-
mon in octosyllabic verse, " heroic " pentameter and Alexan-
drine verse (verse of six accents with the cesura at the end
of the third foot), as well as occasionally in shorter forms,
simply divide by paragraphs as corresponding prose might do.
(But note the two-line stanzas of Locksley Hall, Maud Muller
and other poems.) Quatrains may take various shapes, as
ab cb, 2iS in Tennyson's

And the stately ships go on

To their haven under the hill !
But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still !

{Break, Break, Break),
or a & a & as in Lovelace's

Yet this inconstancy is such

As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee. Dear, so much.

Loved I not Honor more.

{To Lucasta, On Going to the Wars),

or abba so well-known from In Memoriam as to need no
illustration; or as a aba, as in Fitzgerald's translation of the
Rubdiydt of Omar Khayydm:


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438 English Composition and Style

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread — and Thou

Beside me singing in the Wilderness —
Oh, Wilderness wcye Paradise enow !

Four-line stanzas may evidently be written in other ways, as
in Marvell's

He nothing common did or mean
Upon that memorable scene.

But with his keener eye

The axe's edge did try. (Horatian Ode),

or Campbell's

On Linden, when the sun was low.
All bloodless lay the untrodden snow;
And dark as winter was the flow
Of Iser, rolling rapidly. (Hohenlinden,)

Less common, and probably more difficult are three-line
stanzas, in which, as in any stanza, the verses may or may
not contain the same ntunber of accents. Thus Browning,

O, Galuppi, Baldassaro, this is very sad to find !
I can hardly misconceive you; it would prove me deaf and blind;
But although I take your meaning, 't is with such a heavy mind I

(A Toccata of Galuppi's.)

Crawshaw's Wishes for the Supposed Mistress and Tennyson's
The Two Voices supply other examples of rimed, as does
Lamb's The Old Familiar Faces of unrimed, three-line stanza.
Evidently stanzas may be of any length, though examples
of more than fifteen lines are uncommon; and they may be
of great intricacy, from merely the union of two tercets or
quatrains to the complicated arrangement of, say, Spenser's
Prothalamion or of Gray's Pindaric Odes. Only a few of
the better known and specially named need therefore be men-
tioned. Stanzas are usually described by the rime-scheme,
ababcc, ababccdd, etc. The scheme of the difficult tersa


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Versification 439

rima, immortalized as the verse of Dante's Divina Commedia,
is as follows \ aba, bcb, c dc, de d, etc., as in Browning's

The true has no value beyond the sham:

As well the counter as coin, I submit,

When your table *s a hat, and your prize a dram.

Shake your counter as boldly every whit.

Venture as warily, use the same skill,

Do your best, whether winning or losing it.

If you choose to play ! — is my principle.
Let a man contend to the uttermost
For his life's set prize, be it what it will !

{The Statue and the Bust.)

The Rime Royal, much used by Chaucer, consists of seven
lines, arranged thus : ababb cc. The following example
from Milton introduces an extra foot in the last verse.

This is the month, and this the happy mom
Wherein the Son of Heaven's Eternal King
Of wedded maid and virgin mother bom,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing
That He our deadly forfeit should release,
And with His Father work us a perpetual peace.

{Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity.)

This fine stanza is comparatively rare in modem English where
its place is taken by six- and seven-line variations of the
general effect or by the stanzas described below.

Ottava rima, a b a b a b c c, is the verse of Ariosto's Orlando
Furioso, of Camoens's Os Lusiadas, of Byron's Don Juan, of
Keats's Isabella, and many other long narrative poems. Thus
also Shelley, in a shorter poem, where however the eighth
line has an additional foot :

I dream'd that as I wander'd by the way
Bare Winter suddenly was .changed to Spring,


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440 English Composition and Style

And gentle odors led my steps astray,

Mix'd with a sound of waters murmuring

Along a shelving hank of turf, which lay
Under a copse, and hardly dared to fling

Its green arms round the bosom of the stream.

But kiss'd it and then fled, as Thou mightest in dream.

(A Dream of the Unknown,)

The Spenserian stansa, devised and first employed on a large
scale by Edmund Spenser in The Faerie Queene, and since
then by Thomson in The Castle of Indolence, Byron in Childe
Harold, Keats in The Eve of St. Agnes, Shelley in Adonais,
adds an Alexandrine as the ninth line to eight pentameter
verses, and rimes as follows, ababbcb cc. Thus Tennyson,

" Courage ! " he said, and pointed toward the land,
" This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon."
In the afternoon they came unto a land
In which it seemed always afternoon.
All round the coast the languid air did swoon.
Breathing like one that hath a weary dream.
Full-faced above the valley stood the moon;
And like a downward smoke, the slender stream
Along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem.

{The Lotus-Eaters.)

5. The Refrain. Stanzas are sometimes further accen-
tuated by the repetition of particular verses or by the addition
at the end of each stanza of a verse or set of verses which
are repeated at the end of each succeeding stanza. Thus

Duncan Gray cam here to woo.

Ha, ha, the wooing o't;
On blythe Yule night when we were fou.

Ha, ha, the wooing o*t ;
Maggie coost her head fu' heigh.
Looked asklent and unco skeigh,
Gart poor Duncan stand abeigh;

Ha, ha, the wooing o*t! (Duncan Gray.)


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Versification 441

and Shakspere's

Under the greenwood tree
Who loves to lie with me,
And turn his merry note
Unto the sweet bird's throat —
Come hither, come hither, come hither 1
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather.
Who doth ambition shun
And loves to sit i' the sun,
Seeking the food he eats
And pleased with what he gets —
Come hither, come hither, come hither !
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather. {As You Like It)

Refrains, which are very common in songs and hymns, are
the parts in which " all j'oin,'' and they constitute a chorus.
They are not unlike the prose responses of the Litany. In
literary verse they serve to emphasize an important text.
Thus Wyatt's

Forget not yet the tried intent
Of such a truth as I have meant;
My great travail so gladly spent,
Forget not yet ! *

Forget not yet when first began
The weary life ye know, since whan
The suit, the service none tell can ;

Forget not yet ! (A Supplication,)


Note : — So far as possible the material for the following exer-
cises will be found in such easily accessible books as Palgrave's
Golden Treasury (two series), but familiar poems of other kinds


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442 English Composition and Style

will also be referred to. Where first lines or stanzas are not in-
cluded in the citation the name of the poem is also added.

X. Scan the following lines by dividing them into feet De-
scribe the verse in accordance with the system of meter employed,
and show especially the important word-accents and the variations
from strict metrical order.

I. That time of year Thou ma/st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin*d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.


Come live with me and be my Love,

And we will all the pleasures prove

That hills and valleys, dale and field.

And all the craggy mountains yield. (Marlowe.)

3. Spring, the sweet Spring, is the year's pleasant king;
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing.
Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo, (Nash.)

4. Where the bee sucks, there suck I,

In a cowslip's bell I lie. (Shakspere.)

5. It was a lover and his lass

With a hey and a ho, and a hey nonino I
That through a corn-field did pass
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing hey ding a ding :

Sweet lovers love the Spring. (Shakspere.)

Like to the clear in highest sphere
Where all imperial glory shines.
Of self -same color is her hair
Whether unfolded, or in twines:
Heigh ho, fair Rosaline. (Lodge.)

Weep you no more, sad fountains: —
What need you fall so fast?

Look how the snowy mountains
Heaven's sun doth gently waste 1


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Versification 443

But my Sun's heavenly eyes
View not your weeping.
That now lies sleeping

Softly, now softly lies,

Sleeping. (Anonymous.)

8. Farewell I Thou art too dear for my possessing,
And like enough thou know'st thy estimate:
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
My bonds in thee are all determinate. (Shakspere.)

9. Tell me where is Fancy bred.
Or in the heart, or in the head?
How begot, how nourished?
Reply, reply.

It is engendered in the eyes;
With gazing fed ; and Fancy dies
In the cradle where it lies :
Let us all ring Fancy's knell ;
I'll begin it, — Ding, dong, bell.

— Ding, dong, bell. (Shakspere.)

la The man of life upright.

Whose guiltless heart is free
From all dishonest deeds.
Or thought of vanity. (Campion.)

II. But peaceful was the night
Wherein the Prince of Light
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
The winds, with wonder whist.
Smoothly the waters kist
Whispering new joys to the mild ocein —
Who now hath quite forgot to rave
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.

(Milton : Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity,)

12. The glories of our blood and state

Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armor against fate;
Death lays his icy hand on kings:
Scepter and Crown
Must tumble down.


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444 English Composition and Style

And in the dust be equal made

With the poor crooked scythe and spade. (Shirley.)

13. How happy is he bom and taught
That serveth not another's will;
Whose armor is his honest thought
And simple truth his utmost skill! (Wotton.)

14. Happy those early days, when I
Shined in my angel-infancy I (Vaughn.)

15. Whoe'er she be,

That not impossible She

That shall command my heart and me. (Crashaw.)

16. Over the mountains
And over the waves.
Under the fountains
And under the graves ;
Under floods that are deepest.
Which Neptune obey;
Over rocks that are steepest
Love will find out the way. (Anon.)

17. Gather ye rose-buds while ye may.
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day,
To-morrow will be dying. (Herrick.)

18. Whenas in silks my Julia goes

Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free;
O how that glittering taketh me! (Herrick.)

19. Why so pale and wan, fond lover?
Prythee, why so pale?
Will, if looking well can't move her,
Looking ill prevail?
Prythee, why so pale? (Suckling.)


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Versification 445

20. Shall I, wasting in despair,

Die because a woman's fair? (Wither.)

21. But let my due feet never fail

To walk the studious cloister's pale.

(Milton: // Penseroso,)

22. The mighty master smiled to see
That love was in the next degree ;
Twas but a kindred-sound to move.
For pity melts the mind to love.
Softly sweet, in Lydian measures
Soon he soothed his soul to pleasures.
War, he sung, is toil and trouble,
Honor but an empty bubble ;
Never ending, still beginning.
Fighting still, and still destroying;
If the world be worth thy winning.
Think, O think, it worth enjoying:
Lovely Thais sits beside thee.
Take the goods the gods provide thee !

(Dryden: Alexander's Feasi,)

23. Now air is hush'd, save where the weak-eyed bat
With short shrill shriek flits by on leathern wing.

(Collins: Ode to Evening.)

24. And are ye sure the news is true?

And are ye sure he 's weel ?
Is this a time to think o' wark?

Ye jades, lay by your wheel;
Is this the time to spin a thread.

When Colin 's at the door?
Reach down my cloak, I '11 to the quay.

And see him come ashore. (Mickle.)

25. I am monarch of all I survey;

My right there is none to dispute;

From the center all round to the sea

I am lord of the fowl and the brute.

O Solitude! where are the charms

That sages have seen in thy face?

Better dwell in the midst of alarms,

Than reign in this horrible place. (Cowper.)


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446 English Composition and Style

26, Bards of Passion and of Mirth
Ye have left your souls on earth I
Have ye souls in heaven too.
Double-lived in regicms new? (Keats.)

27. O talk not to me of a name great in story ;

The days of our youth are the days of our glory ;
And the myrtle and ivy of sweet two-and-twenty
Are worth all your laurels, though ever so plenty.


28. There be none of Beauty's daughters

With a magic like Thee;
And like music on the waters

Is thy sweet voice to me:
When, as if its sound were causing
The charmed ocean's pausing,
The waves lie still and gleaming,
And the lull'd winds seem dreaming. (Byron.)

2g. I arise from dreams of Thee
In the first sweet sleep of night.
When the winds are breathing low
And the stars are shining bright:
I arise from dreams of thee.
And a spirit in my feet
Hath led me — who knows how?
To thy chamber-window, Sweet I (Shelly.)

30. Ah ! County Guy, the hour is nigh.

The sun has left the lea.
The orange-flower perfumes the bower.

The breeze is on the sea.
The lark, his lay who thrill'd all day.

Sits hush'd his partner nigh;
Breeze, bird, and flower confess the hour.

But where is County Guy? (Scott)

31. When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted.
To sever for years.
Pale grew thy cheek and cold.
Colder thy kiss;


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Versification 447

Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this! (Byron.)

32. Where shall the lover rest

Whom the fates sever
From his true maiden's breast

Parted forever?
Where, through groves deep and high

Sounds the far billow,
Where early violets die

Under the willow. (Scott.)

33. A wet sheet and a flowing sea,
A wind that follows fast
And fills the white and rustling sail
And bends the gallant mast. (Cunningham.)

34. Ye Mariners of England
That guard our native seas!
Whose flag has braved, a thousand years,
The battle and the breeze! (Campbell.)

35. Of Nelson and the North

Sing the glorious day's renown.

When to battle fierce came forth

All the might of Denmark's crown.

And her arms along the deep proudly shone;

By each gun the lighted brand

In a bold determined hand.

And the Prince of all the land

Led them on, (Campbell.)

36. I have had p]a3rmates, I have had companions.

In my days of childhood, in my joyful school-days;
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces. (Lamb.)

37. I remember, I remember

The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn. (Hood.)

38. When he who adores thee has left but the name
Of his fault and his sorrows behind.


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448 English Composition and Style

Oh ! say wilt thou weep, when they darken the fame
Of a life that for thee was resign'd! (Moore.)

39. Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note.
As his corpse to the rampart we hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
0*er the grave where our hero we buried. (Wolfe.)

40. One more Unfortunate
Weary of breath
Rashly importunate.
Gone to her death 1 (Hood.)

41. Waken, lords and ladies gay,
On the mountain dawns the day;
All the jolly chase is here
With hawk and horse and hunting-spear. (Scott.)

42. At the comer of Wood Street, when daylight appears,
Hangs a thrush that sings loud, it has sung for three years:
Poor Susan has pass'd by the spot, and has heard
In the silence of morning the song of the bird.


43. Rough wind, that moanest loud

Grief too sad for song;
Wild wind, when sullen cloud

Knells all the night long;
Sad storm whose tears are vain.
Bare woods whose branches stain,
Deep caves and dreary main, —

Wail for the world's wrong! (Shelley.)

44. I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally,
And sparkle out among the fern
To bicker down a valley. (Tennyson.)

45. Although I enter not.

Yet round about the spot

Ofttimes I hover;
And near the sacred gate.
With longing eyes I wait.

Expectant of her. (Thackeray.)


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Versification 449

46. Glory of warrior, glory of orator, glory of song.

Paid with a voice flying by to be lost on an endless sea.


47. Comrades, leave me here a little, while as yet 't is early morn :
Leave me here, and when you want me, sound upon the bugle-
horn. (Tennyson.)

48. A wanderer is man from his birth.
He was bom on a ship

On the breast of the river of Time ;

Brinuning with wonder and joy

He spreads out his arms to the light.

Rivets his gaze on the banks of the stream. (Arnold.)

49. Half a league, half a league.
Half a league onward.
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred. (Tennyson.)

Sa At the door on summer evenings

Sat the little Hiawatha. (Longfellow: Hiawatha.}

51. Oh, their Rafael of the dear Madonnas,
Oh, their Dante of the dread Inferno,
Wrote one song — and in my train I sing it.
Drew one angel — borne, see, on my l^som.

(Browning: One Word More,)

52. This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the
Bearded with moss and in garments of green, indistinct in the

Stand like Druids of old, with voices sad and prophetic.

(Longfellow: Evangeline,)

d. Group the foregoing selections according as the movement
is mainly trochaic, iambic, dactylic, or anapestic. Try to ex-
plain any differences of effect that you may notice among these
different types of measure. Within any one group, show what
differences of effect are produced by the presence of short or long,
accented or unaccented, syllables, by catalexis, by pauses, by light
and feminine endings, by varying length of line, by run-on verse,


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450 English Composition and Style

by rime, etc. Can you suggest any explanation for the facts that,
in English verse, verses in iambic measure probably outnumber all
the others by ten to one, and that verses of four and five accents
are by far the most common?

3* Find examples of alliteration and assonance in poetry with
which you are familiar. Test the value of these methods of bind-
ing verse by destroying the alliteration or assonance through the
substitution of other words. Find examples of internal assonance
and of alliteration in other than initial syllables.

4* Find examples of double and triple rimes, and explain the
effect in each case. Point out instances of inexact rime, as Tenny-
son's blundered — wondered — hundred, or in the common view—
too — sue. Comment on the following saying : " Rime adds to
the pleasure and force of verse in that we are led to anticipate
sounds of the same tone-quality and yet do not lose the agreeable
sense of surprise brought about by that sound in some unexpected
word." From this point of view, comment on such rimes as move
— prove, love — dove, heart — dart, etc. What is meant by " pad-
ding " ? Do the following verses seem to be " padded " ?

In the sweet shire of Cardigan,
Not far from pleasant Ivor Hall,

Online LibraryW. T. (William Tenney) BrewsterEnglish composition and style; a handbook for college students → online text (page 38 of 43)