The Principles of English Versification

The Principles of English Versification

The Principles of English Versification

The Principles of English Versification

Excerpt

Most of the older discussions of English versification labored under two difficulties: an undue adherence to the traditions of Greek and Latin prosody more or less perfectly understood, and an exaggerated formalism. But recently the interest and excitement (now happily abated) over free-verse have reopened the old questions and let in upon them not a little light. Even today, however, a great deal of metrical analysis has wrecked itself on the visible rocks of a false accuracy, and it is therefore not only out of caution but also out of mere common sense that we should eschew the arbitrary, even at the risk of vagueness and an 'unscientific' admission of uncertainty. For the only great and annihilating danger of writing on versification is dogmatism. Our theorists, both old and new, are first tempted and then possessed with their theories -- all else becoming wrong and intolerable. In the following pages I have perhaps erred in a too frequent insistence on doubts and perplexities; perhaps also, on occasion, in a too plain statement of opinion where judgments are bound to differ -- sic se res habent.

Now it is plain that rhythm is one of the ultimate facts of nature and one of the universal principles of . . .

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