English Prosody and Modern Poetry

English Prosody and Modern Poetry

English Prosody and Modern Poetry

English Prosody and Modern Poetry

Excerpt

One of the most distressing aspects of the study of English prosody, whether as theory of forms or as versification, is the necessity of beginning with absolute fundamentals and working up through an enormous copia of unscientific scholarship, analyses which have not even premises in common, and the prejudices of the poets, critics, and students of the past three and a half centuries. I do not mean that I have done all this, or intend to, except as an amateur, but I want to point out at the start that if there is any one certainty in this field of study it is that dissension has been the rule from beginning to end. I know this to be so, and yet I find it difficult to understand. One assumes that the history of any science is continuous, at least in the sense that the classification of data leads to a statement of laws; and that as data are accumulated the laws are enlarged or changed. But in prosody the data are elusive and indistinct, the classifications often arbitrary, and the laws resultantly narrow and one-sided. The reason for this, perhaps, is that ours is not an exact but an approximate science (if there can be such a thing), and the attempt to reduce the rhythmical and tonal elements of verse to a body of principles must inevitably suffer from imprecision. Even at the point of the highest development of English prosody as a science (say about 1900) two scholars of equal prominence could debate whether the line . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.