PROPORTIONS, MEASURES, AND VOCABULARY OF POETS, 1500-1940
FIRST, proportional sentence structure has been established in its relation to the poetic line. A proportion of one adjective and one verb per line indicates a balanced structure; more adjectives than verbs per line indicate a dominantly phrasal structure; more verbs than adjectives, a dominantly clausal structure. So, for example, such shorthand as Barclay 8A-21N-I2V, or Wyatt 7A-12N-11V, or Jonson 6A-14N-12V, or Cowley 7A-14N-11V, represents the number of adjectives-nouns-verbs for each in an average ten lines; for each, the verbs outweigh the adjectives, and the structure is clausal. Collins 12A-17N-9V, on the other hand, represents adjectival and phrasal dominance; and Pope 11A20N-11V, or Dunbar 8A-11N-7V, a balanced or nearly balanced one.
Secondly, such notation for each author is based upon a full count of one thousand lines of his work, which is often most of it, and at least representative of the whole. Statistically, such a selection is larger than necessary, but I have worked descriptively. At any rate, one must use common sense respecting the adequacy of the selection, and not extend implications without evidence. Gray wrote just about a thousand lines in all. Wordsworth wrote fifty-three thousand, of which most were balanced, a few thousand were experimentally phrasal, and a few were clausal like Coleridge Ancient Mariner. Always I specify the lines observed, so that the poet's name stands provisionally for these