Page:A handbook of the Cornish language; Chiefly in its latest stages with some account of its history and literature.djvu/209

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190
GRAMMAR

or four syllabled (or mixed) metres of the Dramas, using their purely syllabic methods, which undoubtedly work all right in modern Breton, or to extend the same principles, as the Bretons do, to lines of other lengths. The triplets of old Welsh and perhaps of very old Cornish are effective metres, but are not so easy as they look, for it is not enough merely to write rhyming triplets. Lhuyd in his one attempt has produced a peculiar though allowable metre, with lines of all sorts of lengths, and the old specimens, Llywarch Hen's Marwnad Geraint ap Erbin, and the Englynion called Eiry Mynydd, are largely in lines of seven syllables, and some of them, such as the Song of the Death of Cynddylan, and the curious ninth-century poem in the Cambridge Juvencus, seem to have also the gair cyrch, that strange little tag to the first line of the triplet, outside of the rhyme but not outside of the assonance or alliteration, which is so marked a characteristic of the four-lined Englyn, while in most of them there are alliterations, vowel correspondences, and internal rhymes, which are not so haphazard as they look. It is well not to attempt to force a Celtic language into a Teutonic mould. Some of the most beautiful metres that the world has ever known are to be found among the works of English poets, but they are no more suitable to Cornish than hexameters, sapphics, and alcaics on strict quantity lines would be to English. It is possible, however, to write tea-syllabled blank verse in Cornish, provided a fair amount of alliteration is used.

One word about inversions of the order of words in poetry. This should be done very sparingly, and it is not easy to lay down very definite rules as to what is allowable and what not. It is best not to deviate from the usual order of words unless one can find a precedent in one of the Dramas. Some inversions, however, are quite allowable. Thus one may put the complement of