Page:Poems of Anne Countess of Winchilsea 1903.djvu/94

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

xc INTRODUCTION ���the substitution of the trisyllabic foot. To modern taste the custom of marking all metrical variations so that the eye as well as the ear must recognize them is annoying. The brackets that indicate triplets, and the apostrophes with which all elisions and contractions are marked seem to be especially in evidence in Ardelia's pages. Not only do all preterites and past participles where the "ed" is not to be separately pronounced have the "e" elided, but many trisyllables with an unaccented middle vowel have this vowel elided. Most forms of "to be" and "to have" are contracted with pronominal subjects, contractions so diffi- cult as "t'had," "t'have," "thou'dst," being not infrequent, while colloquial contractions, such as "'tis," "'twas," and "sha'nt" are much used even in serious verse. In "could" and similar words the "1" is elided, and "does" is written "do's," though for what reason is not apparent. �Pope also objected to expletives, but Dryden's more rapid and freer verse did not always disdain " these fillers- up of unnecessary syllables," while Lady Winchilsea certainly carried the easy device so far as distinctly to enfeeble her verse. �In one interesting point Lady Winchilsea's verse is at variance with both the theory and the practice of Pope and of Dryden. Dryden says in the Preface to his ^33neis, �It is possible, I confess, though it rarely happens, that a verse of monosyllables may sound harmonious, and some examples of it �I have seen. My first line of the ^Eneis is not harsh It �seldom happens but a monosyllabic line turns verse to prose, and even that prose is rugged and inharmonious. Philarchus, I remember, taxes Balzac for placing twenty monosyllables in a file without one dissyllable betwixt them. �And Pope says that monosyllabic lines unless "artfully managed" are "stiff, languishing, and hard." Now, mono- syllabic lines are of constant occurrence in Lady Winchilsea's verse. In short-line stanzaic forms or in octosyllabics a ��� �