[Milton-L] Let me not

Michael Gillum mgillum at unca.edu
Sat Mar 20 14:03:40 EDT 2010


Another try at spacing the diagram:

...di...dum..di..dum.di.dum..di..dum.di.....dum
.......X...........X..............................X
LET me NOT to the MARriage  of TRUE MINDS


On Sat, Mar 20, 2010 at 1:59 PM, Michael Gillum <mgillum at unca.edu> wrote:

> Thanks, Arlene, for making your theoretical position clear. I agree that
> meter exists apart from language, but I disagree in that I think that meter
> is also *realized* more or less distinctly in lines correctly understood
> and sounded. In my understanding, iambic meter is not a simple unchanging
> absolute but a system that includes systematic variation, for example
> inversion of accent or weaker-than-average beats (which in Richard Strier's
> language are "seen-as" beats).
>
>  Let me try to illustrate how Shakespeare's metric rhythm is a systematic
> transformation of the iambic norm line. I hope the spacing works. The top
> line represents the norm line. The bottom line represents what I take to be
> the most natural and expressive stressing of the language, which in this
> case is also a metrical scansion. The X represents a chiasmus, showing how
> adjacent positions in the norm line are reversed in the actual line: two
> ideal di-dums are realized as dum-di, then an ideal dum-di is realized as
> di-dum.  (I am speaking without reference to foot-boundaries.) So syllables
> 1-2, 3-4, and 8-9 have their metric values reversed in relation to the norm
> line. This principle of adjacent inversion (first stated by Attridge?)
> governs deviation from the alternating contour of the norm line in iambic
> verse. This principle is part of the iambic convention as practiced by poets
> from, say, Spenser on. However, Shakespeare's line is a bit of an outlaw in
> that adjacent inversions of the 1-2 or trochaic type are usually not
> admitted.
>
>
> ...di...dum..di..dum.di.dum..di...dum.di.....dum
> .......X.............X.................................X
> LET me NOT to the MARriage  of TRUE MINDS
>
> So the rhythm of the actual line is a rule-governed transformation of the
> ideal line.
>
> Michael
>
>
> On Sat, Mar 20, 2010 at 12:07 PM, Arlene Stiebel <amstiebel at verizon.net>wrote:
>
>>
>> More on readings -- a late addition to the conversation:
>>
>> This line traditionally has been such a popular example of the interplay
>> of
>> meter and rhythm, it seems almost too easy to analyze.
>> It’s very simple, really.
>>
>> Meter is an abstraction void of language.
>>
>> The line is perfect, unaltered  Iambic Pentameter:   x / x / x / x / x /
>>
>>                Let  me    not  to    the  mar - riage  of    true  minds
>>
>> The line plays syntactic stress (prose reading) against the pentameter, so
>> that many variant readings IN PERFORMANCE are possible.  The line fights
>> the
>> rather singsong iambic pattern to produce a combination of meter and
>> rhythm
>> (subjective performance choices) that form a complex structure in
>> combining
>> multiple levels of stress based on accented and unaccented syllables as
>> determined by  1) place in the line, i.e., meter  2) linguistic stress
>> (unalterable accent) and 3) performance choice (dramatic stress – reader’s
>> option).  It’s a lovely poem, and no one reading does it justice.
>>
>> Also, the complexity is enhanced by the use of enjambment – the run-on
>> line
>> to the full stop at “impediment.”  Nice, huh?
>>
>> Although meter, as an abstract pattern, is absolute, the enactment of it
>> (and rhythm) is by degree.  Stress may be performed by changes in volume,
>> pitch and duration, and like musical performance, is subject to many
>> varying
>> iterations.  As scholars, aren't we lucky that there will almost never be
>> a
>> definitive reading of almost anything!
>>
>> --Arlene
>>
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu
>> [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of richard strier
>> Sent: Saturday, March 20, 2010 8:34 AM
>> To: John Milton Discussion List
>> Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Let me not
>>
>> The question, as I see it, is not whether meter has a relation to meaning
>> but how
>> this relation is to be understood.
>>
>> I believe that Mr. Gillum already asked what this "nominalism" consists
>> of,
>> and
>> why the position that meter should be performed should be called that.
>> Please
>> do clarify.
>>
>> ---- Original message ----
>> >Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2010 14:19:59 -0400
>> >From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
>> >Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Let me not
>> >To: John Milton Discussion List <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
>> >
>> >   I think that any consideration of meter apart from
>> >   possible ramifications upon meaning is a defective
>> >   one.  However, the relationship between metrical
>> >   beat and conceptual stress is not the only way that
>> >   meter and meaning interact.  An interogative is
>> >   necessarily pronounced differently than a
>> >   declarative or an exclamatory, the presence of
>> >   expletives can affect metrical stress, etc.  I am
>> >   not saying that meter impacts meaning in all
>> >   sentences, of course, or even in most.  But, it
>> >   does and can.  But, again, perhaps I am too much of
>> >   a nominalist and think that meter should be
>> >   reflected in how we pronounce lines.
>> >
>> >   Jim
>> >
>> >
>> >       Again, I think Gillum is right.  # 1 is
>> >       certainly the version that makes most
>> >       metrical sense.
>> >
>> >       I'm not sure that I understand what meter
>> >       producing "a patently wrong-headed
>> >       or spurious meaning" means.  Meter, as I
>> >       understand it, should NOT be
>> >       determined by meaning.
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>
>
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