[Milton-L] Selden on verse

JCarl Bellinger dionhalic at gmail.com
Wed Oct 23 22:31:53 EDT 2013


"Verse proves nothing but the quantity of syllables; they are not meant for
logic."
   Perhaps (or by extension): What you discover when parsing a verse into
the fixed feet & syllables proper to its meter, cannot be used to argue ,
to "prove," to determine, anything about the meaning of what's being
expressed, the logic of it.

  "Speak the speech I pray you as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the
tongue...but if you mouth your words. ."

   "Speak what you feel not what you prosody."

    I believe it was either Addison or one of his contemporaries [ anybody
have a multiple-commentary edition on the shelf?] who glossed Milton's "fit
quantity of syllables" as the natural/normal/actual/"fit" length of time
this or that syllable will occupy when this or that Englishman is saying
whatever it might be he feels like saying on the occasion. Or something to
that effect.

John Hale's observation,
"English *accent* may fall on a long or a short vowel, and a long vowel may
be unaccented" is nicely illustrated in the last five syllables of
"...not like those steps/On Heaven's azure," where the second of "heaven's"
and of "azure" is distinctly longer than the first yet the first takes the
accent. Even the "On" is longer perhaps than the first in "Heaven's."
   But would it start a fight to ask how to scan the preceding four
syllables : "not like those steps?"
Good luck with that!
Carl
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