[Milton-L] Scansion and line 1

J. Michael Gillum mgillum at ret.unca.edu
Mon Sep 16 11:58:39 EDT 2013


Carroll Cox--Stress and metrical accent are not the same thing. Many
pentameter lines have three, four, six, or seven stressed syllables (stress
is a linguistic feature) but still have five beats, aka metric accents (a
metric feature). Beats can be realized (weakly) by unstressed syllables if
there is no stress contrast. We can hear that in a sing-song performance of
the line. In a more prosy or expressive performance of the line, the part
that lacks linguistic stress will be lighter and faster.

Restore us, and regain the blissful seat

Here, "and" is the middle of three unstressed syllables. It weakly realizes
a beat. We register that without actually hearing a stress (though many
erroneous;y call it a stress). In performance we may choose to make the
unstressed beat more noticeable by hesitating before that syllable.

Likewise, the middle of three consecutive stressed syllables can realize an
offbeat or metric slack. These passages with stressed offbeats are slower
and heavier.

As one great furnace flamed


On Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 6:36 PM, Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu> wrote:

> J. Michael Gillum
> >
> > The primary stress in "disobedience" is on the 3rd syllable. "Dis" is a
> > secondary stress that can come out in speech, but doesn't need to.
>
> ---------
>
> It's been some 50 years since I read Frye, but I think he argued that the
> pentameter line in English was in practice a 4-stress line; almost always
> one of the five stresses isn't really stressed much.
>
> Carrol
>
>
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