[Milton-L] Scansion and line 1

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Mon Sep 16 15:28:57 EDT 2013

Beyond that, of course our scansion of a line is dependent upon both poetic
convention and pronunciation, but pronunciation must always come first.
There's no right way to scan a line that produces the pattern "feelING." We
can promote unstressed syllables, and demote stressed syllables, but we
can't reverse patterns within a word -- that is bad poetry, "wrenching" the

So I think we can use poetry as an indication of how words were pronounced,
though we have to be careful with that and look for as much evidence as we
can. "Society" as either a two or three syllable word, as poetic
convention, probably reflects some possible regional pronunciations, as
does moving back and forth between a voiced "-ed" ending, at least in
Shakespeare's day. Same thing with different ways of scanning
"disobedience." Poetic conventions that exploit a variety of regional
pronunciations can remain conventional long after the speech practice has
passed away, though.

Jim R
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