Imágenes de páginas

parts of a line; and now and then spondees also, though less frequently; and the use of those feet, particularly the trochee, is the means of producing the most delightful changes in the rhythm, and giving sprightliness and elegance to the movement. Thus in the passage immediately following that quoted from Milton, trochees are used in the third, fourth, and fifth lines, that vary the movement, and give it a life and rapidity far greater than a mere series of iambics would possess.

"Or if Sion hill

Dělight thĕe mōre, and Siloa's brook that flowed
Fast by the ōrǎcle of Gōd, I thence

Invoke thy aid to my ădventurðus sống,
That with no middle flight intends to sōar
Above the Aōnĭan mount, while it pursues
Things ǎnǎttempted yet în prōse or rhyme."

Here the prolonged or heavy accent of fast, that, and things, at the beginning of the third, fifth, and seventh lines, and of while at the commencement of the last half of the sixth, by reversing the movement the verse would otherwise have, breaks the monotony, and gives a vivacity and charm to the modulation like that produced in music by passing from a long to a short note, and from a short to a long

one, or the elevation or descent of the voice from one tone to another.

This effect of the trochee at the commencement of a line is exemplified in the following passage:


"Thus Sātăn tālking to his nearěst māte,
With head uplift above the waves, and eyes
That sparkling blāzed, his ōthĕr pārts bĕsīde
Prōne on the flood, extended long and large,
Lǎy floating many ǎ rood; in bulk ǎs hüge
As whom the fablěs name of monstrous size,
Titānĭan ōr earth bōrn, thăt wärred on Jōve,
Briārěōs, or Typhon, whom thě děn

By ancient Tarsus hēld, or thāt sea-beast
Leviathan which God of all his works
Created hūgest that swim the ocean strēam;
Him haply slumbering on the Norway foam,
The pilot of some small night-foundĕred skiff,
Deeming some island, oft ǎs seamen tell,
With fixed anchor in his scaly rind

Mōors by his side under thě lẽe, while night
Invests the sea, and wished mōrn dělāys;
So stretch'd out huge, in length the archfiend lay,
Chain'd on thě būrnăng lāke, nor ĕvěr thẽnce
Had risen or heaved his head, but that the will
And high permission of ǎll-ruling heaven
Left him at large to his own dark designs,
That with rĕitĕrātěd crimes he might

Heap on himself dămnation, while he sought
Evil to ōthers, and enraged might see
How all his mālice served but to bring forth
Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy shown
On mãn, by him sĕdūcěd, but ōn himself
Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance poured."

If the trochees with which nine of these lines commence were exchanged for iambics, the modulation from its uniformity would be comparatively tame, like a succession of bars in music in a monotone. By introducing them with trochees, an effect is produced analogous to a change in a tune to a quicker movement, or to a variation of positions and attitudes in a dance.

Another important element in the rhythm of verse is the cæsura or pause, at or near the centre of the line, dividing it into two parts, that, though not always equal in syllables, are to be pronounced as near as may be in equal times. This pause, which is followed by another of equal length at the end of the line, gives a perpetual swell and subsidence, as it were, to the pronunciation, like the vibrations of a pendulum; and varied as a portion of the lines are by trochees and spondees, invests it, to a tuneful ear, with the charm of a delicate musical movement. In the pronunciation, the

principal emphasis is thrown generally on a single syllable, sometimes on two in each branch of the line; in the first generally on the second syllable, in the second also occasionally on the second, usually on the last, and sometimes both on the last and next but one to the last. Thus in Milton's lines:

"About them frisking play'ed

All beasts' of the earth, since wild', and of all chase'
In wood' or wilderness, forest' or den;

Sport'ing the lion romp'd', and in his paw'
Dan'dled the kid; bears, tigers, ounces, pards',

Gam'boll'd before them; the unwieldy el'ephant,

To make them mirth, used' all his might, and wreath'd'
His lithe' proboscis; close' the serpent, sly',
Insin'uating, wove, with Gor'dian twine,
His braid'ed train, and of his fa'tal guile
Gave proof' unheeded."


Though the other long syllables are prolonged or accented beyond the short ones, a so much stronger emphasis is thrown upon these, that the others are made in a measure subordinate to them, and a pulsation given to the movement that answers to the regular step in a stately march, or the measured breathings in a musical air.

This bold and vigorous rhythm is characteristic of Milton's verse, and is one of the elements of the peculiar sweetness and majesty that distinguish it from others. Nearly all his lines consist of two groups of words, expressing different thoughts, or treating of different things, that admit naturally of a division by a pause. Thus:

"Meanwhile', in utmost lon'gitude,—where heav'en-
With earth' and o'cean meets,-the set'ting sun—
Slow'ly descended,—and with right aspect'—
Against' the eastern gate-of par'adise-
Lev'ell'd his evening rays;—it was a rock'—
Of al'abaster,―pil'd' up to the clouds',
Conspic'uous far,-wind'ing with one ascent'-
Acces'sible from earth;-one en'trance high,—
The rest' was craggy cliff-that overhung' -
Still' as it rose,-impos'sible to climb.-
Betwixt' these rocky pillars,-Gaʼbriel sat,—
Chief' of the angelic guard,-awaitʼing night ;—
About' him exercised—hero'ic games—

Th' un'armed youth' of heaven,-but nigh' at hand-
Celes'tial armory,—shields, helms, and spears'—
Hung high', with di'amond flaming and with gold'.-
Thith'er came Uriel,—gli'ding through the even'—
On' a sunbeam,-swift' as a shoo'ting star-
In au'tumn thwarts the night,-when vapors fir'd'-
Impress' the air,-and shows the marʼiner—

« AnteriorContinuar »