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"He' on his im'pious foes-right on'ward drove,-
This description is far more spirited and energetic
than it would have been, if, instead of the emphatic words with which so many of the lines, and especially the last six, begin, iambics had been used. They not only give rapidity and power to the modulation, but the verbs that are used, consisting of a single syllable, were requisite to paint the scene with a vividness that corresponds to its awful nature. Ordinary iambic verbs would have rendered the spectacle tame, compared to the terrible energy with which it is now drawn. There are several exquisite cadences also in the passage. That in the eighth line, formed of the first syllable, falls on the ear with the abruptness and force of a thunder crash.
The fine effect of a trochee at the commencement of a line, in giving force to the expression, and a grateful variety to the modulation, is exemplified in many of the psalms and hymns; as in the Hundredth Psalm, in eight syllables. In this, as in blank verse, an emphatic accent is usually to be thrown on only two or three syllables in a line:
"Before Jehovah's aw'ful throne
Ye na'tions bow with sa'cred joy.
"His sov'ereign power, without' our aid,
"We" are his peo'ple, we' his care',
Our souls', and all our mor'tal frame;
"We'll crowd' thy gates' with thankʼful songs,
"Wide"-as the world' is thy command;
Vast"-as eter'nity thy love;
The trochees with which so many of the lines commence thus present the acts they are employed to express in a far bolder and more impressive attitude than they could have received had iambics been used, and give a vivacity and force to the modulation that brings it into harmony with them, and makes it as indicative almost of their vehemence as the emphatic monosyllables are by which
they are so vividly depicted. On the other hand, the introduction of the first three lines in the last stanza with an emphatic trochee, renders the change to an iambic, and the enunciation of the fourth line, in the diminishing voice which the cadence requires, highly pleasing.
The same effect of the trochee is seen in the
"While all' our hearts', and all' our songs',
Join'-to admire' the feast,
Each' of us cry,
with thank'ful tongues,
"Why' was I' made to hear thy voice,
When thou'sands make a wretch'ed choice,
""T was the same love' that spread' the feast
Else' we had still refused' to taste,
"Pi'ty the na'tions, O our God;
Constrain' the earth to come;
And bring the strangers home.
"We long' to see thy church'es full;
May with one' voice, and heart', and soul',
The frequent change throughout the hymn from an iambic to a trochee, and from a trochee to an iambic, thus adds greatly to the point and grace of the expression, and the spirit and beauty of the rhythm.
A spondee is sometimes used in place of a trochee, and with much the same effect, as in the third line of the following hymn:
"Mor'tals awake, with an'gels join,
"In heaven' the rap'turous song began;