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TABLE OF CONTENTS.
POETRY, ITS NATURE
Rhythm, Metre, Accent, Quantity, Rhyme, Alliteration, Pa
rallelism. KINDS OF POETRY (1) Lyric.
(a) Ode, (6) Ballad, (c) Hymn and Song, (d) Elegy.
Classic Tragedy and Comedy, The Modern Drama,
Unities, &c. (4) Descriptive.
Pastoral. (6) Didactic.
Satirical, (6) Sonnet.
(7) Epigram and Epitaph. METRE
Definitions, Examples of Cæsuræ, Kinds of Feet.
RHETORIC. QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
14 20 22 25 28
38 38 38
PROSODY (from poowdía, accent) is concerned with the technicalities of poetry.
Poetry (troinous, from noréw, to make), in its widest sense, means invention or creation. A poet is literally a maker; and in Lowland Scotch he is so called still. The French word trouvère, or troubadour (from trouver, to find), means precisely the same. These terms, however, are only properly applied where truth and beauty are the objects of creation. The inventor of the sewing machine, for instance, would never be considered a poet; though the sculptor of the 'Dying Gladiator, the painter of the • Transfiguration, the author of David Copperfield,' undoubtedly would. The art of the true poet is to represent perfect truth and beauty, distinct from the evil that is ever mingled with the good, in nature; and though the imperfect is admitted, it is only for the sake of contrast, or because the two are often inseparable, or, as in satirical poetry, the same end is attained by deepening the shades of the bad. Poetry, then, is the result of a divinely bestowed faculty, operating upon the infinite resources of nature, creating new forms of the beautiful by combinations of existing materials, through the aid of the imagination. And this art may be carried even beyond nature in odd particulars: a statue may be more perfect in form than any individual that has ever lived, it being modelled after the excellences of scores of types; a poet may endow a fictitious hero with more virtues and fewer weaknesses than have ever been found in any one human being; and yet these are only beautiful creations, in so far as they are true to nature. Man can create, but he cannot soar beyond his own Creator ; his highest efforts are only attempts to produce the ideals
of Him who pronounced all His works good and perfect. It matters not in what form these ideals are presented to us; whether in marble, in colours, or in words, the work accomplished is poetry in its most inclusive sense.
The word poetry, however, is generally restricted to compositions in which words are the materials employed. Language is undoubtedly the mightiest instrument the poet can wield; it may frequently fail him in expressing all he feels and wishes to say, but there is a vitality about it which the stone and the canvas cannot represent.
What fine chisel ever yet cut breath ? The painter might depict to us poor Lear raring over his dead Cordelia, but he could not portray the intensity of feeling that seemed on the point of bursting its frail tenement, hit off in these simple words, “Pray you undo this button.' The sculptor may create out of crude stone a manly form, writhing in tortures for some noble cause, but he could not convey to our minds the hope that animates the sufferer,—' for though the body dies, the soul shall live for ever.'
We must now distinguish poetry from prose; although there is frequently much more real poetry in prose than in what goes
under the other name. Poetry differs from prose both in matter and in form. It appeals to our imagination and feelings, rather than to the understanding; its object is to please, refine, and elevate, rather than to instruct. As, however, much prose does this too, we must look to the form for the real difference between them.'
Poetry is distinguished from prose by metre and rhythm.
Rhythm is the undulation of sound produced by the alternation of accented and unaccented syllables. Metre is the measure of rhythm. (See page 12.)
Accent, i.e. the stress laid upon a particular syllable or syllables of a word in pronouncing it, is the distinguishing feature of rhythm
1 As this is a treatise on prosody, it deals only with the form of poetry, although the writer has thought fit to point out the broad distinctions given above. To enter into that very intricate question, as to what constitutes poetry with respect to its subject-matter, would be out of place here.