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has the power of determining and relating the subordinate or ambiguous accentuations in a rhythmical phrase; and the essential value of this resource seems to have been disregarded by the advocates of free verse.
A poem in metre has a predetermined organic normal scheme for its lines, and whatever their varieties of rhythm no line can be constructed without reference to its form: hence the same syllabic rhythms acquire different values according to their place in the line. The indefinable delicacy of this power over the hidden possibilities of speech is what most invites and rewards the artist in his technique, as the ignorance, neglect or abuse of it makes the chief badness of bad work. Its subtleties mock illustration, but demonstration can be simple and even commonplace. The second book of Paradise Lost opens thus:
High on a Throne of royal state, which far
These are two lines of blank verse, but they can be written as two lines of free verse thus:
High on a Throne of royal state,
Now in writing and reading them thus, the value of the word far is lost: it is seen that the word cannot in itself determine for itself any special value; in the free verse it is flat and dull, and one does not know what to do with it, for if it be unaccented it is useless, and if accented it is foolish. Indeed, no accentuation can restore to it what it has lost.
This one example is enough to show what is intended in this section, but another will lead further, and the passage which I quoted from my Milton's Prosody, to exhibit how he broke up his lines, will serve well: in Paradise Lost, III, 37 seq.:
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntarie move
Day, or the sweet approach of Ev'n or Morn.
These lines are greatly admired; a critic would hardly aconse them of prosaic or dull diction. But now set them out as free verse:
Then feed on Thoughts,
tunes her nocturnal note.
Or the sweet approach of Ev'n or Morn. The very diction of the verses has suffered terribly. I doubt if I should have seen any merit in them had I read them thus in the free verse of a contemporary poet. If this be so it follows that diction in free verse will needs be far more exacting than the diction of metrical verse. It must be more beautiful in itself, because it has relinquished the technique of one of the main sources of its beauty.
A free versifier may welcome this situation, and say that his poetry will be the better for excluding phrases that are in themselves so little beautiful that they must borrow adventitious beauty from mechanical devices. Well and good—if he can justify himself: but language is refractory, and all technique in Art consists in devices for the mastering of obstinate material
. If free verse must of its nature be more beautiful than metrical verse, let us rejoice and wait patiently. It is a case of solvitur ambulando, perhaps one should say volando or volitando.
I have myself made so many experiments that I cannot be suspected of wishing to discourage others. No art can flourish that is not alive and growing, and it can only grow by invention of new methods or by discovery of new material. In the art of English verse my own work has led me to think that there is a wide field for exploration in the metrical prosody, and that in carrying on Milton's inventions in the syllabic verse there is better hope of successful progress than in the technique of free verse as I understand it.
To fit him for the new world
SONG OF THE BIRTH
BY CONSTANCE LINDSAY SKINNER
K’antsamiq 'ala - Soē gives life.
As K’antsamiq 'ala Soē is about His world. 1 K'antsamiq 'ala Soê=Supreme Highest Praised One; Kwakiutl Tribe, British Columbia Coast.