By Clive Scott
Dr Scott argues that basically by way of getting to the appropriate destinations of phrases in line or stanza, and to the categorical worth of syllables, or by way of knowing the usually conflicting calls for of rhythm and metre, can the reader of poetry collect a true take hold of of the intimate lifetime of phrases in verse with all their fluctuations of that means, temper and tone. The analyses during which the publication pursues its argument handle imperative matters: the way syllabic place tasks phrases and colors their complex and challenged via the connection of rhythm to metre.
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Additional resources for A Question of Syllables: Essays in Nineteenth-Century French Verse
After the two questions asked in lines 27-8, a voice is identified, the poet's own inner voice: Tout se tait: mon coeur seul parle dans ce silence. 3+3+1+5 (line 29) The first hemistich harks back to line 27 and echoes its 3+3 structure, but this is interpreted by another highly disproportionate hemistich, 1+5, a reversal of the first hemistich of line 28 - utterance impinges on the surrounding expanse of silence, suddenly, peremptorily. And then in line 32, the voice rises to God, softened by the e atone of 'Elle' - 'Elle s'eleve - and by its occupation of a 4-syllable measure.
This invasion is finally accomplished in line 9: Et le voile des nuits sur les monts se deplie 3+3+3+3 This is the moment of death, of existence at zero, but also the moment of recueillement, of the ingathering of energy prior to the assertion of life in another dimension. Lines 10 and 11 refer back to this moment, still bearing its traces in their post-caesural 3+3 hemistichs. How fitting that the 3+3 of line 10 should precisely refer to the moment of recueillement. How fitting, too, that these 3+3 hemistichs are second hemistichs, offering us movements of subsidence and mutedness.
42): The octosyllable is perhaps the most mercurial and mobile of lines. Without the structural point de repere of a caesura, it situates itself uneasily between a two-accents-per-six-syllables norm on the one one hand, and a three-accents-per-decasyllable norm on the other. Of course the octosyllable has its own conventions: 3+5 and 5+3 are the classic divisions of the line, though 4+4 is probably as common. But measures of four and five syllables are already pushing towards the limit of tolerable accentlessness, particularly in a line whose brevity tends to encourage a more attentive reading, a reading that positively looks for accent.
A Question of Syllables: Essays in Nineteenth-Century French Verse by Clive Scott