« PreviousContinue »
jeu-parti (cf. Bartsch, Chrestom. 343 f.) in which two poets take opposite sides of a question; and which, in its turn, Wackernagel refers to the influence of the Vergilian eclogue. This pastoral flavor, however, hardly justifies Mr. Stopford Brooke in calling the delightful but noisy dialogue an Idyll.
In Paul and Braune's Beiträge, Vol. IX, Professor Kluge has recently treated the history of rime in Germanic verse, and has sought to establish certain rules and tests important for the study of AngloSaxon metres. His general results still further strengthen the assertion, made on p. 145 of this book, that rime is a natural product of the accentual system ; that beginning-rime is for a while sole factor in binding together the halves of a verse; but that end-rime is necessarily developed from the same impulse, increasing with the distance from such early works as Beowulf. Kluge thus adds end-rime to the tests of later composition. In regard to beginning-rime itself (151 ff.), it is perhaps well to add a caution about its use in modern verse. Beginningrime, or alliteration, is detected by the ear, not by the eye (cf. Eng. Stud. VIII, 390), as is evident if we compare 'king : knave' with right: wrong'; and further, it counts chiefly in accented syllables, though (cf. p. 153) there is a sort of subordinate alliteration. In Swinburne's lines
A delight that rebels, a desire that reposes :
I shall hate sweet music my whole life long,
we see the force of the second rule. No real begin. ning-rime exists in the first verse; it does in the second (hate : whole). Of course, the first has subordinate beginning-rimes as well as assonance; but the fact that it contains no real alliteration needs to be insisted on, were it only to counteract the influence of such thoughtless assertions as are found in some of our standard histories of English Literature, - e.g. that alliteration consists in “words beginning with the same letter.” — The controversy in regard to
Middle-English word-accent is still very active, but the whole subject is here practically untouched, as it seemed out of place in a book of this kind. The description of the King Horn metre is, therefore, meant merely as the most general information possible, and will not bear a critical analysis. Meanwhile, Schipper's recent remarks in the current volume of Englische Studien, 184 ff., seem very sensible. His views were set forth in his Englische Metrik : an attack upon them by Wissmann will be found in the Anglia, V, 466 ff.; and there are many other voices which have been raised in this dispute. A brief statement of the question will be found in The Nation, 1882, Oct. 12th. But these special matters of controversy belong outside the proper limits of a textbook.
Lastly, teachers will permit the suggestion that where a class has some knowledge of French, it would be profitable to bring out the excellence of our own rhythm by comparing it with the metres of French verse. Rules and examples helpful for this exercise will be found in T. de Banville's Petit Traité de Poésie Française, Paris, 1881.
F. B. G. NEW BEDFORD, 21 January, 1886.
PREFACE TO THIRD EDITION.
SINCE the second edition of this book was printed, there have appeared several works of considerable interest for the subject. Very recently, Professor F. N. Scott, of the University of Michigan, has published a pamphlet on “The Principles of Style”; and a few months earlier, he and Professor Gayley, of the University of California, put forth “A Guide to the Literature of Æsthetics." In both of these pamphlets will be found valuable hints for those who wish to carry their study of poetry into special fields.
These are mainly guides to what has been done. Of original work, the first place belongs to the Poetik of Wilhelm Scherer, a posthumous work edited by his colleague, Dr. Meyer (1888). It is fragmentary, but even in its many faults it always contrives to be stimulating and aggressive; and it differs from the annual crop of such works in that its author takes new ground, and quite breaks away from the traditions and prejudices of his own school. As the present "Handbook" is meagre and cautious to a fault in its treatment of the
origin and nature of poetry, this opportunity is taken to present the views of Scherer on these two points.
I. THE NATURE OF POETRY. - Scherer calls poetry “the artistic application, or use (Anwendung), of language,
," with the limitations that not all poetry is artistic application of language (e.g., Ballet, or Pantomime, both wordless, may yet be poetry); and that not all artistic application of language (e.g., a sermon, or other persuasive rhetoric) is poetry. Yet Scherer concedes that whatever is rhythmic must be assumed to be poetry, though poetry is not necessarily rhythmic. Such unrhythmic forms as must be counted under the head of poetry are in their general character always closely allied to the rhythmic forms (p. 32). Among the oldest phases of poetry are Chorus, Proverb, Tale (Märchen), Charm, and Riddle. The first, the choral song of the multitude at feast or sacrifice, contains all rhythmic germs of later poetry; chorus and dance combined are the origin of rhythm. [See pp. 9, 135, of this Handbook.) Yet the primitive tale was unrhythmic; in Scherer's system the tale, like modern romances (e.g., Scott's), counts as poetry, and so we have a door opened to what Mr. Saintsbury calls “the pestilent heresy of prose-poetry." Choral Song and Tale are among the very earliest forms of poetry. Here, then,
, is new doctrine: “ Oldest form of epic poetry is with. out doubt the [unrhythmic] short tale." Some indi