By Charles O. Hartman
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Extra resources for Free verse : An essay on prosody
Morris, to whose "Summer School" this brief quotation does not do justice (79): ' t Gradually in the evening / t Under the trees U Accentualism, Isochrony, Musical Fallacy / / That are outlasting us, t t We disappear. The mothers, t t The mothers are calling t t The children of others, t t Calling them home. What especially interests me about the prosody of this poem is the way Morris, while maintaining the accentual meter, al lows the shadow of an iambic trimeter to play against it. The tradition again proves too powerful to ignore—though it can be domesticated by contrapuntal use.
Even if one were to take these theories as intuitively correct, none of them provides much help for analysis or reading. They are too vague to explain the way a piece of verse actually works, or even to distinguish it from prose. Even those that begin with clear demarcations be tween verse and prose end, when applied to free verse, with doubtful comparatives. Among the early writers on free verse, only Owen Barfield seems to have understood all this as a mistake. In an appar ently unnoticed article, "Poetry, Verse and Prose," he iden tified a "confusion of thought" whose source "lies in the modern tendency to regard concentration on hybrids or bor derline cases as a means of clearing up typical differences.
What delightful note with rapid unexpected flutesounds leaping from the throat of the astute grown bird, comes back to one from the remote 20 Some Definitions unenergetic sun lit air before the brood was here? How harsh the bird's voice has become. A piebald cat observing them, is slowly creeping toward the trim trio on the tree-stem —the three fledglings the mother must protect. The penulti mate line of the fourth stanza ("the brood was here? How harsh") contains six syllables rather than seven; the next also has six, instead of four; and the first line of the next stanza is eight rather than nine syllables long.