Page images

got his duty rather than disowned it. His tendency to profaneness is the effect of levity, negligence, and light conversation, with a desire of accommodating himself to the conception of his times by venturing to be wicked as far as he durst.

3. “I'll tell you a story, gentlemen, which is as true as that this pipe is made of clay. When I was delivered of my first book, I owed my tailor for a suit of clothes ; but that is nothing new, you know, and may be any man's case as well as mine. Well, owing him for a suit of clothes, and hearing that my book took very well, he sent for his money and insisted on being paid immediately. Though I was at the time rich in fame, for my book ran like wildfire, yet I was very short in money, and being unable to satisfy his demand, prudently resolved to keep my chamber, preferring a prison of my own choosing at home to one of my tailor's choosing abroad. In vain the bailiffs used all their arts to decoy me from my citadel; in vain they sent to let me know that a gentleman wanted to speak to me at the next tavern; in vain they came with an urgent message from my aunt in the country; in vain was I told that a particular friend was at the point of death and desired to take his last farewell. I was deaf, insensible, rock, adamant; the bailiffs could make no impression on my hard heart, for I effectually kept my liberty by never stirring out of my room."

4. Write a paragraph on “Our Sight," taking the following as principal and subordinate subjects: A general statement about “Our Sight"- The pleasure it affords — Contrast these pleasures with those received through “ the sense of feeling ” — The ideas it furnishes the imagination, and their nature - How much we should value “Sight."

5. Write a paragraph describing “A Meadow suitable for a Tournament.” Take the following as heads: An introductory sentence The location - Surface Kind of enclosure — The size The form — The entrance and how guarded.

6. Write a paragraph on “Successive Steps to Prohibition.” Heads : No sale to minors No sale to drunkards — No sale of adulterated liquors - High license - Prohibition.




Two Forms. - All thought may be expressed either in the form of poetry or in that of prose. Sometimes these two forms approach very closely, at others they stand very widely apart, but they never coincide. Moreover, the effect produced on the mind by a thought when dressed in the most artistic garb of poetry is very different from the effect produced by the same thought when clad in the commonplace habiliments of ordinary prose ; and even when clothed in the humblest poetic attire, thought carries with it a charm that it does not possess when couched in the highest form of prose. The learner should try to distinguish between the effect of the naked thought itself and that of the language which gives it expression. In this he will be aided by the exercise of transposition.

Methods. — Poetry may be transposed into prose, either by a change of phraseology, or by merely eliminating what is poetic.


The first method consists in writing out in good prose the general meaning of the poetry under consideration. This, if properly carried out, is a profitable exercise for beginners in composition, as it trains them in examining closely the meaning of terse and compact language, and in expressing thoughts with care and exact

This exercise scarcely differs from that in the last Lesson, where prose is transposed into other prose by changing the phraseology. The object in both is to reproduce the same thought in different language.

How to Paraphrase. — The following directions will assist in paraphrasing :


1. Read and re-read the poem till you understand it perfectly. 2. Make a list of the leading and subordinate thoughts.

3. Lay aside the poem and express the thoughts in your own language.

4. Be careful not to leave out any of the thoughts or sentiments of the original.

5. Be equally careful not to introduce any not contained in it. 6. Do not use poetic words or expressions.

7. Bring out as far as possible the full force of all figures, poetic epithets, and phrases.

8. Compare your version, sentence by sentence and thought by thought, with the original.

9. If you have used any of the language of the poem put other words in their stead. 10. After you have severely criticised your

work rewrite it. Example.

“ Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,

Is our destined end or way;
But to act that each to-morrow

Finds us further than to-day.
“Art is long, and time is fleeting,

And our hearts though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating

Funeral marches to the grave.”

Paraphrased. — We are not placed in this world merely for the purpose of enjoying ourselves, or of dragging out our lives in sorrow, but we are sent here to improve the time in developing the capabilities that are given us. For this, ample opportunity is afforded in the vast fields of knowledge, research, and toil that lie spread out before us. Though the full investigation of these might employ ages, yet but a few short years are granted us. At times, indeed, we feel as if we might live forever, but we should not presume on life, for every throb of our hearts reminds us that we are rapidly drawing nearer the close of our allotted time.


The second method of transposing poetry into prose, consists in making only such changes as are necessary to change the one form of expression into the other.

Where to Begin. - The pupil must first of all acquire a definite idea of the distinction between the form of poetry and that of prose.

He must not fall into the error of supposing that form is spirit, that measure and arrangement are poetry. It is not difficult to tell where the mechanical structure of verse ends and that of prose begins; but apart from this, poetry and prose exist in so great variety, and are so gradually shaded into each other, that the most expert critic is befogged when he attempts to discern the line between them. The truth is, we have much poetical prose, as well as an abundance of prosaic poetry.

What is to be Done. — What poetry is in its essence, we need not attempt to determine. If we could decide, we should not be materially assisted in the ungracious task before us — the task of destroying an intrinsic beauty we can neither create nor define, but one that we can all enjoy and admire. In transposing poetry into prose, that is, into the prose form, we need not in every case drive out the living and pervading poetic spirit. Our task is simply to change the form from the poetic to the prose. In order to do this, we shall proceed to examine the differences between these two forms.

Differences. — The points of difference to be noticed are included under the heads of Rhyme, Measure, and Diction. Diction comprises Arrangement, Expedients for Brevity, Words, Concrete and Particular Terms, and Figurative Language.

Rhyme. – As rhyme cannot in any case enter into prose, it presents no difficulty. In transposing it is simply eliminated by substituting for one of the rhyming words some suitable synonym.

Measure. — Of all the characteristics in which poetry differs from prose, there is but one that is peculiar to poetry. That one is metre. Composition that is written in metre is poetry, in form

at least, while that which is not is prose. Some poetry seems to be distinguished from prose only by the possession of metre.

How Transposed. - In poetry which is expressed in this plain and simple style, all that is necessary to convert it into prose

form is merely to remove the metre by inserting or omitting words, as in the example following. Example.

“ Pray, do not mock me,
I am a very foolish, fond old man,
Four-score and upwards; and, to deal plainly,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
Methinks I should know you, and know this man ;
Yet I am doubtful; for I am mainly ignorant
What place this is, and all the skill I have
Remembers not these garments; nor I know not
Where I did lodge last night. - Do not laugh at me,
For, as I am a man, I think this lady

To be my child Cordelia !” In this there is not a word, not a phrase, not an expression, that might not be used in the plainest and simplest prose, yet no person whose ear is attuned to the music of verse can fail to discover in it that something we cannot describe, but which we call poetry. Now, let us make a change the least possible, but still sufficient to throw out the metre, and we shall find that the imprisoned spirit has filed, that the poetry has become prose.

Transposed.— I pray you do not mock me, I am, indeed, a very foolish, fond old man of four-score years and upwards; and, to deal plainly with you, I fear I am not in my perfect mind. I think I should know you, and this man, also, but yet I am doubtful; for I am quite ignorant what place this is, and all the skill I have does not remember these garments, nor do I know where I lodged last night. — Do not laugh at me, for as surely as I am a man, I think this lady is my child Cordelia.

« PreviousContinue »