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The technical or material part of versification (the art of rhythmical composition), like that of any other of the fine arts, is capable of being reduced to rules and referred to fixed principles.

I wish the title of LAWS OF VERSE, OR PRINCIPLES OF VERSIFICATION EXEMPLIFIED, to be understood in the sense of an attempt to illustrate this proposition by examples. This is not a treatise on Prosody, neither is it a discourse de arte Poeticâ. Moreover I do not profess to lay down a systematic body of doctrine on the Art of Versification, but merely to indicate, in the way of cursory comment, chiefly contained in notes to the text, the existence of such a doctrine, and the possibility of moulding it into a certain definite organic form. In poetry we have sound, thought, and words (i. e. thought clothed in sound); accordingly the subject falls naturally into three great divisions, the cogitative, the expressional, and the technical; to which we may give the respective names of Pneumatic, Linguistic, and Rhythmic. It is only with

Rhythm that I profess to deal.

This again branches off intothree principal branches—Metric, Chromatic, and Synectic.

Metric is concerned with Accent, Quantity, and Suspensions; the latter including the theories of Pauses, Rests, and Synthesis or Syllabic Groupings. I touch very briefly on this branch, accepting, in regard to it, the doctrine of Edgar Poe, given in his essay on the “Rationale of Versification,' rendered, as I think, more complete by my introduction into it of the theory of the silent syllable or rest.

Metric is concerned with the discontinuous, Synectic with the continuous, aspect of the Art. Between the two lies Chromatic, which comprises the study of the qualities, affinities, and colorific properties of sound.* Into this part of the subject, except so far as occasionally glancing

* I notice that in Mr. Tom Hood's 'Rules of Rhyme' certain of the principles of Chromatic have been incidentally discussed and gone into (as regards the powers of initial consonants) in some detail. Chromatic may be studied with respect to Matter, Mode, and Relation. Its matter may be consonantal, vocal, or diphthongal; its mode may be taken with reference to congruity, opposition, and transition or modulation. As to relation, it may be regarded as a co-ordinate factor of Synectic or of Expression, or per se, i.e. with regard to the purely sensuous impression ; which last, again, will bring under view the position as initial, terminal, or medial. This is a mere hasty and superficial view of the subject: in things of the fancy a little play of fancy may be permitted.

at its existence and referring to its effects, I do not profess to enter.* My chief business is with Synectic.

This, also, on a slight examination, will be found to run into three channels-- Anastomosis, Symptosis, and between them the main flood of Phonetic Syzygy.† But it may be asked preliminarily how can Symptosis, which deals with rhymes, assonances (including alliterations, so called), and clashes (this last comprising as well agreeable reiterations, or congruences, as unpleasant ones, i.e. jangles or jars), how, I say, can a theory dealing with discreet matter of this kind, come under the head of Synectic: but the answer is easy, for if the elements with which it deals, its matter, is discontinuous, not so is the object to

* I cannot resist the temptation of quoting here from a daily morning paper the following unconsciously chromatic passage descriptive of the total eclipse of the moon, that grand spectacle of nature, which I witnessed and watched yesternight from Woolwich Common in front of my house, which in a few days I am to quit:— The last portion of the shadow of the earth had been passed through by the moon, which then again sailed “in its full orb/of glory through the dark blue depth.” The beauty of sound in this description is almost as delicious as the impression of the sight of nature which it recalls.

+ I have heard of practical use being made by some to whom the report of it has reached of this salient principle of phonetic syzygy, alike for proving, correcting, and strengthening their

A lady also has conveyed to me through a mutual friend the conviction of the value and fertility of this principle, in its application to musical composition, which has forced itself on her


which it tends (its form); just, for instance, as in an iron shield or curtain or a trial target, the bolts and screws and rivets are separate, but serve to consolidate and bring into conjunction the plates, and to give cohesion and unity to the structure.

Anastomosis regards the junction of words, the laying of them duly alongside one another (like drainage pipes set end to end, or the capillary terminations of the veins and arteries) so as to

notice. I conceive that the method of triadic analysis which I have employed in the genesis and distribution of the principles of lyrical poetry, is founded on the nature of things and not on an arbitrary subjective rule of classification. I can honestly aver that I was not on the look-out for any such an arithmetical law, but that starting originally with phonetic syzygy alone as my distinctive principle, the connexions and ramifications which grew out of and around it, grouped themselves as it were spontaneously, according to this law of trichotomy, each joint of the arborescence at which I successively arrived in my analysis, throwing off from itself three branches. It may be the case that a similar ternary law of development would apply to music, painting, sculpture, in a word, to the elucidation of the higher principles of all the fine arts. Following out this clue it is conceivable that we might succeed in laying the foundations of a science of Comparative Aesthetic, or at least of a general Aesthetico-technic. Of one thing I have no doubt, which is, that when the analysis of principles which I have here faintly indicated has been carried to its full term, we shall be in possession of a system of rules, by which the criticism of the technical part at least of lyrical poetry may be reduced to the form of propositions capable of being logically argued and bated, tirely removed from that indefinite region of taste which, like the so-called discretion of a judge, does not admit of being made the subject of rational discussion.


provide for the easy transmission and flow of breath (unless a suspension is desired for some cause, or is unavoidable) from one into the other.

The great topic of Phonetic Syzygy has something in common with each of these flanking principles. In matter it agrees with Symptosis, in form (in respect of operating with distinct reference to continuity of impression) it borders upon Anastomosis.

We look to Metric for correctness of form, to Chromatic for beauty of color; it is to Synectic, and to its main branch Syzygy, that we must attend in order to secure that coherence, compactness, and ring of true metal, without which no versification deserves the name of poetry. It is to Syzygy that I have called most attention in my annotations, and it was with this principle exclusively that at the outset I intended to deal.

The subject has grown upon me in passing through the press; and the book has been built up in a most unforeseen and unpremeditated manner, which I state in order to account for the numerous dislocations, ill-fittings, gaps and other irregularities of structure, as well as occasional repetitions, which I must beg the courteous reader to overlook or excuse. In fact the work may be truly said to have been born,

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