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3. Imitative harmony in words and movement; as,
“O'er the river, through the brake,
Splashing ! flashing ! crashing ! dashing !
Like forty thousand giants snoring !” Sometimes proper names are changed or modified for the sake of euphony; as, —
“Which Albyn's hills have heard."
“Under the Ethiop line."
Figurative language, like most of the other features of poetic diction, is not peculiar to poetry, but is common also to prose ; yet there is a wide distinction in its use in these two departments of composition. In the divisions of prose that fall under the heads of Description, Narration, and Exposition, figures of speech are sparingly used, and rarely for any purpose except that of illustration or explanation; in Oratory, whose object is to influence the will by appealing to the feelings, the passions, or the prejudices of the listeners, figurative language is more freely employed. The orator seeks to ingratiate himself with his hearers in order that his opinions and views may find acceptance with them. Hence, he makes his language pleasing that he may first catch the ear and afterwards win the judgment. In poetry, whose chief object is to give pleasure, and whose grand aim is missed if it does not, the adornment of the language is of the highest importance. Yet figures of speech are not the only, nor even the chief beauty of poetic diction; there is much true poetry in which the language
is as plain and simple as that of any prose.
In this the very plainness, simplicity, and neatness are the choicest embellishments. But poetry is allowed every variety of diction from the lowest to the highest, according to the nature of the subject and the style of treatment required. Although there is no subject dealt with in poetry that might not be treated in prose, yet the converse is not true, for the materials of poetry are confined to nature and humanity, while even here the choice of subjects is limited by the laws of æsthetic feeling and by a consideration of what will give pleasure. Now, it is evident that if the same subject is treated in poetry and in prose, as the r'ject is, in each case, different, so the style, diction, and effect must be dissimilar. In Narrative and Descriptive poetry, for example, there is distinct purpose to be attained; in the one, to relate a story, and in the other to present a picture to the mind's eye. In both cases that purpose is to be accomplished in such a manner that the process and the result, the means and the end, shall be pleasing apart from the intrinsic interest of the story or the beauty of the picture. The instrumentality by which each of these purposes is to be effected is language. Hence, as figurative speech is briefer, more pleasing, and more striking than literal, it is the chosen vehicle of poetry.
In transposing, the difficulty is to determine just what figures are to be allowed to remain, and what ones are to be cast out. This cannot be taught by rule, but must be left to the taste and judgment of the pupil.
The Limit. — Perhaps, after all, it is only the humbler and more indifferent kinds of poetry that can be rendered in prose. It is true, as already stated, that thoughts or fancies may be expressed either in the prose or in the poetic form. But how much is sometimes conveyed in the form alone ! What richness of fancy, what sublime harmony, what warmth of coloring, what delicacy of feeling, what grandeur and loftiness of sentiment, are often enwrapped in the very language in which poetry clothes the thought! Who, for example, could express in prose all the effect
of Milton's description of Satan's flight to this world, or of the Garden of Eden, or, in fact, any of our sublimer poetry? The literal meaning of the words may, undoubtedly, be written out in a pitiful kind of prose prose that at its best is scarcely fit to be considered a caricature of the original. It may convey the same ideas, but these ideas, so presented, do not produce on the mind the same effect as they do in the form of poetry. Words are not all of language; the manner in which they are combined, and the way in which they are made to present pictures to the mind, and, above all, the power they have, in a master's hand, to suggest images, thoughts, and fancies, to fill themselves, as it were, with life, and beauty, and passion, - this is the body and soul of language, and without this the words themselves are but as the dry bones in Ezekiel's valley.
TRANSPOSING AND PARAPHRASING.
DIRECTION. — Transpose by removing the measure and the poetic arrange ment; then paraphrase.
1. “For contemplation he, and valor, formed;
For softness she, and sweet attractive.grace.”
“ His step than the red-deer's was freer and lighter;
His eye than the eagle's was keener and brighter."
“ Here rests his head upon the lap of earth,
A youth to fortune and to fame unknown.”
“ When Ajax strives some rock’s vast weight to throw,
7. “On Fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread;
The bivouac of the dead."
8. “ I saw from the beach when the morning was shining,
A bark o'er the waters move gloriously on:
The bark was still there, but the waters were gone."
9. “ 'Mid scenes of confusion and creature complaints,
How sweet to the soul is communion with Saints;
TRANSPOSING AND PARAPHRASING.
DIRECTION. — Transpose by removing the rhyme, measure, and poetic diction; then paraphrase.
“ Six frozen winters spent, Return with welcome home from banishment."
“ The cock is crowing: the stream is flowing ;
The small birds twitter : the lake doth glitter;
“ And as a hare, whom hounds and horns pursue,
Pants to the place from whence at first she flew,
5. "The crawling glaciers pierce me with the spears
Of their moon-freezing crystals, the bright chains
“ Know ye ot me,
“ Thus ended he, and both
TRANSPOSING AND PARAPHRASING.
DIRECTIONS. — Transpose by removing the rhyme, measure, and poetic diction; then paraphrase.
1. “Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
2. “He held him with his skinny hand;
“There was a ship,' quoth he.
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.”