Poetry: Its Nature and Function

Literature: Its Universality
Literature is a picture, more or less true, more or less inspiring, of actual life, Every country has its own literature which mirrors its life. But every literature is also an expression of emotions, of ideas and ideals, which have a permanent value and which are of interest for men in every age and country. This accounts for the permanence and universality of great works of literature left behind by peoples in remote ages and countries. It is for this reason that Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aenied written in ancient Greece and Rome are still read and enjoyed. Truly speaking, literature is not of one age but of all ages, not of one country but of all countries.

Three Major Forms of Literature
Poetry, Prose and Drama are the three major forms of literature. As men and women gradually learned, through the passing ages, to write down their thoughts, feelings, desires and opinions, they used many different ways or forms of expressing themselves. It is not very easy to distinguish these “forms”, if we try to talk of Literature in exact historical order; but we can safely say that it seems as if men used verse before prose – that is, for their literary works as apart from their everyday speech when, for instance, they discussed their affairs, or quarrelled, or asked other people to supply their needs. In other words, when man was emotionally moved he used verse: when he wanted to convey some point of view, he used prose. Drama came at a later stage when action was added to that which so far had been written down to be read. Dramas can be written both in verse and prose. For example, Shakespeare uses both verse and prose for his plays, and the plays of both George Bernard Shaw and John Galsworthy are in prose. But critics like T.S. Eliot are of the view that Drama is a form of poetry. Drama is dramatic-poetry, just as there is lyric-poetry or epic-poetry. He regards prose drama as something unnatural and artificial.
Poetry: Some Definitions
Poetry then is one of the three major branches of literature. All through the ages efforts have been made to define poetry, and determine its nature and function: For example, Dr. Johnson, the great scholar and literary critic of the 18th century, defined poetry as, “metrical composition”, and added that it is “the art of uniting pleasure with truth by calling imagination to the help of reason.” Poetry, according to Macaulay is, “the art of doing by means of words what the painter does by means of colours.” Poetry, declares Carlyle, is “Musical Thought”. Poetry, says Shelley, may be defined as the expression of the imagination; it is, says Hazlitt, the language of the imagination and the passions. In Coleridge’s view poetry is the antithesis of science, having for its immediate object pleasure, not truth; in Wordsworth’s phrase, it is “the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge,” and “the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all science.” According to Matthew Arnold, it is “simply the most delightful and perfect form of utterance that human words can reach”; it is, “a criticism of life under the conditions fixed for such a criticism by the laws of poetic truth and poetic beauty.” According to Keble it is “a vent for overcharged feeling or a full imagination.” Ruskin defines it as “the suggestion, by the imagination, of noble grounds for the noble emotions”. Prof. Courthope defines it as “the art of producing pleasure by the just expression of imaginative thought and feeling in metrical language.” Mr. Watts-Dunton, says it is, “the concrete and artistic expression of the human mind in emotional and rhythmical language.”
Poetry: Its Emotional and Imaginative Content
But all such definitions fail to do justice to the nature of poetry, in its very nature poetry cannot be confined within the narrow limits of a definition. Therefore, it would be more profitable to turn our attention to the commoner characteristics of poetry, and thus determine the best way of studying it. The above definitions, however, make it quite clear that the true content of poetry is imaginative and emotional. Poetry is imaginative and emotional interpretation of life. Poetry deals with facts, experience and problems of life, but first, it relates them to our emotions, and secondly, it transfigures and transforms them by the exercise of imagination. It treats reality imaginatively, colours it with emotion, but it does not falsify or distort it. Imagination and emotion predominate in poetry, they are the essential qualities of poetry and without them much that passes as poetry, is in reality unworthy of the name of poetry.
Metre: Essential to Poetry
But then imagination and emotion may characterise prose also, as they do in the case of what is called, poetic-prose. Should such prose be called poetry? As Hudson puts it, “there is much ‘poetry’ which is purely ‘prosaic’; there is much ‘prose’ which is markedly ‘poetical’; but a dividing line between prose and poetry still exists. What does this imply? It implies that poetry, specifically so termed, is a particular kind of art; that it arises only when the poetic qualities of imagination and feeling are embodies in a certain form of expression. That form is, of course, regularly rhythmical language, or metre. Without this, we may have the spirit of poetry without its externals. With this, we may have the externals of poetry without its spirit. In its fullest and completest sense, poetry presupposes the union of the two.”
In other words, poetry has both from and content. The true content of poetry must be imaginative and emotional. And this imaginative and emotional interpretation of life must be clothed in a systematically rhythmical language, which is called metre. The use of metre is not something external, something ‘super-added’, but essential. The primary purpose of all art is to provide aesthetic pleasure; and each art has its own particular aesthetic pleasure. The primary function of poetry also is to give aesthetic pleasure, and the aesthetic pleasure peculiar to poetry is not possible without the use or metre or regularly rhythmical language. It is metre which enables poetry to perform the function proper to it, its use is essential if poetry is to provide its own particular pleasure, a part of which lies in the regulated music of its language. Treated in prose the same subject may be richly poetical, but it becomes actual poetry only when metre is used. Without imagination and emotion any subject treated in metre will remain mere verse (tukbundi). Without metre even the most emotional and imaginative subject would remain prose.
Matthew Arnold, “despite his pre-occupation with the idea of poetry as a “criticism of life,” lays stress upon “the essential difference between imaginative production in verse, and imaginative production in prose.” The “rhythm and measure” of poetry, he maintains, “elevated to a regularity, certainty, and force, very different from that of the rhythm and measure which can pervade prose, are a part of its perfection.” Much that passes as poetry may be prosaic and much that is regarded as prose may be in reality richly poetic. Still a dividing line between prose and poetry has got to be drawn, and most scholars are agreed that metre constitutes this dividing line. “Metre then must be taken as the general and constant characteristic of poetry, and the chief point of distinction between prose and poetry, as far as form is concerned.”
Conceived as distinct kind of literary art poetry has imaginative and emotional substance, and a metrical form. These are the essential characteristics of poetry, and we can have the distinctive satisfaction which should arise from reading poetry only when these qualities are present. “How much the power of poetry depends upon the nice inflections of rhythm alone, may be proved,” as James Montgomery pointed out, “by taking the finest passages of Milton and Shakespeare, and merely putting them into prose, with the least possible variation of the words themselves. The attempt would be like gathering up dewdrops, which appear jewels and pearls on the grass, but run into water in the hand; the essence and the elements remain, but the grace, the sparkle, and the form are gone.”
The Diction of Poetry
Metre is an essential part of the perfection poetry, and the use of metre modifies the language of poetry. ‘Metre’ as Coleridge puts it, “medicates the whole atmosphere”, and makes the diction of poetry different from the language of prose. Diction means both the choice and the arrangement of words, both vocabulary and syntax. Though views about a proper diction for poetry may differ, there can be no denying the fact that the words which a poet uses are different from those used by a writer of prose, and he also arranges them in a different way. Thus, for example, a poet must avoid the use of words with harsh, unpleasant sound, and select words which are sweet and pleasant. Not only must the words which he choses convey his meaning exactly and precisely, they must also be musical. Further, the order in which the words are arranged is different from that of prose. The syntax of a poet is conditioned not by the ordinary rules of grammar but by the requirements of metre. Often inverted constructions become unavoidable. In “He lived the woods among”, ‘among’ comes after ‘woods’ and not before, as it should be used according to the rules of grammar. Considerations of rhyme and metre have necessitated this inverted construction. That is what Coleridge meant when he said that poetry is, “right words in the right place.” In his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth expressed the view that, “there is no essential difference between the language of prose and the language of poetry”, but his own practice shows that there is such a difference and this difference is essential, if poetry is to provide its own distinctive kind of pleasure, i.e. pleasure arising from the use of ordered, musical language.
Figures of Speech: Their Significance
Not only that, the diction of poetry must also be figurative. Figures of speech are not merely decorative, they are essential to the emotional and imaginative appeal of poetry. In moments of intense emotional excitement, man has always tended to express himself in a figurative language. He has always coloured the external world with his own emotion, or has compared himself and his life with the objects and phenomena of nature. Simile, metaphor, personification, pathetic fallacy, hyperbole, etc., are the more common of the figures which have been used by men since the earliest times. These figures are used by prose-writers as well, but a poet’s use of them is more frequent and more emotional and more imaginative. Good and effective prose – prose of the highest order – may be possible without them, but without them poetry loses much of its charm and appeal. There may be poets who use a bare, bold, unadorned diction, but to that extent their poetry is felt to be less satisfying. This is so because poetry appeals to the emotions, and a figurative language is conducive to such emotional appeal.
Kinds of Poetry
Broadly speaking poetry may be divided into two kinds. First, there is personal or subjective poetry, the poetry of self-expression. In this kind of poetry the poet goes down into himself and finds his inspiration and his subjects in his own experiences, thoughts and feelings. To this personal or subjective poetry, the world lyrical is generally applied. Personal or subjective or lyrical poetry is further sub-divided into (a) the Elegy, (b) the Ode, and (c) the Sonnet.
Secondly, there is impersonal or objective poetry in which the poet goes out of himself and finds his inspiration and his subjects in the actions and passions of the world without. In this kind of poetry, the poet deals with the outside world with little reference to his own personal thoughts and emotions. This impersonal or objective poetry may be either narrative or dramatic. Narrative poetry is further sub-divided into (a) the ballad, or the short-story in verse, (b) the Epic, or a long story in verse, (c) the Metrical Romance, (d) the Idyll or the idealised treatment in verse of simple homely people and their lives. By dramatic we mean not the actual drama, meant to be acted on the stage, but poetry which, “though not intended for the stage, is essentially dramatic in principle.” The Dramatic Monologue is the most important kind of dramatic poetry, and in England Robert Browning is its most important practitioner.
Such are the chief kinds of poetry. But it should be remembered that this division is merely for the convenience of study, for in practice there is a constant mingling and over-lapping of the various kinds. Even in the delineation of the outside events and situations, the poet may bring in his own personal experience and colour what is external with his own emotions. Thus Wordsworth called the first collection of his poetry Lyrical Ballads, for the poems in the collection have the qualities both of a lyric and a ballad. The poet deals with external reality, but the external is suffused, coloured and transformed by his own feelings and emotions. Hence they are aptly called Lyrical Ballads. Such fusion of genres (types) is common and frequent.
Conclusion
In the subsequent chapters we shall study in some detail, the various forms of poetry, and Prosody or rules of versification. Such a study is necessary for any proper understanding and appreciation of poetry.
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Figures of Speech Commonly Used in Literature

Figures: Their Nature and Function
A figure of speech is a poetic device which consists in the use of words and phrases in such a manner as to make the meaning more pointed and clear and the language more graphic and vivid. Figures are also called images for in them one thing is represented in the image of another. According to Bain it is “a form of expression that intentionally deviates from the ordinary mode of speech for the sake of more powerful, pleasing or distinctive effect; it is pictorial or poetic language.”

But it is a mistake to think of figures of speech as simply ornaments of language. They are part and parcel of the human language in moments of emotional excitement. When his emotions are stirred, man instinctively tends to express himself through the use of figurative language. That figures are used naturally and instinctively to express powerful feeling is seen in the fact that children and primitive, uncultured people habitually use figures of speech.

The world of nature is an inexhaustible storehouse of figures of speech (or images as they are also called), and poets and writers have always drawn freely from this storehouse. Figures have been used by poets to decorate their language and to make it more vivid and pictorial, to increase its force and effectiveness, and to communicate their meaning more lucidly and clearly. By increasing the beauty of language, the use of figures provides great aesthetic satisfaction to the readers.
The most important figures of speech are Simile; epic or Homeric Simile; Metaphor; Personification; Pathetic Fallacy; Apostrophe; Hyperbole; Metonymy; Synecdoche; Oxymoron; Antithesis; Onomatopaeia; Alliteration; and Transferred Epithet.
1.  Simile
The word “Simile” comes from the Latin ‘similis’ – ‘like’ and means ‘likeness’. A simile is an expression of likeness between different objects or events. It consists in placing two different things side by side and comparing them with regard to some quality common to them. In other words there are two essential elements in a simile. First, the two objects or events compared must be different in kind. Secondly, the point of resemblance between the two different objects or events compared must be clearly brought out. Such words of comparison as, like, as, so, etc., are always used. For example:
(a)             Errors like straws upon the surface flow.
(b)             The younger brother is as good as gold.
2.  Epic or Homeric Simile
It is so called because it was first used by Homer, the great epic poet of ancient Greece, and ever since it has been made use of by epic poets all over the world. It is also called the long-tailed simile because in it the comparison is not confined to some one quality but a number of qualities are compared and the comparison is elaborated and spread over a number of lines. Homeric simile imparts variety to the narrative and helps the poets to lengthen it out. Milton in his Paradise Lost and Pope in his mock-epic The Rape of the Lock have made abundant use of such Homeric similes. For example:
The broad circumference (of the shield of Satan)
Hung on his shoulders like the Moon, whose orb
Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views, etc.
3.  Metaphor
A metaphor is implied simile. The word “metaphor” comes from the Greek, ‘meta – over; ‘phero’ – carry. It means, literally, “a carrying over”; and by this figure of speech a word is transferred, or carried over, from the object to which it belongs to another in such a manner that a comparison is implied, though not clearly stated. Thus a metaphor is a compressed, or implied simile – simile with the word ‘like’, ‘as’ etc., omitted. For example:
(a) The camel is the ship of the desert.
(b) He is the pillar of the state.
4.  Personification
Personification is really a special kind of metaphor. It is a figure of speech in which inanimate objects and abstract ideas or qualities are spoken of, as if they were persons or human beings. Examples of personification are:
(a)    Opportunity knocks at the door but once.
(b)    Death lays his Icy hands on kings.
(c)    “Peace hath her victories.
No less renowned than war”.
In all these instances, life and intelligence have been imparted to lifeless objects or abstract ideas.
5.  Pathetic Fallacy
Pathetic Fallacy is a figure of speech in which human emotions are given to lifeless objects and abstract ideas. It is a special kind of personification in which the inanimate, the lifeless, and the abstract, are made to partake of human emotions. For example:
All Nature wept at his death, and the Flowers were filled with tears.
It is usual to begin the name of the personified object with a capital letter.
6.  Apostrophe
It is a figure of speech in which abstract ideas or inanimate objects are addressed as if they were alive. The word literally means a ‘turning aside’, for in this figure a writer ‘turns aside’ to address a person absent or dead, or an inanimate object, or an abstract idea, For example:
(a) “O wild west wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being.”
(b) “O Solitude, where are the charms
That sages have seen in they face?”
7.  Hyperbole
The word “hyperbole” (“Hyper” – beyond; “ballo” – throw) literally, “a throwing beyond”, means exaggeration. This figure of speech consists in representing things as much greater or smaller than they really are, with the intention of producing a more striking effect than a plain statement can. For example:
(a)      “Here is the smell of blood still; all perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand?”
8.  Metonymy
The word “metonymy”, Greek, ‘meta’ – after; ‘onoma’ – a name, means literally, “substitution of name”, and the figure consists in “substituting the thing named for the thing meant”; for example, grey hair may be used for old age, throne for monarchy. Some other examples are:
(a)          The pen (author) is mightier than the sword (the soldier).
(b)          “Sceptre and crown.
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.”
9.  Synecdoche
This figures of speech is really a special form of metonymy. Its name ‘syn’ – with, ‘ekdoche’ – succession, means literally, “the understanding of one thing by another”. In the figure there is the substitution of a part for the whole or vice versa, or of an abstract noun for a concrete one or vice versa, of an individual for a class, or vice versa, or of the name of the material of which a thing is made for the name of the thing itself. For example:
(a) The rank and file streamed out of the city to see the      sight.
(b) There is a mixture of the tiger and the ape in his          character.
(c)  Kalidasa is the Shakespeare of India.
(d) He gave the beggar a few coppers.
10.  Oxymoron
An oxymoron is the association or bringing together of two words or phrases having opposite meanings. For example:
(a) “James I was the wisest fool in Christendom.”
(b) “That time is past
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures.”
11.  Antithesis
An antithesis, ‘anti’ – against; ‘thesis’ – placing, is a figure of speech in which one word or idea is set against another with the object of heightening the effect of what is said by contrast. For example:
(a) “God made the country but man made the town.”
(b) “United we stand divided we fall.”
(c)  “Speech is silvery, silence is golden.”
12.  Onomatopaeia
Onomatopaeia, ‘onoma’ – name; ‘poiea’ – make, is the use of a word or words whose sound itself conveys the sense of the author. Examples of onomatopaeia are:
(a) “It cracked and growled and roared and howled like    noises in a swound.”
(b) “The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.”
13.  Epigram
A brief pointed saying expressing antithetical ideas, or exciting surprise, is called Epigram. For example:
(a) The child is father of the man,
(b) Art lies on concealing art.
14.  Irony
It is the figure of speech in which the real meaning is just the opposite of that which is literally conveyed by the language used. For example:
Here, under leave of Brutus, and the rest,
(For Brutus is an honourable man)
I come to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
Here the use of the word, “honourable” is ironical.
15.  Pun
When we use the same word in two or more senses in order to make the people laugh, we employ the Figure of Speech called Pun.
An ambassador is a gentleman who lies abroad for the good of his country.
Here there is a pun on the word ‘lies’.
16.  Alliteration
Alliteration consists in the repetition of the letters or syllable, or the same sound at the beginning of two or more words in a line. In this way language becomes musical. For example:
(a) How high His Honour holds his haughty head.
(b) “The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, the furrow   followed free.”
17.  Transferred Epithet
In this figure of speech an epithet or qualifying adjective is sometimes transferred from a person to an object or from one word to another. For example:
(a) “The ploughman homeward plods his weary way.”
(b) “He tossed from side to side on his sleepless bed.”
In the first case ‘weary’ has been transferred from ‘the ploughman’ to the ‘way’; in the second case ‘sleepless’ has been transferred from ‘He’ to ‘bed’.

Prosody and Rules of Versification in English Literature

(A)  Metre and Rhythm
Metre may be defined as that ordered rhythm which results from a regular alternation of stressed and unstressed, or as they are sometimes called, long and short, syllables in a line of poetry. Just as a Yard, used for measuring cloth, consists of a number of feet, and each foot consists of a number of inches, so also metre by which we determine the rhythm of poetry, is sub-divided into a number of feet and each foot into a number of syllables (a syllable consists of one vowel sound and a word may have one or more vowel sounds, for example, “Home” is a word of one syllable while there are three syllables in ‘beautiful’), some of which are stressed or long drawn out (as in  music), – while others are unstressed or short. The ordered rhythm of poetry arises from a regular alternation of stressed or accented and unstressed or unaccented syllables.

It is the number of syllables in a feet and the position of the stressed and unstressed syllables which determines the nature of a metre or measure of English poetry.

The following are the five chief measures or metres used by English poets:
1.  The Iambic
In this metre each foot has two syllables of which the first is unaccented and the second accented. If there are five feet or ten such syllables in a line, it would be known as Iambic Pentametre and this is the metre in which most of the English verse has been written. It is the commonest of English measures. However, if instead of ten syllables (or five feet) there are only four feet or eight syllables in a line it would be called Iambic Tetrametre. Similarly, there can be dimetre (lines of two feet), trimetre (lines of three feet), octametre (lines of eight feet), etc.
Here is an example of Iambic Tetrametre:
     Awake/my soul/and with/the sun
(After each foot there is/, an unaccented syllable is indicated by, and an accented one by/).
2-         The Torchaic
In this metre also each foot in a line consists of two syllables, but the position of stress in each foot is reversed, so that the stressed or accented syllable comes first, and the unstressed or unaccented one afterwards. The number of feet or syllables in a line varies (from two to eight feet or four to sixteen syllables) as in the case of the Iambic.
            Here is an example of a Trochaic line:
/         /       /       *       /       *      /       *        *       */   / *      /      *
Comrades/ leave me/ here a/ little while/ as yet/ it is/ early morn
The use of Trochaic metre is not very frequent in English poetry. More frequently, a trochaic foot is introduced in an Iambic line to produce particular effects intended by the poet. The sudden change in the regular alternation of accented and unaccented syllables gives pleasure, avoids monotony, and captures attention.
3-         The Anapaestic
In this measure each foot in a line consists of three syllables, and not of two as was the case with Iambic and the Trochaic. Of these three syllables, the first two are unaccented, and the third alone is accented. The number of feet in each line varies as in the case of the other two metres and an anapaestic line may also be dimetre, trimetre, tetrameter, pentameter, etc.
*        *       /        *     *        /         *       *       /      *     *    /
And the sheen/ of their spears/ was like stars/ on the sea
The Dactylic
In this metre each foot has three syllables of which the first one is accented, and the other two are unaccented. The number of feet in each line may vary and accordingly it would be dimetre, trimetre, and so on.
The following line is Dactylic dimetre:
   /       *     *  /   *       *
Take her up/ tenderly
The Amphibrachic
In this metre also each foot has three syllables, but the middle syllable is accented and the first and third ones unaccented. It would be called dimetre, trimetre, etc., according to the number of syllables.
The following line is Amphibrachic Tetrametre:
*     /         /      *      /   *   *    /      *    *      /
O hush thee/my babe/thy sire was/a knight.
(B) Variations: Verse Libre
It should be noted that the last foot of this line is short by one syllable. At other times, a line may have one extra syllable. Such variations are introduced to impart variety. In this way, there is a change in the regular rhythm, and such unexpected change startles the readers and at once captures attention. Variations are also introduced by a change in the placing of accents and stresses. Thus in an Iambic line, the poet may introduce a trochaic foot, and this change comes as a surprise to the readers and heightens their sense of satisfaction. Monotony is thus avoided.
There are many other intricate variations and combinations which a skilled poet introduces in his versification, but the subject is so vast and involved that justice cannot be done to it within the scope of the present work. However, it should be noted that even by the most careful observances of the rules only verse is possible. True poetry is not a matter of rules, but of inspiration. Skilled poets in moments of inspiration, are able to modulate the rhythm of their poetry according to the requirements of thought and emotion. In the modern age, we have such a thing as verse libre or free verse, in which versification becomes so loose and flexible that it is hard to distinguish it from prose. Such flexibility is considered necessary to render ‘the stream of consciousness’ or the flux of ideas and sensations floating through the consciousness of some character. ‘Modern English poetry is certainly characterised by great metrical irregularity.’
(C)  Rhymed Verse and Blank Verse
Rhyme is the similarity in sound between words or syllables. Words or syllables at the end of two lines of poetry may have similar sounds, and then we would say that the two lines rhyme together, as in the following.
We think our fathers fools, as wise we grow,
Our wiser sons, no doubt, will think us so.
In these lines ‘grow’ rhymes with ‘so’. if only one syllable rhymes, it is called single or masculine rhyme, if two syllables rhyme it is called feminine or double, and if three syllables rhyme it is called triple. ‘Ring’ and ‘sing’ are single rhymes; ‘ringing’ and ‘singing’ are double, and ‘unfortunate’ and ‘unfortunate’ are triple. Writer Hudson in this connection, “These different kinds may be employed at the discretion of the poet in different ways. A poem may be entirely in single rime, or in double, or in triple; or different kinds may be introduced in regular alternation; or the alternation may be occasional and arbitrary. A large proportion of double or triple rimes unquestionably adds lightness and rapidity to the verse, and on general principles, therefore, we should expect to find them sparingly used in poems of a markedly serious or melancholy character. Yet no hard and fast rule can be laid down. Double and triple rimes which are too obviously ingenious and far-fetched, always produce a grotesque effect, and are therefore admirably adapted to the purposes of burlesque, as in Butler’s Hudibras. Browning’s frequent recourse to them in the treatment of high and solemn themes was a perverse habit, often attended with disastrous results.”
It is generally supposed that only the last words of two or more lines of poetry rhyme together. But such a view is erroneous. There is such a thing as medial rhyme in which a word in the middle rhymes with a word at the end of it, as in the following:
And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea.
‘Bright’ in the middle of the first line rhymes with “right” at the end of it. Such medial rhymes are frequently introduced by poets to make their verse musical.
While metre is an essential part of poetry, rhyme is to be regarded as only an accessory; yet it is so common an accessory in English verse, and in most of its forms, indeed, so nearly constant a feature, that its importance can hardly be overstated. It adds much to the beauty of poetry as ‘musical speech’, and therefore to the pleasure which poetry affords. “It has also frequently been pointed out that, by marked distinctly the close of lines and stanzas, it helps to emphasise rhythm.” It also has a disciplining effect, and serves to check and control the excesses and wilder fights of poetic imagination. But the necessity of finding suitable words with similar sounds puts undue strain on the poet hampers his efforts, and comes in the way of the free flow of poetic inspiration. Moreover it is something artificial and unnatural. Rhyme is not used in actual, everyday speech. That is why there are many competent critics and scholars who are opposed to the use of rhyme. As a matter of fact, the comparative advantages and disadvantages of rhyme have always been an object to much controversy. It is all a question of individual talent and inclination.
As has been mentioned about, rhyme is not essential to poetry though its use has many advantages. As a matter of fact there is a large body of English poetry which is without rhyme. The principal form of unrhymed verse is Iambic Pentametre, generally known as blank verse. It is ‘blank’ because it is devoid of rhyme. In other words, blank verse is simply Iambic Pentametre without rhyme. It was first used by dramatists including Marlowe and Shakespeare. As far as poetry is concerned, Milton was the first to use it for his immortal epic Paradise Lost. Other poets followed his example and today blank verse is generally preferred to rhymed verse which is considered artificial and unnatural.
(D)  Music and Melody
Poetry has been called ‘musical speech’, and various are the devices used by poets to make their verse musical. The more important of such devices may be listed as follows:
1.         Use of rhyme, both end rhymes and medial rhymes.
2.         Use of alliteration i.e. the introduction in a line of more than one word beginning with a similar sound.
3.         The use of liquid consonants ‘l’, ‘m’, ‘n’ etc. The use of liquid consonants contributes to the music of poetry.
4.         Avoidance or slurring over of consonants with a harsh, unpleasant sound. Thus ‘r’ has a harsh sound and so it is slurred over by skilled poets.
5.         Concentration of vowel sounds. If a large number of vowels are used together, verse becomes musical. This concentration of vowels is achieved by the use of monosyllabic words, or words with a single syllable. Since each syllable consists of one vowel sound, concentration of vowels is achieved by the use of such short words and the gain in sweetness is immense.
6.         The use of proper names with a musical sound. Often such names are imaginary, entirely the invention of the poet.
In the end it may be added, that the music of poetry is a matter of verbal felicity. It comes to some poets by nature, easily and spontaneously, while others fail to achieve it even after pains-taking efforts.

Stanza Forms in English Literature

A stanza may be defined as a group of lines of poetry, forming a unit in themselves. Thus the stanza is the unit of organisation in poetry, just as the paragraph is in prose. In many cases the stanzas composing a poem are quite irregular alike in length and structure, as in Wordsworth’s Ode on the Intimations of Immortality and Tennyson’s Maud. But as a rule, a poem is built up of units or sections strictly identical in form. Regular stanzas are commonly defined by the number of their lines and the arrangement of the rimes which bind these lines together. The stanza-forms of English poetry are so numerous and varied that no complete study of them can be attempted here; but the following may be mentioned as some of the best known examples of stanza-forms in English.

1.  The Chaucerian Stanza or Rhyme Royal
The Chaucerian stanza is so-called because it was first used in England by Chaucer, “the father of English poetry.” Most probably he borrowed it from France. It is also called Rhyme Royal because it was used by King James I of Scotland in the 15th century for his well-known poem King’s Quair.
The Chaucerian Stanza is a stanza of seven Iambic Pentametre lines. In this stanza the first line rhymes with the third, the second with the fourth and fifth, and the last two lines rhyme together, thus forming a couplet. The rhyme-schme is a a b, a b b, c c. The stanza is particularly suited for narrative verse, and Chaucer used it for several stories in The Canterbury Tales. Shakespeare used it for his The Rape of Lucrece, and in he Victorian Age it was used by William Morris for his The Earthly Paradise. Here is an example of the Chaucerian Stanza:
Then, childish fear, avaunt! debating, die!
Respect and reason, wait on wrinkled age!
My heart shall never countermand mine eye;
Sad pause and deep regard beseem the stage;
My part is youth, and beats these from the stage;
Desire my pilot is, beauty my prize;
Then who fears sinking where such treasure lies?
2.  The Ottava Rhyma
This stanza-form was first used in England in the early 16th century by Sir Thomas Wyatt. He frequently went to Italy on diplomatic missions, and it was from there that he introduced this stanza – form into England. Like the Chaucerian Stanza it is also well suited for narrative purpose. It has also been used for satiric purposes. Shelley used it for his The Witch of Atlas, Keats for his The Pot of Basil, and Byron for his Don Juan.
Ottava Rhyma is a stanza of eight Iambic Pentametre lines. The first line rhymes with the third and fifth, the second with the fourth and sixth, and the last two lines rhyme together, and thus form a couplet. In other words the stanza consists of six lines rhyming alternately with a couplet at the end. The rhyme scheme of the stanza is a b, a b, a b, c c.
Here is an example of Ottava Rhyma from Byron’s Don Juan:
Man’s love is of man’s life a thing apart,
‘Tis woman’s whole existence; man may range
The court, camp, church, the vessel, and the mart;
Sword, gown, gain, glory, offer in exchange
Pride, fame, ambition, to fill up his heart,
And few there are whom these cannot estrange;
Men have, all these resources, we but one,
To love again, and be again undone.
3.  Spensarian Stanza
The stanza is so-called because it was first used by the poet Spenser for his romantic epic, “The Fairy Queen”. It is a stanza consisting of eight Iambic Pentametre lines and an Alexandrine or a line of twelve syllables at the end. The first line rhymes with the third; the second, fourth, fifth and seventh lines rhyme together, and the sixth line rhymes with the eighth one and the nineth. The rhyme scheme is a b a b, b c b c, c. It is a very difficult stanza to handle, for in it one rhyme is repeated four times, and another three times. This naturally puts a severe strain on the skill and resources of a poet. He must have full command over language, to find so many words with similar end sounds. Even then the stanza is admirably suited for long narrative and descriptive poems. Spenser used it with great success for his Fairy Queen, and ever since poets have frequently used it with more or less success. In the early 18th century, James Thomson used it for his Castle of Indolence. It was used by Byron for his Child Harold, by Keats for The Eve of St. Agnes, by Shelley for The Revolt of Islam and Adonais, and by Tennyson for The Lotos-Eaters.
Here is an example of the Spensarian Stanza from Shelley’s Adonais:
Ah woe is me? Winter is come and gone,
But grief returns with the  revolving year.
The arts and streams renew their joyous tone;
The ants, the bees, the swallows, reappear;
Fresh leaves and flowers deck the dead Season’s bier
The amorous birds now pair in every brake,
And build their mossy homes in field and brere;
And the green lizard and the golden snake,
Like un imprisoned flames, out of their trance awake,
4.  The Terza Rhyma
The Terza Rhyma is an Italian verse-form, and it was first used with great success by the Italian poet Dante for his monumental epic, The Divine Comedy. In England it was used with considerable success by Shelley for his Ode to the West Wind. Byron’s Prophecy of Dante, Browning’s The Statute and the Bust, and William Morris’ The Defence of Guenevere are also written in this stanza.
The Terza Rhyma is simply a group of three lines forming a unit. In this stanza first line rhymes with the third, and the second line rhymes with the first and third of the following tercet (group of three lines). In this way each tercet is linked up with the next, the first with the second, the second with the third, and so on. A tercet may be run on or closed. In a run on tercet the sense overflows or runs on from one tercet to another. On the other hand in the closed variety, each tercet forms a complete sentence. Both these types have been used in England, but the run on variety has been generally favoured.
The rhyme-scheme of any two tercets would be a b a, b c b, and so on for the following tercets.
Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind provides typical examples of Terza Rhyma:
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presense the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the spring shall blow
Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
with living hues and odours plain and hill.
5.  The Quatrain
A Quatrain is a stanza of four Iambic lines with alternate rhymes i.e. the first line rhymes with the third, and the second with the fourth. However, variations of this rhyme-scheme are frequent. Similarly, the length of the lines also varies. The lines may be Pentametre, Tetrametre, or even shorter. Sometimes, the first and third lines are longer than the second and fourth lines. Most of the ballads in the English language have been written in Quatrains, so it is also referred to as the Ballad-stanza. Coleridge’s The Ancient Mariner and Keats’ La Belle Dame Sans Merci are the two poems in this form which readily come to one’s mind.
Here is an example of a Quatrain from The Ancient Mariner:
The sun came up upon the left,
Out of the sea came he !
And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea.
6.  The Heroic Couplet
The Heroic Couplet consists of two Iambic Pentametre lines rhyming together. It is called ‘Heroic’ because Iambic Pentametre verse rhymed or unrhymed, was first used for epic or heroic poetry. It is an important measure as far as English poetry is concerned. Most of the poetry of the Augustan Age (the age of Dryden and Pope 1660 – 1750) is cast in this measure.
Each line of the heroic couplet consists of five feet or ten syllables, and the second syllable of each foot is accented. The two lines of the couplet rhyme, and the rhyme may be single or double, though Pope, the ablest practitioner of the verse-form, generally uses single rhymes. In the middle there is a pause, technically called the ‘Caesura’. This pause generally falls after the fourth and before the sixth syllable. But variations in the placing of the pause may be skillfully introduced in keeping with the requirements of thought and emotion. Further, there may be variations not only in the placing of the Caesura but also in its depth. Sometimes, this pause is so slight that it seems there is no pause at all.
The chief characteristics of the heroic couplet are well-illustrated by the following one:
Grove nods at grove, each alley has a brother,
And half the platform, just reflects the other.
Each line of the couplet has five feet and the second syllable in each foot is accented. The position of pause is indicated by the comma. The last syllable of ‘brother’ rhymes with the last syllable of ‘other’.
The heroic couplet may be of two kinds – closed or run on. In the closed couplet the sense is competed with each couplet and each thus forms a complete sentence, a unit in itself. The couplet cited above is of a closed variety. In the run-on variety, the sense runs on from one couplet to another till it is completed. In this case, the individual couplet does not form a unit, but the unit is formed by a group of couplets which complete the sense, and this larger unit is called the verse-paragraph.
The Heroic Couplet was first used in England by Chaucer who might have learned it from French sources. He used this measure for may of the stories in the Canterbury Tales. Spenser used it with great skill for his Mother Hubbard’s Tale, Marlowe too used it with great success for his Hero and Leander.
However, it was in the Augustan age that the Heroic Couplet came to its own. At the very beginning of the era poets Waller and Denham showed great skill in its use. “The excellence and dignity of rhyme,” says Dryden, “were never fully known till Mr. Waller taught it: he first made writing easily an art; first showed us to conclude the sense, most commonly in a distich.” Pope pays a tribute to both:
And praise the vigor of a line,
Where Denham’s strength and Waller’s sweetness join;
However, it was with Pope and Dryden that the couplet entered on its most glorious phase. Both of them used it as the instrument of their satire. It has been said that each of their couplets stings and the sting is located in the tail. Dryden used it for his Absalom and Achitophel and Macflecknoe, and Pope for his Rape of the Lock and Dunciad. He also used it for such narrative and philosophical works as Essay on Man and Essay on Criticism. Their use of the couplet is characterised by ease, vigour, strength and sweetness. Dryden’s use of it is more flexible, and variety is introduced in various ways. Often he uses run-on Couplets. Pope’s use of it is rigid. His couplets are generally of the closed variety. In his hands, the couplet reached perfection; no couplet of his can be improved upon.
Pope was widely imitated throughout the 18th century. But his followers did not have his genius and his ability and in their hands the couplet degenerated into a mere mechanical art and became monotonous. With the coming of the romantics there was a re-action against it. The romantics turned away from the couplet to other measures. However, the use of the couplet was not entirely discarded. Byron, Shelley and Keats all used it along with other verse-forms. Moreover, they used the run-on (or enjambed) variety of the couplet and not the closed one as was the case with Dryden and Pope. Keats’ Lamia is written in run-on couplets. A generation later, in the Victorian era, the couplet was used first by Browning and then by William Morris and Swinburne. The couplet continues to be used, specially for narrative poetry, but it is no longer the exclusive verse-form of English poetry, as it was in the Augustan Age. It has been considerably loosened, and hardly resembles the couplets of Pope and Dryden.
7.  Octosyllabic Couplet
In the end, mention may also be made of the Octosyllabic Couplet. It differs from the Heroic Couplet, in as much as each line in it consists of eight syllables or four feet and not of ten syllables or five feet. It is a difficult measure to handle, and its use in long narrative poems tends to grow mechanical and tiresome. However, in the Restoration era (1660 – 1700) Samuel Butler used it with great success for his satirical poem Sir Hudibras. In the romantic age, Coleridge used it successfully for his Christabel.
8.  Satire
The word satire is derived from the Latin “Satura Lanks”. Long defines it as, ‘a literary work which searches out the faults of men or institutions in order to hold them upto ridicule.” According to Dryden, “the true end of satire is the amendment of vices by correction”. But the best definition seems to be that given by Richard Garnett, who defines satire as,
“The expression in adequate terms of the sense of amusement or disgust excited by the ridiculous or unseemly, provided that humour is a distinctly recognised element, and that the utterance is invested with literary form. Without humour satire is invective; without literary form, it is mere clownish jeering.”
Thus the main characteristics of satire are:
(a) Literary form of expression.
(b) Disgust at the ridiculous, the ugly, and the foolish.
(c)  Humour.
(d) A sincere desire to correct or reform.
A good satirist is a critic whose aim is to reform or correct human weaknesses, vices or follies, and the weapon which he uses for his purposes is that of laughter. His aim is to laugh folly out of contenance, or to scorn it into shame. He rarely attacks directly, but clothes his attack in allegory, fable, mock-heroic, parody of burlesque. Concentration and brevity intensify the effect, so verse is a better medium for satire than prose, though there have been good satirists in prose also. The example of Swift readily comes to mind as one of the best English satirists using the medium of prose.
Satire may be of two kinds (a) Personal, and (b) Impersonal. Personal satire is aimed at some individual. It, too, can be effective in the hands of a master, but generally it has a tendency to degenerate into vituperation and personal invectives. It is also ephemeral and short-lived. In impersonal or genuine satire, the satirist passes from the individual to the type, from the ephemeral to the eternal and universal. Types are among the finest achievements of impersonal satire. It has a wider sweep, individuals are used as examples of the vices and follies that infect the age.
Satire is as old as literature itself; but the Romans were the first great satirists. Persius, Horace and Juvenal were the great Roman satirists who laid down the lines for the future development of this channel of literature. The satire of Horace laughs at mankind; that of Persius indignantly lashes at mankind; while Juvenal hates and despises mankind. The satire of Pope is generally Horatian in tone, though occasionally it becomes bitter, caustic and venomous like that of Juvenal. Church and woman were the usual targets of satire in the middle ages. Langland lashes at the corrupt clergy of the times, and Chaucer, too, has his fling at them and at women. In the Elizabethan era the Puritan, the affected traveller and women were the common object of satire. The Age of Milton witnessed the rise of political satire. Samuel Bulter satirises the false chivalry of the age in Hudibras, which is the best piece in this genre before Dryden. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, we find Dryden, Swift and Pope satirising their personal and political enemies, though when at their best, they rise from the personal to the impersonal. Politics and literary rivalry are all transformed by them into genuine satire and we get a general view of the follies and vices of the period.
Swift’s best satire is Gulliver’s Travels which is, on its face, a book of travels to strange lands of pygmies, giants, and horses. Swift’s purpose was to expose the vices and follies of mankind by ridiculing them. Man is reduced to the shortness of the Lilliputians or magnified into the gross Brobdingnagians, or contrasted with the equine virtues of the Houyhnhnms. The effectiveness of such a satire depends on the invention with which the irony makes evident the likeness between the real world and the imaginary. So successful was Swift’s invention that ever since the book was published, children have read the voyages to Lilliput and Brobdingang as fairy stories, without worrying about the satire. So effective is the irony that Gulliver’s Travels remains one of the most appaling exposures of human weakness.
Among the novelists, Fielding and Smolett rank very high as satirists. Fielding’s novels present a picture of contemporary society, and its many follies, foibles, weaknesses and vices are expressed and ridiculed. His aim was always reformative and it was after his Amelia that many reforms in the administration of jails and the administration of justice could be pulled through. Tobias Smollet satirises mankind in general, and again and again in his novels man is reduced to the level of insects.
Satire in the 19th century: In the 18th century, satire both in verse and prose reached its zenith. But in the 19th century also we find a number of vigorous satirists. Among the romantics, Lord Gordon Byron excelled in satire. He began as a satirist and ended as a satirist. The major poetic production of his early period was English bards and Scotch Reviewers and the last work Don Juan was an epic satire on society. In these two satires Byron, to quote Oliver Elton, “is a young tiger-cub lashing out with sharp and clumsy claws’ In 1822, Byron came out with another vigours satire. The Vision of Judgment. The satire is directed against George III and is a repudiation of the high praise lavished on him by Southey. The king is represented as base and mean, for he creeps into heaven like a sneaking coward.
Don Juan is an epic satire, and is undoubtedly Byron’s best work. Its panoramic survey of human society of Europe, with all the foibles and weaknesses of social institutions, is truly staggering in its satirical wit. Charges of insincerity and hypocrisy are brought against Byron and his attack on virtue has called upon him the wrath of the moralists. But Byron defended himself against these charges in the following words:
“I was willing to plead guilty of having sometimes represented vice under alluring colours but it was so generally in the world and, therefore, it was necessary to point it so.”
Among the Victorians, Dickens and Thackeray are two vigorous satirists who survey the society of their times and expose and ridicule its many weaknesses, its hypocrisy, its materialism, its greed, social climbing, snobbery, etc. Dickens’ novels are novels of social reform and he uses the weapon of satire to bring about reform in a number of social institutions – schools, prison administration, and administration of justice, etc. His satire is mild and gentle, pure humour being more characteristic of him. Carlyle and Ruskin were also fired with the Zeal of social reform, and we find them attacking vigorously a number of social institutions of the day. They were clear-headed thinkers fully alive to the prevalent social evils, and they use the weapon of irony to effect their purpose. However, they can also be fierce and direct in their denunciation of the existing social system. Matthew Arnold, too, was a bitter critic of the society of his day, and philistinism of the age, the vulgarisation of cultural values, comes frequently within his lash.
Satire in the Modern Age: Satire continue unabatted in the 20th century. It is an age of interrogation, and the cherished ideals and beliefs, and cherished social institutions, are subjected to severe scrutiny. George Bernard Shaw is a vigorous satirist who in his plays holds up to the test of reason the most valued ideals and institutions. Nothing escapes his searching eye; every folly, weakness or vice comes within the lash of his satire. Samuel Butler is another great satirist who in his The Way of All Flash and Erewhon has satirically exposed and ridiculed the shortcomings of the times. Estimating his greatness as a satirist of the later nineteenth century; but not in the first rank of satirist Hugh Walker writes “Butler stands clearly at the head of the satire of the later nineteenth century; but not in the first rank of satirists, and still less in the first rank of literature. Swift, with whom his affinities are most obvious, is far superior in breadth of range, in force of thought, and in keenness of wit. On the other hand, Butler is much more humane: but this unfortunately is an advantage which diminished with time. The Way of All Flesh is far less pleasant and humane than Erewhon.” Mention may also be made of Aldous Huxley who, in his successive novels, has ridiculed contemporary science and the tall claims that are made on its behalf.
Satire may change its form, it may be more vigorous in some ages than in others, but it will continue as long as mankind continues to be imperfect.

Stanza Forms in English Literature

A stanza may be defined as a group of lines of poetry, forming a unit in themselves. Thus the stanza is the unit of organisation in poetry, just as the paragraph is in prose. In many cases the stanzas composing a poem are quite irregular alike in length and structure, as in Wordsworth’s Ode on the Intimations of Immortality and Tennyson’s Maud. But as a rule, a poem is built up of units or sections strictly identical in form. Regular stanzas are commonly defined by the number of their lines and the arrangement of the rimes which bind these lines together. The stanza-forms of English poetry are so numerous and varied that no complete study of them can be attempted here; but the following may be mentioned as some of the best known examples of stanza-forms in English.

1.  The Chaucerian Stanza or Rhyme Royal
The Chaucerian stanza is so-called because it was first used in England by Chaucer, “the father of English poetry.” Most probably he borrowed it from France. It is also called Rhyme Royal because it was used by King James I of Scotland in the 15th century for his well-known poem King’s Quair.
The Chaucerian Stanza is a stanza of seven Iambic Pentametre lines. In this stanza the first line rhymes with the third, the second with the fourth and fifth, and the last two lines rhyme together, thus forming a couplet. The rhyme-schme is a a b, a b b, c c. The stanza is particularly suited for narrative verse, and Chaucer used it for several stories in The Canterbury Tales. Shakespeare used it for his The Rape of Lucrece, and in he Victorian Age it was used by William Morris for his The Earthly Paradise. Here is an example of the Chaucerian Stanza:
Then, childish fear, avaunt! debating, die!
Respect and reason, wait on wrinkled age!
My heart shall never countermand mine eye;
Sad pause and deep regard beseem the stage;
My part is youth, and beats these from the stage;
Desire my pilot is, beauty my prize;
Then who fears sinking where such treasure lies?
2.  The Ottava Rhyma
This stanza-form was first used in England in the early 16th century by Sir Thomas Wyatt. He frequently went to Italy on diplomatic missions, and it was from there that he introduced this stanza – form into England. Like the Chaucerian Stanza it is also well suited for narrative purpose. It has also been used for satiric purposes. Shelley used it for his The Witch of Atlas, Keats for his The Pot of Basil, and Byron for his Don Juan.
Ottava Rhyma is a stanza of eight Iambic Pentametre lines. The first line rhymes with the third and fifth, the second with the fourth and sixth, and the last two lines rhyme together, and thus form a couplet. In other words the stanza consists of six lines rhyming alternately with a couplet at the end. The rhyme scheme of the stanza is a b, a b, a b, c c.
Here is an example of Ottava Rhyma from Byron’s Don Juan:
Man’s love is of man’s life a thing apart,
‘Tis woman’s whole existence; man may range
The court, camp, church, the vessel, and the mart;
Sword, gown, gain, glory, offer in exchange
Pride, fame, ambition, to fill up his heart,
And few there are whom these cannot estrange;
Men have, all these resources, we but one,
To love again, and be again undone.
3.  Spensarian Stanza
The stanza is so-called because it was first used by the poet Spenser for his romantic epic, “The Fairy Queen”. It is a stanza consisting of eight Iambic Pentametre lines and an Alexandrine or a line of twelve syllables at the end. The first line rhymes with the third; the second, fourth, fifth and seventh lines rhyme together, and the sixth line rhymes with the eighth one and the nineth. The rhyme scheme is a b a b, b c b c, c. It is a very difficult stanza to handle, for in it one rhyme is repeated four times, and another three times. This naturally puts a severe strain on the skill and resources of a poet. He must have full command over language, to find so many words with similar end sounds. Even then the stanza is admirably suited for long narrative and descriptive poems. Spenser used it with great success for his Fairy Queen, and ever since poets have frequently used it with more or less success. In the early 18th century, James Thomson used it for his Castle of Indolence. It was used by Byron for his Child Harold, by Keats for The Eve of St. Agnes, by Shelley for The Revolt of Islam and Adonais, and by Tennyson for The Lotos-Eaters.
Here is an example of the Spensarian Stanza from Shelley’s Adonais:
Ah woe is me? Winter is come and gone,
But grief returns with the  revolving year.
The arts and streams renew their joyous tone;
The ants, the bees, the swallows, reappear;
Fresh leaves and flowers deck the dead Season’s bier
The amorous birds now pair in every brake,
And build their mossy homes in field and brere;
And the green lizard and the golden snake,
Like un imprisoned flames, out of their trance awake,
4.  The Terza Rhyma
The Terza Rhyma is an Italian verse-form, and it was first used with great success by the Italian poet Dante for his monumental epic, The Divine Comedy. In England it was used with considerable success by Shelley for his Ode to the West Wind. Byron’s Prophecy of Dante, Browning’s The Statute and the Bust, and William Morris’ The Defence of Guenevere are also written in this stanza.
The Terza Rhyma is simply a group of three lines forming a unit. In this stanza first line rhymes with the third, and the second line rhymes with the first and third of the following tercet (group of three lines). In this way each tercet is linked up with the next, the first with the second, the second with the third, and so on. A tercet may be run on or closed. In a run on tercet the sense overflows or runs on from one tercet to another. On the other hand in the closed variety, each tercet forms a complete sentence. Both these types have been used in England, but the run on variety has been generally favoured.
The rhyme-scheme of any two tercets would be a b a, b c b, and so on for the following tercets.
Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind provides typical examples of Terza Rhyma:
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presense the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the spring shall blow
Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
with living hues and odours plain and hill.
5.  The Quatrain
A Quatrain is a stanza of four Iambic lines with alternate rhymes i.e. the first line rhymes with the third, and the second with the fourth. However, variations of this rhyme-scheme are frequent. Similarly, the length of the lines also varies. The lines may be Pentametre, Tetrametre, or even shorter. Sometimes, the first and third lines are longer than the second and fourth lines. Most of the ballads in the English language have been written in Quatrains, so it is also referred to as the Ballad-stanza. Coleridge’s The Ancient Mariner and Keats’ La Belle Dame Sans Merci are the two poems in this form which readily come to one’s mind.
Here is an example of a Quatrain from The Ancient Mariner:
The sun came up upon the left,
Out of the sea came he !
And he shone bright, and on the right
Went down into the sea.
6.  The Heroic Couplet
The Heroic Couplet consists of two Iambic Pentametre lines rhyming together. It is called ‘Heroic’ because Iambic Pentametre verse rhymed or unrhymed, was first used for epic or heroic poetry. It is an important measure as far as English poetry is concerned. Most of the poetry of the Augustan Age (the age of Dryden and Pope 1660 – 1750) is cast in this measure.
Each line of the heroic couplet consists of five feet or ten syllables, and the second syllable of each foot is accented. The two lines of the couplet rhyme, and the rhyme may be single or double, though Pope, the ablest practitioner of the verse-form, generally uses single rhymes. In the middle there is a pause, technically called the ‘Caesura’. This pause generally falls after the fourth and before the sixth syllable. But variations in the placing of the pause may be skillfully introduced in keeping with the requirements of thought and emotion. Further, there may be variations not only in the placing of the Caesura but also in its depth. Sometimes, this pause is so slight that it seems there is no pause at all.
The chief characteristics of the heroic couplet are well-illustrated by the following one:
Grove nods at grove, each alley has a brother,
And half the platform, just reflects the other.
Each line of the couplet has five feet and the second syllable in each foot is accented. The position of pause is indicated by the comma. The last syllable of ‘brother’ rhymes with the last syllable of ‘other’.
The heroic couplet may be of two kinds – closed or run on. In the closed couplet the sense is competed with each couplet and each thus forms a complete sentence, a unit in itself. The couplet cited above is of a closed variety. In the run-on variety, the sense runs on from one couplet to another till it is completed. In this case, the individual couplet does not form a unit, but the unit is formed by a group of couplets which complete the sense, and this larger unit is called the verse-paragraph.
The Heroic Couplet was first used in England by Chaucer who might have learned it from French sources. He used this measure for may of the stories in the Canterbury Tales. Spenser used it with great skill for his Mother Hubbard’s Tale, Marlowe too used it with great success for his Hero and Leander.
However, it was in the Augustan age that the Heroic Couplet came to its own. At the very beginning of the era poets Waller and Denham showed great skill in its use. “The excellence and dignity of rhyme,” says Dryden, “were never fully known till Mr. Waller taught it: he first made writing easily an art; first showed us to conclude the sense, most commonly in a distich.” Pope pays a tribute to both:
And praise the vigor of a line,
Where Denham’s strength and Waller’s sweetness join;
However, it was with Pope and Dryden that the couplet entered on its most glorious phase. Both of them used it as the instrument of their satire. It has been said that each of their couplets stings and the sting is located in the tail. Dryden used it for his Absalom and Achitophel and Macflecknoe, and Pope for his Rape of the Lock and Dunciad. He also used it for such narrative and philosophical works as Essay on Man and Essay on Criticism. Their use of the couplet is characterised by ease, vigour, strength and sweetness. Dryden’s use of it is more flexible, and variety is introduced in various ways. Often he uses run-on Couplets. Pope’s use of it is rigid. His couplets are generally of the closed variety. In his hands, the couplet reached perfection; no couplet of his can be improved upon.
Pope was widely imitated throughout the 18th century. But his followers did not have his genius and his ability and in their hands the couplet degenerated into a mere mechanical art and became monotonous. With the coming of the romantics there was a re-action against it. The romantics turned away from the couplet to other measures. However, the use of the couplet was not entirely discarded. Byron, Shelley and Keats all used it along with other verse-forms. Moreover, they used the run-on (or enjambed) variety of the couplet and not the closed one as was the case with Dryden and Pope. Keats’ Lamia is written in run-on couplets. A generation later, in the Victorian era, the couplet was used first by Browning and then by William Morris and Swinburne. The couplet continues to be used, specially for narrative poetry, but it is no longer the exclusive verse-form of English poetry, as it was in the Augustan Age. It has been considerably loosened, and hardly resembles the couplets of Pope and Dryden.
7.  Octosyllabic Couplet
In the end, mention may also be made of the Octosyllabic Couplet. It differs from the Heroic Couplet, in as much as each line in it consists of eight syllables or four feet and not of ten syllables or five feet. It is a difficult measure to handle, and its use in long narrative poems tends to grow mechanical and tiresome. However, in the Restoration era (1660 – 1700) Samuel Butler used it with great success for his satirical poem Sir Hudibras. In the romantic age, Coleridge used it successfully for his Christabel.
8.  Satire
The word satire is derived from the Latin “Satura Lanks”. Long defines it as, ‘a literary work which searches out the faults of men or institutions in order to hold them upto ridicule.” According to Dryden, “the true end of satire is the amendment of vices by correction”. But the best definition seems to be that given by Richard Garnett, who defines satire as,
“The expression in adequate terms of the sense of amusement or disgust excited by the ridiculous or unseemly, provided that humour is a distinctly recognised element, and that the utterance is invested with literary form. Without humour satire is invective; without literary form, it is mere clownish jeering.”
Thus the main characteristics of satire are:
(a) Literary form of expression.
(b) Disgust at the ridiculous, the ugly, and the foolish.
(c)  Humour.
(d) A sincere desire to correct or reform.
A good satirist is a critic whose aim is to reform or correct human weaknesses, vices or follies, and the weapon which he uses for his purposes is that of laughter. His aim is to laugh folly out of contenance, or to scorn it into shame. He rarely attacks directly, but clothes his attack in allegory, fable, mock-heroic, parody of burlesque. Concentration and brevity intensify the effect, so verse is a better medium for satire than prose, though there have been good satirists in prose also. The example of Swift readily comes to mind as one of the best English satirists using the medium of prose.
Satire may be of two kinds (a) Personal, and (b) Impersonal. Personal satire is aimed at some individual. It, too, can be effective in the hands of a master, but generally it has a tendency to degenerate into vituperation and personal invectives. It is also ephemeral and short-lived. In impersonal or genuine satire, the satirist passes from the individual to the type, from the ephemeral to the eternal and universal. Types are among the finest achievements of impersonal satire. It has a wider sweep, individuals are used as examples of the vices and follies that infect the age.
Satire is as old as literature itself; but the Romans were the first great satirists. Persius, Horace and Juvenal were the great Roman satirists who laid down the lines for the future development of this channel of literature. The satire of Horace laughs at mankind; that of Persius indignantly lashes at mankind; while Juvenal hates and despises mankind. The satire of Pope is generally Horatian in tone, though occasionally it becomes bitter, caustic and venomous like that of Juvenal. Church and woman were the usual targets of satire in the middle ages. Langland lashes at the corrupt clergy of the times, and Chaucer, too, has his fling at them and at women. In the Elizabethan era the Puritan, the affected traveller and women were the common object of satire. The Age of Milton witnessed the rise of political satire. Samuel Bulter satirises the false chivalry of the age in Hudibras, which is the best piece in this genre before Dryden. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, we find Dryden, Swift and Pope satirising their personal and political enemies, though when at their best, they rise from the personal to the impersonal. Politics and literary rivalry are all transformed by them into genuine satire and we get a general view of the follies and vices of the period.
Swift’s best satire is Gulliver’s Travels which is, on its face, a book of travels to strange lands of pygmies, giants, and horses. Swift’s purpose was to expose the vices and follies of mankind by ridiculing them. Man is reduced to the shortness of the Lilliputians or magnified into the gross Brobdingnagians, or contrasted with the equine virtues of the Houyhnhnms. The effectiveness of such a satire depends on the invention with which the irony makes evident the likeness between the real world and the imaginary. So successful was Swift’s invention that ever since the book was published, children have read the voyages to Lilliput and Brobdingang as fairy stories, without worrying about the satire. So effective is the irony that Gulliver’s Travels remains one of the most appaling exposures of human weakness.
Among the novelists, Fielding and Smolett rank very high as satirists. Fielding’s novels present a picture of contemporary society, and its many follies, foibles, weaknesses and vices are expressed and ridiculed. His aim was always reformative and it was after his Amelia that many reforms in the administration of jails and the administration of justice could be pulled through. Tobias Smollet satirises mankind in general, and again and again in his novels man is reduced to the level of insects.
Satire in the 19th century: In the 18th century, satire both in verse and prose reached its zenith. But in the 19th century also we find a number of vigorous satirists. Among the romantics, Lord Gordon Byron excelled in satire. He began as a satirist and ended as a satirist. The major poetic production of his early period was English bards and Scotch Reviewers and the last work Don Juan was an epic satire on society. In these two satires Byron, to quote Oliver Elton, “is a young tiger-cub lashing out with sharp and clumsy claws’ In 1822, Byron came out with another vigours satire. The Vision of Judgment. The satire is directed against George III and is a repudiation of the high praise lavished on him by Southey. The king is represented as base and mean, for he creeps into heaven like a sneaking coward.
Don Juan is an epic satire, and is undoubtedly Byron’s best work. Its panoramic survey of human society of Europe, with all the foibles and weaknesses of social institutions, is truly staggering in its satirical wit. Charges of insincerity and hypocrisy are brought against Byron and his attack on virtue has called upon him the wrath of the moralists. But Byron defended himself against these charges in the following words:
“I was willing to plead guilty of having sometimes represented vice under alluring colours but it was so generally in the world and, therefore, it was necessary to point it so.”
Among the Victorians, Dickens and Thackeray are two vigorous satirists who survey the society of their times and expose and ridicule its many weaknesses, its hypocrisy, its materialism, its greed, social climbing, snobbery, etc. Dickens’ novels are novels of social reform and he uses the weapon of satire to bring about reform in a number of social institutions – schools, prison administration, and administration of justice, etc. His satire is mild and gentle, pure humour being more characteristic of him. Carlyle and Ruskin were also fired with the Zeal of social reform, and we find them attacking vigorously a number of social institutions of the day. They were clear-headed thinkers fully alive to the prevalent social evils, and they use the weapon of irony to effect their purpose. However, they can also be fierce and direct in their denunciation of the existing social system. Matthew Arnold, too, was a bitter critic of the society of his day, and philistinism of the age, the vulgarisation of cultural values, comes frequently within his lash.
Satire in the Modern Age: Satire continue unabatted in the 20th century. It is an age of interrogation, and the cherished ideals and beliefs, and cherished social institutions, are subjected to severe scrutiny. George Bernard Shaw is a vigorous satirist who in his plays holds up to the test of reason the most valued ideals and institutions. Nothing escapes his searching eye; every folly, weakness or vice comes within the lash of his satire. Samuel Butler is another great satirist who in his The Way of All Flash and Erewhon has satirically exposed and ridiculed the shortcomings of the times. Estimating his greatness as a satirist of the later nineteenth century; but not in the first rank of satirist Hugh Walker writes “Butler stands clearly at the head of the satire of the later nineteenth century; but not in the first rank of satirists, and still less in the first rank of literature. Swift, with whom his affinities are most obvious, is far superior in breadth of range, in force of thought, and in keenness of wit. On the other hand, Butler is much more humane: but this unfortunately is an advantage which diminished with time. The Way of All Flesh is far less pleasant and humane than Erewhon.” Mention may also be made of Aldous Huxley who, in his successive novels, has ridiculed contemporary science and the tall claims that are made on its behalf.
Satire may change its form, it may be more vigorous in some ages than in others, but it will continue as long as mankind continues to be imperfect.

Poetic Diction

Poetic diction means the choice and arrangement of words in a line of poetry. Thus it is a matter both of vocabulary and syntax. In almost all ages, poets have used a language different from the language of everyday use. It was believed that, “the language of the age is never the language of poetry”, and further that the calling of a poet is a noble and exalted one and so his language also should be equally noble and dignified, different from common language.

Thus it was considered necessary for a poet to avoid low, common and vulgar words, specially in epic-poetry where the diction used should be lofty and sublime in keeping with its lofty and exalted theme. For this reason, in all ages, the diction of poetry has tended to differ from the language of prose, as well as from that of everyday speech. For example, in his Fairy Queen Spenser intentionally used archaic and obsolete words, for his theme was medieval, and archaic words like ‘methought’, ‘I ween’, etc., help to create a proper, old world atmosphere. Milton used a highly Latinised and figurative diction for his Paradise Lost, and in this way sought to impart epic dignity and elevation to his language. Milton had considerable influence on the succeeding generation of poets, and this influence was not all healthy. Much that is artificial and unnatural in the diction of the Augustan Age may be traced to Milton.

Though poets in every age have used a specialised diction for their poetry, never was such attention paid to the subject as in the age of Dryden and Pope. The critical theory of the period laid great stress on the need of ‘decorum’. ‘Decorum’ implied that the diction of poetry should be noble and exalted, that it should suit the genre and the characters or personages in a piece of poetry, that the low and the vulgar should be avoided as their use is below the dignity of the poet as well as that of his readers, and lastly that there must be absolute economy in the use of words. The poet must say what he had to say in the fewest and the best possible words. The best’ were the words which enabled the poet to convey his meanings with absolute clarity, and with this end in view the use of the archaic, the obsolete, the foreign and the technical words was to be avoided. The older poets like Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare were guilty of such faults and it was felt, that they should be refined and polished. They might be jewels but they were unpolished jewels, and it was their misfortune to have lived and produced in a barbarous age. Throughout the Augustan Age, numerous efforts were made to refine Shakespeare, and many of his poetic beauties were lost on the age.
Various devices were used to achieve a noble, pure and exalted diction, a diction proper for poetry meant for refined and cultured audiences. First, Periphrasis or Circumlocution or a roundabout way of saying things was widely used. In this way, efforts were made to avoid the vulgar, the archaic and the technical. Thus Pope uses ‘finny creatures’ for ‘fish’, ‘Velvet plain’ for a green table, ‘two-handed engine’ for a pair of scissors and so on. Secondly Latin words and Latin constructions were abundantly used to impart dignity and elevation. Thus Pope uses ‘Sol’ in place of the sun. Words are frequently used both by Dryden and Pope in their original Latin sense. Thirdly, Figures of Speech, more particularly Personifications and Hyperbole, were abundantly used to decorate the language and to impart to it force, dignity and effectiveness. An instance of personification and Hyperbole may be given from The Rape of the Lock:
And all Arabia breathes from yonder box
The Tortoise here and Elephant unite
Transformed to combs, the speckled and the white.
Another remarkable feature of Pope’s diction is his use of antithesis. This he uses it to produce the mock-heroic effect:
Or stain her honour, or her new brocade
Forget her prayers, or miss a masquerade
Or lose her heart, or necklace, at a ball.
Effective, telling, vivid and pictorial images (similes and metaphors) are used by Pope with great frequency and abundance. There are frequent revisions and everything that is superfluous or inapt is carefully eschewed. In this way, the diction acquires not only clarity, elevation and perfection, but also epigrammatic terseness and condensation. There are more quotable lines in Pope than in any other English poet outside Shakespeare.
Pope, in short, represents the best as well as the worst in the poetic diction of the 18th century. He is the clearest as well as the most correct of English poets, but there is also much in his diction that is unnatural and artificial. He bewitched and dazzled his age with his highly ornate and polished language and the various stylistic devices used by him were imitated throughout the century. Even the pre-romantics were unable to break free from his influence. Gray, Collins, Crabbe, Blake and Burns all show his influence. The substance of their poetry is much nobler, but their style continues to be stilted and artificial. Indeed, the full flowering of romanticism in their poetry is checked and retarded by the dead hand of the past. Circumlocution Personification, Latinism etc., all continue to be used by them and their diction continues to be as artificial and unnatural as that of Pope and his imitators.
It was against this innane and affected poetic diction that Wordsworth raised his powerful voice. Reacting against the artificiality of the poetic diction of Pope and the ‘Popians’, he maintained that the language of poetry should be a selection of language really used by men, and added that, “there is no essential difference between the language of prose and poetry.” However, his own practice shows that there is such an essential difference. Language is both a matter of vocabulary, the choice and selection of words, as well as of their arrangement. Wordsworth follows his theory of poetic diction only in so far as the selection of words or vocabulary is concerned, and not always even in this respect. As far as the arrangement of words is concerned, he frequently uses inverted constructions. Poems like the Immortality Ode can by no stretch of imagination be regarded as having been written in the language of every day use. Moreover, as Coleridge was quick to point out, metre medicates the whole atmosphere, and exigencies of rhyme and metre determine the diction of a poet. Hence it is bound to be different from ordinary language. It should also be remembered that the end of poetry is to give aesthetic pleasure and the use of ornament is an element in that pleasure. Poetry is ‘musical speech’, and so the words used by a poet must be selected both with reference to their sense and their sound. Obviously, for all these reasons, we cannot agree with Wordsworth when he says that there is no essential difference between the language of poetry and the language of prose.
Wordsworth’s attack on the 18th century poetic diction served to stress the need of simplicity both in theme and treatment. But diction has continued to flourish, despite Wordsworth’s condemnation of it. The verbal art of both Keats and Tennyson is beyond praise, and many of their verbal beauties are echoed by the poetic diction of the Pre-Raphaelities / Rossetti, Swinburne, and Morris. Rossetti’s love of ‘stunning’ words is well-known and Swinburne is equally noted for his sensuous epithets and verbal music. Rossetti’s influence on the next generation of poets was great; some adopted his idiosyncrasies; few bettered his example. He helped to introduce a new school of poetry in which the diction diverged as far from the ‘real language of men’ as in any part of the eighteenth century. The reaction in our own times against this movement has been as vigorous as that of Wordsworth was in 1801 against the ‘gaudiness’ of false ‘poetic diction’ of the 18th century.
Robert Bridges is a great stylist of the 20th century, who tries consciously to cultivate an effective and elevated poetic style. He is a great craftsman with words. His poetry abounds in vivid word-pictures. T.S. Eliot has a peculiar diction of his own. It has been called, “a mosaic of quotations and allusions.” His poetry is the poetry of the city, and hence quite rightly his vocabulary and his imagery are drawn from the facts and experiences of city life. He is terse and epigrammatic, so terse and epigrammatic that often it becomes difficult to follow his sense.
In short, poets in all ages have used poetic diction i.e. a poetic language which is different from the language both of prose and of everyday use. From time to time such devices to embellish and elevate the language of poetry have been much criticised, but despite such criticism poets have continued to use them.

Subjective Poetry and its different forms

(A) THE LYRIC
The lyric: Its Nature; Its Kinds
The lyric is the commonest kind of the poetry of self-expression. Man has always liked to pour out his intensely-felt feelings and emotion, and hence the lyric is among the earliest forms of poetry to be written in the literary history of any people. When moved by some intense emotion, love, hatred, joy, sorrow, wonder, admiration, etc., man has always expressed himself in a poetic language, and this accounts for the early appearance of the lyric among all peoples.

In the beginning, the word ‘lyric’ was used for any song meant to be sung with the ‘lyre’, a stringed musical instrument known to the Greeks. In course of time this musical accompaniment of the lyric was dropped and the word came to signify any short poem or song expressing the personal emotions and experiences of the poet. A lyric may embody any kind of emotion. Says Hudson in this connection, “a lyric is almost unlimited in range and variety, for it may touch nearly all aspects of experience, from those which are most narrowly individual to those which involve the broadest interests of our common humanity. Thus we have the convival or bachanalian lyric; The lyric which skims the lighter things of life, as in the so–called verse de societe; the lyric of love in all its phases, and with all its attendant hopes and longings,  joys and sorrows; the lyric of patriotism; the lyric of religious emotion: and countless other kinds which it is unnecessary to attempt to tabulate.” There is also the reflective lyric in which the element of thought becomes prominent, and the poet philosophises on human life and human experiences.
Essentials of a Good Lyric
The chief qualities of a good lyric may be summarized as follows:
1.         It is a short poem, characterised by simplicity in language and treatment.
2.         It deals with a single emotion which is generally stated in the first few lines. Then the poet gives us the thoughts suggested by that particular emotion. The last and concluding part is in the nature of a summary or it embodies the conclusion reached by the poet. Such is the development of a lyric in general, but often these three parts are not distinctly marked. In moments of intense emotional excitement the poet may be carried away by his emotions and the lyric may develop along entirely different lines. A lyric is more often than not, mood-dictated.
3.         It is musical. Verbal-music is an important element in its appeal and charm. Various devices are used by poets to enhance the music of their lyrics.
4.         A lyric is always an expression of the moods and emotions of a poet. The best lyrics are emotional in tone. However, a poet may not express merely his emotions, he may also analyse them intellectually. This gives to the lyric a hard intellectual tone. Such intellectual analysis of emotion is an important characteristic of the metaphysical lyrics of the early 17th century. Such lyrics are also more elaborate than the ordinary lyric.
5.         It is characterised by intensity and poignancy. The best lyrics are the expressions of intensely felt emotions. Like fire, the intensity of the poet’s emotion burns out the non-essentials, all attention is concentrated and the basic emotion, and the gain in poignancy is enormous. It comes directly out of the heart of the poet, and so goes directly to the heart of the readers. The lyric at its best is poignant, pathetic and intense.
6.         Spontaneity is another important quality of a lyric. The lyric poet sings in strains of unpremeditated art. He sings effortlessly because he must, because of the inner urge for self-expression. Any conscious effort on his part, makes the lyric look unnatural and artificial.
The Elizabethan Lyric
The Elizabethan age was the glorious age of the English. In this age everyone sang, down from the flowery courtier to the man in the street. It was also on the stage, and lyrics are scattered all over the plays of dramatists like Shakespeare. The Elizabethan lyric is sweet and musical, but it is characterised by artificiality as the lyrics were composed because it was a fashion to write lyrics, and not because the poets really had any urge for self-expression.
The Elizabethan lyric has some well-defined characteristics of its own: (a) In the best of them there is a fine, “blending of the genius of the people and the artistic sense awakened by humanism.” The song had always been there, but the song of popular tradition was unrefined and coarse. In the most successful Elizabethan lyric, “the rudeness and clumsiness of the popular muse has been penetrated by graceful refinements of Vocabulary and a pliability of versification previously unknown to her.” (b) While the best lyrics have a perfection which is never re-captured, in lesser hands it degenerates into mere artifice and pedantry. Hence the artificiality of much of Elizabethan lyricism. (c) Moreover, many compose lyrics merely because it is the fashion to do so, and not because they have genuine inspiration. They sing of love, without being lovers, and of nature without having any real feeling for her charms. Hence the insincerity, conventionalism and affectation of many an Elizabethan lyric. The poets have brilliant fancy but little passion. (d) The Elizabethan lyric differs from the romantic lyric in as much as it is not the spontaneous overflow of powerful emotion. It is not the outpouring of the poet’s soul, it lacks intensity and passion. It is impersonal in character rather than subjective. The lover is commonly represented as a shepherd, a device which separates the lover and the poet. The poet seems to be in love with love itself, and not with any real woman (e) A vein of moralising runs through the lyric. The poet frequently generalises on the folly of love or the pain or idolatory of lovers. The happiness of lowly desire, the tranquility of a virtuous mind, the superiority of a shpeherds’s life to that of a king, etc., are often pointed out by the poet. (f) Thanks to the prevailing taste for music, the Elizabethan lyric is very musical. Alliteration and other verbal devices are frequently used to make the lyric musical. (g) The lyric lacks originality. The poets are afraid of breaking new ground. They seek respectability for their efforts, “either by basing them upon accepted classic or by chanting them to hymn-like airs,” (S.A. Brooke). “In the Elizabethan lyric are blended the aroma of antiquity and the secret of modernity.”
Lyric in the 17th Century
With the exception of Milton’s epics, the poetry of the early 17th century comprises of lyrics which may be divided into three categories: (a) the metaphysical lyric, (b) the religious lyric, and (c) the Caroline or Cavalier lyric. The metaphysical lyric is more elaborate than an ordinary lyric, and is hard, intellectual in tone. John Donne, the founder of the metaphysical school of poetry, intellectualised the English lyric. He also has the credit of writing some of the finest love-lyrics in the English language. Some of the most poignant of the religious lyrics in the language also belong to him.
Every one of the lyrics has its origin in some emotional situation, and as the lyric proceeds the poet analyses intellectually that particular emotion. The emotion is discussed and analysed almost threadbare and arguments, for and against, are given in the manner of a clever lawyer pleading his case. Thus in Valediction: Forbidding Mourning, the poet advances arguments after arguments in support of the view that true lovers need not mourn at the time of parting. Similarly, in the Canonisation a case is cleverly made out in favour of love-making and the lovers are ingenuously shown to be saints of love. This intellectual analysis of emotion is something new and original in the English lyric. It results in that fusion of thought and emotion – that unification of sensibility – for which T.S. Eliot commended the metaphysical lyric and regarded Donne as one of the greatest of the English poets. But this argumentation also imparts to Donne’s lyrics a hard intellectual tone, which is further heightened by his use of learned imagery drawn from such recondite and out of the way sources as medieval scholastic philosophy and older systems of astronomy and physics. However, as Ernest Rhys point out, “as Donne’s lyrics do not lack emotional intensity and immediacy, despite all this argumentation, analysis, and use of learning.”
The Caroline lyric is characterised by sweetness, music and melody. In its diction it almost touches perfection. But it is artificial, the result of art rather than of an inner urge for self-expression. Its worst fault is its extremely licentious and immoral nature.
The chief qualities of Cavaleir or Caroline lyric are:
1.         The Caroline lyrics, like the Elizabethan lyrics, were published in miscellanies and anthologies, as Wits Recreation (1641), Wit Restored (1658), Parnassus Biceps (1656) etc. The miscellanies have preserved for us the best songs and lyrics of even the lesser known poets.
2.         The Caroline lyric is the result of conscious effort. It is artificial. It is a work of art characterised by finish, polish and elegance of language but lacking that spontaneity and absence of effort which characterised the Elizabethan lyric. It has formal finish and perfection but is wanting in natural ease and warmth of emotion.
3.         It mirrors the mood and temper of the age. It is often coarse, licentious and indecent, thus reflecting the coarseness and indecency of the court and the courtly circles to which most of the poets of this school belonged.
4.         The poets of this school again and again find the various beauties of nature united in the beauty of their respective beloveds.
5.         The Cavalier poets are great lovers of nature. They observe nature minutely and describe it with feeling. Concrete, visual images drawn from the homelier objects and forces of nature abound in their lyrics.
6.         The Caroline lyric is charming but there is something trivial and unsubstantial about it. In this respect again, it reflects the triviality and frivolity of the life of the times.
The Romantic Lyric
The Augustans used exclusively the heroic couplet and little lyric poetry was written during this period of over one hundred years. It was with the rise of romanticism that the lyric once again came to its own. Shelley is the supreme lyricist of the romantic age. As a lyricist, Shelley remains unexcelled in the history of English literature. His lyrics are marked with spontaneity and effortlessness. “He exhales a lyric as a flower exhales fragrance.” Like his own skylark, he sings in profuse strains of unpremeditated art. His lyrics are the outpourings of his heart. Says J. A. Symonds: “In none of his greatest contemporaries was the lyric faculty so paramount”, and further that, “he was the loftiest and the most spontaneous singer of our age.” His lyrics are among the most musical lyrics in the English language.
The excellence which the romantic poets achieved as lyric-writers seems to have been due to two things. In the first place they perceived, in a higher degree, perhaps, than even the Elizabethans had done, the music latent in words, and succeeded in producing in their poetry, by means of happy combinations of words and rhythms, effects similar to those produced by music itself. Keats and Tennyson, more specially, were musical artists in words, and lines like,
Charmed magic casements opening on the foam
Of perilous seas in faery lands forlorn.
Forlorn! the very world is like a bell,
To toll me back from thee to my sole self:
make their appeal to us as much by the lingering fascination of their music as by the exquisiteness of their pictorial suggestion. It is in this respect that the romantic lyric surpasses the Elizabethan; a loss of some of the sunny spontaneity of the later being balanced by a corresponding gain in power and more complex quality of emotion.
“The success of the romantic lyric has, in the second place, been due to the fine appreciation, by the lyric-writers, of the delicate balance subsisting between subject and form. Never before had such a variety of subject found its way into English lyrical verse and been so completely absorbed as to give a certain intellectual value and tone to the poems without in any way detracting from their lyrical worth, Therein has lain, in large measure, the skill of the great lyricists from Wordsworth to Tennyson: they have been able to perceive with nicety the degree of thought which the lyric could carry, and exactly how they could be introduced without damage to the poem itself. It is, therefore, in their ability to perceive both the musical possibilities of words and the subtle relationship of matter to form that the Romantic and later lyricists are superior even to the Elizabethans.”
Lyric in the Victorian Era
Great lyric poetry continued to be written throughout the 19th century. In the Victorian age, there are a number of lyric-poets of note, Tennyson and Browning being the greatest of them. Tennyson is a great artist with words and so his lyrics are characterised by verbal felicity of a high order. Moreover, he is matchless in his gift of making music with words. But his artistry introduces an element of artificiality in his lyrics. His artistic, philosophic and dramatic interests inhibit and retard his lyrical impulse. Browning, on the other hand, is a great writer of dramatic lyrics, lyrics in which he does not pour out his own soul, but that of some imagined character. It is only in a few lyrics like Prospice that he speaks in his own person of his love for his beloved wife, Elizabeth.
The Modern Lyric
Lyrics continue to be written in the modern age, and it is nearly impossible to make a selection from the crowd of 20th century lyricists. Mention may only be made of John Drinkwater, Walter Do La Mare, W.H. Davies, James Elory Flecker, John Masefield, and W.B. Yeats. Lyrics of nature, lyrics of place, patriotic lyrics, love-lyrics, soldier lyrics, lyrics for children, are some of the categories of the modern lyric, and this in itself is sufficient to bring out the immensity, variety and abundance of lyric poetry in the post-Victorian period.
(B) THE ELEGY
The Elegy: Its Nature
An elegy is a special kind of lyrics. A lyric expresses the emotions of the poet, and the elegy is an expression of the emotion of sorrow, woe, or despair. In short, the elegy is a lament, a lyric of mourning, or an utterance of personal bereavement and sorrow and, therefore, it should be characterised by absolute sincerity of emotion and expression. Says Hodgson, “In common use, it is often restricted to a lament over the dead, but that is an improper narrowing of its meaning. There are laments over places, over lost love, over the past (which is never “dead”), over an individual’s misery or failure; there are laments over departed pet animals, and so forth.”
The Elegy: Reflection and Philosophy
An elegy then is an expression of grief, and simplicity, brevity, and sincerity are its distinguishing features. There are elegies which are confined to the expression of grief as, for example, The Burial of Sir John Moore, and Tennyson’s Break, Break, Break. But more often than not, from an expression of personal grief, the poet passes on to reflections on human life – human suffering, the shortness of human life, and the futility of human ambitions. Writes A. N. Eatwistle in this connection, “Sometimes Death is the inspiration and sole theme; at other times it is merely the common starting-point from which poets have launched various themes – speculations on the nature of death and the hereafter, tributes to friends, the poet’s own mood, even literary criticism.” Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard is one of the most popular elegies in English language. In this elegy, the poet does not mourn the death of some particular friend or relative, but expresses his grief at the sorry fate of the rude forefathers of the village, who die in obscurity, unknown, unsung. It is a magnificent and complex work of art, dignified and solemn in tone, and not an expression of personal grief.
On the other hand, Matthew Arnold’s Rugby Chapel is the poet’s direct expression of grief on the death of his father, and the elegy is characterised by sincerity and intensity of emotion. But from the expression of personal grief, the poet soon passes on to reflect on the sorry fate of humanity, and on the triviality and futility of human life. It thus becomes an embodiment not merely of the melancholy of the poet, but also of the pessimism and despair of the age in which he lived. Tennyson’s In Memoriam is a unique elegy in the English language. It is a collection of over a hundred poignant lyrics, united into a single whole by the poet’s lament at the death of his college friend, Arthur Hallam. But along with the expression of personal grief, there also runs a theology and a philosophy, as the poet constantly reflects on the problems of human life and human destiny. The elegy is an epitome of the philosophical and religious thought of the age.
The Pastoral Elegy
The pastoral elegy is a special kind of elegy. The words ‘pastoral’ comes from the Greek word “pastor”, which means “to graze”. Hence pastoral elegy is an elegy in which the poet represents himself as a shepherd mourning the death of a fellow shepherd. The form arose among the ancient Greeks, and Theocritus, Bions and Moschus were its most noted practitioners. In ancient Rome it was used by the Latin poet Virgil. In England, countless pastoral elegies have been written down from the Renaissance (16th century) to the present day. Spenser’s Astrophel, Milton’s Lycidas, Shelley’s Adonais and Arnold’s Thyrsis and Scholar Gipsy, are the most notable examples of pastoral elegy in the English language.
The pastoral elegy is a work of art, following a particular convention, and using a particular imagery drawn from rural life and rural scenery. Hence it is lacking in that sincerity which should be a marked feature of a poem of personal lament. Hence it was that Dr. Johnson condemned the form as artificial and unnatural and said, “Where there is leisure for fiction, there is little grief.”
Elegies continue to be written in the 20th century, elegies in which the poets pour out their anxieties, frustrations and despairs. Their number is so large that even their names cannot be mentioned in the short space at our disposal. But one thing is to be noted. The modern poet is unconventional in his use of the elegiac form, as in other matters. For example, W.H. Auden reverses the elegiac tradition in this elegies, particularly in his well-known elegy on W.B. Yeats. Traditionally in an elegy all nature is represented as mourning the death, here nature is represented as going on its course, indifferent and unaffected by the death of Yeats. The great poet’s death goes unnoticed both by man and nature; human life goes on as usual, and so does nature. Secondly, in the traditional elegy the dead is glorified and his death is said to be a great loss for mankind at large but Auden does not glorify Yeats. He goes to the extend of calling him ‘Silly’ and further that his poetry could make nothing happen. Ireland has her madness and her weather still.” Thus Auden reverses the traditional elegiac values and treats them ironically. Dylan Thomas is another such unconventional writer of elegies.
(c)  THE ODE
The Ode: Its Nature
The Ode is a special kind of lyric, more dignified, stately and elaborate than the simple lyric. Like the lyric, it also originated in ancient Greece. The Greek poet Pindar was the first to write Odes, and later on the form was practiced with certain modification by the Roman poet, Horace.
The word ‘ode’ is simply the Greek word for ‘song’. It was used by the Greeks for any kind of lyric verse, i.e. for any song sung with the lyre or to the accompaniment of some dance. However, as far as English literature is concerned, the term is now applied to only one particular kind of lyric verse. An English Ode may be defined as, ‘a lyric poem of elaborate metrical structure, solemn in tone, and usually taking the form of address” very often to some abstraction or quality. Edmund Gosse defines the ode as, “a strain of enthusiastic and exalted lyric, verse, directed to a fixed purpose, and dealing progressively with one dignified theme.”
The Essentials of an Ode
From these definitions the essentials of a modern English Ode may be summed up as,
1.         It is in the form of an address, often to some abstraction. It is not written about but written to.
2.         It has lyric enthusiasm and emotional intensity. It is a spontaneous overflow of the poet’s emotions.
3.         Its theme is dignified and exalted. It has ‘high seriousness’.
4.         Its style is equally elevated; it is also sufficiently long to allow for the full development of its dignified theme.
5.         The development of thought is logical and clear.
6.         Its metrical pattern may be regular or irregular, but it is always elaborate and often complex and intricate.
Its Two Kinds:
There are two important forms of the ode
(1) The Pindaric Ode; and
(2) The Horation Ode.
(1)  The Pindaric Ode
Pindar the greatest lyric poet of ancient Greece (6th to 5th century B.C.) was the father of the Pindaric or Choric’ Ode. Pindaric Odes were written generally in honour of the gods or to sing the triumphs or victories of rulers or athletes. Hence they are also known as “triumphal” odes. A Pindaric Ode has a fixed stanza-structure or pattern. The number of stanzas may vary, but they are invariably arranged in groups of three, each group being called a triad. The first stanza in each triad is called a ‘strophe’ – it was chanted by the dancing chorus as it proceeded in one direction. The second stanza in each triad is called an ante-strophe’ – it was chanted by the chorus as it returned. The third stanza in each triad is called an ‘epode’, and it was sung when the chorus was stationary. Just as the total number of stanzas in a Pindaric Ode may vary (Pindar’s odes range from one triad to thirteen in length) so also there could be variations in the metrical length of individual lines. Thus the Pindaric Ode has a fixed stanza-pattern but enjoys great rhythmical and metrical freedom.
The Poet Cowley (1618-67) was the first poet of England to imitate consciously the Pindaric odes. However, he did not understand the regular structure of the Pindaric and introduced a verse form with long irregular stanzas without any fixed system of metre or rhyme. The true Pindaric in triadic form was written with success by Dryden (Ode to St. Cecilia and Alexander’s Feast) and then by Gray (The Bard and the Progress of Poesy). After Gray, Pindaric of the triadic form fell out of use till it was revived again by Arnold and Swinburne.
Though the true Pindaric did not take root in the English soil, the ode in long irregular stanzas, first used by Cowley, has grown and flourished and has become one of the recognised and popular verse-forms of England. The title Pindaric is no longer used for it. But some of the greatest odes in the English language are of this irregular kind. To name only a few: Tennyson’s Ode on the death of Duke Wellington; Shelley’s Ode to Liberty; and Wordsworth’s Ode on the Intimations of Immortality. In other words the term Ode is now loosely used for any lyric which is sufficiently elaborate and dignified. No fixed pattern of stanza or metre is now considered necessary.
(2)  The Horatian Ode
The Horation Ode. This kind of Ode has been named after the Latin poet, Horace, who imitated Pindar but with far reaching modifications. The Horation Ode consists of a number of stanzas with a more or less regular metrical structure but without any division into triads of the Pindaric. It may be rhymed or unrhymed. This kind of Ode is light and personal (not choric) without the elaboration and complexity of the Pindaric. Many of the Finest English Odes are of this lighter sort. Some notable examples are: Collin’s Ode to Simplicity and Ode to Evening; Gray’s Eton Ode and Ode to the West Wind Wordsworth’s Ode to Duty; Shelley’s Ode of the West Wind; and Keats’ Ode to Nightingale.
It was in the hands of Keats that the Ode attained its highest possible perfection. His odes are the finest  fruits of his maturity. They represent Keats at his best. All the characteristic qualities of his poetry find full and vivid expression in them. As has been well said, Shelley’s genius finds perfect expression in the lyrics, Keats’ genius in The Odes. The six great odes of Keats The Ode to Psyche, to Melancholy, to Nightingale, to a Grecian, Urn to Indolence, and to Autumn, have received the highest praises from all critics of Keats. These odes are a unique phenomenon in English literature . Nothing like them existed before; and in them Keats may be said to have created a new class of lyric poetry. They are Keats’ greatest claim to immortality.
The Victorian Ode: 
Odes continued to be written all through the Victorian era, and they are being written even to-day. In the Victorian era, Tennyson and Swinburne are the greatest writers of odes. Tennyson wrote three odes, Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington, Ode for the Opening of the International Exhibition 1862, and Ode to Memory. Of these three odes, the Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington, the Victor of Waterloo, is the most moving and inspiring, and is marked with a note of patriotism and national adoration of the great hero who won victory for England against Napoleon. Tennyson pays a nation’s homage to the hero and outlines the salient qualities of his character. Swinburne produced fine odes included in Atlanta in Calydon. The opening ode of his classical tragedy Hounds of Spring is a glorious commemoration of the joys and triumphs of spring. The poet presents spring close on the heels of winter, and sings of the glories of the vernal time.
Another great poet, Francis Thompson, composed the Hounds of Heaven, which presents the pursuit of man engrossed in worldly pleasures by the hounds of heaven. Man cannot escape divinity. His final salvation lies in following the path of morality and spiritual life. The ode is unique in splendour of imagery and richness of expression reminds us of the earlier attempts of Spenser in glorious expression.
Ode in the Modern Age:
During the twentieth century many poets have composed odes, but generally speaking the modern age is not suited for the ode. Hopkin’s Ode on the Wreck of Deutschland is an ecclesiastical ode presenting the loss of the German ship with five nuns on board. The ode was in a new metrical form which Hopkins had been mediating for sometime. “I had long had haunting my ear the echo of a new rhythm which now I realised on paper,” Hopkins wrote to R.W.Dixon, his friend. Watson wrote an Ode to the Coronation of Edward VII. The language of Watson’s Ode is similar to that of the Victorians. It comes from the study of Tennyson, Arnold and Milton, and shows no contact with the speech that the Edwardians used in their streets, their public houses or even in their drawing rooms and libraries. Watson’s ode does not have the vitality of a living diction and has a kind of expensive vagueness not expected from an Edwardian. Rose Macaulay’s New Year, 1968, is an unconventional ode, not glorifying the birth of a new year, but just telling us that the new year does not bring new gifts. Upon Eckington Bridge, River Avon, by Arthur Quiller-Couch is an ode singing of the old glories of the past and the destruction wrought by time. These poets make us feel that the hey-day of the ode in English are things of the past. The ode may never regain its old glory and greatness. The term is being loosely used for lyric poetry of every kind, and not much heed is being given to the characteristic features of the ode.
(D)  THE SONNET
The Petrarchan Sonnet
The sonnet also is a form of the lyric, and of all its forms it is most carefully ordered and bound by definite, rigid rules.
The word “Sonnet” is derived from the Greek word “Sonneto”, meaning, “a sound”. It is a short lyric of fourteen lines and the Italian poet Petrarch was the first to use this form of the lyric to express his love for his beloved Laura, and its use “became the mark of Petrarchan love-poetry all over Europe in the 16th century.” Petrarch had divided his sonnets into two parts, the octave of eight lines and the sested of six lines, with a pause or ceasura after the eighth line. Its rhyme-scheme was a b, b a, a b , b a,     c d e, c d e.
The Sonnet in England – Early Sonnetteers
Sir Thomas Wyatt was the first to write sonnets in England. It is the Petrarchan form of the sonnet that Wyatt follows. His use of this measure is often rigid and awkward, and he entirely fails to capture the warm, sensuous colour and delicate music of the Italian poet.
His great contemporary Earl of Surrey also wrote sonnets in which he expressed his entirely imaginative love for Geraldine or Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald. The elegiac note is natural to him, but his lover’s plaints and sighs mingle with exquisite nature-passages. His sonnets have great artistic merits. Though he follows the Petrarchan convention of courtly love, he does not follow the Petrarchan model of the sonnet. He divides his sonnets into three quatrains, with a couplet at the end, and thus he is the first to use that form of the sonnet which came to be called Shakespearean from the great dramatist’s use of it. The rhyme-scheme of this form of the sonnet is a b a b, c d c d, e f e f, g g.
The Elizabethan Sonnet
However, the technical peculiarity of the sonnet was not realised in the earlier years of Elizabeth’s reign. The word ‘sonnet’ was used indifferently for any short lyric. The sonnet proper remained forgotten and neglected till the publication in 1591 of Sidney’s sonnet-sequence called Astrophel and Stella. They express Sidney’s passion for Penelope, who was by that time the wife of Lord Rich. The Publication of Astrophel and Stella at once caught the imagination of the people and gave rise to the vogue of the sonnet. Everybody tried his hand at it, mostly to express his love for some imagined mistress. This accounts for the artificiality of most of the Elizabethan sonnets. Sonnets were written merely because it was the fashion to write sonnets, and not because the poets had some really feit passion to express. They merely echo the sighs and love-pangs of Petrarch and the Petrarchans.
However, sincerity is the key-note of Spenser’s Amoretti (An Italian name), a collection of about 88 sonnets. They express Spenser’s love and courtship of Elizabeth Boyle, the lady who became his wife shortly afterwards. It is in these sonnets alone that Spenser expresses his genuine feeling without recourse to allegory. “In the first ranks of the works of the English Renaissance, Spenser’s sonnets come between those of Sidney and Shakespeare, from which they are different in form as in sentiment.” – (Legouis)
Each of the quatrains in his sonnets is linked up by rhyme, but the couplet stands alone as in the Shakespearean variety of the sonnet.
While the Sonnets of Sidney and Spenser form the very core of their poetic work, Shakespeare’s Sonnets were written in moments snatched from work for the theatre. His 154 sonnets were first published in 1609, and as Wordsworth has put it, it was with this key that the poet unlocked his heart. It is in the sonnets alone that the poet directly expresses his feeling. Besides their sincerity of tone, they have literary qualities of the highest order. They touch perfection in their phraseology, in their perfect blending of sense and sound, and in their versification. Shakespeare’s sonnet-sequence is, “the casket which encloses the most precious pearls of Elizabethan lyricism some of them unsurpassed by any lyricist.” He divides his sonnets into three stanzas of four lines each followed by a concluding couplet.
The Contribution of Milton
In the post-Elizabethan era there is no great writer of sonnets till we come to Milton. As F.T. Prince points out, “the English passion for sonneteering died out in the early 17th century”, and Milton’s sonneteering represents practically a fresh start. His was an individual undertaking unique in the Mid-seventeenth century. By his use of it Milton not only revived the sonnet form, but he also considerably enlarged and widened its scope. It may also be added here that all Milton’s sonnets are occasional and personal, on different topics, and so cannot be arranged in sequences like the Elizabethan sonnets.
Milton’s English sonnets number twenty-three in all. Six of these belong to the period of Milton’s youth and immaturity, though even in them the hand of the master is visible. The rest were written during 1645-1658, the period in which Milton was largely busy in prose-writing. “These later English sonnets are the most immediately personal of all Milton’s utterances, representing emotional moments in his later life, experiences which find no adequate expression in his prose-writing in the publication of which he was during these years primarily engaged. We may believe also that they were, like the Psalms, prompted in part by a conscious desire in Milton to exercise himself in verse in preparation for the epic poem which he still intended. – (Henford)
Milton’s formal model is not the English sonnet, with its tendency to close with a couplet, but the Italian original which, on the whole, avoided such an ending. On the whole, Milton’s sonnets strike a new note of lofty dignity, conformable to his epic personality, and justifying Wordsworth’s description:
In his hands
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew
Soul-animating strains – alas, too few!
Milton widened considerably the scope of the sonnet. Previously the sonnet sang only of love and friendship, but Milton uses the form to express his deeply felt emotions on contemporary politics, religion, public figures of importance, womanhood, relationship of husband and wife, and such personal matters as his blindness. Similarly, he introduces far reaching innovations in its technique. Following the Petrarchan tradition he divides his sonnets into two parts – an ‘Octave’ of eight lines and a ‘Sestet’ of six lines. In the Petrarchan model, Octave and Sestet each has its own set of rhymes, which hold it together; but each is also sub-divided, the octave into two quatrains, the sestet into two tercets (group of three lines). In the octave the usual arrangement of rhymes is aba, abba (though abab abab and abab baba also occur). In the sestet two or three rhyme sounds are allowed, and their arrangement varies more widely than in the octave. The sentences fit into the division of the stanza, so that there is a pause at the end of each quatrain and tercet, and a more marked pause between octave and sestet.
But Milton, while accepting Petrarch as the master of the form, introduced many stylistic innovations. His sentence structure is more complex, and the rhythm is slowed down, the syntax tends to overflow the two main and the two subsidiary divisions of the poem. Milton’s use of this new style in the Sonnets foreshadows the methods of his later blank verse, where we also find ‘the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another’. The technical changes he takes over from the Renaissance Italians, to make what is necessarily a short poem into one that seems weighty and sustained; pauses within the lines are added to those suggested by the rhymes, which are partly submerged by the flow of the sense. The sonnet thus becomes a single verse-paragraph flowing through a sound-pattern made up of the four division marked by the rhymes.
The Sonnet after Milton
In the Augustan age, the sonnet-form fell into disuse. Hardly any sonnet worth the name was written during this period of over a hundred years. The sonnet was revived by Wordsworth who was inspired to write sonnets by his study of Milton’s Sonnets. Wordsworth further widened its scope by bringing in nature as one of its subjects. Since then, Sonnets have been written on practically every conceivable subject between heaven and earth. Keats, Browning and Rossetti are among other able practitioners of the form. Very little attention is now paid to the rules of sonnet-making, and wide liberty and flexibility in the use of the form is indulged in.
The vogue of the sonnet continues unabated in the 20th century. We have Robert Bridge’s admirable sonnet sequence The Growth of Love. Rupert Brooke and John Masefield have immortalised themselves as writers of sonnets. Commenting on the English sonnet in the 20th century, J.A. Noble writes “Rich as the sonnet literature of Enlgand is now, it is becoming every day richer and fuller, of potential promise, and though the possibilities of the form may be susceptible to exhaustion, there are no present signs of it, but only of new and bounteous developments. Even were no additions made to the store which has accumulated through the centuries, the sonnet – work of our English poets would remain for ever one of the most precious of the intellectual possessions of the nation.”