Monday, May 14, 2007

Harmonius Tension, Pt. 6

The next line is tricky, because if the stress falls on ‘could’ it would make the line sound as if one is asking one’s self a question; but the poet is not asking of himself the possibility of reviving the song; he is only stating his desire to do so, thus the line has to be scanned this way, × / × / × / /, and with that ending we have a spondee; another variation, another element of growth and experiment. Then, before the growth becomes too much, before Progress goes out of hand, the poem returns to Permanence, to form. The next line is in strict iambic tetrameter., × / × / × /.
The poem loosens in line length in the following line that also, it seems, ends in a spondee. We know for certain that the first three feet are iambic; we know for certain that ‘’twould’ is not stressed; we think that both ‘win’ and ‘me’ are stressed. We know that ‘win’ is stressed. Is ‘me’ stressed? If we said it in the following way it is false speech, “’twould win me ,” because it just sounds forced, and it is, and then we would be glozing over the importance of being won over. However, if we said “’twould win me,” it sounds closer to natural speech and we have the element of being won over. Yet again, if we said “’twould win me,” it sounds almost natural, more so than unnatural and forced. But if we remember the spondee from two lines previous, then we will see the rhyme that this line completes; so one is drawn to conclude that this third way, with the spondee is the way the line is read. After all that, the line is scanned as × / × / × / × / /.
The next line is a trochee with three and half feet again, / × / × / × /, fitting for the line with ‘music’ in it. With the accents on ‘loud’ and ‘long’ we have the quality of the music desired for the construction of the dome. And the next also is of the same quality, a trochee with three and a half feet. Then we have four successive lines of iambic tetrameter. The placement of the accents in the first of these lines magnifies the quality and description of the sunny dome and the caves of ice. In the second of these four lines the second and third accents magnify how one would experience the vision of the constructed dome – audibly and visually. The next line brings with it the sense of dread, the sense of privation that is necessary for the effect of the sublime, in the placement of the accents. The accents in the last line of this sequence also emphasize the characteristics of what is seen, the flashing eyes and floating hair of this vision. The ‘flash’ in ‘flashing’ is all the more so with the stress, and magnifies the quality of the eyes, so too with ‘float’ in ‘floating’ as it interacts with ‘hair’. The iambic tetrameter quality is also suitable for these four lines because of the gravity and solemnity of the vision, the obscurity of it. It is also a constructed vision, so the accents are structured like a foundation to make firm what is built. Even though it is only a vision, it is surely seen and it definitely has an effect on the viewer.
Then the poem’s next line turns away from the iambic back to a line of trochee that is three and a half feet long, with the accent on ‘Weave’ to bring out the word more and what the hair does, / × / × / × /; the last accent in the line ensures that we understand how many times the hair weaves around him, similar to earlier in the poem when the measurement of the wall is stressed in the sixth line, ‘So twice five miles . . .” With this change, it is also noticed that the quality of looseness in the hair is given; the three circles are woven not tightly as if to make a fixed appearance, but floating, hence loose. Again, the variation in meter gives the quality of looseness in a form that does not stifle.
However, the gravity returns in the next line and we have that iambic tetrameter, × / × / × / × /. The accent on ‘ho’ in ‘holy’ and on ‘dread’ is enough to make us want to close our eyes, and it brings us closer to the sense of privation that is a quality of the sublime. The last two lines in the poem also follow the iambic tetrameter of this line. It is a frame that holds the poem together. The stanza, and the poem, concludes in this disciplined manner to carry on the same gravity from earlier lines. Hence, even though the last word in the poem is ‘Paradise’, there is a sense of dread still evident as picked up from the meter. The frame is complete. It began in iambic tetrameter and varied throughout to come back and end in iambic tetrameter. This is the necessary struggle that ensures the poem’s continuity as a great literary composition.

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