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Book X. in particular I have noted at least fifty-two extrasyllabled lines in a total of 1104, or at the rate nearly of one in every twenty. In Paradise Regained, containing altogether 2070 lines, the number of extra-syllabled lines, as roughly observed, is 70 or more ; which is at the rate of one in every thirty. On the whole, therefore, the notion that Milton disapproved of lines of this kind in Epic Blank Verse has been exaggerated. That he did hold them less suitable, however, for Epic Blank Verse than for Dramatic Blank is suggested not only by his very moderate use of them in his epics, but also by the fact that such lines are most frequent there in the dramatic parts or speeches.—The idea is confirmed when we pass to Samson Agonistes. He rather revels in the liberty of extra-syllabled lines in that dramatic poem. The blank-verse dialogue parts of the drama make about 1300 lines, and I have counted over 230 extra-syllabled lines among them, or more than one in every six. They sometimes come very thickly. In one speech of Samson's there are twelve in thirty-two lines, and there are instances of three or four quite consecutively.
This fact of the occasional Supernumerary Final Syllable imports an additional metrical peculiarity into Milton's Blank Verse, inasmuch as it may occur in any of the four sorts into which on other grounds his lines may be distributed.
When it occurs in a line of the first sort, i.e, composed otherwise of five pure consecutive Iambi, it simply makes that line 5 xa +, or hendecasyllabic : e.g.
“While thus I called, and strayed I knew not whither.” When it occurs in a line of the second sort, i.e, which would otherwise be 5 xa with dissyllabic variation or variations, the result similarly is 5 xa + of that sort, also hendecasyllabic : e.g.
“ Eternal King : thee author of all being.” But when it occurs in a line of the third sort or of the fourth-i.e, in a line of the single or the double trisyllabic variation—more happens. Such lines are still properly of the 5 xa formula, inasmuch as the trisyllabic feet introduced are but substitutes for xa in the places where they come; but they are already hendecasyllabic or duodecasyllabic. Now,
when such a line acquires a supernumerary final syllable, or becomes 5 xa +, we have the curious phenomenon of a line perfectly within the rule of Blank Verse, perfectly answering to the 5 xa + formula, and yet containing twelve or even thirteen syllables. Here are examples of a length of twelve syllables so occasioned in lines already hendecasyllabic by the action of a single internal trisyllabic variation :
" The fellows of his crime, the followers rather."
“ Some way or other yet farther to afflict thee.” And here is one example of a length of thirteen syllables produced by the supernumerary final syllable in lines already duodecasyllabic in virtue of two internal trisyllabic variations :
“ By spiritual, to themselves appropriating.” Instances of lines twelve or thirteen syllables long are among the extreme rarities of Milton's text ; but there is yet another way in which such a rarity may occur. It is by the accident or inadvertence of an Alexandrine—i.e. of a line not at all of the proper 5 xa or 5 xa + rhythm merely widened by trisyllabic variation and the supernumerary final syllable, but distinctly of the 6 xa rhythm. An ordinary Alexandrine consists of twelve syllables (six pure lambi or an equivalent of dissyllabic feet) thus :“ From out his secret altar touched with hallowed fire." —
Od. Nat. 28.
“ While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.”—
Od. Nat. 68. But then, as an Alexandrine itself is susceptible of internal trisyllabic variation as well as dissyllabic, and as it may also have a supernumerary final syllable or be 6 xa+, we may have Alexandrines of thirteen syllables (or even perhaps fourteen) : thus :“ And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.”—
Od. Nat. 140. “ Bright-harnessed Angels sit in order serviceable."-Od. Nat. 244 “So huge their numbers, and so numberless their nation."
Spens. F. Q., IV. xii
Are there any Alexandrines in Milton's Blank Verse? There are some, both of twelve syllables and of thirteen, scattered through the choruses in Samson, where, as we have said, Milton ranges freely from 2 xa to 6 xa: 0.g. :
“ No strength of man or fiercest wild beast could withstand.”—127.
In these choruses, however, Milton holds himself released from all ordinary rule ; and in his Blank Verse proper, narrative or dramatic, it is much more difficult to find a true Alexandrine. In Comus, 617, where the end of a speech of the Elder Brother runs into one line with the beginning of a speech of the Guardian Spirit, the two fragments form an Alexandrine, thus :
“As to make this relation ?
Care and utmost shifts."
The following are also perhaps examples :
“ As if she would her children should be riotous."-Com. 763.
It may be maintained that these last are not positive examples, inasmuch as they may be taken rather as lines of 5 xa with two supernumerary weak final syllables; and the same may be said more plausibly of such lines as the follow. ing :
“ Is now the labour of my thoughts: 'tis likeliest.”—Com. 192.
Nevertheless, exactly such lines do pass for Alexandrines in poems where Alexandrines are due, the two final weak syllables passing (as often in xa verse) for a distinct foot: 2.g. “In whose dead face he redd great magnanimity." —
Spens. F. Q., 11. viii. 23. “ This garden to adorn with all variety."--F. Q., 11. xii. 59.
Whether, after such precedents, we call the above examples from Milton Alexandrines, or whether we call them, as it is perhaps best to do in dramatic dialogue, only 5 xa lines with two supernumerary final syllables, in either case we see in them lines of twelve or thirteen syllables produced by a cause different from those already noted.
The CÆSURA.—This term is used in different senses by prosodians; but it seems best, for English verse, to understand by it the pause attending the conclusion of a period, or of some logical section of a period, when that pause occurs anywhere else than at the end of a line. That Milton attached some importance to the Cæsura, in this sense, as a factor in Blank Verse, may be inferred from his Prefatory Note to Paradise Lost, where, defending the all-sufficiency of Blank Verse for “true musical delight,” he says that such true musical delight “consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another.” Now, in this sense, I think I can report with some certainty that the most frequent Cæsura in Milton's Blank Verse is at the end of the third foot (i.e. generally after the sixth syllable, though it may occasionally be after the seventh, or even after the eighth) : e.g.
“And took in strains that might create a soul
Under the ribs of Death.” ||
High overarched embower." ||
Lay floating many a rood." ||
On Lemnos, the Ægean isle.” ||
" A thousand demigods on golden seats
Frequent and full." || After these two, but a long way after them, the most common are the Cæsura in the middle of the third foot (generally after the fifth syllable), and that in the middle of the fourth foot (generally after the seventh syllable): l...
“ shapes and forms,
Their great Commander.” ||
Confounded, though immortal.” || Considerably less frequent still is the Cæsura after the com. pleted fourth foot (generally the eighth syllable) ; and still more rare, though occasional, are the Cæsuras at the middle of the second foot (generally after the third syllable) and after the first completed foot (generally the second syllable) : —
“Anguish and doubt and fear and sorrow and pain
“for now the thought
" And now his heart
Glories : || for never since created Man." Very rare indeed is the Cæsura in the middle of the fifth foot (i.e. after what is generally the ninth syllable); but there are instances :
“ Were it a draught for Juno when she banquets,
I would not taste thy treasonous offer. || None
But such as are good men can give good things.” Hardly to be found at all is the Cæsura after the first syllable or in the middle of the first foot ; but this may pass as an instance :
“ The Ionian Gods, of Javan's issue held
Gods ; || yet confessed later than Heaven and Earth.”
RHYMES may either be Perfect or Imperfect ; and nearly the whole question as to Milton's practice in rhyming connects itself with this distinction :-I. PERFECT RHYME consists of the stated recurrence, at metrical intervals, of exactly the same vocal endings, whether vowel-sounds simply (e.g. go...blow, eye...cry), or vowel-sounds with consonantal additions completing the syllable (e.g. gold...bold... mould