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24                               ORTHOMETRY.
no bearing upon our versification. It is an impor­tant aid to metrical perfection, and is sedulously cultivated by all our poets as an embellishment, though not as the foundation of rhythm. Verses in which the proportion of long syllables in the accented parts of the feet predominate, produce quite a different melody from others in which short syllables obtain. The following extracts from Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso admirably illustrate this.
(i) Long quantity predominant—
Come, pensive Nun, devout and pure, Sober, steadfast, and demure ; All in a robe of darkest grain, Flowing with majestic train, And sable stole of Cyprus lawn Over thy decent shoulders drawn.
(ii) Short quantity predominant—
Hast thee, nymph, and bring with thee
Jest and youthful jollity.
                                                 
Sport that wrinkled Care derides,
And laughter, holding both his sides.
Come and trip it as you go
On the light fantastic toe.
And in thy right hand lead with thee
The mountain nymph, sweet Liberty.
We see then that syllables have a fourfold difference; some are long, either accented, as,






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III