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POETIC LICENCES.
In this chapter we are called upon to deal with all the departures from normal exactitude of which writers of verse avail themselves. We shall find that it is not so much an enquiry into the nature and extent of the liberty the poet is allowed, as of the kind and amount he thinks fit to take. Verse-making preceded prosodial laws, as speech and writing existed before the rules of grammar were drawn up. The poet presents us with the verses he has framed to his own sweet will, and all that is left to prosaic mortals is to approve or condemn them. The restrictions and difficulties that the artist, whose material is words, has to contend with are at once so embarrassing and unavoidable, that what are called licences would be more truly desig­nated necessities. The versifier is expected to conform to strict grammatical rule; he has to manipulate sounds and their symbols which bristle with irregularities and difficulties of many kinds, and yet he must produce melody which is pleasing and varied. To accomplish all this he is compelled to become, in a sense, a law unto himself, and therefore he makes no scruple in surmounting obstacles to trespass the boundaries laid down for ordinary observance.