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POETIC LICENCES.                          115
ceive the change ; such is the force of custom and imagination to debauch the ear, that it does not know when one and one syllable make two."*
Here we must introduce the consideration of the hiatus in verse, which has occupied the attention of writers on versification beyond its due importance. By it is meant the occurrence of a final vowel fol­lowed immediately by the initial vowel of another word without the suppression or elision of either by an apostrophe. It is admitted on all hands to be a fault, and though by some writers it is declared to be absolutely inadmissible into our verse, as it is in Italian, yet it is to be found in the works of all our poets. Perhaps the truth lies in regarding it as unavoidable, and the remedy in minimising its occurrence as much as possible. Pope exemplifies it in the line :
Tho' oft the ear the open vowels tire.
" Essay on Criticism"
The vowels which he calls open are those that stand one at the end of a word, and the other at the beginning of the next, without any consonant between them. When vowels so meet they cause in the pronunciation a gaping, called after the Latin, an hiatus, which offends the ear in prose as well as in verse.
Two of our own poets, most celebrated for their skill in versification, viz. Pope and Dryden, have repeatedly spoken of the hiatus as a fault; but, as
• Tucker's " Treatise on Vocal Sounds."






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