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of verse ; and the addition of an accented syllable to the normal line would destroy any known mea­sure. Hypermetrical syllables should not occur often in serious poems, because the unaccented terminations have the lightness of the trochee and dactyl, which are unsuitable to pieces of a grave character. The drama, which claims greater liberty than any other form of composition, uses them more freely.
The introduction of trisyllabic feet in iambic mea­sure is one of the favourite bones of contention with writers on versification, and much ingenuity and learning have been wasted on the matter. It is an undoubted fact that extra unaccented syllables are freely introduced by our standard poets into the body of iambic verse, and whether we attempt to deal with them as troublesome interlopers, or accept them in a friendly spirit as forming metrical feet of another kind, seems to us a mere verbal question of very little importance. Dr. Abbott takes the former view, which he elaborates in his "Shaksperean Grammar," 452—515, and in the "English Lessons for English People," 97—150 ; Mr. J. B. Mason, in his "Chapters on English Verse," takes the latter, and to us the more reasonable one. His summing up of the question leaves little more to be said. "Dactyls and Anapests being recognised feet, it is better to use them where they will serve to explain the metre of a verse, than to have recourse to extra metrical syllables, a licence which, except at the end of a line, is now unknown and not recognised by all,
even in Shakspere."

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