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When Chaucer began to reform our versification, and introduced the regular rhythmic flow of accented syllables and the new element of rhyme, alliteration ceased to be an essential to English verse, but it has always retained its hold as an aid and embellishment to ks melody. The Elizabethan poets evinced a marked fondness for its " artful aid," and used it with great taste and skill, as for example:
Sitting by a river's side, Where a silent stream did glide, Muse I did of many things That the mind in quiet brings.
Repining courage yields No foot to foe : the flashing fire flies As from a forge.
In the fashionable craze called Euphuism* of Queen Elizabeth's reign, alliteration was carried to a ridiculous excess, which furnished occasion for
* Ephuism takes its name from Euphies, or the Anatomy of Wit by Joho Lily, a minor dramatist of Elizabeth's reign (1554-1600). It was written in a ridiculously ornate style, abounding in conceits, classical allusions, forced antitheses, and alliterations. It took the popular fancy of the time, and became much in vogue with the wits and dandies of Elizabeth's Court. Sir Walter Scott parodies its use in the Monastery in the person of Sir Percie Shafton ; here is an example:
" And now having wished to my fairest Discretion those pleasant
dreams which wave their pinions around the couch of sleeping
beauty, and to this comely damsel the beauties of Morpheus, and to
all others the common good night, I will crave your leave to depart
to my place of rest."
Euphuism should not be confounded with Euphemism, which is an
expression in which the offensiveness of a thought is somewhat hidden:
e.g., " He has gone to that other world which is not heaven."