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256                             ORTHOMETR
roundings, and the elevating influences of religion. Metrical versions of Biblical narratives began to take the place of descriptions of strife and blood­shed, and improvements in the form as well as in the matter of the verses gradually become percept­ible.
The structure of Anglo-Saxon verse is peculiar. Each line is broken up into two short sections by a pause, and contains four accented syllables, the number of the unaccented ones not being counted at first. The two half-verses are connected together by alliteration, the same inititial sound occurring in two emphatic words of the first half, and in one in the second half. There is a marked rhythm, there­fore, which rings out, as has been said, " like the sharp blows of a hammer upon an anvil." Metaphor and striking compounds are freely used, and there is a good deal of that parallelism which is so marked a feature in Hebrew poetry, in which the thought in the first case is repeated in the second with slight modification. Gradually we find one or two addi­tional accented syllables introduced, and the unac­cented ones arranged with greater regularity, and occasionally towards the end of the period the verses are made to rhyme together. This is the form of Anglo-Saxon and Early English verse from the sixth to the fourteenth century, and even later ; for although the influence of the French Trouveres is discernible in the poetry of the thirteenth century, all the peculiarities of the old verse are preserved in Piers the Plmvmaris Vision, written by Lang-lande as late as 1362. In the following extract






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