|Share page||Visit Us On FB|
CLASSICAL METRES. 265
will be seen later on. An hexameter verse consists of six feet, dactyls and spondees intermixed, and no others; the number of syllables varies from seventeen to thirteen, and the beats are six, though one may be weak. A Latin word may have two, three, or four consecutive long syllables, whereas English words have very rarely more than one syllable accented. It is therefore a difficult thing to construct a succession of perfect hexameter lines of English words without the skilful use of monosyllables. And when lines so constructed are read aloud all trace of quantity disappears, and the metrical accent is given to such of the long syllables as subserve the rhythmic effect, i.e. the spondees are turned into iambs or trochees at will.
Of our modern poets Cowper and Southey were the first to experiment with the Classic metres— of course on the basis of accent, not quantity—and Coleridge, Arnold, Whewell, and Tennyson have amused themselves by making English hexameters and pentameters. Kingsley's Andromeda, a poem of some five hundred lines, is in hexameters, and so are Longfellow's Evangeline, and Courtship of Miles Standish. Evangeline is the only really successful production of the kind. Dr. Whewell has translated some of Schiller's poems into Elegiacs, in imitation of Ovid, and Longfellow has framed original verses in the same measure. Cowper, Southey, and Canning have imitated Horace's Sapphics, while Tennyson has tried his hand upon Alcaics and Hendecasyllabics. It would be well,