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modern. It admits into its composition a free use of at least five different kinds of feet, whereas in the most commonly used classical measure, the hexameter, only two kinds, dactyls and spondees, find place. The simplicity of its structure, and the almost infinite variety of rhythmic effect of which it is capable, render it the noblest vehicle of poetic expression which the melodic instincts of mankind have conceived. Each great poet that has employed it to any extent has given to it a distinctive character, which even an untrained ear would readily detect. Read aloud, for instance, a passage from Wordsworth's Excursion, or Cowper's Task, and follow it by a full-mouthed piece from Milton, and then by some verses of Shakspere's, free and mellifluent as a summer breeze ; the marked contrast in the rhythmic flow is unmistakable.
The chief licences allowable in standard blank verse have already been enumerated and illustrated, p. 122, but it will be as well here, for the sake of completeness, to recapitulate and supplement what has there been said.
may take the place of an iambus in any part of the line, though rarely in the fifth foot; two, and (very rarely) three, such substitutions may occur in the same verse, but then the approach to prose is dangerously close.
may also find place in any part of the line, though the metrical accent is only