In the bravura array of "new poems," we find monorhyme, haiku, a fugue, paragraphs (a form invented by Hayden Carruth, to whom this poem is addressed), three sets of sapphics, two sets of renga composed with Deema Shahabi, four sestinas, alcaics
for her daughter's wedding, a double sonnet, the crown of sonnets, four scrupulously perfect ghazals, and the stanza (pentameter aaba) used by Edward Fitzgerald when he translated "The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam." Look anywhere in this book and find treasure.
(32) He once boasted, "I have no doubt that an old Greek if he knew our language would admit my Alcaics
as legitimate." I call attention here to this egg-headed rectitude of Tennyson the quantity wonk, only to explore how he exceeds it in the same remark.
Graves's novel King Jesus (1946) and translation of The Song of Songs (1973) are obvious later examples, but even by July 1916 his writings include "In the Wilderness"--a poem referring both to Jesus' temptation in the desert and the story of the scapegoat from Leviticus--as well as casual mentions of Psalm 23 (in "Big Words"), Noah's ark (in "Alcaics
Addressed to My Study Fauna"), and even the obscure story of Jephthah's daughter from Judges (Letters 29).
The authors come from several countries-Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Finland-and demonstrate control of an impressive variety of poetic forms, ranging from alcaics
and elegiac couplets to hymns and odes.
Holderlin used Sapphics once, in' Unter den Alpen gesungen', in a modified form which emphasizes the Adonic element as against Klopstock and (especially) Sappho; and he began the ode 'Thinen', which in manuscript has the title 'Sapphos Schwanengesang', in the same modified form before writing out the classical metrical scheme and then abandoning Sapphics altogether for Alcaics
. Menninghaus suggests that the free verse of 'Halfte des Lebens', like 'Thranen' first published as one of the Nachtgesange, can be read as a medley of Sapphic and Alcaic
which, in the manner of our Flaccus or of the Greek Pindar, now flows in iambs, now rings with Alcaics
, swells to a Sapphic measure or moves along with a half-foot?" (61) Jerome's authority may lie behind Isaac Watts remark accompanying his own translation of Psalm 137, that "Had Horace or Pindar written this Ode, it would have been the endless Admiration of the Critick, and the perpetual Labour of Rival Translators." (62) But the connection between psalms and odes may be more basic.
The quatrains that answer to Horace's Alcaics
have the proper formality of fine verse, not the traditional formality of English poetry but a new formality based on stress count, normally five to a line, rather than syllabic count.
Dorian outlines some general parallels:(2) both are in alcaics
- which may indeed be significant since this is the only instance of Milton's use of that metre; both contain the theme that the Parcae (only one in Milton) and Death abduct their victim without regard for his rank or skills.
Hacker: And after all - two of the spicier poems in my new book, Winter Numbers, are in sapphics and alcaics
He had to write a copy of Alcaics
on 'The dogs of the monks of St Bernard,' and when the exercise was returned to him he found the Doctor had written on it: 'In this copy of Alcaics
- which is still excessively bad - I fancy that I can discern some faint symptoms of improvement.' Ernest says that if the exercise was any better than usual it must have been by a fluke, for he is sure that he always liked dogs, especially St Bernard dogs, far too much to take any pleasure in writing Alcaics
were adapted to English and French verse during the Renaissance and later appeared in works such as Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "Milton."
Macaulay's objection is entirely based on ~impurity' of language, and he does not invoke any more metaphysical considerations, such as Herder's doctrine that each natural language embodied the profoundest experiences of the nation which spoke it.(28) Macaulay was prepared, indeed, to grant neo-Latin verse its own merits, outside ~the first order': ~does it follow, because we think thus, that we can find nothing to admire in the noble alcaics
of Gray, or in the playful elegies of Vincent Bourne?