His chief work was a poem, "Chiliades", in accentual
verse of nearly 13,000 lines.
Together with Sidney, who was Leicester's nephew, he was for a while a member of a little group of students who called themselves 'The Areopagus' and who, like occasional other experimenters of the later Renaissance period, attempted to make over English versification by substituting for rime and accentual
meter the Greek and Latin system based on exact quantity of syllables.
Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley declared: "The notion of an accentual
spondee (or 'level' foot) in English would seem to be illusory, for the reason that it is impossible to pronounce any two successive syllables in English without some rise or fall of stress" (594).
The four most common forms of versification are quantitative verse, which is the system of classical Greek and Latin poetry; syllabic verse, used in Romance languages and Japanese; accentual
verse, which is used mainly in Germanic poetry, including Old English and Old Norse; and ACCENTUAL-SYLLABIC verse, which is considered the traditional prosody of English literature as it dominated that poetry from the 16th to the 19th century and is still commonly used.
Laying aside the Tennysonian musical regularity and poetic diction popular in his time, Clough developed the unusual meter of the accentual
The first is his argument that all English meter is accentual-syllabic, and that quantitative, purely syllabic, or purely accentual
prosodies are not valid descriptions of English meter.
Whereas the meter of modern accentual
prosody is based on the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a verse, the meter of classical, or quantitative, verse was determined by the pattern of long and short syllables.
There does indeed seem to be a "passionate stretch" in that line, as if the energy of the syllables and the syntax was pushing against all boundaries, whether accentual
or musical, and firing up for "lawlessness."
In this system, both the number of syllables and the order of stressed and unstressed syllables in a verse line is fixed (in contrast to the "accentual
" system, for instance, in which only the number of stressed syllables in a verse line is fixed).
Both musical and acoustic scansion, which are highly complex systems, afford greater sensitivity than graphic scansion to the tonal and accentual
variety of speech.
Traditional English prosody has usually described these patterns in terms borrowed from ancient poetry written in quantitative meters, which are very different from the accentual
or strong-stress meters common in English verse.
sprung rhythm A poetic rhythm designed to approximate the natural rhythm of speech and characterized by the frequent juxtaposition of single accented syllables and the occurrence of mixed types of feet (such as the accentual
trochee, dactyl, and first paeon) whose sequence is broken or interrupted by outrides (unstressed syllables that are not counted in the scansion).