As did his friend and fellow poet, James Wright, Kinnell began by writing poetry in traditional accentual-syllabic
lines, often with end-rhyme, but in time (as did Wright) he permitted himself to write in rhythmic free verse, influenced by Walt Whitman.
The last poems of the tradition appeared in late sixteenth-century Scotland, but Cornelius argues that commentators from that period, including King James VI, had arrived at a fundamental misconception of the system, which was based on their exposure to the emergent accentual-syllabic
Still less do I want to claim that versification, be it syllabic as in Moore or accentual-syllabic
as in Pound, is the outward code for an ideological position that is portable to other poets and other poems at other times.
His recent article demonstrates this system while also revealing how natural, in fact, is the tendency for English verse to vary the number of syllables between "beats" (that is, in a different terminology, to vary the number of slack or unstressed syllables in a line of English accentual-syllabic
One can always suspect that there is some prosodic principle lurking in free verse, the ghost of accentual-syllabic
meter, or ghosts of other, or nonce, metrical patterns waiting to be discovered (and unfreeing the verse in the process).
A specific memory of his teaching came back recently: Charles was demonstrating the difference between accentual-syllabic
meters and other kinds of accentual meters; he "scanned" the sprung-rhythm lines from Hopkins's "The Windhover." He kept turning to us and saying quietly in his Charles-ish way as he searched out the five beats: "You could do it this way ...
The latter is an almost metaphorical operation, one which concerns the level of enunciation and has one of its exemplary realizations in the series "fenomeni di fiera" ("carnival phenomena"; in Rive [Shores; Einaudi, 2001]), a Dantean gallery of transtelegenici, roadside spectacles immortalized in the varying sequence of hendecasyllabic verse lines as the "metrical cage, " and syllabotonic (or accentual-syllabic
) pronunciation that removes them from the indistinct chatter of that other, more literal frame for speech, the television.
It is not necessary for Halkin to claim, in a justification for his own use of accentual-syllabic
meters, that the medieval Hebrew poems exhibit regular patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables despite their deployment of ostensibly quantitative meters.
It is accentual rather than accentual-syllabic
, though there is quite a bit of not necessarily inadvertent iambic pentameter in most of them.
Historically, the contemporary poetry we teach tout corps depends upon Modernist "free verse," that separates the line break from the "music" of rhyme and accentual-syllabic
The standard 'accentual-syllabic
' settings of the English psalmody discussed in the first two chapters are set, in the third, beside contemporaneous quantitative experiments; and the influence of English psalmody on seventeenth-century devotional verse is surveyed in the fourth chapter.
The consequence of blundering down this garden path, as Bunting tells it, was the stifling of a rhythmically limber verbal music based on natural English stress patterns in the misbegotten pursuit of an artificial prosody contrived to ape classical measures and continental "numbers." Thus duped into hearing verse cadence "not as it was written, by the poet's ear, but by the inept notions of prosodists," poets striving to hew to the English metrical tradition have been trying to thrash their way out of the accentual-syllabic
briar patch ever since.