"The chief Lindsay poems," he asserts, "might be genealogically understood in terms of 'The Bells' and 'The Raven,' 'When Lilacs Last' and 'O Pioneers.' Poe is suggested by Lindsay's fondness for onomatopoeic effects and the more obvious phonetic devices (strongly marked rhythms, plentiful rhyme, alliteration); Whitman, by the search for an American myth, a democratic tradition made imaginative." (43) On the level of prosody, Warren argues persuasively that Lindsay's signature technical breakthrough involved the use of dipodic meter, which has its roots in popular balladry and nursery rhymes, and is related to public performance and emphatic sing-song rhythms (87-89).
Lindsay was, in fact, part of a "dipodic movement" whose adherents included Kipling and Masefield, and whose goal was to revitalize the poem and drastically expand its popular appeal.
At the same time that the stanza outlines the characteristics of an appropriate response, it also imposes upon itself a set of constraints--ababb rhyme, iambic rhythm, patterns of line length (four lines of tetrameter followed by a dipodic
line--a terminal abbreviation with effects comparable to those in "La Belle Dame sans Merci")--that artificially shape the language of the question.
The instability (or dipodic
force) of this line is in fact oddly sophisticated, an oscillation between two fused meters (stressed and syllabic, the one we hear and the one we see).
foot is one which is governed by a major, beating stress followed by a more or less flexible number (usually between zero and three) of unstressed syllables and another stressed syllable of secondary importance and prominence.
Building on Harold Whitehall's thesis, Edward Stephenson proposes that sprung rhythm is essentially dipodic
. (17) Yvor Winters describes it as a "variant on iambic pentameter," whereas Schneider considers it the progeny of the triple rhythms of the late nineteenth century.
Poets began to write more poems in triple and dipodic meters and to sprinkle extra syllables in the duple feet of iambic poems.
He cannot recognize that the Dylan Thomas poem he scans is syllabic, the Masefield one dipodic. When he runs against a line he cannot scan, his typical response is to suggest that the poet has been incompetent, instead of suspecting that his own ear may be faulty.