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written the great poems of the world, the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey" of Homer, and the "Æneid” of Vergil. The line is divided into six feet, and each foot, except the last, contains one accented syllable followed by two unaccented ones -a syllable in English meaning any combination of letters pronounced with one effort of the voice. The last foot contains an accented syllable followed by an unaccented one. Such a line is marked in this way:
each of these divisions being a foot and the accent falling always upon the first syllable of the foot.
The following line 13 from the poem is an example of a perfect line of this sort:
Writ-ing with dil-i-gent | speed at a ta-ble of pine by the win-dow.
In scanning such a line, that is, in reading it metrically or according to the metre, it is plain that in words of more than one syllable the accent must fall upon the syllable on which it would properly fall in prose. If it happens otherwise, it is evident that the scanning is incorrect. But in every poem of this kind, the two unaccented syllables may be replaced by a syllable having almost the same stress of the voice as the accented one. If this were not allowed, such a poem
would be very monotonous.
But this substitution,
occurring now in one foot and now in another, gives an agreeable variety. As in the following:
Yon-der there on the hill by the sea lies bur-ied Rose
Beau-ti-ful Rose of love that bloomed for
me by the
Scanning is intended to help one to appreciate the melody and rhythm of a poem. It has another practical use, however. Through the accent in scanning, one is often helped in the pronunciation of a difficult word. For instance, in line 9 occurs the word "Arabic,” which is often mispronounced. By scanning the line thus:
Curved at the point and in- |-scribed with its | mys-ti-cal
the correct pronunciation is easily seen.
A like service is rendered in the case of the last word of line 28, which is an unfamiliar one. By scanning the line:
Fired point--blank at my heart by a Span-ish |ár-ca
one sees at once how to pronounce it.
The pupil should not be allowed to pass over any word of even doubtful meaning without looking it up in the dictionary. All such words have been purposely omitted from the notes in order to give the pupil this practice with the dictionary. He should gain the power to select readily, from several definitions of a word, the particular one required by the text. For instance, in line 303 occurs the word "yard." It has three definitions: a measure, a plot of ground which is enclosed, and a part of a vessel. It is important that he should gain some ease in telling quickly which one the sense demands.
If the pupil has gone far enough in his study of rhetoric to distinguish figures, he will find this poem, "The Courtship of Miles Standish," a very good one in which to apply his knowledge. But the main emphasis can be, it seems to me, most profitably laid upon his work with the Bible and the dictionary. When he has finished the poem, he ought to have a very fair knowledge of how to use both these books, even if he has had no previous practice of the kind.