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succeeded by the unusual arrangement of three single lines together, pairing three consecutive after them.
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
In some melodious plot,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.—KEATS.
In the following observe the forceful effect of the alliteration in the lines, already remarkable by being in a run different from the others; also observe the progressive lengthening out of the stanza onward.
*Ruin seize thee, ruthless King ! (trip)
Helm nor hauberk's twisted mail, (trip)
When the lines of an ode are very diversified in length, and there is great inequality between different stanzas, both in this respect and in the number of verses, it is customary to call the ode Pindaric, though irregular would be the much more appropriate term, for the arrangement followed by Pindar of set strophes and anti-strophes, whether observed or not, is utterly out of court in English.
The irregular ode is mostly written in stanzas varying from fourteen to twenty-eight lines, the rhymes arranged in any way thought fit, and between lines of length most different; indeed, irregularity in rhyming, as in other points, may be said to be the rule.
The next, however, though so very irregular, yet preserves the same form through every stanza.
Hear the sledges with the bells,
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
With a crystalline delight;
In a sort of Kunic rhyme
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells
Like as this piece indicates in its movement the chiming of bells, so does the following Milking Song,' or cow-call, the open monotonous note of a horn appropriate :
"Cusha! Cusha! Cusha!' calling,
For the dews will soon be falling ;
From the clovers lift your
Jetty, to the milking shed.'--JEAN INGELOW.
This poem begins thus irregularly, and then merges into lines of four-feet trip and march interchangeable, in which it continues to the end :
Hence, loathed Melancholy,
In Stygian cave forlorn,
Find out some uncouth cell,
And the night-raven sings ;
As ragyed as thy locks,
But come, thou goddess fair and free,
ODE TO THE PASSIONS.
The body of this poem is of the nature of the piece subjoined, but it has a fore and after stanza of almost regular four-feet:
But thou, O Hope, with eyes so fair,
What was thy delighted measure ?
Still it whispered promised pleasure,
Still would her touch the strain prolong,
And when her sweetest theme she chose,
A soft responsive voice was heard at every close,
Revenge impatient rose :
And, with a withering look,
The war-denouncing trumpet took,
And ever and anon he beat
The doubling drum with furious heat;
Dejected Pity at his side, &c.—COLLINS.
ALEXANDER'S FEAST. This, the most varied and the most elevated of all odes, should by rights be quoted in full, deserving of study as it is throughout, and more illustrative in the changeful variety of its metre than any other; but less must suffice.
'Twas at the royal feast, for Persia won
By Philip's warlike son:
On his imperial throne.
So should desert in arms be crowned.
Happy, happy, happy pair!
None but the brave,
None but the brave,
Now strike the golden lyre again :
Break his bands of sleep asunder,
Hark, hark! the horrid sound
As awaked from the dead,
See the Furies arise,
How they hiss in their hair.
Behold a ghastly band,
Each a torch in his hand;
And unburied remain,
To the valiant crew :
How they point to the Persian abodes,
The princes applaud with a furious joy,
Thaïs led the way
To light him to his prey,
And, like another Helen, fired another Troy.—DRYDEN. In no ode in the whole language is the change of numbers so well and dexterously managed as in this, the entire gamut of quick and slow feet being run together without the least hitch or strain.
Where, as here, irregular stanzas affect to abandon their own control to impulse, it is not too much to expect that the variations of tone employed should, as in this specimen, show sufficient poetic cause, the movement being put under exclusive control of the sense.