Sunday, May 06, 2012

Spondaic Clouds

The English Metres
by Alice Meynell


The rooted liberty of flowers in breeze
Is theirs, by national luck impulsive, terse,
Tethered, uncaptured, rules obeyed “at ease,”
Time-strengthened laws of verse.

Or they are like our seasons that admit
Inflexion, not infraction: Autumn hoar,
Winter more tender than our thoughts of it,
But a year’s steadfast four;

Redundant syllables of Summer rain,
And displaced accents of authentic Spring;
Spondaic clouds above a gusty plain
With dactyls on the wing.

Not Common Law, but Equity, is theirs—
Our metres; play and agile foot askance,
And distant, beckoning, blithely rhyming pairs,
Unknown to classic France;

Unknown to Italy. Ay, count, collate,
Latins! with eye foreseeing on the time,
And numbered fingers, and approaching fate
On the appropriate rhyme.

Nay, nobly our grave measures are decreed:
Heroic, Alexandrine with the stay,
Deliberate; or else like him whose speed
Did outrun Peter, urgent in the break of day.

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