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.