15 nov. 2006

Ok. This will be my last post on prosody for a while. (Well, at least until later this afternoon or tomorrow morning.)

I think the situation in Spanish is even worse, in the sense that critics take a purely mechanical view of the subject, when they consider it at all. It's not that the mechanics are not interesting in themselves. They are, if you happen to be a prosody geek like me and seven other people in the world. The problem is that there have only been baby steps beyond that point.

The Spanish poet Carlos Piera is also a theoretical linguist and has some very nice articles on intonation and line-ending, which he was kind enough to send me. (For some reason he wrote them in English, which is nice for other linguists that might not know Spanish, but also means they won't have as much impact within Spain.} He has inspired me to write my article on the verse-paragraph. The idea has been rattling around my head for a while, and I'm ready to go with it now.

The idea is a very simple one: look at the verse beyond the level of the individual line of poetry. It seems astonishing that this has not been done (for Spanish.) Even in English only Richard Cureton really has developed a phrasal theory that also incorporates metrics. Needless to say Rhythmic Phrasing in English Verse is my libro de cabecera. I don't know how many times I have checked that book out of the library.

There are 4 main possibilities for verse construction, in order of complexity.

1 (Mostly) end-stopped lines of the same length.
2 Lines of the same length, with frequent enjambment
3 Lines of unequal length, mostly end-stopped.
4 Lines of unequal length, with frequent enjambment
[5 = prose?]

So there are three variables: the metrical line, the intonational phrase, and the visual line ending. We can study the correspondence between the metrical line and the intonational phrase (in 1 and 2) without even taking into account line endings as a visual convention. Even in the case of (3) we don't really need line endings. We can just use punctuation! So only in (4) does the line ending really come into play--as more than a marker of what's already present in the implicit phonology of the text. We want to mark our lines in (2) in order to visually mark the syncopation between lines and phrases. In the case of (4), we need to enjambment because otherwise, it would be the same as (3).

Even the rhythmic structure of (1) could be incredibly complex, taking into account all the relevant factors. In fact, there is a certain "embarrassment of riches" or "law of diminishing returns" in (4), that ends up reducing complexity. Prose, after all, is more rhythmically complex, by this measure, but also less rhythmically interesting. My hypothesis is that (4) is the most interesting when it approaches the condition of (2) while also drawing on the resources of (3).

10 comentarios:

Tony dijo...

"linguists that" or "lingquists who"?

in Spanish, yes, but in English?

Tony dijo...

that, should read, of course, "linguists who"

WV: "fippo"

Jordan dijo...

Hope you'll go on to speak to the rhythmic effects of varying the lengths of stanzas (see Rae Armantrout, etc).

Jonathan dijo...

Yes, actually you can use use "that" with people in English in restrictive clauses. It's pretty common, actually, and has been for many centuries. Look here if you don't want to take my word for it.

That's in the category of "lies your English teacher told you."

Jonathan dijo...

Yes, Rae is good at that.

Tony dijo...

Hm....I guess Prof. Mayhew is right! That doesn't mean I agree....

Joseph Duemer dijo...

Hayden Carruth invented a long stanza he called the "paragraph." I forget at the moment where he describes the details, but they're fairly complex. I'll look it up & send you the reference.

Jonathan dijo...

I don't know about Hayden Carruth. I somehow doubt it's really what I'm talking about here.

Tony dijo...

i think the paragraph is simply a 15 line poem. a sonnet variation that pays no attention to rhyme or meter.

michael dijo...

in the "snowflake", perhaps the most fruitful of my syllabistic experiments, one must use the full set of five line-length possibilities (3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 syllables--in any order), before repeating the cycle. this is not unlike a Schoenbergian tone-row, in practice; & invariably produces your type-4 versification. i have been using it so long, now, that it is same-length lineation that seems artificial to me.