Such pleasure took the serpent to behold.
The syllables 'Such' and 'to' occupy unstressed and stressed positions in the pentameter yet it is possible to judge their stress/ pitch values as equal; indeed, given the context of the line, it is possible to claim that the particular, in fact unique, form of pleasure felt by Satan in his contemplation of Eve promotes the syllable 'Such' to a level of emphasis above that of a number of subsequent syllables occupying stress positions.
Such a reading does not destroy the iambic pattern, since the immediate relation between low—high, unstress—stress is maintained, but it discloses the limitations of the foot system as a means of measuring the broader peaks and troughs of the rhythmic pattern. Moreover, it provides us with a more accurate means of classifying the relation between the cognitive (syntactic-rhetorical) pattern and its conventional counterpart (the iambic pentameter).
The legacy of Trager and Smith's model is vast and complex, and I shall attempt a very selective summary (see pp. 290-318 of Brogan's bibliography for a summary of texts, theories and controversies).
A symposium published in the Kenyon Review in 1956 represented the first attempt to implement a literary-linguistic programme based on Trager and Smith's observations. Seymour Chatman proposed an analytic technique founded upon the identification of two systems: the abstract, usually iambic, metrical pattern and the more contingent stress, pitch and pause variations of spoken language. His chief point is that the study and indeed the performance of a line should incorporate both. A succinct description of this thesis is provided by Roger Fowler in 'Structural Metrics' (1967):
Structual metrics could be said to be concerned with the reconciliation (through phonemics) of two extremes of analysis. On the one hand is the old belief in two fixed degrees of stress alternating with perfect regularity and uniformly disposed in time. At the other extreme is the instrumental revelation that each of the syllables in a line is realised differently by various complexes of intensity, pitch and length (p. 156).
The question exactly of how we might 'reconcile' the abstract with the actual pattern (Jakobson in his 1960 article named these phenomena, verse design and verse instance) became the central concern of linguistic metrists through the 1960s and 1970s.
Morris Halle and Samuel Keyser (1971) developed a system of 'correspondence rules' to chart the relation between the abstract pattern and variations caused by syntactic and lexical stress groupings, their objective being to establish the limits and flexibility of metricality and unmetricality, but the most celebrated and widely debated analytical system was proposed by Paul Kiparsky.
In two seminal essays (1975, 1977) Kiparsky adapted the techniques of transformational-generative syntax to account for the metrical structure of the line. To offer a very crude definition, transformational-generative syntax is employed to establish what is universal to all linguistic statements (the system-event model at its most specific and practical). We can start by identifying the abstract formula of NP and VP as the basic phrase structure of the sentence and go on to examine how different statements are generated from this structure. The transformational element of this technique allows us to show how we transform one syntactic structure into another (passive to active for example) in relation to these abstract models. The abstract model through which we chart and document different syntactic instances is generally termed the deep structure. What Kiparsky did was to show how the abstract deep structure of, say, the iambic pentameter can generate very different patterns of stress, pitch and pause. For instance the weak-strong abstract pattern of the following sequence (labelled beneath it) can be seen to anchor the more dominant lexical relation of strong-weak in each word (labelled above)
Kiparsky employed the so-called tree diagram of TG analysis to show how the immediate contiguous relation between strong and weak syllables could generate much broader patterns of stress and pause. The chief benefits of this system are that it grants us a broader overview of the line. Just as TG syntax show us that grammatical structure is not entirely determined by the relation between contiguous words, so Kiparsky's technique shows us that the traditional notation of unstress-stress cannot fully account for the complex pattern of the line.
But the self-imposed limitations of linguistic metrics can, I shall argue, outweigh its benefits.
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