'Peter Peter pumpkin-eater' on the other hand has only trailing syllables, and illustrates the even rhythm of (2).
Such obvious repetitions of the same rhythmic pattern arc rarely found in serious poetry, where subtler effects are obtained from the various possibilities of slight rhythmic variation. However, it is interesting to sec how the movement of the following brief elegy hinges on a contrast between the rhythms illustrated by (1) and (2):
Winifred Nowottny, in her detailed analysis of this poem,11 observes that for all its apparent simplicity, it generates a remarkable intensity of feeling; a power which 'comes from the sudden reversal of attitude that occurs at the word "Death", the violent explosion of life, passion, compliment, and affirmation'. She also notes the importance of the rhythm in achieving this effect; how the turning point at the beginning of the fourth line is marked by a change in rhythmic movement, as if the poet were fighting against the weight of the tomb, as expressed by the solemn elegiac movement of the first three lines.
This rhythmic volte-face, on examination, proves to be a change from the predominance of trailing syllables in the first three lines (particularly of the third line, which has the exact rhythm of (2) on Page 109) to a virtual monopoly of leading syllables in the last three lines. In terms of effect, it is a change from the smooth funereal 'slow-march' of the first half to the jerky, animated rhythm of the second half of the poem.
Whilst the time factor is relatively constant from one measure to the next, we see that latitude in the length of syllables within the measure provides scope for the poet to enrich the emotive range of his poetry.
Underneath this sable hearse Lies the subject of all verse: Sydney's sister, Pembroke's mother: Death, ere thou hast slain another, Fair and learn'd, and good as she, Time shall throw a ddrt at thee.
[attrib. William Browne, Elegy on the Countess of Pembroke]
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