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On the Grasshopper and Cricket

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The Raven

The Ancient Mariner

The fair bre-eze blew, the white foam flew,

The furrow followed free;

We were the first that ever burst

Into that silent sea.

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,

'Twas sad as sad could be;

And we did speak only to break

The silence of the sea!... (S. Coleridge)

...Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood

there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal

ever dared to dream before; But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness

gave no token, And the only word there spoken was the whispered

word "Lenore"! This I whispered and an echo murmured back

the word "Lenore". Merely this; and nothing more.... (Edgar Allan Рое)

By the Lyric we usually mean a short poem like a song which is usually the expression of a mood or feeling.

— Music, when soft voices die,

Vibrates in the memory —

Odours, when sweet violets sicken,

Live within the sense they quicken.

Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,

Are heaped for the beloved's bed;

And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,

Love itself shall slumber on. (P£. Shelley)

A Sonnet is a poem of fourteen lines which follows a very strict rhythm pattern. Sonnets tend to be difficult because a great deal of meaning is often conveyed in a few lines.

The poetry of earth is never dead

When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,

And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run

From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;

That is the grasshopper's — he takes the lead

In summer luxury — he has never done

With his delights; for when tired out with fun

He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.

The poetry of earth is ceasing never:

On a lone winter evening, when the frost

Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills

The cricket's song, in warmth increasing ever,

And seems to one in drowsiness half-lost,

The grasshopper's among some grassy hills. (J.Keats)


In verse the similarity of rhythmical units is certainly strengthened by the metre, which is some strict number and sequence of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line. Strict alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables in metric versification allows us to regard a syllable as the minimal rhythmic unit in metric verse. Then again comes a rhythmic group, an intonation group, a line, a stanza. They all form the hierarchy of rhythmic units in poetry. English verse is marked by a descending bow-shaped melody contour, decentralized stress organization. The strict recurrence of such intonation patterns secures a stable periodicity in verse rhythm. The basic rhythm unit in verse, however, is a line. On the prosodic level the rhythm in a line is secured by the similar number of syllables, their temporal similarity, descending melody contour, tone and intensity maximum at the beginning, tone and intensity minimum at the end and the final pause. These parameters make the line a stable rhythmic unit.

It should be claimed here that the great effect produced on us by poetic rhythm is not created by the prosody alone. The delight we get when reading poetry often comes from its musical qualities, or from the striking way a poet uses words. But this can only be a partial explanation, for poetry does not follow hard and fast rules; every poem is unique and has special qualities of its own as you could make sure yourself. Some of these, however, are properties common to all poetry. They are structural, semantic and sound devices which help the poet to fulfil his intentions and strengthen the prosodic means of rhythmicali-ty. As we have already mentioned in the analysis of the stylistic devices that follows the examples have been drawn from the poems illustrating the types of poetry given above.

We shall naturally start with the phonetic devices to see how they help the impression of rhythmicality. They add considerably to the musical quality a poem has when it is read aloud.

1. First and foremost among the sound devices is the rhyme
at line endings. Most skilful rhyming is sometimes presented by
internal rhyme with two rhyming words within a single line, e.g.

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,

The furrow followed free',

We were the first that ever burst

Into that silent sea. (S. Coleridge. The Ancient Mariner)

Edgar Рое also uses internal rhyming in the poem "The Raven" in every first and third line of each stanza: peeringfearing; unbroken—no token; shutter—nutter; make he—stayed he.

2. Assonance occurs when a poet introduces imperfect rhymes often employed deliberately to avoid the jingling sound of a too insistent rhyme pattern, e.g. "stone" is made to rhyme with "one" by W.Wordsworth in "Lucy"; "youth" is rhymed with "roof by E.Bronte in "Mild the Mists Upon the Hill".

In this way the rhymes do not fall into a sing-song pattern and the lines flow easily.

3. Alliterationis the repetition of the same sound at frequent
intervals, e.g.

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,

The furrow followed free. (S. Coleridge. The Ancient Mariner)

The repeated "b's" and "f s" here make the lines run quickly and give the impression of a ship travelling at high speed. Or:

Open here I flung the shutter and with many a flirt and flutter...

The same impression of quickness is created by the repetition of the "f' sound. Also:

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood

there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever

dared to dream before. (E. Рое. The Raven)

The repetition of the "d" sound suggests both monotony and immobility.

4. Sound symbolism(imitation of the sounds of animals)
makes the description very vivid. An example of sound symbol
ism is found in Shakespeare's verse "Winter", e.g.

Then nightly sings the staring owl,

Tu-who Tu-whit, to-who — a merry note...

Structural or syntactical stylistic devicesindicate the way the whole poem has been built, thus helping the rhythm to fulfil its constitutive function.

1. Repetition.Poets often repeat single lines or words at intervals to emphasize a particular idea. Repetition is to be found •in poetry which is aiming at special musical effects or when a poet wants us to pay very close attention to something, e.g.

Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, everywhere

Nor any drop to drink. (S. Coleridge. The Ancient Mariner

Also the repetition of the last words of each stanza in the poem "The Raven" by E. Рое.

2. Syntactical parallelismhelps to increase rhythmicality, e.g.

...Perched above my chamber door

Perched upon a bust of Pallas. (E. Рое. The Raven)


The poetry of earth is never dead... ...The poetry of earth is ceasing never...

(J. Keats. On the Grasshopper and Cricket)

3. Inversion,the unusual word order specially chosen to em
phasize the logical centre of the phrase, e.g.

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down.

(S. Coleridge. The Ancient Mariner)


Open here I flung the shutter... Not the least obeisance made he Not an instant stopped or stayed he.

(E. Рое. The Raven)

4. Polysyndetonis a syntactical stylistic device which actual
ly stimulates rhythmicality of a poem by the 'repetition of phras
es or intonation groups beginning with the same conjunctions
"and" or "or", e.g.

When icicles hang by the wall, And Dick the shepherd blows his nail, And Torn bears logs into the hall, And milk comes frozen home in pail, When blood is nipp'd, and ways be foul...

(W. Shakespeare. Winter)

Semantic stylistic devicesimpart high artistic and aesthetic value to any work of art including poetry.

1. Simileis a direct comparison which can be recognized by the use of the words, "like" and "as". The most striking example of simile is found in the lines:

Day after day, day after day,

We stuck; nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.

By relating the real ship to a painted one S.Coleridge enables us to imagine just how still the ship was.

In the poem "Lucy" W.Wordsworth compares the girl to a star:

Fair as a star, when only one Is shining in the sky.

2. Metaphoris a stylistic figure of speech which is rather like
simile, except that the comparison is not direct but implied and
that makes the effect more striking.

In the poem "Lucy" W.Wordsworth does not say that the girl was like a violet. He writes:

A violet by a mossy stone Half hidden from the eye.

Lucy in these lines is a violet. The metaphor vividly represents a girl of rare beauty who lived unknown. In his sonnet "On the Grasshopper and Cricket" J.Keats uses the words "poetry" and "luxury" metaphorically:

The poetry of earth is never dead...

That is the grasshopper's — he takes the lead

In summer luxury.

3. Intensificationis a special choice of words to show the in
crease of feelings, emotions or actions, e.g.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there

wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared

to dream before... (E.Poe. The Raven)

4. Personificationoccurs when inanimate objects are given a
human form or human feelings or actions, e.g.

...the>day has wept its fill...

(E. Bronte. The Mild Mists Upon the Hills)

...the rose is dead; ...soft voices die;

Love itself shall slumber on. (P. Shelley. To — )

...and an echo murmured back the word "Lenore"!

(E Рое. The Raven)

We dp not aim at analysing all the numerous stylistic devic-es known in poetry but tried to demonstrate the effect of rhythm created by the surprising unity of the semantic, syntactic and phonetic means. Summarizing we can say that poetic rhythm is a complex system with the hierarchical organization of its units arranged by prosody as well as lexical and syntactical means.

Our further point should concern prose.We would like to start with a fairy-tale which is nearest to poetry and could be considered an intermediate stage between poetry and prose as it is famous for its obvious rhythmicality and poetic beauty, e.g.

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there lived an Emperor who loved to wear new clothes. Every spare wardrobe in his palace was packed from ceiling to floor with gorgeous waist-cdats, tunics, and capes (The Emperor's New Clothes).

A fairy-tale has a specific manner of oral presentation, different from any other sort of text. The reading of a fairy-tale produces a very strong impression on the listener. The prosodic organization of a fairy-tale creates the effect of euphony which implies sound harmony, melodiousness, measured steps of epic character of phonation. The most functional features of euphony are rhythmicality and the melody component of intonation.

The rhythm of a fairy-tale is created by the alternations of commensurate tone, loudness and tempo characteristics of intonation (70). Intonation groups are marked by similarity of tone contour and tempo in the head and the nuclear tone. Rhythmicality is often traced in alternations of greater and smaller syllable durations.

The fairy-tale narration is marked by the descending or level tone contour in the head of intonation groups and specific compound nuclear tones: level-falling, level-rising, falling-level, rising-level. The level segment of nuclear tones adds to the effect of slowing down the fairy-tale narration and its melodiousness.

We would like to mention right here that the reading or reciting of a fairy-tale is not utterly monotonous. Alongside with the even measured flow of fairy-tale narration we find contras-tive data in prosodic parameters which help to create vivid images of fairy-tale characters and their actions. For example, with respect to medium parameters high/low pitch level is predominant in describing the size of a fairy-tale character (huge bear little bear); fast/slow tempo strengthens the effect of fast or slow

movements and other actions. Splashes of tone on such words of intensification as: all, so, such, just, very make for attracting the listener's attention. Deliberately strict rhythm serves as a means of creating the image of action dynamism so typical of fairy-tales.

It is interesting to note that though the prosodic arrangement of English and Russian fairy-tales is universal some differences are traced in their rhythmic and pitch characteristics. In an English fairy-tale the nuclear segment is characterized by the level tone. In the Russian fairy-tale the pre-nuclear segment has the level contour. The discrepancy in the mechanism of rhythm constituents is observed mainly in the temporal characteristics of intonation. As we have already said fairy-tale rhythm in English is created by the alternations of contrastive maximum and minimum syllable durations. In Russian relatively equal syllable duration is typical of fairy-tale rhythm. The following table clearly illustrates the difference:

Due to its rhythmicality the English fairy-tale becomes an expedient material for teaching practice. A highly rhythmical fairytale text could be of great help in developing the habits of expressive reading and speaking. The reading of a fairy-tale should be anticipated by the analysis of its topic and composition as well as lexical and structural means of expressiveness in it. In the process of working at a fairy-tale text the listener's attention should be attracted to the stylistic effect of rhythm in it.

Now we shall turn to other types of prosaic text. We have already mentioned the oral text units which form the hierarchy of rhythm structure in prose. We are going to describe their prosodic characteristics which make them rhythmic units. As we have already said the basic rhythmic unit is a rhythmic group. It is char acterized by one stressed syllable with one-three unstressed syllables attached to it. The regular recurrence of the stressed syllables at relatively isochronous intervals is perceived as rhythmicality. Rhythmic groups blend together into intonation groups which correspond to the smallest semantic text unit — syntagm. The intonation group reveals the similarity of the following features: the tone maximum of the beginning of the intonation group, loudness maximum, the lengthening of the first rhythmic group in comparison with the following one, the descending character of the melody, often a bow-shaped melody contour. An intonation group includes from 1 to 4 stressed syllables. Most of intonation groups last 1—2 seconds. The end of the intonation group is characterized by the tone and loudness minimum, the lengthening of the last rhythmic group in it, by the falling terminal tone and a short pause.

The similarity of the prosodic organization of the intonation group allows us to count it as a rhythmic unit. The next text unit is undoubtedly the phrase. A phrase often coincides either with an intonation group or even with the phonopassage. In both those cases a phrase is perceived as a rhythmic unit having all the parameters of either an intonation group, or a phonopassage.

A.M.Antipova finds a remarkable regularity in the sounding of long phrases. Syntactical units like subordinate clauses, enumerations and other constructions are often grouped into a kind of steps. The first intonation group of each step is pronounced on a higher level than the final intonation group of the previous step. Such periodicity creates a sort of background against which the rhythm units are realized, e.g.

The British Isles | consist of England and Wales, | Scotland, | Ireland | and many small islands | chiefly to be found in the West1


The rhythmicality of a phonopassage is marked by the longest pause, the descending/stepping melody contour in the initial and final intonation groups, tone maximum at the beginning and tone minimum at the end of the phonopassage. The prosodic parameters are practically the same in every rhythmic unit but each time they come into play on a larger scale and in a new variety of interrelationship. Thus in prose an intonation group, a phrase and a phonopassage seem to have similar prosodic organization:

  1. the beginning of a rhythmic unit is characterized by the tone and intensity maximum, the slowing of the tempo;
  2. the end of a rhythmic unit is marked by a pause of differ ent length, the tone and intensity minimum, slowing of the tem po, generally sloping descending terminal tones;
  3. the most common pre-nuclear pattern of a rhythmic unit is usually the High (Medium) Level Head.

The prosodic markers of rhythmic units differ in number. The intonation group has the maximum of the prosodic features constituting its rhythm. The phonopassage and the rhythmic group are characterized by the minimum of prosodic features, being mostly marked by the temporal similarity. The following extract may serve as a model of prosodic rhythm.

Many of the 'old houses, round a .bout, | speak very 'plainly of 'those .days | when Kingston was a 'royal xborough, | and nobles and 'courtiers ^lived there, | near their xking, | and the long 'road to the 'palace .gates | was ~* gay all >day I with ~* clanking .steel | and ~* prancing vpalfreys | and Vrustling 'silks and 4velvets, | and ~* fair xfaces. || The large and 'spacious Bouses, | with their oriel 'latticed vwindows, | their huge vfireplaces, | and their ~* gabled xroofs, | breathe of the 'days of t hose, and x doublet | of pearl-em'broidered ^stomachers | and "* complicated xoaths. || (Jerome K. Jerome. Three Men in a Boat)

The description of style differentiating functions of rhythm is at its starting point. Still it is quite clear that there are some obvious differences between the rhythmic patterns of various speech realizations. Rhythm organization of, say, a dispassionate monologue will vary greatly from that of a familiar conversation.

It should be also noted that there are many factors which can disrupt the potential rhythm of a phrase. The speaker may pause at some points in the utterance, he may be interrupted, he may make false starts, repeat a word, correct himself and allow other hesitation phenomena.

Spontaneous dialogic informal discourse reveals a rich variety of rhythm organization and the change of rhythmic patterns within a single stretch of speech. The most stable regularity is observed on the level of rhythmic and intonation groups. They often coincide and tend to be short. The brevity of remarks in spontaneous speech explains the most common use of level heads of all ranges, abrupt terminal tones of both directions. The falling terminal tone seems to be the main factor of rhythmicality in spontaneous speech. Longer intonation groups display a great variety of intonation patterns including all kinds of heads and terminal tones. The choice of the intonation pattern by the participants of the conversation depends on their relationship to each other, the subject matter they are discussing, the emotional state of the participants and other situational factors. As a result informal spontaneous conversation sounds very lively and lacks monotony.

The extract from a conversation between a married couple illustrates the rhythm organization of spontaneous informal dialogue.

Wife. vCareful, Jack! || There's a vbend over there. ||

Husband. I've vseen it, dear. | ~*D4»n't ,worry. ||

Wife. ~*Don't hit that xlorry! | "*Slow vdown a little. ||

Husband. We're going Very slowly as it vis. || Only ~*forty miles

an xhour. || Wife. ~* Forty miles an .hour | ""* isn't very vslow. || There's a

vcrossing. ~*Can't you see the ,sign? || Husband. I ""'see it all vright. Why xworry? '

The experimental investigations carried out in recent researches give ground to postulate the differences in the prosodic organization of prosaic and poetir rhythm:

1. In verse there are simple contours often with the stepping head, the falling nuclear tone is more often gently sloping; there is a stable tendency towards a monotone.

2. In verse the stressed syllables are stronger marked out by their intensity and duration than in prose.

3. In verse the tempo is comparatively slower than in prose.

4. In verse the rhythmic units except the rhythmic group tend to be more isochronous than in prose. The rhythmic group presents an exception in this tendency of verse.

We have attempted to portray rhythmic effect in different linguistic activities, different speech realizations. To sum it up, we should say that rhythm is a complicated language system, its elements being hierarchically organized. They represent hierarchy of functional character, or to put it in more general terms, this system comprises well-organized elements of different sizes in which smaller rhythmic units are joined into more complex ones: a rhythmical group — an intonation group — a phrase (a line in poetry) — a phonopassage.

In discussing rhythm we should emphasize its functional aspect.

Rhythm serves to unite elements in speech: smaller units are organized into larger ones, larger units include smaller ones. So rhythm unites text segments into a whole and at the same time cuts the discourse into elements. This integrative and delimita-tive function of rhythm illustrates the dialectical unity of the contrary manifestations of rhythm.

Rhythmically organized speech is easily perceived. From the psycholinguistic point of view the accuracy of the temporal similarity in rhythm has a definite effect on the human being. The regularity in rhythm seems to be in harmony with his biological rhythms. And which is by far more important the emotional effect of rhythm especially of poetic rhythm on a human being is very strong, its aesthetic significance is great. In the theory of aesthetics speech rhythm is counted as one of the objective signs of beauty.

On the linguistic level the pragmatic value of speech rhythm is realized in its volitional function. Rhythm is capable of expressing different degrees of emotional effect on the listener, e.g. 'Will you 'stop that 'dreadful 'noise.

By way of conclusion we would like to say that prosodic elements together with the lexical and syntactical means play the role of the constituent of rhythm. Rhythm in itself is functioning as a framework of speech organization and is a very effective means of speech expressiveness.

Unfortunately we very often find the English rhythm to be the stumbling point for Russian learners. Many students learn to make the individual sounds of English correctly enough, yet their speech remains barely intelligible to English ears. The reason for this paradox is usually to be found in faulty rhythm and intonation.

As we perfectly know the basic rule of English rhythm is that the stressed syllables follow each other at regular intervals of time, that is to say there is the same amount of time between each pair of stressed syllables in a given sentence. A simple illustration of this rule is found in counting. From 1 to 6 every syllable is stressed, and they follow each other like a regular drum beat: one, two, three, four, five, six. The number 7 has two syllables, the first of them stressed and the second unstressed and this means that the two syllables have to be said in the same space of time as the other single syllables. The sequence 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 has eleven syllables, but only ten rhythmical beats, corresponding to the ten stressed syllables.

Counting is the simplest form of rhythmical exercise. Perhaps the next simplest form is children's verses and counting games.

1 Jack and 'Jill went 'up the > hill |

To fetch a 'pail of lwater. Jj

~* Jack fell .down } and ~* broke his.,crown |

And Jill came 'tumbling ^after. ||

In the foregoing examples there was one unstressed syllable between each pair of stressed ones. The next step will be two unstressed syllables between each pair of stressed syllables.

I like to go 'out in the garden, | I like to get 'up on the vhill | I like to do 'anything ^really, | But hate to do 'nothing at vall. ||

The popular sort of comic verse called a limerick has a similar pattern. There are two unstressed syllables between each pair of stresses. Here is an example.

There was a Young lady of 4Niger | Who smiled as she 'rode on a vtiger | They re ~* turned from the ,ride | With the "* lady in.side | And a smile on the 'face of the ,tiger. ||

It is fairly easy to keep the regular drum beat of stresses going, when there are the same number of unstressed syllables between them. It is a little more difficult to do this when there are different number of unstressed syllables between pairs. In the next example there are four stresses in each line, but the first line has no unstressed syllables between the stresses, while the second and the fourth have one unstressed syllable between each pair, yet each line takes the same length of time to say as the others.

^One, 'two, 'three, xfour, | ^Mary 'at the 'cottage xdoor. ||

Five, 'six, 'seven, xeight |

Eating 'cherries 'off a xplate. ||

In the serious verse that follows the number of unstressed syllables in between the pairs of stressed ones is sometimes one and sometimes two so that the absolute regularity is missing. Nevertheless the stresses still form a drum beat as before and this beat must be kept going all through the lines.

Give a 'man a 'pipe he can xsmoke |

Give a 'man a 'book he can xread | And his ~* home is Bright | With a "*calm dexlight | Though the room is 'poor inxdeed. ||

In ordinary speaking the number of unstressed syllables between each consecutive pair of stresses varies considerably. This is one of the main differences between prose and verse, so it is important to be able to keep the drum beat of the stresses going regularly no matter what the number of intervening unstressed syllables.

Here is an exercise designed to help do this.

Can anyone 'tell me the xtime? || Does anyone 'know the xtime? || Does anyone 'know xTom? ||

I'm going to 'town for the xday. ||

I'm going to town toxday. ||

Fm going to 'town xnow. || I'm perfectly 'certain you're xright. || I'm almost 'certain you're xright. || Fm quite 'certain you're vright. ||

A long passage of a descriptive text may be now recommended for practising rhythm. For example:

The ~* weather in .England \ can ~* change 'very xquickly. || "'One 'day last ,week | I went for a Valk in the xcountry. II

~* When I .started \ ~* early in the .morning | the ~* weather was xbeautiful. || The ~* sun was vshining, \ the "* sky was vblue | and there were no 'clouds at vall.

Care should be taken to leave the form words like am, is, are, were, has, have, can, etc. unstressed when necessary. As these words generally occur in unstressed position the weak form is more common than the strong form. It is of great importance for all learners to use the weak forms of these words in unstressed positions. It will improve their speech enormously, and will help them to acquire the characteristic rhythm of spoken English. Unless they use weak forms of prepositions, articles, conjunctions auxiliary verbs and also personal and possessive pronouns correctly, their rhythm will never be right. When listening to English they should try to notice the weak forms, and when speaking themselves, to copy the English way of using them.

A. The -»children^ are in the xhall. ||

B. -»So are their ^parents. ||
A. ->Yes, they vare. ||

A. I -»like them xboth. ||

B. xYes, \ I -»like them vtoo. ||

A. I'd -»rather see vthem than ^anyone. ||

Russian learners should be especially careful in rhythm-unit break. Mention has been made that the division into rhythmic groups does not coincide with the potential sense groups. The unstressed syllables in between the stressed ones usually tend to link to the preceding stressed syllable in spoken English which Russians often neglect. For example, the typical mistake in pronouncing the phrase: " Go and \ 'tell him to \ vphone me" is something like: " Go \ and 'tell f 'him \ to vphone me."

The attention of advanced students who have already mastered the stable regularity of English rhythm should be drawn to the rhythmic organization of large rhythmic units, such as intonation groups, phrases, supraphrasal blocks. The beginning of a rhythmic unit should be said on a higher level, louder and slower than the end of it; a pause and the terminal tone at the end of the rhythmic group contribute a lot to their rhythmicality.

All you have read about intonation in this chapter is nothing but a much needed framework for understanding its uses in particular social situations. We are going now to refine your knowledge of intonation by discussing its stylistic value.


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