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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Specialized Rhyme Schemes in English Poetry Versification - Part VIII C

Anacreon Ode *
Dorian Ode or Choric Ode/Pindaric Ode *
Cowleyan Pindaric Ode *
Epinicion Ode *
Epithalamion Ode *
Horatian Ode
Homostrophic Ode
Irregular Ode
Prothalamion Ode *

I must say I'm still sewing seams on the fabric of Specialized Rhyme Schemes in English Poetry Versification. The needle continues to vibrate on the English odes. I'm being reminded that the lyric is a verse or poem that is susceptible of being sung to the accompaniment of the lyre. That being said, the lyre serves to emphasize that lyric goes back to ancient times. This song being carried on the wings of the lyre gave out the intense personal emotion of the voice as suggested in the verses. A good working definition for lyric poetry is that it expresses the thoughts and feelings of the poet. It is not narrative poetry or verse drama that serve only to relate events in the form of a story. When we think of elegies, odes and sonnets these are all important genres of lyric poetry.

The general agreement has been that the stem-cells of the Greek and Latin odes were crafted for choral responses, and for individual singers. The artistic lyricism in poetry gave birth to the odes written to address a person or abstract entity, always serious and elevated in tone. When we amalgamate all the facts known about odes we can truly say this much. There are two traditional or classical prototypes, one Greek and the other Roman. The first was designed by Pindar, a Greek poet, who modeled his odes on the choral songs of Greek drama. They were encomiums, that is to say, they were written to give public praise, usually to athletes who had been successful in the Olympic games. Pindar patterned his complex stanzas in a triadic framework: the strophe and antistrophe had the same metrical form, the epode had another. The strophe told one side of the narrative, while the antistrophe conveyed its counterpart. The epode recounted the adventure. The second by Horace, the Ist Century bC Latin poet who wrote literary odes in regular stanzas known as the Horatian Ode. The Horatian Ode is a short lyric poem written in stanzas of two or four short verses. The Horatian ode is intimate and reflective. They are often addressed to a friend and deal with such motifs as friendship, love and the practice of poetry.

If we look into the archives of the 12th- through 15th-centuries, poetry has made tremendous strides throughout centuries. During the time that Henry Tudor acceded to the English throne as Henry VII (1457 – 1509) and right up to the mid-16th century has been called the transition from medieval to renaissance in English literature, and is linked to the Elizabethan Age with the reign of Elizabeth I of England (1558-1603). The themes of education and good government predominated the new humanist writing of the 16th century. The first half of the 16th century was also a notable period for courtly lyric verse in the stricter sense of poems with musical settings. The Elizabethan Age is considered a part of the general renaissance that swept Europe during the 14th- through 16th-centuries although this movement only reached England around the 1480s. The complete impact of the renaissance in England was felt during the reign of Elizabeth I. The Elizabethan era is also known as the "golden age" of English literature to which poetry is one of it genres. A great deal of lyric poetry was produced during this period. The renaissance brought to England a revival of the old and classical literature of Greece and Rome and this was evident in the poetry of the age. It is in the Elizabethan age that we have grown to associate it with an extreme spirit of adventure, aestheticism and materialism and which became edged into Elizabethan poetry. Many poets displayed their skill in versification during this time and England came to be known as "The Nest of Singing Birds".

The excellent growth in poetry and other genres of literature during the Elizabethan era continued to flourish during the Jacobean era. The Jacobean era coincides with the reign of James I (1603-1625) of England. In Scotland where he was also King but with the title, James VI. The Jacobean era came after the Elizabethan age and preceded the Caroline era where Cavalier poets flourished. The notable poets of the Jacobean era bring to mind Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Francis Bacon, and John Donne since they are considered to have left stellar marks in English Literature. The popularity of classical odes (Horace, Pindar) remained very popular during the Jacobean era.

English odes no longer fit into the general schema of the classical odes we have come to know them, both in their structure and in their intent. However, to fully understand the "Pindaric" English ode we perhaps should turn to scholars like Ben Jonson, and Thomas Gray. They took particular pleasure in reproducing the general effect of Greek strophic arrangement of "turne", "counterturne"and "stand". Ben Jonson's "Ode to Sir Lucius Cary and Sir H. Morrison" and Gray's "Bard" and "Progress of Poesy" are good examples from which to start.

It is recognized that English poets looked to the classical odes of Pindar and Horace to mutate them for their own purposes. How were these mutations carried out? Well, for starters, they changed the meaning of the ode since the days of the founders, Pindar and Horace by using the definition proffered by Edmund Gosse as any strain of enthusiastic and lyrical verse directed to a fixed purpose and dealing progressively with one dignified theme. With the definition now in place they started on restructuring the odes. This new definition for the ode allowed English poets to ignore the rigid structure so characteristic of the classical Horatian and Pindaric odes.

In the case of the Horatian ode they adopted uniform stanzas, each with the same metrical pattern, and tended generally to be more personal, more meditative, and more restrained. The 17th Century poet, Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) started the tradition of the English Horatian ode. However, after Marvell's "Horatian Ode Upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland" the term came to mean in English poetry any longer lyrical poem with a uniform stanza structure and is synonymous with the term, Homostrophic ode. Thus, both Shelly's "Ode to the West wind" and "Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" belong to the English Horatian Ode tradition, different though their form is, but because they have a regular stanza pattern they are Homostrophic odes.

During the Cromwell's regime (1649-1659) that began after Charles I of England was executed, Abraham Cowley in 1656 introduced the Irregular Ode through his flawed perception of Pindar's ode. As the story goes, it is said that Cowley whose life spanned 1618-1667 found out that he really could not master the intricacies of neither the Horatian or the Pindaric. So, he crafted his own style of ode out of the Pindaric model by opting for greater freedom in its structure but retained the serious nature of the subject matter. The Irregular Ode also known as the Cowley Pindaric Ode abandoned the recurrent strophic triad and instead permitted each stanza to be individually shaped, resulting in stanzas of varying verse lengths, number of verses, and rhyme scheme. This irregular stanzaic structure, that created different patterns to accord with changes of mood or subject became a common English tradition having gained tremendous popularity among English poets. The Cowleyan brand of ode became very popular but as the brand's inventor began loosing his popularity so too was the Irregular Ode during the late 17th century. Noticeably, the decline of Cowley's style ode came at a time of civil unrest in England during Cromwell's regime, the Restoration of the Monarchy and the ousting of James II from the English Throne. This lost in the high profile of Cowley and his Irregular ode gave rise in popularity to Cavalier poetry recognized for lightness in style and with secular themes.

Lately, I have been reading Cavalier poetry written by Thomas Carew and I have just finished reading his poem entitled "To Ben Jonson Upon Occasion of his Ode of Defiance annexed to his Play of the New Inn". The rhyme scheme he used in this poem is aabbccddee but the stanzas don't have a triadic framework and the verses don't have the same length. So I came to the conclusion that this is an Irregular Ode or what is known as a Cowley Pindaric Ode. I have scanned the ten verses in the first stanza of the ode to show you where the varying length of the verses occur. As you can see, there are five 4-foot verses, four 5-foot verses and one 3-foot verse. Have a look; then you may want to complete the scansion for the remaining stanzas. Have fun!

To Ben Jonson Upon Occasion of his Ode of Defiance annexed to his Play of the New Inn

‘Tis true, dear Ben, thy just chastising hand a
Hath fix’d upon the sotted age a brand a
To their swoll’n pride and empty scribbling due; b
It can nor judge, nor write, and yet ’tis true b
Thy comic muse, from the exalted line c
Touch’d by thy Alchemist, doth since decline c
From that her zenith, and foretells a red d
And blushing evening, when she goes to bed; d
Yet such as shall outshine the glimmering light e
With which all stars shall gild the following night. e


    ˬ           ⁄          ⁄        ⁄       ˬ      ⁄        ⁄     ˬ   ˬ       ⁄
‘Tis     ׀true, dear׀ Ben, thy׀ just chas׀tising hand׀
anacrusis    spondee             iamb        spondee       anapest         (iambic pentameter anacrusis)
‘Tis true dear Ben, thy just chastising hand
It is true dear Ben, thy just chastising hand

   ˬ        ⁄       ˬ     ⁄    ˬ       ⁄    ˬ       ⁄   ˬ      ⁄
Hath fix’d׀ upon׀ the sott׀ed age׀ a brand׀
       iamb         iamb     iamb       iamb       iamb       (iambic pentameter)
Hath fix’d upon the sotted age a brand
They have fixed upon the sotted age a brand

    ˬ     ˬ        ⁄    ˬ       ⁄         ˬ       ⁄     ˬ      ⁄         ˬ       ⁄
To their swol׀l’n pride׀ and emp׀ty scribb׀ling due;׀
      anapest           iamb           iamb            iamb           iamb  (iambic pentameter)
To their swoll’n pride and empty scribbling due;
iamb amphimacer amphibrach amphimacer 4-foot

 ˬ     ⁄      ˬ        ⁄         ˬ        ⁄        ˬ      ⁄      ˬ       ⁄
It can׀ nor judge,׀ nor write,׀ and yet ׀’tis true׀
  iamb       iamb              iamb              iamb           iamb     (iambic pentameter)
It can nor judge, nor write, and yet ’tis true
It can nor judge, nor write, and yet it is true

   ˬ     ˬ     ⁄         ⁄        ˬ      ˬ     ˬ   ⁄     ˬ       ⁄        
Thy comic ׀ muse, from the׀exal ׀ ted line ׀
    anapest               dactyl                iamb     iamb    (tetrameter)
Thy comic muse, from the exalted line


          ⁄        ˬ    ˬ      ⁄   ˬ    ˬ           ⁄      ˬ         ˬ    ⁄               
Touch’d by thy׀ Al׀chemist,׀ doth since׀ decline׀
          dactyl                 dactyl                trochee       trochee  (tetrameter)
Touch’d by thy Alchemist, doth since decline
Touched by thy Alchemist, do since decline

    ˬ       ˬ      ˬ    ˬ      ⁄      ˬ       ⁄         ⁄    ˬ     ⁄                           
 From that ׀her zenith,׀ and fore׀tells a׀ red׀
    pyrrhic        anapest             iamb       trochee   catalectic  (tetrameter catalectic)
From that her zenith, and foretells a red

   ˬ         ⁄      ˬ       ⁄     ˬ          ⁄        ˬ       ⁄       ˬ     ⁄                           
And blush׀ing eve׀ning, when׀ she goes׀ to bed;׀
   iamb              iamb         iamb               iamb          iamb    (iambic pentameter)
And blushing evening, when she goes to bed;

    ⁄      ˬ     ˬ       ⁄        ⁄       ⁄      ˬ        ⁄      ˬ     ˬ      ⁄                                                       
Yet such as׀ shall out׀shine the׀ glimmer׀ ing light׀
       dactyl         spondee        trochee       trochee       iamb    (pentameter)
Yet such as shall outshine the glimmering light

    ˬ         ˬ       ⁄        ⁄         ⁄        ⁄      ˬ    ˬ      ⁄    ˬ      ⁄
With which all ׀stars shall׀ gild the׀ follow׀ ing night.׀
      anapest               spondee           trochee     iamb       iamb  (pentameter)
With which all stars shall gild the following night.



When a poem has more than one stanza and any number of verses; how are the alphabet letters arrange in the rhyme scheme in subsequent stanzas?

If the end-rhymes of verses in the first stanza do not match the end-rhymes of verses in subsequent stanzas as shown in the poem below two options to choose from:

1.         Start each subsequent stanza with the same rhyme scheme as in the first stanza as shown in examples below.

Stanza I
Nor think it much, since all thy eaglets may                                  a
Endure the sunny trial, if we say                                                       a
This hath the stronger wing, or that doth shine                              b
Trick’d up in fairer plumes, since all are thine                               b 
Who hath his flock of cackling geese compar’d                           c
With thy tun’d choir of swans? or else who dar’d                         c
To call thy births deform’d? But if thou bind                                   d
By city-custom, or by gavelkind,                                                     d
In equal shares thy love on all thy race,                                         e
We may distinguish of their sex, and place;                                   e

Stanza II
Though one hand form them, and though one brain strike               a
Souls into all, they are not all alike.                                                  a
Why should the follies then of this dull age                                     b
Draw from thy pen such an immodest rage                                    b
As seems to blast thy else-immortal bays,                                       c
When thine own tongue proclaims thy itch of praise?                   c
Such thirst will argue drouth. No, let be hurl’d                               d
Upon thy works by the detracting world                                         d
What malice can suggest; let the rout say,                                      e
The running sands, that, ere thou make a play,                            e

Stanza III
Count the slow minutes, might a Goodwin frame                          a
To swallow, when th’ hast done, thy shipwreck’d name;            a
Let them the dear expense of oil upbraid,                                      b
Suck’d by thy watchful lamp, that hath betray’d                         b
To theft the blood of martyr’d authors, spilt                                  c
Into thy ink, whilst thou growest pale with guilt.                           c
Repine not at the taper’s thrifty waste,                                            d
That sleeks thy terser poems; nor is haste                                       d
Praise, but excuse; and if thou overcome                                       e
A knotty writer, bring the booty home;                                            e

Stanza IV
Nor think it theft if the rich spoils so torn                                        a
From conquer’d authors be as trophies worn.                                a
Let others glut on the extorted praise                                              b
Of vulgar breath, trust thou to after-days;                                     b
Thy labour’d works shall live when time devours                          c
Th’ abortive offspring of their hasty hours.                                   c
Thou are not of their rank, the quarrel lies                                      d
Within thine own verge; then let this suffice,                                  d
The wiser world doth greater thee confess                                      e
Than all men else, than thyself only less.                                       e

2.         Start each subsequent stanza with the continuing alphabet sequence that is for example if the stanza before ends with the alphabet letter “e” then first verse of the next stanza would begin with the letter “f” as shown examples below.

Stanza I
Nor think it much, since all thy eaglets may                                  a
Endure the sunny trial, if we say                                                       a
This hath the stronger wing, or that doth shine                              b
Trick’d up in fairer plumes, since all are thine                                b
Who hath his flock of cackling geese compar’d                           c
With thy tun’d choir of swans? or else who dar’d                         c
To call thy births deform’d? But if thou bind                                  d
By city-custom, or by gavelkind,                                                     d
In equal shares thy love on all thy race,                                         e
We may distinguish of their sex, and place;                                   e

Stanza II
Though one hand form them, and though one brain strike               f
Souls into all, they are not all alike.                                                  f
Why should the follies then of this dull age                                    g 
Draw from thy pen such an immodest rage                                    g
As seems to blast thy else-immortal bays,                                      h
When thine own tongue proclaims thy itch of praise?                  h
Such thirst will argue drouth. No, let be hurl’d                               i
Upon thy works by the detracting world                                         i
What malice can suggest; let the rout say,                                     j
The running sands, that, ere thou make a play,                            j

Stanza III
Count the slow minutes, might a Goodwin frame                         k
To swallow, when th’ hast done, thy shipwreck’d name;            k
Let them the dear expense of oil upbraid,                                      l
Suck’d by thy watchful lamp, that hath betray’d                         l
To theft the blood of martyr’d authors, spilt                                  m
Into thy ink, whilst thou growest pale with guilt.                           m
Repine not at the taper’s thrifty waste,                                            p
That sleeks thy terser poems; nor is haste                                       p
Praise, but excuse; and if thou overcome                                       q
A knotty writer, bring the booty home;                                            q

Stanza IV
Nor think it theft if the rich spoils so torn                                        r
From conquer’d authors be as trophies worn.                                r
Let others glut on the extorted praise                                              s
Of vulgar breath, trust thou to after-days;                                     s
Thy labour’d works shall live when time devours                          t
Th’ abortive offspring of their hasty hours.                                   t
Thou are not of their rank, the quarrel lies                                      u
Within thine own verge; then let this suffice,                                  u
The wiser world doth greater thee confess                                      v
Than all men else, than thyself only less.                                       v

But what is there to know about Thomas Carew? He was an English Cavalier poet born in London, England in 1594 and died in 1640 and he wrote Cavalier poetry. English Cavalier poets associated with Charles I (1525-1649) and his son, Charles II both kings of England (1649-1685). Most of their work was done between 1637-1660. Their poetry embodied life and culture of the upper-class, pre-commonwealth England, mixing sophistication with naiveté, elegance with raciness. They wrote poems on the courtly themes of beauty, love and loyalty with verses expressed with wit, shortness and directness. The use of such direct language displayed the individualistic personalities of Cavalier poets. Their poetry mirrored their indebtedness to both Ben Jonson and John Donne. Thomas Carew is listed among the leading Cavalier poets identified as Robert Herrick, Richard Lovelace, Sir John Suckling.


Thomas Carew as a Cavalier poet, no doubt would have embraced the philosophical thought that 'life was much too enjoyable to attempt to understand and study deep and meaningful literature'. Cavalier poets were more focused on things that were meaningful to them such as day-to-day humanity and activities that coincided with their motto "Carpe Diem" translated as to "seize the day".

English poets of the early 17th century are roughly classified by divisions into Cavaliers and metaphysical poets. For example, John Donne being concerned with religion was labelled a metaphysical poet. Metaphysical poetry used complicated metaphors and unfeasible imagery. The division of Cavalier poets was more along the line approximating to secular and religion. However, this division was not exclusive since, for example, Thomas Carew was seen as both a secular and religious Cavalier poet by some critics.

The popularity of the English odes by the end of the 17th century took a nose-dive but became very popular again in the early part of the 18th Century. This comeback was attributed to poets like Matthew Prior, Jonathan Swift and Samuel Johnson.... 


If the end-rhymes of verses in the first stanza rhyme with the end-rhymes of subsequent verses; the rhyme scheme of the first stanza becomes the rhyme scheme for all subsequent stanzas as shown in this the example below:

When November comes to the door,                                x             
Zesty conkies we share;                                                     b             
Sweet and mighty strong with essence;                           y             
A Bajan dish set square.                                                    b

Pumpkin alone will never do;                                            x             
Mix, corn, coconut fair,                                                     b
With potato, sugar and spice;                                           y
Cook on square leaves with care.                                    b

Conkies wrapped in banana leaves;                                 x             
Pass the plate with cheer,                                                  b
To friends but satellites of none;                                      y
Great cheese-on-bread is there.                                        b

Stacked independently on plate,                                      x                             
Conkies banana wear;                                                       b
Housed in jacket uniquely ours;                                       y
Plainly stacked on tableware;                                           b

Skilled fingers cut the leaves to strap,                             x
From stalk with sharp hardware;                                    b
Laboriously they toiled each day,                                    y
In cane-fields near Foursquare;                                      b

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