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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: A Lover's Complaint
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1276  Tuesday, 24 June 2003

From:           Jim Carroll <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Jun 2003 22:54:48 EDT
Subject: 14.1186 Re: A Lover's Complaint
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1186 Re: A Lover's Complaint

Two more tests that reject A Lover's Complaint in Elliott and Valenza's
scheme are the "enclitic microphrases" and "proclitic microphrases"
tests.

Marina Tarlinskaja, in her book "Shakespeare's Verse" (1987) describes
"enclitic" and "proclitic" microphrases like so (p203):

"In this chapter we examine the quantitative correlation and the
qualitative, grammatical, and semantic characteristics of specific
two-element phrasal combinations of words found in verse
(micro-phrases). One element of these combinations, or its stressed
syllable, falls on an ictic, or strong (S) syllabic position of the
verse line, while the other element falls on a non-ictic, weak (W)
syllabic position, either preceding or following S. In the former case
the word on W becomes, as it were, a proclitic, in the latter case an
enclitic to the stressed word on S."

She then gives two examples:

Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back (Son. 65:11)

Where nothing but true joy is. - That's a good wench
                                          (Fletcher, "Bonduca"
IV,IV:108)

Apparently she is describing two-syllable combinations where both
syllables have a relatively strong stress, but one is stressed more than
the other, the two syllables form part of a two-part phrase, and one of
the stresses is out of place compared with the "regular" iambic
pentameter pattern of

W S W S W S W S W S.

If the "misplaced" strong stress is to the right of a "normal" strong
stress, it's enclitic, if it's on the left, it's proclitic. If any
listmember believes that I've misinterpreted the system, please let me
know.

She claims that there is one enclitic and one proclitic example in each
of the above lines. Can you find them? I would ask you to scan the lines
for a moment and then scroll down for her answer:

Indicating the misplaced strong stress with capitals, she finds (the W's
and S's here are just the "regular" iambic pattern for reference, not
the actual stresses):

 W  S         W         S                   W   S   W    S     W     S
Or what STRONG hand (proclitic) can hold his swift FOOT (enclitic) back

You can see that this requires the reader to recognize the correct
stress, the correct phrase ("strong hand" and "swift foot"), and keep
track of the position of the stresses relative to the "regular" iambic
pattern. If the reader doesn't recognize the phrase, the decision of
enclitic/proclitic becomes ambiguous, because in each case there are
often three strong stresses in a row, and it's impossible to decide
whether or not the misplaced stress "clings" to the word behind it or in
front of it. Tarlinskaja, in her 1987 book says this concerning phrases
(p210):

"Consider, for example, such a line: Give my love fame faster than TIME
WASTES LIFE (Sh. Son 100:13). Which of the two possible ways of
segmentation to accept: time wastes or wastes life? My guiding principle
was the relative strength of the syntactic ties between pairs of words;
words united by a stronger tie were assumed to form the phrase."

Here is her interpretation of the second example:

   W     S    W   S     W    S  W                     S   W   S      W
Where nothing but TRUE joy is (proclitic). - That's a good WENCH
(enclitic).

You can see that the system is logical and works nicely even on lines
with an extra syllable, as above, where a feminine ending would be
"normal" otherwise.

However, how does one determine with any certitude that the misplaced
stress is actually stressed?

I think the difficulty inherent in this method  for statistical purposes
should be plain. One of the sources cited in Tarlinskaja's book, James
Bailey, who wrote a book on some aspects of the "Russian
linguistic-statistical method", wrote in 1975:

"Statistical analysis of non-metrical stressing is less reliable because
it is difficult to interpret the precise strength of contiguous
stresses, but adjacent strong stresses nevertheless occasionally
occur."  ("Toward a Statistical Analysis of English Verse", p37)

Naturally there will be differences reported in the absolute numbers of
these microphrases, depending on who is doing the counting. However, the
differences should not be extreme. As far as I can determine from
Elliott and Valenza's 1996 paper, at least two persons created the
results, one a student who dropped out of the project, and Tarlinskaja
herself.  However, for A Lover's Complaint, Elliott and Valenza report
only 4 instances of enclitic microphrases. This is a severely
undercounted figure. In my own scanning of the first and last 77 lines
of A Lover's Complaint I found 3 and 6 enclitic microphrases,
respectively,  and this does not include some examples that I find
ambiguous. Elliott and Valenza prefer to report their count of 4
enclitic microphases in the entire poem as 12/1000 lines, where the
"authentic" Shakespeare range is, according to them, 43-87 (for
post-1600 poems).  My count of 9/154 lines is equivalent to 58/1000
lines, well within his range. Judging from the examples that I see in
Tarlinskaja's book, I believe she herself would have counted even more,
and Elliot and Valenza's reported count of proclitic microphrases
(267/1000 lines) is likewise too low.

Jim Carroll

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