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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: October ::
A Fragment of Style
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0599  Tuesday, 14 October 2008

From:       Peter Groves <
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 >
Date:       Monday, 13 Oct 2008 10:51:53 +1100
Subject: 19.0593 A Fragment of Style
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0593 A Fragment of Style

Just a tiny clarification: the whole post in my name in SHK 19.0593  A Fragment 
of Style (Sunday, 12 October 2008) is mine apart from what is quoted from Bob 
Projansky (and Shakespeare); I don't know where those pesky ">" marks came from.

Peter Groves

[Editor's Note: I confess. I was in too much of a hurry to distinguish what was 
being quoted to what was being used in the comment. My apologies. Let me try 
again. -Hardy]

From:       Peter Groves <
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 >
Date:       Wednesday, 08 Oct 2008 12:03:29 +1100
Subject: A Fragment of Style
Comment:    SHK 19.0593 A Fragment of Style

 >Robert Projansky writes: "I beg to differ about the metrical scheme of
 >the Othello scene fragment that Felix de Villiers cites. The verse
 >therein is quite regular,
 >without even a trochee to vary the iambic pentameter.", later
 >suggesting that including reversals or 'trochees' would constitute
 >"undoing the meter", making it "like prose".

I in turn beg to differ: in fact this passage, like other passages of agitated 
speech in Shakespeare, has several phonologically obligatory reversals 
(indicated by < and >) and many optional ones (indicated by < and |). To ignore 
all the optional reversals would merely be wooden; to ignore the obligatory ones 
("veRY") would be to abandon the English language.

<Ay, you| did wish that I would make her turn:
<Sir she| can turn, and turn, and yet go on,
And turn again, <and she| can weep sir, weep;
<And she's| obedient, as you say, obedient;
<Very>obedient. Proceed you in your tears,
Concerning this sir:  O well painted passion:
<I am| commanded here: --- <get you>away,
I'll send for you anon: --- <Sir, I>obey the mandate
<And will| return to Venice: ---hence, avaunt!
                                        Exit Desdemona
<Cassio>shall have my place; and sir to night
<I do| intreat that we may sup together,
You are welcome sir to Cypres, ---goates and monkies.
                                        Exit.
Lod.
Is this the noble Moore, <whom our| full Senate
Call all in all sufficient? Is this the noble nature,
Whom passion could not shake? Whose solid virtue,
The shot of accident nor dart of chance
Could neither graze, nor pierce?

Here's another passage of agitated speech:

Lear. <Let it>be so, thy truth then be thy dowre:
<For by| the sacred radience of the Sunne,
The mis[t]eries of Heccat and the night:
By all the operation of the Orbes,
 From whom we do exist, and cease to be,
<Heere I>disclaime <all my>Paternall care,
Propinquity and property of blood,
<[And] as| a stranger to my heart and me,
<Hold thee| from this for ever. The barbarous Scythian,
Or he that makes his generation messes
To gorge his appetite, <shall to| my bosome
<Be as| well neighbour'd, pitied, and releev'd,
As thou my somtime Daughter.
Kent.                                          Good my Liege.

It is a mistake to suppose that metrical variation kills the pentameter; on the 
contrary, so long as it stays within the rules (e.g. no successive reversals) it 
gives it life.

Peter Groves
School of English etc.
Monash University


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