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tonyv

Appreciating Metrical Larkin

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(A follow-up topic to Scanning Contemporary Masters' Meter)

 

____________________

 

 

XXVI (from "The North Ship")

 

Love, we must part now: do not let it be

Calamitous and bitter. In the past

There has been too much moonlight and self-pity:

Let us have done with it: for now at last

Never has sun more boldly paced the sky,

Never were hearts more eager to be free,

To kick down worlds, lash forests; you and I

No longer hold them; we are husks, that see

The grain going forward to a different use.

 

There is regret. Always, there is regret.

But it is better that our lives unloose,

As two tall ships, wind mastered, wet with light,

Break from an estuary with their courses set,

And waving part, and waving drop from sight.

 

____________________

 

 

Wires

 

The widest prairies have electric fences,

For though old cattle know they must not stray

Young steers are always scenting purer water

Not here but anywhere. Beyond the wires

 

Leads them to blunder up against the wires

Whose muscle-shredding violence gives no quarter.

Young steers become old cattle from that day,

Electric limits to their widest senses.

 

____________________

 

 

Home is so Sad

 

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,

Shaped to the comfort of the last to go

As if to win them back. Instead, bereft

Of anyone to please, it withers so,

Having no heart to put aside the theft

 

 

And turn again to what it started as,

A joyous shot at how things ought to be,

Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:

Look at the pictures and the cutlery.

The music in the piano stool. That vase.

 

____________________

 

 

The Importance of Elsewhere

 

Lonely in Ireland, since it was not home,

Strangeness made sense. The salt rebuff of speech,

Insisting so on difference, made me welcome.

Once that was recognised, we were in touch.

 

Their draughty streets, end-on to hills, the faint

Archaic smell of dockland, like a stable,

The herring-hawker's cry, dwindling, went

To prove me separate, not unworkable.

 

Living in England has no such excuse:

These are my customs and establishments

It would be much more serious to refuse.

Here no elsewhere underwrites my existence.

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OMG! Enjambment.....rhyme.....meter! Yes! :)

 

And the images and writing are excellent as well.

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LOVE, we must PART now: DO not LET it BE

CaLAMiTOUS and BITTer. IN the PAST

there HAS been TOO much MOONlight and SELF-PITy:

Let US have DONE with IT: for NOW at LAST

NEVer has SUN more BOLDly PACED the SKY.

NEVer were HEARTS more EAGer TO be FREE,

To KICK down WORLDS, lash FORests; YOU and I

No LONGer HOLD them; WE are HUSKS that SEE

The GRAIN going FORWARD to a DIFFerent USE.

 

There IS reGRET. ALways, there IS reGRET.

But IT is BETTer THAT our LIVES unLOOSE,

As TWO tall SHIPS, wind MASTered, WET with LIGHT,

BREAK from an ESTuaRY with their COURSES SET,

And WAVing PART, and WAVing DROP from SIGHT.

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Hi, all. Isn't Larkin terrific? :happy:

 

Badge, this time I'll stay away from noting every foot where I would tend to use a spondee. It's not necessary for determing/noting an iambic pentameter except in the case of the pyrrhic/spondee (double iamb) combination. Besides, you're probably tired of my going on about spondees all over the place.

 

L9 stands out as irregular as far as the rules I try to follow are concerned:

 

The grain going forward to a different use

 

Per dictionary, "going" has a stress on the first syllable, but I can't find any other way to treat the word other than way you have. I read "going" the same way, naturally quickly, almost without accent as if it were one syllable, or at least as if F2 were an "artificial" anapest of sorts:

 

/ the GRAIN / going FOR / ward TO / a DIF/ ferent USE /

 

Larkin must have spoken it that way and intended for it to be read that way.

 

 

L13 is a lovely line, but stands out metrically also:

 

Break from an estuary with their courses set

 

"Estuary" is a four syllable word with a primary stress on the first syllable and a secondary stress on the third syllable. When I scan L13, I get six metrical feet:

 

/ BREAK from / an ES / tuAR / y WITH / their COUR / ses SET /

 

/ trochee / iamb / iamb / iamb / iamb / iamb /

 

I'm not sure if this what Larkin intended, but that's the only way I can scan it. In any case, it seems to work for the poem.

 

Tony

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Thanks Tony. I like how you have scanned L13. I had several changes of mind there and L9. L1 was the most problematic for me.

 

 

Besides, you're probably tired of my going on about spondees all over the place.

 

 

Nope. It interests me. I'm slowly, unfortunately it is slow, try to get the feel for that in a line.

 

badge

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Thanks Tony. I like how you have scanned L13. I had several changes of mind there and L9. L1 was the most problematic for me.

 

 

Besides, you're probably tired of my going on about spondees all over the place.

 

 

Nope. It interests me. I'm slowly, unfortunately it is slow, try to get the feel for that in a line.

 

badge

 

L1 is lovely, and you scan it perfectly:

 

 

/ LOVE we / must PART / now DO / not LET / it BE /

 

/ trochee / iamb / iamb / iamb /iamb /

 

 

It's also one of those cases where a spondee in F1 works well:

 

 

/ LOVE WE / must PART / now DO / not LET / it BE /

 

 

As for spondees in general, I think they become more apparent when one reads the line together and in context with the lines immediately before and after. Even punctuation has some bearing on the way the line should be read and suggests its most appropriate scansion.

 

As I mentioned in the other topic, when one takes a line by itself and scans it without any consideration for the lines before and after, there can be more than one way that the line can be read to sound natural and thus more than one scansion that will work. Even an iamb would work in L1F1, though perhaps not as well as the trochee or spondee.

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The WIDest PRAIRies HAVE eLECTric FENCES

For THOUGH old CATTle KNOW they MUST not STRAY

Young STEERS are ALways SCENTing PURer WATer

Not HERE but ANyWHERE. BeYOND the WIRES

 

LEADS them to BLUNDer UP aGAINST the WIRES

Whose MUScle-SHREDding VIOlence GIVES no QUARTer.

Young STEERS beCOME old CATTle FROM that DAY,

ELECTric LIMits TO their WIDest SENSES.

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I scan "Wires" the same way you do, Badge. Well, except for L1 & L8. They have feminine endings. Typos?

 

Tony

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The WIDest PRAIRies HAVE eLECTric FENCES

For THOUGH old CATTle KNOW they MUST not STRAY

Young STEERS are ALways SCENTing PURer WATer

Not HERE but ANyWHERE. BeYOND the WIRES

 

LEADS them to BLUNDer UP aGAINST the WIRES

Whose MUScle-SHREDding VIOlence GIVES no QUARTer.

Young STEERS beCOME old CATTle FROM that DAY,

ELECTric LIMits TO their WIDest SENSES.

the%20widest.gif

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