Saturday, February 18, 2006


I am surrounded by packing boxes, but I much enjoyed Randall's way of putting a number of things. "Fourteeners" are the 14-syllable, seven-stress lines in which many plays were written up to, I suppose, the mid 1580's. Two Fourteeners are, essentially, the equivalent of a ballad stanza, so they make speech sound like a series of ballad stanzas and don't do a terribly good job of accomodating the more natural speech that blank verse proved so wonderfully adapted to. It's essentially the rhythm pattern found in:

But stay! O spite!
But mark, poor knight,
What dreadful dole is here!
Eyes, do you see?
How can it be?
O dainty duck! O dear!

--Just written out a little differently. All Shakespeare's way of playing with the sing-songy pattern of some of the plays he must have seen as a kid. I think the wonderful Cambises is written in fourteeners, but I have packed my copy.


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