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October 11, 2012


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Hi Michael - Of course I seized upon this metaphor, as much as I love stone and stonework!
I think what he means is this: In Anglo-Saxon verse, instead of having a string of metrical "feet" or musical measures that are regular (i.e., da DA / da DA/ da DA / da DA), each line is built of two halves that are equivalent in terms of their loudness/weight/significance, but may or may not be (and usually are not) equal, that is, of the same rhythmic pattern. The rules that govern the composition of the two halves describe a complicated, intricate relationship based upon stresses and alliteration.
My allusion to the lack of a future tense in Germanic languages was idle speculation, based upon the observation that this very careful consideration of the relationship between the two half-lines (let's call them past and present) seems to supersede the forward motion (i.e. towards the future) that one feels in a more "sing-songy" type of verse, which is also often enhanced by a rhyme scheme that leaps forward.
So rather than a preoccupation with musicality, there is a preoccupation with building blocks of text in a tight, sturdy relationship with one another.
I hope that makes some sense!

Michael Edson

"more like masonry than music" is an intense and fascinating metaphor. Zomg. It opened me up, but I don't think I really understand it. I'm drowning in it. Can you say some more about what this means?

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