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ARTICULATENESS AND REQUIREDNESS IN IAMBIC VERSE

Reuven Tsur
Style
Vol. 6, No. 2 (Spring 1972), pp. 123-148
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42946094
Page Count: 26
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ARTICULATENESS AND REQUIREDNESS IN IAMBIC VERSE
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Abstract

The object of this essay is to examine some of the poetic structures and perceptual qualities behind such vague assertions as, "This enjambement arouses tension." A preliminary distinction is made between "convergent" style with a "conclusive" tone, and a "divergent" style with a "suspensive" tone. The tension between "prose-rhythm" and metre has different perceptual qualities in these two types of style. Articulateness and requiredness are aspects of breaking up a whole into segments. A jointed (articulate) whole is easier to perceive than an even, undifferentiated whole. Requiredness is the demand which one part of a perceptual field may have for another. In the iambic pentameter, the nearer the syntactic juncture to the middle, the more balanced is the line; the nearer to the extremes, the greater the requiredness of the isolated part (i.e., the greater the tension). When the syntactic and prosodie units diverge, each seeks to establish itself in the reader's perception as sharply as possible. Beyond a certain point, divergence has a blurring rather than sharpening effect. Segmentation by parentheses, vocatives, interjections, as well as by frequent shift from direct to quoted speech, tends to enhance this effect. There is some evidence that divergent style is more tolerant of stress displacement than convergent style.

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