They are trying to do a few years ago i came across

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they are trying to do?" A few years ago I came across the following lines: Wherewith Love to the harts forest he fleeth Leaving the enterprise with pain and cry, And there him hideth and not appeareth. What may I do? When my master feareth, But in the field with him to live and die, For good is the life ending faithfully. I found the rhythm of these lines strangely beautiful, they haunted me and I know that they have had an influence upon the rhythm of certain lines of my own. Of course I know that all the historical evidence suggests that Wyatt was trying to write regular iambics, that the rhythm he was after would have his lines run thus; I I / / I And there him hideth and not appeareth / I I I / What may I do? When my master feareth I I I I I But in the :field with him to live and die I I I I I For good is the life ending faithfully. Since they cannot be read this way without sounding mon- strous, one must say that Wyatt failed to do what he was try- ing to do, and a literary historian of the sixteenth century will have to censure him. Luckily I am spared this duty and can without reservation approve. Between Wyatt and the present day lie four hundred
Making, Knowing and fudging [ 47 years of prosodic practice and development. Thanks to the work of our predecessors any schoolboy can today write the regular iambics which Wyatt, struggling to escape from the metrical anarchy of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, found so difficult. Our problem in the twentieth century is not how to write iambics but how not to write in them from automatic habit when they are not to our genuine purpose. What for Wyatt was a failure is for us a blessing. Must a work be censored for being beautiful by accident? I suppose it must, but a poet will always have a sneaking regard for luck because he knows the role which it plays in poetic composition. Some- thing unexpected is always turning up, and though he knows that the Censor has to pass it, the memory of the lucky dip is what he treasures. A young poet may be conceited about his good taste, but he is under no illusions about his ignorance. He is well aware of how much poetry there is that he would like but of which he has never heard, and that there are learned men who have read it. His problem is knowing which learned man to ask, for it is not just more good poetry that he wants to read, but more of the kind he likes. He judges a scholarly or critical book less by the text than by the quotations, and all his life, I think, when he reads a work of criticism, he will find himself trying to guess what taste lies behind the critic's judgment. Like Matthew Arnold I have my Touchstones, but they are for testing critics, not poets. Many of them concern taste in other matters than poetry or even literature, but here are four ques- tions which, could I examine a critic, I should ask him: "Do you like, and by like I really mean like, not approve of on principle: I) Long lists of proper names such as the Old Testament genealogies or the Catalogue of ships in the Iliad?

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