« PreviousContinue »
coloring, the soft whispering aspirate ; next, with an intellectual coloring, the pure quality; and last, with an emotional coloring, the orotund. Of these six forms of quality, the first four are classed in a general way as impure, because there is in them more breath or noise than vocal tone or music; and the last two are classed as pure.
The first three again refer to what one wishes to repel; the hissing aspirate indicating feelings like affright, amazement, indignation, and contempt; the guttural, as has been said, hostility; and the pectoral, awe or horror. The last three refer to what, if not wholly satisfactory, at least, excites in one no movement aimed against it. The soft whisper indicates feelings like surprise, interest, or solicitude ; the tone termed distinctively the pure represents gentle contemplation of what may be either joyous or sad; and the orotund, deep delight, admiration, courage, or determination, as inspired by contemplation of the noble or grand.
All these different qualities can be given by good elocutionists when vocalizing almost any of the consonants or vowels; but the poet for his effects must depend upon the sounds necessarily given to words in ordinary pronunciation. For instance, certain consonants, called variously aspirates, sibilants, or atonics, viz. : h, s, , w, sh, wh, th, p, t, f, are aspirate in themselves; that is, we are obliged to whisper when we articulate them. Therefore in poetic effects, considered aside from those that are elocutionary, the aspirate must be produced by using words containing some of these consonants; and, if it be the repellant aspirate or the hiss, by using also consonants giving guttural effects, like 8,j, ch, and r. Here, for instance, is the poetic aspirate of amazement, affright, indignation, contempt.
Out of my sight, thou serpent ; that name best
-Paradise Lost, 10: Milton.
-Macbeth, ii., I : Shakespear.
You souls of geese
-Coriolanus, i., 4: Shakespear.
Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men ;
- Macbeth, iii., 1: Shakespear,
And here the poetic aspirate of surprise, interest, and solicitude.
What ? keep a week away ? seven days and nights ?
-Othello, iii., 4: Shakespear,
" She is late";
-Maud : Tennyson.
-Romeo and Juliet, ii., 2: Shakespear.
The aspirated sounds do not depend upon the use of the vowels. But this is not true of the other qualities. In the poetic guttural and pure tones, front * or else short vowel-sounds like those in the words pin, met, hat, fur, and far, among which we must include also the long and front * ones in me and ale usually predominate. In the poetic pectoral and orotund, long and back* vowel-sounds like those in moor, more, cow, boil, all, among which we must include the short but back* sound of u in but, usually predominate. Besides this, for the guttural, certain palatic and lingual consonant-sounds, like those of 8, j, k, ch, 1, and, at times, especially when used in combination with other consonants, dental and labial sounds, like those in b, d, and v, are essential. Here are examples of the guttural indicating, as has been said, hostility.
Thou cream-faced loon,
Despised by cowards for greater cowardice,
-Marino Faliero, V., 3: Byron.
But the churchmen fain would kill their church,
-Maud : Tennyson.
Till I, with as fierce an anger, spoke,
The elocutionary pectoral, with its hollow tones, always suggests more or less of a breathing quality. Therefore the poetic pectoral requires, in addition to the use of the
* See page 97.
long and back* vowel-sounds like those of long, 0, 00, ou, oi, broad a, and short u, that of the aspirate consonants like h, s, %, w, sh, wh, th, 1, p, t, f, and sometimes b, d,
Notice the preponderance of these letters in all of the following expressions of awe or horror :
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble, All.-Double, double toil and trouble ;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
All. Seek to know no more.
And an eternal curse fall on you ! Let me know
Come like shadows, so depart.
Thy crown does sear mine eyeballs :- and thy hair
-Macbeth, iv., 1: Shakespear.
And a gust of sulphur is all its smell ;
- The Heretic's Tragedy: R. Browning. So wills the fierce avenging sprite,
Till blood for blood atones.
And trodden down with stones,
- The Dream of Eugene Aram : Hood.
* See.page 97.
Served only to discover sights of woe,
- Paradise Lost, 1: Milton.
Ghastly dethronement, cursed by those the most
-Epilogue : R. Browning.
Notice the rhymes, too, in the following:
-A Toccata of Galuppi's : R. Browning. The poetic pure tone necessitates, as has been said, the use of the short or the front vowel-sounds. In connection with these almost any of the consonants, except the guttural, may be used to any extent. Here are examples of the poetic pure quality, representing, as already intimated, gentle contemplation with feelings, not too strong, of what may be either joyous or sad.
All night merrily, merrily,
- The Merman : Tennyson. She sleeps : her breathings are not heard
In palace chambers far apart.
That lie upon her charmed heart.
The gold-fringed pillow lightly pressed.
- The Day Dream : Tennyson. The orotund, as contrasted with the pure tone, has a slightly husky as well as hollow effect. Therefore its