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LCER L3 Approfondissement F.

March

MEMENTO OF POETIC DEVICES

All the examples are taken from Shakespeare's King Lear.

METER

Code : u stands for an unstressed syllable


/ stands for a stressed syllable

An iamb, iambic meter (un iambe, iambique) : [u / ]


A rising meter.

A trochee , trochaic meter / un trochée, trochaïque : [/u]


A falling meter.

A spondee, spondaic meter / un spondée, spondaïque [//]


Heavy and solemn. Sometimes called the "heavy foot".

Foot-scansion / Fr : scansion
To scan a line, scanning / Fr : scander un vers
A line (of verse) / un vers
Verse / des vers, de la poésie

An iambic pentameter is composed of 5 iambs : [u / ] [u / ] [u / ] [u / ] [u / ]


Renaissance plays were written in iambic pentameters.
When in a play written in iambic pentameters you come across a monometer, a
dimeter, a trimeter or a tetrameter, this is an instance of the process of contraction.
Conversely, when you come across a hexameter or alexandrine, this is an instance of
the process of expansion.
Meter provides a norm, a regular beat over which variations and modulations may be
played. To avoid monotony, the poet sometimes introduces irregularities in his iambic
pentameters.
The most frequent allowable deviations (meaning that the line is still considered as
regular in spite of their presence) are :

• the use of a trochee or a spondee in the initial foot

- Bringing the murderous coward to the stake : (2.1.62)


[ / u ] [u / ] [ u / ] [ u / ] [u / ]
- Fortune, good night : smile once more ; turn thy wheel. (2.2.171)
[/ u ] [u / ] [ u / ] [ u / ] [u / ]
=> The initial falling meter combines with rising meters to suggest the turning of
Fortune’s wheel evoked by Kent in this line.

• Occasional internal trochaic inversions

- EDMUND And my invention thrive, Edmund the base (1.2.20)


[ u / ] [u / ] [ u / ] [ / u ] [ u / ]

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The introduction of an irregular falling meter which coincides with the name of "Edmund",
the villainous character in the play, enhances his « baseness » (altogether moral, social and
hierarchical).

• The use of extrametrical or supernumerary unstressed syllables

• The dropping of the first unstressed syllable


[From] the fixed place, drew from my heart all love (1.4.261)
[ u /] [ u / ] [ u / ] [ u / ] [u / ]

So that the line may conform to the basic metrical pattern (the iambic pentameter), the
poet often resorts to modifications of the form and pronunciation of a word, either through
elision, contraction or expansion.
Ex of contraction : « powers » (4.4.21) becomes monosyllabic as the two syllables are
contracted into one.
Ex of elision : o’thing (1.4.176) ; o’both (1.4.178) ; i’the (1.4.178, 181) ; o’the (1.4.179) ;
That’s (1.4.190) ;
Ex of expansion : agèd (4.2.42) ; changèd (4.2.63) ; droppèd (4.3.22) ; loathèd (4.5.39) ;
enragèd (4.6.71) ; ruinèd (4.6.130) ; wrongèd (5.3.166), etc.

A hemistik = a half-line (before or after the caesura)


CORDELIA Half my love with him, half my care and duty. (1.1.102) [note that the formal
division of the line into two hemistiks parallels the contents, as suggested by the repetition of
« half » (diacope) at the beginning of each hemistik].

RHYMES

=> to be noted : Shakespeare's plays are written in blank verse or unthymed verse.

• blank verse or unrhymed verse


Yet, see inner rhymes : in poetry the frequency of sound effects and echoes of all kinds
testifies to the importance of the rhyming device in poetry, even in so-called unrhymed or
blank verse.

• couplet rhymes or rimes [Fr : rimes plates ou suivies / a couplet = un distique / a triplet
= un tercet : three successive rhyming lines] : XX
To be noted :
Two successive rhyming iambic pentameters form a heroic couplet.
When the couplet is end-stopped (thus forming an independent signifying unit), it is
called a closed couplet (le distique forme une unité de sens indépendante).
When the sense overflows in the third line (or more generally, when the sentence is
not self-contained in the couplet), it is an open couplet.

• alternate rhymes (rimes croisées) : XYXY

• enclosed rhymes [rimes embrassées] : XYYX

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• eye-rhymes (rimes visuelles) : visual and not phonological rhymes (different from the
ear-rhyme).
KL, 1.1.185-86 (approve / love)

• Internal rhyme or leonine rhyme (rime interne, vers léonin) as opposed to end-
rhymes :
= Rhyming syllables which occupy the middle and the end of the line.
There is a multiplicity of them, due to the developed sound pattern, the number of echoes,
repetitions, diacopes, etc.
- duty / study (1.1.278) in medial and final positions (imperfect, visual rhyme)
- feel / feel (3.4.34 ; the diacope in medial and final positions provides for the rhyme)

• An imperfect rhyme may be a poor rhyme, a half-rhyme, a near rhyme.


- duty / study (1.1.278 : internal rhyme)
- else / grace (2.1.118-19)

• Semantic rhymes :
= two semantic partners, belonging to the same semantic field or carrying the same
connotations. Hopkins calls them "rhyming-fellows". They may be synonyms or antonyms. In
the case of antonyms, the semantic rhyme may be called an anti-rhyme.
Position : either final position in two successive lines (= semantic end rhyme), or
initial, medial or final position (=internal semantic rhyme).
= Not a sound figure.
- 1.1.110-111 : sun / night = a semantic anti-rhyme.
- 1.1.70-71 : heart / love = a semantic rhyme (the heart is the seat of passions)
- 1.1.210-211 : love/hate = a semantic anti-rhyme in medial position
- 3.2.42/44 : night / dark = a semantic rhyme

The various functions of rhymes :


• musical effect
• rhythmic effect : by creating sound patterns, thus giving a rhythm to the lines
• foregrounding of words (key words in most cases) thus placed in conspicuous and
strategic positions
• structuring function : by linking words together in strategic positions in the lines
(whether initial, medial or final) and creating sound patterns. [One may speak of
horizontal or vertical patterning].

SOME FIGURES OF SPEECH

Figures of insistence:

• anaphora / une anaphore


X.................
X.................
- CORDELIA Nothing, my lord.
LEAR Nothing ?

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CORDELIA Nothing. (1.1.87-89)

• epiphora or epistrophe
....................X
.....................X
[Note that the epiphora makes for couplet rhyme]

• alliteration : repetition of a consonant or consonantic cluster


- kind King (3.1.28) ; blood and breeding (3.1.36) ; much more (3.1.40) ; drenched our
steeples, drowned the cocks ! (3.2.3) ; Spit fire, spout rain ! (3.2.14) ; pattern of patience
(3.2.37) ; keep their caves (3.2.45) ; the great gods (3.2.49) ; covert and convenient
(3.2.56) ; concealing continents and cry (3.2.58) ; to cool a courtesan (3.2.79) ; part of a
power (3.3.13) ; the pelting of this pitiless storm (3.4.29) ; foul fiend follows (3.4.45) ;
foul fiend … fire… flame (3.4.50-51) ; foul fiend (3.4.59) ; foul fiend (3.4.78) ; sworn
spouse, set not thy sweet-heart (3.4.80) ; deeply, dice dearly (3.4.89) ; foul fiend (3.4.95-
96) ; Is man no more than this ? (3.4.101) ; small spark (3.4.110) ; foul fiend
Flibbertigibbet (3.4.112) ; foul fiend (3.4.127) ; salads ; swallows (3.4.128) ; ditch-dog
(3.4.128) ; fire and food (3.4.149) ; I am almost mad myself (3.4.162) ; foul fiend
(3.6.17) ; foul fiend (3.6.29) ; bend makes the King bow (3.6.106) ; from France ?
(3.7.42) ; The sea, with such a storm (3.7.58) ;

• assonance : repetition of a vocalic sound


- more than word can wield (1.1.55)
- a wholesome weal (1.4.201)
- strong a bond (2.1.47)
- not forgot (2.2.369) ; cheap as beast’s (2.2.456) ; women’s weapons, water-drops
(2.2.466) ;
- cataracts (3.2.2) ; hard by here is a hovel (3.2.61) ; hard house - / More harder (3.2.63-
64) ;

• Epizeuxis: the repetition of the same word without any other word intervening in between
For ex : ..............X, X........
- LEAR How, how, Cordelia ? Mend your speech a little, (1.1.94)
- Base, base ? (1.2.10) ; ‘Tis strange, strange ! (1.2.117) ; Come, come (1.2.151)
- Stop, stop, (2.1.37)
- You, you (3.2.16) ;

• Diacope : the repetition of the same word with one or a few words between them
..................X............X...............X
- CORDELIA Nothing, my lord.
LEAR Nothing ?
CORDELIA Nothing.
- LEAR How, nothing will come of nothing. Speak again. (1.1.87-90)
- CORDELIA You have begot me, bred me, loved me.

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• Anadiplosis / une anadiplose: the repetition of the last word of a line at the beginning of
the next one
...............................................X
X.............................................

• Epanalepsis / une épanalepse: the repetition of a word at the beginning and the end of a
line
X.............................................X
- Blow winds and crack your cheeks ! Rage, blow ! (3.2.1)

• Polyptoton / Fr : une polyptote : use of the same word in a different grammatical case. A
grammatical variation.
- loving / love (subst) / love (vb) (1.1.41, 46, 51) ; Monstrous / monsters (1.1.218/221) ;
- With base ? With baseness, bastardy ? Base, base ? (1.2.10) ; The better – best ! (2.1.15)
- sinned / sinning (3.2.60) ; hard / harder (3.2.61, 63, 64) ; suffers, sufferance (3.6.101/103)

Figures that establish parallels and bring together :

• Metaphor / une métaphore


- Those pelican daughters (3.4.74)
- REGAN Ingrateful fox (3.7.28 ; about Gloucester)
- ALBANY Tigers, not daughters, (4.2.41)
- KENT dog-hearted daughters (4.3.46)
- To this great stage of fools (4.6.179 ; metaphor of theatrum mundi)

• Metonymy / une métonymie (the attribute for the whole)


- « France » for the King of France throughout the play

• Synecdoche / une synecdoque (a part for the whole)

• Simile (comparison) / une comparaison


- 2.2.324 : like a vulture
- 2.2.350 : most serpent-like (Cf the alliteration in « s » which suggests the hissing of the
snake)

Figures of discrepancy :

• Oxymoron / un oxymore

• Chiasmus / un chiasme (also a speech ornament) : involves mirror inversion


Ex : Good my lord, enter here.
Wilt break my heart ?
I had rather break mine own. Good my lord, enter. (3.4.4-5)
- The other eye of Gloucester. Gloucester’s eyes ? (4.2.73)

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Tricks of speech :

• Apostrophe
• Rhetorical questions
• Exclamation
• Hyperbole, etc.