Vol. 9 No. 6 1942 - page 459

What matters, in short, is the whole poem: and if the whole
poem need not be, and often should not be, wholly melodious, it
follows that a poem is not made only out of 'beautiful words.' I
doubt whether, from the point of view of
alone, any word
is more or less beautiful than another-within its own language,
for the question whether some languages are not more beautiful
than others is quite another question. The ugly words are the
words not fitted for the company in which they find themselves;
there are words which are ugly because of rawness or because of
antiquation; there are words which are ugly because of foreign·
ness or ill-breeding (e.g.
but I do not believe that
any word well-established in its own language is either beautiful
or ugly. The music of a word is, so to speak, at a point of inter–
section: it arises from its relation first to the words immediately
preceding and following it, and indefinitely to the rest of its con–
text; and from another relation, that of its immediate meaning
in that context to all the other meanings which it has had in other
contexts, to its greater or less wealth of association. Not all words,
obviously, are equally rich and well-connected: it is part of the
business of the poet to dispose the richer among the poorer, at the
right points, and we cannot afford to load a poem too heavily with
the former-for it is only at certain moments that a word can be
made to insinuate the whole history of a language and a civilisa–
tion. This is an ' allusiveness' which is not the fashion or eccen–
tricity of a peculiar type of poetry; but an allusiveness which is
in the nature of words, and which is equally the concern of every
kind of poet. My purpose here is to insist that a 'musical poem'
is a poem which has a musical pattern of sound and a musical
pattern of the secondary meanings of the words which compose it,
and that these two patterns are indissoluble and one. And if you
object that it is only the pure sound, apart from the sense, to which
the adjective 'musical' can be rightly applied, I can only reaffirm
my previous assertion that the sound of a poem is as much an
abstraction from the poem as is the sense.
The history of blank verse illustrates two interesting and
related points: the dependence upon speech and the striking dif–
ference, in what is prosodically the same form, between dramatic
blank verse and blank verse employed for epical, philosophical,
meditative and idyllic purposes. The dependence of verse upon
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