Vol. 9 No. 6 1942 - page 463

beings. This is the poet of
Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, Pericles,
The Tempest.
Of those whose exploration took them in this
one direction only, Milton is the greatest master. We may think
that Milton, in exploring the orchestral music of language, some·
times ceases to talk a social idiom at all; we may think that
Wordsworth, in attempting to recover the social idiom, sometimes
oversteps the mark and becomes pedestrian: but it is often true
that only by going too far can we find out how far we can go;
though one has to be a very great poet to justify such perilous
So far, I have spoken only of versification and not of poetic
structure; and it is time for a reminder that the music of verse
is not a line by line matter, but a question of the whole poem.
Only with this in mind can we approach the vexed question of
formal pattern and free verse. In the plays of Shakespeare a
musical design can be discovered in particular scenes, and in his
more perfect plays as wholes. It is a music of imagery as well as
sound: Mr. Wilson Knight has shown in his examination of several
of the plays, how much the use of recurrent imagery, and dom·
inant imagery, throughout one play, has to do with the total effect.
A play of Shakespeare is a very complex musical structure; the
more easily grasped structure is that of forms such as the sonnet,
the formal ode, the ballade, the villanelle, rondeau or sestina.
It is sometimes assumed that modem poetry has done away with
forms like these. I have seen signs of a return to them; and indeed
I believe that the tendency to return to set, and even elaborate
patterns is permanent, as permanent as the need for a refrain or
a chorus to a popular song. Some forms are more appropriate
to some languages than to others, and all are more appropriate
to some periods than to others. At one stage the stanza is a right
and natural formalization of speech into pattern. But the stanza
-and the more elaborate it is, the more rules to be observed in
its proper execution, the more surely this happens - tends to
become fixed to the idiom of the moment of its perfection. It
quickly loses contact with the changing colloquial speech, being
possessed by the mental outlook of a past generation; it becomes
discredited when employed solely by those writers who, httving
no impulse to form within them, have recourse to pouring their
liquid sentiment into a ready-made mould in which they vainly
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