Vol. 9 No. 6 1942 - page 453

poetry he writes. We must return to the scholar for ascertainment
of facts, and to the more detached critic for impartial judgement.
The critic, certainly, should be something of a scholar, and the
scholar something of a critic. Ker, whose attention was devoted
mainly to the literature of the past, and to problems of historical
relationship, must be put in the category of scholars; but he had
a high degree the sense of value, the humane taste, the under–
standing of critical canons and the ability to apply them, without
which the scholar's contribution can be only indirect.
There is another, more particular respect in which the
scholar's and the practitioner's acquaintance with versification dif–
fer. Here, perhaps, I should be prudent to speak only of myself.
I have never been able to retain the names of feet and metres, or to
pay the proper respect to the accepted rules of scansion. At
school, I enjoyed very much reciting Homer or Virgil-in my own
fashion. Perhaps I had some instinctive suspicion that nobody
really knew how Greek ought to be pronounced, or what inter–
weaving of Greek and native rhythms the Roman ear might appre–
ciate in Virgil; perhaps I had only an instinct of protective lazi–
ness. But certainly, when it came to applying rulee of scansion to
English verse, with its very different stresses and variable syl–
labic values, I wanted to know why one line was good and another
bad; and this, scansion could not tell me. The only way to learn
to manipulate any kind of English verse seemed to be by assimila–
tion and imitation, by becoming so engrossed in the work of a
particular poet that one could produce a recognisable derivative.
This is not to say that I consider the analytical study of metric,
of the abstract forms which sound so extraordinarily different
when handled by different poets, to be an utter waste of time.
It is only that a study of anatomy will not teach you how to make
a hen lay eggs. I do not recommend any other way of beginning
the study of Greek or Latin verse than with the aid of those rules
of scansion which were established by grammarians after most of
the poetry had been written: but if we could revive those languages
sufficiently to be able to speak and hear them as the authors did,
we could regard the rules with indifference. We have to learn
a dead language by an artificial method, and we have to approach
its versification by an artificial method, and our methods of teach–
ing have to be applied to pupils most of whom have only a moder-
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