The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque, Part 8
A Few Notes about Poetry...
At the time of the publication of Dr. Syntax by William Combe, the form of iambic tetrameter was very popular.
Think of Byron's She Walks in Beauty (1814):
"She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies."
People were quite accustomed to reading verse with four beats to a line, though I seem to recall that iambic pentameter (five beats per line) was taught more in my lit classes...
Combe in Dr Syntax uses the AABB of rhyming couplets; Byron, above, used ABAB. Both are equally familiar.
I admit that when I read the lines of Dr. Syntax aloud, I unconsciously use a sing-song expression that make is sound a little childish -- sort of like nursery rhymes , or "Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, Sugar is Sweet, and so are you."
In any case, The Adventures of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque is poetry of a type that seems to lead to comic effects, just what the writer and publisher had in mind. Just as an example, here are the openings six lines from Canto 12. Can you read them aloud without sounding sing-song?
Excerpts from Canto XIILIFE is a journey, — on we go,
Nor let us linger on the way:
Like as a stream, whose varying course
Now rushes with impetuous force.
To pick up the story, we left Dr. Syntax with the Squire and his wife...singing songs. Eventually they retire and the next morning, Dr. S. explains his quest for scenes of the picturesque.
"'No,' he (Dr. S.) exclaim'd, 'I must away: —
Despite the Doctor's rudeness, the butler eventually conducts him to the cellar where he is invited to partake of the Lord's beer.
"At length the potent liquor flows,
Excerpts from Canto XIII
To that warm inn they quickly hied.
Excerpts from Canto XIV
End of Canto XIV
More Adventures of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque....coming soon.