My idea was to promote the "a" in "era," but your point is well taken
either way. My ear tells me it is absurd to promote either "a" or "ble,"
but as you will see in my post to Marcia--it may not have appeared yet
since I just sent it a couple minutes ago--I have a problem with all
those syllables in "intolerable" or I may have a tendency to sound
those syllables where others don't. I would say that at times promotion
of syllables can be a bit absurd in that relative stress comes in to play;
a syllable like "ble" might have enough weight compared to the others
before or after to justify it, though again, I absolutely agree that the
syllables in question at the end of "intolerable" are not good candidates.
Part of the problem is they are in one word with a very strong preceding
stress--"tol." I engineered the scan for line four as a possibility based on
the assumption that the meter is predominantly tetrameter, and to try to
"play along" with that tendency. You make some very good arguments
for not making that assumption too quickly, especially if one removes
the stress from "cannot"; however, I can't get the line to break into three
conventional English verse feet when I try to scan it that way. I'm not
saying that means you're wrong on this point; I may be stumbling over the
possibility in my attempts. It is also valid to include verse feet that are
more hold-overs from Greek scansion, some of which I've already
mentioned in previous posts, and you may have one of those in mind. The
most well known sources for metrics and scansion: Turco, Fussell, Hollander,
Hobsbaum, etc. all have different "styles" or preferences that make for
slight variations in this respect. The only real consistency I see in the lines
here is the majority--the vast majority--of the feet are iambic, but as you say
a close reading of the entire poem might reveal this to be true only for the
five lines under discussion or the first stanza of the poem in general.
Nancy Gish wrote:
> Dear Gregory,
> With the exception of line four, I agree that your scansion works, but I
> think, as you note, it could be read differently in places. For example, as
> two words "can not" would have a stress on "not." But as one word, I
> would not read the stress there. It tends to run together as two
> unstresses. I would also read it with what you note as a variant with the
> stress on "who" in "who then."
> But I do not think any native English speaker would ever promote "ble" to a
> stress. To do so would make the line sound absurd, would it not?
> If we give up that, we have three lines of four stress and two of three
> stress. That might be a basic tetrameter if all the rest is, and I'd have to
> check, but in the given lines it is "not a consistent meter" is it? Since I do
> not stress the "not," that gives trimeter with variation. But I think it is
> based on stresses and not any single meter. But I think you are right that
> in the whole section, most lines have four stresses. They do not have any
> regularity of iambic or trochaic or whatever though there are more iambs I
> think, at least in the first stanza. I would have to scan it all carefully to
> see because it does not fall into a pattern except for the predominance of
> four stress lines overall.