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Marcia,
   Sorry about the misreading on shirt. You also make a good point about
being improvisational in scanning. In looking back over Nancy's most recent
post, I'm seeing more clearly that mine is at times a "cookie cutter" approach.
I haven't reviewed the entire poem in terms of scansion, but there may be
more to suggest stress count rather than a meter and variations as the way to
go. That might also be more significant in the long run. If Eliot was generally
counting the number of stresses, his choice to fill a passage, such as the
one under discussion, with iambs may be more significant than if he was
actually writing a meter with variations. This is a new thought and a
"perhaps" rather than an assertion.
    As for the different take on the Shakespeare, yes, I find each credible,
with a little nitpicking here and there. My own would run close to these
of course, but I think my separation and stress would be different between
foot three and four, or four and five as the case may be the tion is a feminine
ending on the iamb in mine if that's not clear:

To BE/, or NOT/ to BE,/ THAT is /the QUES/tion


Marcia Karp wrote:

> D.Gregory Griffith wrote:
>
> >I'm a bit uncomfortable with "shirt" receiving no stress.
> >What do you think of this as a possibility:
> >_     _  /        _ _       /     /            _   /
> >The intol     era       ble shirt      of flame
> >It does technically depart from the meter, or change its identity
> >as you put it in a previous post,  and it offers two less frequently
> >used feet in English--a pyrrhic followed by a spondee--and one
> >after the other seems very rare indeed, but no possibility seems
> >absolute to me at this point, so I'm experimenting.
> >
> >>    ~    ~  /  ~  ~   /    ~     /
> >>    The intolerable shirt of flame     [MSK]
> >>
> >>
>
> Dear Greg,
>     I have a stress on shirt.  Let me write it without the marks:
>
> The inTOL(e)rable SHIRT of FLAME
>
> Except for your counting the shwa in our problem word, we concur.
>     I don't view formal descriptions as having the same authority as you
> do.  That is, I care very much about prosody, but rely on my ear first,
> always in terms of speech rhythms.  Formal descriptions are for me, just
> that, descriptions, not prescriptions.
>     I am with you in hearing stress as relative to surrounding stress.
>  I like very much Wimsatt and Beardsley's hypothesis that our iambic
> pentameter line is the result of a promotion of a strong unstressed
> syllable in alliterative (four-beat) verse to a weak stressed one in ip.
>  Here are three scansions I've collected of one line.  I've put the
> stress in the line, following the pertinent syllable.  That should cut
> down on having to re-send.  Notice in Abercrombie's that the pause gets
> a beat.  Notice, too, that each of them ends the line \--\-.
>
>     To be/, or not/ to be, that/ is the ques/tion
>                     [Northrop Frye]
>     To be/ or not/ to be, / that/ is the ques/tion
>                     [David Abercrombie]
>     To be/ or not/ to be/, that/ is the ques/tion
>                     [W. K. Wimsatt and Monroe C. Beardsley]
>
> I find each of them credible.  You?
>
> Marcia