A History of English Versification

A History of English Versification

by Jakob Schipper

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A History of English Versification by Jakob Schipper

It is now more than twenty years since a reviewer of the author’s Englische Metrik, in three volumes, expressed the opinion that ‘an English translation of it would do a service to English philology’. At that time, however, it seemed doubtful whether such a voluminous work, which probably would have interested only a comparatively small circle of English scholars, would have found a market. Even in Germany, although the work was favourably reviewed, and although at the time when it appeared great interest was felt in metrical research, the sale was comparatively slow.

Much livelier, on the other hand, was the demand for an abridged edition of it which appeared under the title Grundriss der englischen Metrik (Wien, 1895). It was therefore found possible, several years after its publication, to make arrangements with the Delegates of the Clarendon Press for an English edition of this smaller book. Unfortunately, however, the printing of the manuscript, which was submitted to the supervision of the late Professor York Powell, was delayed, first by the illness and the untimely death of that eminent scholar, and afterwards by other circumstances which it is not necessary to mention here.

On the whole the English text of the present volume is a close rendering of the German book, except in the first few chapters, which have been somewhat more fully worked out. It may also be mentioned that one or two modern English poets who seemed to be unduly neglected in the German book have received a larger share of attention in the English edition. Some errors of the original work have, of course, also been corrected here.

The treatment of the subject in this handbook is the same as in the author’s larger work. The systematic arrangement of the different kinds of verse in Book I, and of the varieties of stanzas in Book II, will enable the reader easily to find the appropriate place for any new forms of verse or stanza that may come in his way, and will also facilitate the use of the large German work, to which frequent references are given, for the benefit of those students who may desire more detailed information.

From the Preface to the German edition of the present work some remarks on the accents, chiefly in Part II of Book I, may be repeated here in order to prevent misunderstanding.

These accents on particular syllables in equal-measured rhythms are merely meant to facilitate the scansion of the verse according to the author’s view of its rhythmical movement, and to enable the student to apprehend more readily the precise meaning of the descriptions. They are by no means intended to dictate a schematic scansion to the reader, as it is obvious that the finer shades of the rhythm cannot be indicated by such a mode of accentuation. The safer and easier way undoubtedly would have been to put no accents at all; but this would have been less convenient for the reader, to whose own judgement it may be left in every case to be guided by the accents just so far as he may think proper.

In making this statement, however, I may be allowed to mention that none of the English friends who kindly assisted me in revising my manuscript has found fault with my system of accentuation.

My sincerest thanks for their kind help and advice are due to Dr. Francis J. Curtis, now Professor of English Philology in the Mercantile Academy at Frankfort on the Main, and in a still higher degree to Dr. James Morison, of Shotover Cottage, Headington Quarry, Oxford, Examiner in Sanskrit and German, both of them formerly Lectors of English in the University of Vienna. I am under equally great obligations to Dr. Henry Bradley, to whose care the final revision of the MS. was entrusted by the Delegates of the Clarendon Press, and who also had the great kindness to superintend the printing of it. To him I am indebted for several useful suggestions regarding the typographical arrangement, and still more for his valuable help in regard to the style of the book. To the Delegates and the Secretary of the Clarendon Press I feel greatly obliged not only for undertaking the publication, but also for the patient consideration they have shown me during the slow progress of this work.


Vienna, Feb. 6, 1910.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940149108435
Publisher: Lost Leaf Publications
Publication date: 11/11/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 2 MB

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