Continuing with classroom discussion of Campion’s “Rose-cheek’d Laura…”
Rose-cheek’d Laura, come
Sing thou smoothly with thy beauty’s
Silent music, either other
Lovely forms do flow
From concent divinely framed;
Heav’n is music and thy beauty’s
Birth is heavenly.
These dull notes we sing
Discords need for helps to grace them;
Only beauty purely loving
Knows no discord,
But still moves delight
Like clear springs renew’d by flowing,
Ever perfect, ever in them-
AG: I guess it’s (it’s metrics are) pretty natural – [to Student (Pat)] – Have you ever worked much on that? this poem?
Student (Pat): Er..no
AG: That might be an idea of something you might…
Student (Pat): A beautiful poem, but I never..
AG: I always liked it. I taught it a couple of times. I wondered how he would break that down into long and short vowels. Have you ever thought about that?
Student (Pat): I haven’t gone through and checked to see how his practice here works against (his theory)
Student: Is it supposed to be on a Greek model.. of quantitative meter?
AG: I think it would… It looks like the Sapphic form that (William Carlos) Williams uses when he translates. There are one or two little Sapphic poems
Student (Pat): There’s, you know, the basic..the basic difference is between long and short as you would think of it. The vowels that you would think about that were longer are long, but a short vowel can be made long by being followed by…
AG So that… I was trying to figure out how…checking first line against first line against first line, to see what the parallelism is there between the verbs. I was thinking that “Rose-cheek’d Laura” – “Rose cheeked Lau..” were long , “..ra come”, were short. So it’s da da da da-da
Student (Pat): No, it’s perfectly regular, according to his claims.
AG: It’s all.. the “Laura”?
Student: Long-short, long-short, long – Yes.
AG: The short part ? What was it again?
Student: Long-short, long-short…
AG: “Rose-cheek’d/, Lau-ra,/ come/ Sing thou,/ smoothly,/ with thy/ beauty’s…” Okay then, well decrying complete independence of any of his schemes, just examining it as sound, for long and short (getting to the long and short of it!) I figured that, according to (Ezra) Pound’s idea of a rough approximation of quantity in English, if you counted half-vowels (two half-vowels making one long one), it’s a four-vowel line for a measure of four – “Rose-cheek’d, Lau-ra, come” (“ra” and “come”, short). Just not sung, not sung, just there. “Rose-cheek’d, Lau-ra, come” – “..ra come” would be half – see, one-two-three and then two halves. Then in the next stanza, “Lovely forms do flow” (“Lovely” seems to be two short, “forms do flow”). Well, that’s the way I was interpreting it.
Student: What di you think after…
AG: (It) doesn’t have to be.. doesn’t have to be real!
Student: But it’s just hypothetical
AG: It’s just my hypothetical ear…
AG: .. trying to analyze what I hear.
Student: (Well) I haven’t. Of course, you, personally, have a much better…
AG: Nah, It was just what I.. I just spent a little time trying to figure it out. So I was figuring that would be “forms do flow” (three long vowels and “lovely” would give a little syncopated double, yeah..). Then, in the third stanza, “Dull notes..sing” would be the long vowels and “These dull notes we sing” – And then, in the last stanza, “still moves delight”,”But still moves delight” (see, it has “but” and “de” as the short vowels in the last stanza” and “still moves delight” as the long vowels).
Then, (shall I go through it again, if anybody wants to check it out and see how it works). The next-to-the-last stanza,, “These dull notes we sing” – These (short) dull (long) notes (long) we (short) sing (long).
Then, second stanza, I was saying “lovely” were the two shorts, “forms do flow”. And in the first stanza “Rose-cheek’d, Lau..” would be the long and “.,ra, come” would be the short, but that’s pretty arbitrary in a way.
But what it did seem to (boil down to).. The reason I’m going through this is to give some physical example of interpretation rather than just reading, even if subjective. So, in other words, I had some kind of subjective ideas about quantity, long vowels, and I haven’t quite expressed them clearly enough by example (as, say here). (whether or not, it doesn’t (even if it doesn’t) necessarily agree with Campion’s.
Now what is.. Campion’s (Campion’s system is the..what? (to Student (Pat): Could you analyze those first lines (just the first lines as to what it is. It’s a long-short Rose (long) Cheeks (short) Lau (long) ra (short), Come (long)?
Student (Pat): Right, he calls it a dimeter
Student (Pat): Dimeter
AG: Dimeter – two feet
Student (Pat): Two feet and one.. one more..so..
AG: Dimeter, yeah
Student (Pat): “Rose cheek’d Laura, come”
AG: How is.. It’s too bad we don’t have the music because you could see how long it is.
Student (Pat): There is no music. I haven’t been able to find any music.
AG: Isn’t it amazing, because this is his prettiest song.
Student (Pat): Like I say, this is a purely theoretical piece.
AG: Oh, is it a piece he wrote for theoretical purpose and never put to music?
Student (Pat): Yeah. (It was) one of the things he printed in the Observations on the Art of Poetry (Observations in the Art of English Poesie) and he printed here that you can write in this meter and also that you can have lyrics without rhyme
AG: Yeah. It’s true, there is no rhyme here. You wouldn’t know it. There is an internal rhyme, like “beauty/heavenly” either/other” and “still moves…”
So this is really.. so this little poem of Campion probably is the basis of most of the practice of (Ezra) Pound and (Basil) Bunting for getting a poem that seems built like a brick shit-house, totally, completely together, no rhyme and no accentual meter. It’s amazing.
Student (Pat): What he says in the Observations.. which is still kind of an esoteric point, as far as I’m concerned, is “the number is voluble and fit to express any amorous conceit” ..
Student: Say that again.
A: The number would be the count of syllables. or…
Student (Pat): The number of syllables in quantitative is…
Student (Pat): “the number is voluble..”
AG: Variable? Voluble?
Student (Pat): Voluble
AG: Voluble number? – In other words, volume, speakable, I suppose
Student: Where does he say that?
Student (Pat): In the Observations
Student: Can you show me?
Student (Pat): Yeah, why don’t you read it
Student: “the number is voluble..” – the last sentence
Student (Pat): Oh, oh, he’s just talking about the particular meter that he’s writing in, and he’s saying that, this is a speaking meter, and what you can write in that language with a tune
AG: Oh, it’s a speaking meter. “voluble” means speaking rather than singing
Student (Pat): It’s emotional, suited for emotional content
[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-six-and-quarter-minutes in and concluding at approximately fifty-four minutes in]