Edmund Waller’s “Song” – 3

AG: So it’s interesting to figure this (Edmund Waller’s “Song” – “Go, lovely rose”) out as sound. Now this is one of the most compelling cadences and compelling rhythms, compelling rhythms  and cadences and musics in all of English poetic lyrics…lyric. And yet, it’s one of the most mysterious as far as the count. I guess you could count .. syllables probably – “Go, lovely rose” has four, “Tell her that’s young”, “Small is the worth”, “Then die—that she” – (apparently, all the first lines are four syllables) – “Tell her that wastes her time and me” – (Tell-her-that-wastes-her-time-and-me – eight) -“When-I-re-sem-ble-her-to-thee” (eight) – “How-sweet-and-fair she-seems-to-be” – (eight) – “And-shuns-to-have-her grac-es-spied”,  “In-des-erts-where-no-men-ab-ide”, “Thou-must-have un-com-mend-ed died”, “Of-beau-ty-from-the light-re-tired”, Suf-fer-her-self-to-be-de-sired”, “And-not-blush-so-to-be-ad-mired” – (all eight syllables) – So four syllables and eight syllables, that part is exact – “That-are-so-won-drous-sweet-and- fair” – (yeah, so it’s all four syllables and eight).
If I..  if we.. if I had a better ear, or knew more about it, we might be able to break it down into how many long and short syllables there are in the lines, in these lines (rather than how many accents). That might be a way of doing it. And the first line.. well… well these lines would seem to be.. you could either break them down…the first lines – “Go, lovely rose!”,  “Tell her that’s young”, “Small is the worth”.
If you were to try and break it down into regular English schemes, what would you get? – You’d get “Go love-ly rose”, “da da-da da“, and you could count that as “”da da-da da“, – well what would you could count that as?… You know, you could count it as… Da-da  is called spondee, Da-da is a spondee – and Da-da [different emphasis] is an iambic. So one spondee and one iamb? if you want.. you know. Everybody understand that? – Spondee is two sharp or long syllables, Iambic is a short and a long. So..

Student: Is there a long short short long?

AG: Yes. However there is a four-beat line, there is a four-beat line which is an important one, which is a great one to know, which probably would fit… then these are all variants of the four-beat line, I would say – “Go, lovely rose” – because there’s one cadence – “Tell her that’s young”, “Small is the worth”. “Then die—that she” – Yes?

Student: Doesn’t that comma after “Go”. almost read in music  like a rest?

AG: Yes – “Go, lovely rose”

Student: So it’s not really four, it’s not four in the sense that “Tell her that’s young” is four.

AG: Right.  It depends.. you could…. I love the… making it long,  like “Go lovely rose”,I mean, if you were talking. The first time I got turned on to this was not as song but as speech. If you were going to say “Go, lovely rose”, how would you say it? – It would probably be like “Go, lovely rose”,  or something, you know, like real. long, if it were talk.  And then I’d say,  “Gee, what if you were singing?” – it would probably be “Go-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, lovely rose”. You know, the “Go”, if it were sungit would probably take an hour to get through that “Go”, you know  – somebody,  some tenor, getting up there to say, “Go-oh-oh-oh-oh…”,  you know?  (maybe not, you know).
So it could be. But it is a rest, yes. ” Go – lovely rose” (but you’ve still got to deal with da-da-da – so then the “lovely rose” would be a three-beat line, whch would  be the cretic line – da-da -da – cretic – da-da-da –  “lovely rose” is  a cretic. There are three-beat lines, syllable.. three syllable measures, three-syllable foot. There are three-syllable feet and four-syllable feet, and I’ve been studying the three and four syllable feet and that was why I was so hung up on the five syllable foot when we got there..that..that other amniotic one, yeah, the amniotic foot, what was it called again? – dochmiac – anyway

to be continued

Audio for the above can be heard here  beginning at approximately sixteen-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-one-and-a-half minutes in

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *