In his preface to his poems Hopkins gives the following detailed definition of sprung rhythm: Sprung Rhythm, as used in this book, is measured by feet of from one to four syllables, regularly, and for particular effects any number of weak or slack syllables may be used. It has one stress, which falls on the only syllable, if there is only one, or, if there are more, then scanning as above, on the first and so gives rise to four sorts of feet, a monosyllable and the so called accentual Trochee, Dactyl, and the First Paeon.1 This quote shows that sprung rhythm, as Hopkins envisaged it, was made up of a mixture of four metric feet. These can occur in any order and for the purposes of defining the rhythm it is unimportant how many slack or unstressed syllables occur within the line; what matters is the number of stressed syllables. In this it bears a striking resemblance to the base meter of music where what is important is the number of beats to the bar rather than the number of grace notes included.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Gerard Manley Hopkins: Sprung Rhythm, Inscape and Instress
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number