The English Metres
The rooted liberty of flowers in breeze
   Is theirs, by national luck impulsive, terse,
Tethered, uncaptured, rules obeyed “at ease,”
   Time-strengthened laws of verse.
Or they are like our seasons that admit
   Inflexion, not infraction: Autumn hoar,
Winter more tender than our thoughts of it,
   But a year’s steadfast four;
Redundant syllables of Summer rain,
   And displaced accents of authentic Spring;
Spondaic clouds above a gusty plain
   With dactyls on the wing.
Not Common Law, but Equity, is theirs—
   Our metres; play and agile foot askance,
And distant, beckoning, blithely rhyming pairs,
   Unknown to classic France;
Unknown to Italy. Ay, count, collate,
   Latins! with eye foreseeing on the time,
And numbered fingers, and approaching fate
   On the appropriate rhyme.
Nay, nobly our grave measures are decreed:
   Heroic, Alexandrine with the stay,
Deliberate; or else like him whose speed
   Did outrun Peter, urgent in the break of day.

Webpage © 2001 ELC
Lane Core Jr. (
Created April 14, 2001; not revised.