Structure and versification in Patience, Hard Thing!

Questions of scansion

As with I Wake and Feel, the sonnet divides neatly into two quatrains and two tercets, which latter also rhyme in the same way. The scansion, however, is much less obvious:

  • in the first quatrain, the monosyllable clusters all seem to demand stresses, as: ‘Wánts wár, wánts wóunds;|| wéary his tímes, his tásks;'
  • if we withdraw stresses from both ‘wants', the line almost settles into iambic pentameter
  • however, the echo of the stress remains to set up a counterpointing, as does the pause after ‘wounds' with the implied caesura
  • it becomes a jerky rhythm
  • similar clusters as ‘take tosses', ‘wrecked past purpose' echo the phrase ‘hard thing'
  • should the repeated ‘hard thing' share a stress, which would make l.1 too short; or do both words carry stresses, in which case the first line is a hexameter?

Rhythmically, therefore, there is no real evidence for any systematic use of sprung rhythm, but it is a rhythm of stops and starts, some smooth, some jerky - which is what we might expect from the subject matter.

Investigating Patience
  • Do you see any use of enjambement that calls for attention?
  • If so, what sort of counterpointing is set up?
  • Overall, would you say this sonnet was the most focused on one particular topic that you have read so far?
    • Which others are as focused?
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