This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
VERSIFICATION is the art of making verse. Verse is rhythmical language, keeping time like music; having syllables arranged according to accent, quantity, and generally rhyme; being so divided into lines as to promote harmony.
Two kinds of verse are in use by poets, namely, blank verse and rhyme. Rhyme is characterized by a similarity of sound at the end of one line with another; as
" Perhaps in this neglected spot is.....laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial . . . fire; Hands, that the rod of empire might have . . swayed, Or waked to ecstasy the living.....lyre."
" The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the . . fold, And his cohorts were gleaming with purple and gold."
Blank verse is the name given to a kind of poetry without rhyme, which was the form that the earlier poets almost entirely made use of. The poetry of the Greeks and Romans was generally without rhyme, and not until the Middle Ages, when introduced by the Goths from the North, did rhyme come into the Latin and the vernacular tongues of modern Europe.
Blank verse is particularly suited to the drama, and was very popular in the sixteenth century, during which time, and the beginning of the seventeenth century, Shakespeare wrote his plays. The following from Milton's "Paradise Lost" representing Eve's lament and farewell to Eden, written in 1667, illustrates the power of expression in blank verse :
"O unexpected stroke, worse than of death! Must I thus leave thee, Paradise ? thus leave Thee, native soil! these happy walks and shades, Fit haunt of gods ? where I had hoped to spend, Quiet though sad, the respite of that day That must be mortal to us both. O, flowers That never will in other climate grow, My early visitation and my last At even, which I bred up with tender hand From the first spring bud, and gave ye names! Who now shall rear thee to the sun, or rank Your tribes, and water from the ambrosial fount? Thee lastly, nuptial bower ? by me adorn'd By what to sight or smell was sweet ! from thee How shall I part, and whither wander down Into a lower world, to this obscure And wild? How shall we breathe in other air Less pure, accustom'd to immortal fruits?"