The Formation of Prose Rhythm in Middle English Before c 1350

西元1350年以前 中古英文散文韻的形成


I have endeavored elsewhere to make good the position that if any one would English prosody win, with Middle English he must needs begin. The truth (though a stage of preliminary enquiry, then almost unimportant, is now of great importance,) remains still true in regard to prose; and it could not but be so, seeing that it is in this period that the English language proper is formed, and that, in consequence, we must look to it for the origin of all the formal characteristics of English literature. But the quest is here much more darkling, and the results scantier and more doubtful, than in the case of verse. In the first and main place, we have now returned to the usual law of literary order which Anglo-Saxon seems to violate, or at least to ignore. The new blend achieves itself slowly; and such achievement as there is, for the first two or three centuries, is mainly in verse.


我曾試圖在其他地方尋找答案以證明,若有人欲學會詩體音韻,他必得從中古世紀英文著手;事實證明,散文也有相同的情形(雖然只是初步推斷,但過去被忽視的中古英文,確實是帶有重大意義的) 因為英語的體用很可能就是在這個時期產生,因此我們理應將中古世紀視為英國文學體統的起源。

然而,與韻文相形之下,我們在這裡所要探討的是更模糊不清,結果更為薄弱且令人存疑的;首先,我們必須回朔到文學史的通則,雖然這通則看似是中古世紀英文所違背,或者說忽略的。新的體用自然演變而成,起初的兩三個世紀,通則之演變主要以韻文為主。

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