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Unaccented monosyllables  

Unaccented Monosyllables. Provided there be only one accented syllable, there may be more than two syllables in any foot. "It is he" is as much a foot as "'tis he;" "we will serve" as "we'll serve;" "it is over" as "'tis o'er."

Naturally it is among pronouns and the auxiliary verbs that we must look for unemphatic syllables in the Shakespearian verse. Sometimes the unemphatic nature of the syllable is indicated by a contraction in the spelling. (See 460.) Often, however, syllables must be dropped or slurred in sound, although they are expressed to the sight. Thus in “Províde thee | two próp | er pál | freys, bláck | as jet,” T. A. v. 2. 50. "thee" is nearly redundant, and therefore unemphatic.

"If" and "the" are scarcely pronounced in “And ín it | are the lórds | of Yórk, | Bérkeley, | and Séymour.” Rich. II. ii. 3. 55.Mir. I év | er sáw | so nóble. |
Prosp. It goes ón, | I sée.” Temp. i. 2. 419. “Bút that | the séa, | moúnting | to the wél | kin's chéek.” Ib. i. 2. 4.

("The" need not be part of a quadrisyllabic foot, nor be suppressed in pronouncing “The cúr | iósi | ty of ná | tions tó | depríve me.” Lear, i. 2. 4. Compare, possibly, “But I have ever had that cúriósity.B. and F. (Nares).)

So "to," the sign of the infinitive, is almost always unemphatic, and is therefore slurred, especially where it precedes a vowel. Thus: “In séeming | to augmént | it wástes | it. Bé | advís'd.” Hen. VIII. i. 1. 145. where "in" before the participle is redundant and unemphatic. “For trúth | to (t') over(o'er)péer. | Ráther | than fóol | it só.” Coriol. ii. 3. 128.

So the "I" before "beseech" (which is often omitted, as Temp. ii. 1. 1), even when inserted, is often redundant as far as sound goes. “(I) beseéch | your májes | ty, gíve | me léave | to gó.” 2 Hen. VI. ii. 3. 20. “(I) beséech | your grác | es bóth | to pár | don mé.” Rich. III. i. 1. 84. So Ib. 103.

Perhaps “(I) pray thee (prithee) stáy | with ús, | go nót | to Wítt | enbérg,” Hamlet, i. 2. 119. though this verse may be better scanned “I práy | thee stáy | with us, | go nót | to Wíttenberg.” See 469. “Let me sée, | let me sée; | ís not | the léaf | turn'd dówn?” J. C. iv. 3. 273. So (if not 501) “And I' | will kíss | thy fóot: | (I) prithee bé | my gód.” Temp. ii. 2. 152.

"With you" is "wi' you" (as in "good-bye" for "God be with you"); "the" is th', and "of" is slurred in “Two nó | ble párt | ners wíth you; | the old dúch | ess
of Nórfolk.” Hen. VIII. v. 3. 168.

To write these lines in prose, as in the Folio and Globe, makes an extraordinary and inexplicable break in a scene which is wholly verse.

For the quasi-suppression of of see “The bás | tard of O'r | leáns | with hím | is joín'd,
The dúke | of Alén | çon fií | eth tó | his síde.” 1 Hen. VI. i. 1. 92, 93.

In the Tempest this use of unaccented monosyllables in trisyllabic feet is very common. “Go máke | thysélf | like a nýmph | o' the séa; | be súbject
To no síght | but thíne | and míne.” Temp. i. 2. 301.

Even in the more regular lines of the Sonnets these superfluous syllables are allowed in the foot. Thus: “Excúse | not sí | lence só; | for 't lies | in thée.” Sonn. 101. And even in rhyming lines of the plays: “Cáll them | agaín, | sweet prínce, | accépt | their suít;
I'f you | dený | them, áll | the lánd | will rúe 't.Rich. III. iii. 7. 221.

This sometimes modifies the scansion. "Hour" is a dissyllable, and 't is absorbed, in “You knów | I gáve 't | you hálf | an hoú | r sínce.” C. of E. iv. 1. 65.

Almost any syllables, however lengthy in pronunciation, can be used as the unaccented syllables in a trisyllabic foot, provided they are unemphatic. It is not usual, however, to find two such unaccented syllables as “Which most gíb | inglý, | ungráve | ly hé | did fáshion.” Coriol. ii. 3. 233.

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