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[341] his Science of English Verse. For the consideration of the structure of English verse he was peculiarly well prepared. His own unusually sensitive organism enabled him to respond very delicately to musical effects in verse. Besides, the early impulse to science given by Professor Woodrow in that ‘farcical college’ of his boyhood stimulated him to an investigation of the physics of sound and to a desire for reducing to law the apparent chaos of English versification. The result was pioneer work which appealed to many as the most sensible treatment of the subject which had then appeared. What differentiates this treatment from preceding ones is the insistence that the laws of music and verse are identical, that every foot represents a mathematically equal time interval. Length of interval, and not accent, is therefore the determining element in prosody. The valuable feature of this theory is that it emphasizes the relation of music and poetry and the fundamental importance of rhythm in poetry. Its unfortunate feature is that it insists too strongly on law. No such mathematical relation exists. Accent normally appears at equal time intervals and an accented syllable tends to acquire length. But Lanier wrote long before the psychological investigation of rhythm had begun. He therefore could not see the impossibility of trying to reduce to one rule all the innumerable individual senses of rhythm. Not only no two poets but no two readers would exactly coincide in their sense of rhythm. Lanier was on the right road. He merely made the mistake of taking his own sense of rhythm for a universal law.

Of his other prose writings the letters are the most important. They reveal the man with unusual fullness—the pulsating sea of emotion in which he lived, his exuberance, his passionate love of music, his wavering literary ambition, his buoyancy and humour and occasional despondency, together with his intellectual interests and preferences. Few letters written in America are more interesting. Yet on first dipping into them one is repelled by the same qualities which frequently give one pause in his other writings. The style seems highly artificial, fanciful in its imagery, strained and rhetorical in its phrasing, bookish and precious in its diction. Even in his last years he was rarely simple and direct, for he had from boyhood so steeped himself in the older writers of our tongue, Shakespeare

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