Prologue To Dipsychus

A poem by Arthur Hugh Clough

‘I hope it is in good plain verse,’ said my uncle, ‘none of your hurry-scurry anapæsts, as you call them, in lines which sober people read for plain heroics. Nothing is more disagreeable than to say a line over two, or, it may be, three or four times, and at last not be sure that there are not three or four ways of reading, each as good and as much intended as another. Simplex duntaxat et unum. But you young people think Horace and your uncles old fools.’

‘Certainly, my dear sir,’ said I; ‘that is, I mean, Horace and my uncle are perfectly right. Still, there is an instructed ear and an uninstructed. A rude taste for identical recurrences would exact sing-song from “Paradise Lost,” and grumble because “Il Penseroso” doesn’t run like a nursery rhyme.’ ‘Well, well,’ said my uncle, ‘sunt certi denique fines, no doubt. So commence, my young Piso, while Aristarchus is tolerably wakeful, and do not waste by your logic the fund you will want for your poetry.’

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