Rhythm in a Sinuous Stanza: The Anatomy and Acoustic Contour of the Latin Alcaic
This essay explores the metrical as well as rhythmical aspects of the acoustic contour of the Latin Alcaic, focusing on patterns of natural, audible, performed word accents in coincidence and syncopation with the fixed pattern of the meter, in both the ancient and modern scansions of the stanza. The meter was measured in antiquity with a learned, latent expectation or undercurrent of regular verse beats to scan aloud, to measure for the ear, the pattern of long and short syllables. Within the fixed framework of the meter, variable patterns of accent provide a rhythm, and that rhythm is the focus of this essay. Very little attention falls on sound and sense: the coda argues that sound need not be subordinate to meaning, need not be sound effect, nor explicitly rhetorical, to be worth our attention.