Welcome to part 17 of our study on Metrical writing. Today we will be looking at Elisions.
What are Elisions? Elisions are the omitting or slurring of syllables. In today's writing of Blank Verse, there are two types that are commonly used.
1. The first (which all of you have seen used in everyday writing, but didn't know it was called an Elision) is contracting words together using an Apostrophe.
Let us = Let's
Dave is = Dave's
We will = We'll
It is = It's
Will not = Won't
As you can see, you are combining two words into one. This is a handy tool in Metrical writing as sometimes you will need two syllables, and sometimes you will just need one.
If you follow this link: https://www.writingforums.org/resources/contractions.357/ it will take you to where you can find a list of contractions.
The Next type of Elision is a little more trickery and involves speech habits.
Syncope (The Omission of a sound) and Synaersis (The slurring of a sound) occur in everyday speech.
Vi-o-lent OR Vi-lent
Iv-o-ry OR Iv-ry
Mem-o-ry OR Mem-ry
Nat-u-ral OR Nat-ral
Sad-en-ing or Sad-ning.
There is probably hundreds of words out there that you can do this with, but as you can see, you can play with the syllable count of a word depending on how you pronounce that word.
I wanted to give you a few examples of Elisions that have been done in the past but are not done today.
Sometimes, when one word ended in a vowel and the next word began in a vowel, they would combine the two letters together.
Many a people = Man/y a People/le ... This is not an anapest, the y+a is being pronounced as one syllable.
Another example of this (and this is where people try to be poetic and just show they have no fucking clue what they are doing)
I am sure you've seen something like this before, Th'expansion. Really this is The expansion, and they combined the two words. This practice is NO longer done today.
P.S. I'll see people who don't even write metrically put this into their poetry because they read some of Poe's works and saw him do this. (If you want to write like Poe, learn about Meter and the use of sound. Don't try to copy words of his when you have no idea what it was he was doing. /End rant.)
We've also read words like this O'vr, Nev'r, Heav'n etc. Again, poets were cutting out Syllables, but this is no longer done today. (If any of you can pronounce 'over' as one Syllable, God Bless you.)
There are probably dozens of different types of Elisions that have used since the birth of English, but I wanted to give a handy rule about using them. If you can't pronounce, or, more importantly, you wouldn't pronounce the word like how you are trying to Elude it, chances are, you shouldn't be eluding the word like that.
But if you can/do pronounce a word that you elude, go for it.
Is there a way for me to let the reader know I eluded a word?
Sadly, you can't hold your reader's hand. A reader does have some responsibility -in regards to understanding for you've crafted your work- when reading your work.
I wanted to end today's post by looking by scanning Suzanne J. Doyle's 'Some Girls.' It makes use of a few Elisions.
by Suzanne J. Doyle.
The risk is moral death each time we act,
And every act is whittled by the blade
Of history, pared down to brutal fact,
The fact: we only want what we degrade.
No beauty in the glass makes our loss good,
No hero in the wings can take the stage,
The Clash of blood at war with its own blood
Intoxicates us with colossal rage.
A cold beer and the young moon's tender horns
Are shining on the table where we spar
Like women gladiators, bred and born
To wear our father's breastplates, greaves and scars.
There's something not quite right here. We can't talk
Like some girls, who'd say, "Hell, the bastards broke our hearts."
We are a different kind of tough; we hawk
Our epic violence in black bars, in bed, in art.
by Suzanne J. Doyle.
The risk/ is mor/al death/ each time/ we act, (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
And eve/ry act/ is whitt/led by/ the blade (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
Of hist/o-ry,/ pared down/ to brut/al fact, (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)*1
The fact: /we on/ly want /what we /degrade. (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
No beaut/y in/ the glass /makes our /loss good, (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
No he/ro in/ the wings/ can take/ the stage, (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
The Clash/ of blood/ at war /with its /own blood (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
In-tox/i-cates /us with /co-loss/al rage. (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
A cold /beer and/ the young/ moon's tend/er horns (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)*2
Are shin/ing on/ the tab/le where /we spar (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
Like wo/men glad/i-a/tors, bred /and born (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
To wear/ our fath/er's breast/plates, greaves /and scars. (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
There's some/thing not /quite right /here. We/ can't talk (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)*3
Like some /girls, who'd /say, "Hell,/ the bas/tards broke/ our hearts." (Trochee/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)*4
We are /a diffe/rent kind /of tough;/ we hawk (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb) *5
Our ep/ic vio/lence in /black bars, /in bed,/ in art. (Iamb/Iamb/Double Iamb/Iamb/Iamb). *6
*1: If we remember last blog post, I said that with verb phrases the preposition can take the stress. Pared down, the down takes the stress.
*2: It might seem strange that 'and' out stresses 'Beer' but 'cold beer' is a compound noun. In compound nouns, always treat the second word like any other unstressed syllable in a multi syllable word.
*3: There's (There is) is an elision.
*4: Two notes on this line. 1. Who'd (Who would) is an Elision. 2, this line has six feet so that it will match the last line in regard to Rhyme. Remember, for A Ryhme to match it just land on a stress, and match the Rhythm count of the line it is Rhyming with.
*5 Different is being eluded. Instead of saying diff-er-ent, she is saying diff-rent.
*6 Violence is being eluded. Instead of saying vi-o-lence, she is saying vi-lence.
This concludes my look at Elision in regards to meter. I want to stress that it would be impossible for me to look at every form of Elision that exist as different regions have different speech habits, and I don't know every speech habit that exist.
In our next post -which builds on this one- we will be looking at ambiguous syllables.
If you have any thoughts or questions, please leave a comment or a like!
Previous post: https://www.writingforums.org/entry/a-study-of-metrical-writing-part-16-english-stress.64028/
Next post: https://www.writingforums.org/entry/a-study-of-metrical-writing-part-18-ambiguous-syllables.64033/
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