1. The English literary language in the course of its historical development has evolved various styles each of which has some characteristic features.
The features may form a more or less definite system tending to establish norms for word usage, rhythmical arrangement ofs peech, syntactical constructions, the character of figurative expression, etc. Such systems, differing from one another in the manner in which the resources of language are employed, are called the functional styles of literary language (FS).
In the English literary language the following FSs can be distinguished: the FS of the language of belles letters (poetry, emotive prose and drama); that of the newspaper, of science, of publicistics, of official document.
Some of these styles are confined to definite spheres of human activity, for example, the FS of the language of science or of official documents. Other styles aim at evoking emotional reactions in the reader or the listener. Among these styles are the FSs of oratorical and poetical language.
The aims set by the FS of poetical language predetermine the character and peculiarities of the lexical, syntactical and phonetic expressive means used. Poetical speech is always emotionally coloured. It is also distinguished from prose speech by its rhythmical arrangement and by special requirements of euphony.
Rhythm and rhyme alone, however, do not make poetry. The essential difference between prose and poetry lies in the manner of expressing' ideas. In poetical language thoughts and feelings are
expressed through the medium of images. This ensures an emotional perception of the idea expressed. The language of prose conveys the idea directly to the mind of the reader.
Some of the lexical, syntactical and phonetic peculiarities of the FS of the language of English poetry will be discussed in the commentary below.
2. Most of the expressive means used in poetry exist in the emotional colloquial speech of the given language. They are not created by poets. The peculiar features of emotional colloquial speech are typified and strengthened in poetry. Typical of excited speech for example is the use of two subjects, one a noun and the other a pronoun, to the same verb, e. g.
"Oh, that man, he is so poor."
This feature of emotional speech is used as a special poetic device to achieve emphasis. Examples may be seen in the first line of the poem:
| "The land it is the landlord's"
and in the line:
| "They render back, those rich men."
3. Another syntactical device frequently used in the FS of the language of English poetry is inversion. Poets generally use inversion for the purpose of placing the most important words in the most prominent places, that is, the beginning or the end of the line.
Inversion breaks the customary connection of the word with another word or words, and it gets special emphasis. In the text of the poem we find the following cases of inversion:
| "The ore the usurer's coffer fills -"
"The hour of leisured happiness
The rich alone may see."
"And as the sun we see, Each asks,.." and others.
4. Elliptical sentences (i. e. sentences in which one or several parts of a sentence are felt as missing) are also typical of emotionally tense speech. They are frequently used in poetry and are therefore regarded as a peculiarity of poetical syntax. In colloquial speech, which is usually a dialogue, elliptical sentences are considered to be the norm of oral intercourse. The missing parts are easily guessed because the situation in which the conversation takes place suggests them. However, when elliptical sentences are used in poetry they become special stylistic devices aimed at making the utterance emphatic.
In the text of the poem there are several elliptical sentences, e. g.
| "Theirs, theirs the learning, art, and arms -"
"The playful child, the smiling wife -"
In the first sentence the link-verb are is missing, in the second, there will be is missing.
| "The hour of leisured happiness
The rich alone may see;
The playful child, the smiling wife -
But what remains for me?"
The abstract notion expressed in the first line is developed by concrete images of playful child and smiling wife in the third line.
5. As has been pointed out above, thoughts and feelings may be expressed through images. These images are visual, aural, tactile, taste and smell perceptions of natural, concrete phenomena represented in language terms. This means that images are creations of the mind, i.e., they are perceived not directly but indirectly.
The peculiarity of language images lies in the fact that a word-image is made to refer to the object it generally denotes and to another object or notion thus causing a simultaneous realization of two corresponding meanings: a dictionary one and one imposed on the word by the context. If this simultaneous realization of two meanings is based on the identification of the two corresponding objects or notions we call such word a metaphor, for example:
| "He is in the sunset of his days."
The word sunset is a metaphor because there is identification of the two notions: old age and the end of the day.
Compare with the Russian заря жизни where the word заря is used metaphorically. The identification is based on the likeness between заря - dawn - the beginning of the day and the notions of hope and joy associated with it - and the first stages of one's life.
Identification which is based on certain relations between the notions is called metonymy. Metonymy may be based on different relations, for example:
1) the relation of proximity, e.g.
The kettle boils (the water in the kettle). Compare with the Russian: чайник кипит.
The game table was gay and happy (the people around the table). Compare with the Russian: Весь зал аплодировал (люди, находящиеся в зале).
2) the relation of the part and the whole, e.g.
a fleet of fifty sails (ships)
a herd of twenty head (cows or other animals). Compare with the Russian: 20 голов скота.
3) the relation between the symbol of a notion and the notion itself, e. g.
"From the cradle to the grave." (Shelley) (From childhood to death)
4) the relation between the material and the thing made of it, e.g. glasses (spectacles), canvas (sails) and other kinds of relations.
In the text of the poem we can find a number of cases in which metaphor and metonymy convey the ideas of the poet in figurative language. For example, in the sentence:
| "The coming hope, the future day,
When wrong to right shall bow"
the word bow is used metaphorically, that is, two meanings of the word are realized simultaneously, the dictionary meaning кланяться and a contextual meaning to be understood here as subdue (подавлять).
Such words as ore in the sentence "The ore the usurer's coffer fills" and the words camp, pulpit and several other words in the poem are examples of metonymy.
The meaning of the word ore is a mineral containing a useful metal. But in the text of the poem this word stands for gold or money.
The dictionary meaning of the word camp is a place where troops are lodged in tents. But in the text of the poem this word stands also for military service in the rank of officers.
The dictionary meaning of the word pulpit is a raised platform supplied with a desk from which the preacher in a church delivers the sermon. But in the text of the poem this word also stands for Иге office of a clergyman.
Consequently, in conveying the idea that all the riches of England and all the rights belong to the capitalists, the poet uses both abstract notions such as learning, art, law, etc., and images which are built through metaphors and metonymies, such as engine, steel and camp.
6. Verse is rhythmically arranged speech. As you read this poem you will notice that you stress syllables at regular intervals, according to the beat or measure of the verse. By measure or metre is meant the arrangement of syllables in a regular order to form a pattern. The syllables are arranged in groups that are similarly accented. These constitute the lines of verse.
In the poem "The Song of the Wage-Slave" we feel a regular alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables. The combination of one stressed syllable with either one or two unstressed syllables is called a foot. The number of feet in a verse varies in different kinds of poetry.
The feet in the poem you are studying are arranged according to the following scheme:
Thus the first line of the poem "The land it is the landlord's" can be graphically represented as follows:
Such metre is called the iambus.
If we read this verse in a slow, sing-song manner, we shall, of course, stress each syllable which should be stressed according to
the scheme. This kind of reading is generally practised in order to define the character of the metre. But poetry is not sung today. Therefore words which are generally not stressed in ordinary speech should not be stressed in poetry either, unless the sense requires that the word should be stressed. Thus, in reading (or reciting) poetry we may violate the metrical scheme. Hence, the first two lines of the poem should be read in the following manner:
In English poetry we also find the following metres:
the trochee ['trouki:] consisting of a stressed syllable, followed by an unstressed syllable , as in the word unit;
the dactyl [dæktil] consisting of a stressed syllable, followed by two unstressed syllables , as in the word carelessness;
the amphibrach ['æmfibræk] consisting of an unstressed syllable, followed by a stressed and one unstressed syllable, as in the word important ;
the anapest ['ænəpist] consisting of two unstressed syllables, followed by one stressed syllable, as in the word understand .
7. In the functional style of the language of English poetry there exists a special group of words which are called poetical and highly literary words. They are not used in ordinary literary English and are preserved in the English vocabulary for special purposes. Highly literary words are used in elevated speech; poetical words and phrases are mostly archaic or obsolete words of rare circulation in Standard English, and special forms of existing words (most of which were in use in earlier periods of the development of the English language).
In the text of this poem we find several such words, for example: craft, foe, toil, mayhap, where'er. The word craft comes from the Old English word cræft meaning strength, power, force. This word has survived in Modern English in such compound words as aircraft, handicraft, or such combinations as landing craft. It is not rarely used in its original sense in present-day English. However, in Modern English the word can be used as a synonym of skill or art applied to deceive.
Mayhap is shortened from it may hap. Hap corresponds to the modern verb happen. The noun hap in Old English meant chance, good luck, fortune.
8. "... in coin for coin" is a phrase the meaning of which in the context is fully, as pay.
9. labour's arm
The Possessive Case is usually associated with nouns denoting living beings, e. g. ... the trader's, the landlord's, the usurer's, etc. However, it is also used with certain abstract nouns, especially in poetry, thus achieving personification, e.g. Duty's call.
10. ... we score not on our hollow cheeks
Note that the negative is formed here without the auxiliary do. This is an archaic form and is found nowadays only in poetry, e.g. It fell to earth I knew not where (Longfellow).