catalexis


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Related to catalexis: Acatalexis
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Words related to catalexis

the absence of a syllable in the last foot of a line or verse

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Catalexis, though it can arise from inadvertence in a poet who wishes to observe the shibboleth that forbids it, (4) may also be a stylistic tool: whether or not it is consciously registered, it is experienced by the reader or listener as a gap, an absence of something expected: thus headlessness creates a kind of initial abruptness that mirrors, for example, the suddenness of King Richard's volte-face in the first line of item 2a, or the explosive anger or exasperation of the speakers in the second two:
One naturalistic device that Larkin takes further than Lowell (as Table 1 shows) is medial catalexis.
More interestingly, the catalexis can point a rhetorical pause of some kind: it can suggest a slight hesitation, mirroring the poet's mild disappointment at the dull predictability of the interior in "Church Going," for example, or his surprise at "finding out how much had gone of life,/How widely from the others" in "Dockery and Son"; alternatively, it can register the anxious hiatus that follows the nurse's beckoning in "The Building":
Where the catalexis does not coincide with an existing major syntactic break, the tiny ungrammatical pause or deceleration it intrudes can suggest a typically Larkinesque hesitation over le mot juste:
The fifth-foot catalexis seen in 20 and in the last examples of 19 (often combined, as here, with harsh mapping) became with its sombre or musing cadence a trademark of Larkin's style right up to the last great poem that he wrote:
Though single catalexes generally go unremarked, multiple catalexis will sometimes obtrude itself upon a critic's attention, in which case it will tend to be interpreted prescriptively as a departure from metricality.
It is interesting that Lowell and Larkin's rediscovery of catalexis has not caught on among subsequent users of the pentameter to the extent that one might have expected, even among Larkin's acknowledged poetic disciples like Anthony Thwaite and Douglas Dunn: the roots of prescriptivism run deep, and nobody wants to be awarded the asses' ears as one of Ghose's "incompetent poets" who cannot count up to ten.
As we have said, it is hard to know exactly which metrical position is the catalectic one, so we follow traditional analyses and assume it is the last, since catalexis (like extrametricality) seems to target final constituents rather than initial ones, at least in phonology (Kiparsky 1991).
For one thing, the clearest case of catalexis in Greek stichic meter, iambic tetrameter catalectic, has initial catalexis, not final.
31) Knights 773-776 (assuming that catalexis is initial) (--H)(H L L)(H H)(H L L)(H H)(H L kai po:s an e.
that catalexis in this meter is either initial or final.
Again, most of the structure and rhythm is unmarked, so we are left with little to notate overtly except the catalexis.
Unless the catalexis we find regularly is demonstrably the byproduct of something else, we can simply note the markedness of the situation with a constraint violation.
For this reason we should discuss why the catalexis is initial and why the meter is better analyzed as iambic than as trochaic.
Line 1 must be just what it looks like, a dactylic tetrameter; and so then must line 2, whose double-slack catalexis belongs at the end and not, where I had wanted to put it, at the beginning.