Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Synalepha and Hiatus, Dieresis and Synerisis

The guide below assumes some knowledge of the basics, but that is a risky assumption. Therefore I am supplementing it with some extra information.

Synalepha (sinalefa) is the merger of two vowels in two separate words:

Oro bruñido al sol relumbra en vano.

It can occur in the weak metrical position, as in the example above, or in the strong position. Hiatus (hiato) is the negation of synalepha.

Qué hora: lanzar el cuerpo hacio lo / alto.

It tends to occur only when the second vowel occurs in a metrically strong position--usually at the end of a line or before the 6th syllable of an 11 syllables line.

Synerisis (sinérisis) is the merger of two strong vowels into a dipthong.

"Harían de tu corazón" (Lorca)

To make this line an octosyllabic line, we need to take a way a syllable.

Dieresis (diéresis) splits a dipthong into two syllables. Often it will be noted with a diacritic mark (süave). Not all dipthongs can be split up this way. Once again, the purpose of hiatus, synerisis, and dieresis is to preserve the syllable count. In other words, you have to know in advance how many syllables the line is supposed to have before you can apply these factors to the scansion of a line.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Mayhew's Guide to Spanish Verse

You already know how to count syllables in lines of Spanish verse and classify lines by the number of syllables. You about llanos, agudos, and esdrújulos. You know how rhyme works in Spanish, and the difference between asonancia and consonancia. I also assume you know some facts of Spanish phonology. Still, you might feel uncertain about many details beyond these basics. Maybe you have to re-teach yourself the rudiments of Spanish versification every time you teach an introductory course. This guide is for you.


1. What's the big deal anyway? Why should I even want to know about this stuff?

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. This is considered basic information, taught at a very low level in our curriculum, and then rarely used again, so that even some scholars in the field may have a tentative grasp of some of it--especialy if they are not specialists in poetry or classic theater. Textbooks like Aproximaciones a la Literatura Hispánica are not very useful for going beyond the basics, and also fail to explain some important concepts. I believe that too much emphasis is placed on terminology, and not enough on underlying principles. We learn the rules, but not the rules behind the rules. How can we present this information in a meaningful way to our students if we barely master it ourselves?

2. What's the next step beyond counting the syllables?

The rhythmic structure of the line is determined not by the number of syllables alone but by the accents, which are disributed rhythmically in groups of two and/or three syllables. Take Bécquer's line

cadencias que el aire delata en las sombras

We can count twelve syllables


So the tonic accent of the line is on syllable 11: som

The other accents of the line are on 2, 5, 8. Do you see a pattern? That's right: groups of three syllables. Count backwards by threes from eleven and you get: 11, 8, 5, 2 Voilà!

In this particular poem Bécquer alternates this pattern with another: 10 syllable lines with accentuation on 3, 6, 9:

Yo sé un HIMno giGANte y exTRAño (10)
que aNUNcia en la NOche del ALma una AUrora. (12)
Y estas páginas son de ese himno (10)
cadencias que el aire delata en las sombras. (12)

3,6,9 is compatible with 2,5,8,11 because both patterns are based on groups of three syllables. Yet one pattern starts on the second syllable and the other on the third; one pattern has three accents, the other four. We have a significant rhythmic principle here: variation and regularity, in balance, or tension. Another tendency we observe here is that the beginning of a metrical pattern will tend to be freer than the end; the cadence or resolution is what leaves an impression. The syllables preceding the first metrical accent are not as significant in the way we perceive the rhythm of a line: we care more about how the line ends, how it resolves itself.

How about groupings other than 2 and 3? 4 is still a binary rhythm. 5 is a combination of 2 + 3 or 3 + 2. 7 is 4+3 or 3+4. All "time signatures" are ultimately binary or tertiary, alone or in combination. A good deal of the rhythmic interest in Spanish verse is derived from the alternation between twos and threes. Think of a blue-grass banjo picker moving between triple and duple rhythms in rapid succession, or how Afro-Cuban music is based on polyrhythmic principles.

3. How do I know when to deploy hiato, sinéresis, and diéresis?

Hiato is the imposition of a pause between two vowels in adjacent words, used to mainatin a certain metrical pattern:

Y estas páginas son de ese / himno.

It usually occurs only before one of the main accents of the verse—most frequently before the last accented (tonic) syllable, as in this case.

Diéresis is often marked graphically: "Domando el rebelde, mezquino idïoma."

It is frequent with the word "süave." Notice that it's quite easy to say "su-ave"or "idi-oma" but almost impossible to say "a-ire." The weak vowel (i or u) usually has to come first if you're "splitting a dipthong." The poet is not going to force you to say something overly unnatural.

Sinéresis is the combination of two strong vowels into a dipthong:

"Las oyes cómo piden realidades" (11) [Pedro Salinas]

Note that it's easy to say "rea-li-dades" or "cae." Once again, poets don't use sinéresis much where it would violate the normal phonology of Spanish. Machado almost always makes the a-e combination into a single dipthong. So does Claudio Rodríguez. One can surmise that these poets pronounced and heard this combiantion as a dipthong..

You have to already know how many syllables the line is supposed to have before you can apply any form of "poetic license." That's a Catch-22. I tend to predict pattern first rather than counting syllables in a mechanical way. Students often find verses of 10, 12, 15, and 9 syllables in a poem that is completely isometric endecasílabos. I would rather tell them in advance that it is a metrically regular poem and then have them discover the regularity that is already there. For example, I don't want to count the Pedro Salinas line above as "dodecasílabo" because it would be the only one in the poem. I know the poem is written in endecasílabos with some line of 7, 9, and 14 mixed in. 12 would be rhythmically anomalous.

4. What are the chacteristic rhythms of the octosílabo?

This form is defined in terms of its tonic syllable (7). The following four patterns are most frequent:

1,4,7 (Voces de muerte sonaron / cerca del Guadalquivir)
3,7 (verde viento, verdes ramas)
2,4,7 (Señores guardias civiles / aquí pasó lo de siempre)
2,5,7 (Su luna de pergamino / Preciosa tocando viene) [FGL]

1,4,7 is "dactílico" --- based on groupings of 3.
3,7 – based on a binary rhythm, tends to break up into two identical halves. It can have accents on one and five as well as three and seven, and still maintain that duple structure.

The others are "mixed" forms. The 8-syllable line is varied in its possible rhythms, since it can alternate between two- and three-syllable groupings and "mixed" forms.

5. What are the characteristic rhythms of the endecasílabo?

The first four syllables are relatively free. Any of the first four syllables can be accented.
The other accents in the line are typically:

6, 10


8, 10

5, 7, 9, by the same token, are rarely accented, since Spanish doesn't permit adjacent accents very often. (Exception: "Siempre la claridad viene del cielo" [Claudio Rodríguez])

So the most common combinations (with their traditional labels) are

1, 6, 10 (enfático)
2, 6, 10 (heroico) La lengua de los ásperos sajones. [J.L. Borges]
3, 6, 10 (melódico)
4, 8, 10 (sáfico)

Here's a poem with lots of rhythmic variation and enjambment:

En este vaso de ginebra bebo [sáf]
los tapiados minutos de la noche, [mel]
la aridez de la música, y el ácido [mel]
deseo de la carne. Sólo existe, [her]
donde el hielo se ausenta, cristalino [mel]
licor y miedo de la soledad. [saf; irregular]
Esta noche no habrá la mercenaria [mel]
compañia, ni gestos de aparente [mel]
calor en un tibio deseo. Lejos [her]
está mi casa hoy, llegaré a ella [her]
en la desierta luz de madrugada, [saf]
desnudaré mi cuerpo, y en las sombras [saf]
he de yacer con el esteril tiempo. [saf] [Francisco Brines]

Note how putting the accent on 4 tends to push the normal accent (on 6) up to 8:

"De muchas tardes, para siempre juntas." [Jorge Guillén]

... maintaining that same four-syllable gap. The suppleness or variability of the endecasílabo stems from its combination of a relatively free first section and a more regular conclusion, which always falls into a binary rhythm. Within the binary rhythm, rhythmic interest is created by the variation in accentuation among syllables 2,4,6,8,10, but the accent on 3 is also common: "los tapiados minutos de la noche." They call that variation "melodic," perhaps because the triple rhythm gives way to a binary one in the middle of the line, producing a nicely varied effect.


El dulce lamentar de dos pastores (2,6,10) [Garcilaso]
La lengua de los ásperos sajones [Borges]

De muchas tardes, para siempre juntas (4,8,10)

6. What is the "endecasílabo de gaita gallega"?

Accenutation on syllable 7 changes the metrical character of the endecasílabo so much that this is considered another form: "endecasílabo de gaita gallega."

Note the strongly "triple" beat of the "gaita gallega":

"Picos sin presas recoge la brisa" --J. Guillén

The accents here are on 1,4,7,10. Count by threes, backward from 10. Voilà!

The normal endecasílabo, in contrast, resolves into a pattern of "twos" in its concluding cadence, whether its metrical accents are on ¿?,6,10, or 4,8,10.

7. Why is it traditonal to combine verses of seven and eleven syllables?

The heptasílabo has its final, tonic accent on 6. The endecasílabo also accents syllable 6, as we have seen. A group of seven syllables, then, sounds rather like the beginning of an eleven-syllable line. These two forms harmonize well with each other. Both are primarily binary rather than tertiary. That is, they resolve in multiples of two rather than in multiples of three.

The main accent will be on 6, that means no accent on 5. As with the 11 syllable line, any of the first four syllables may bear the accent.

8. What about "verso libro."

Most so-called free verse in Spanish derives, in fact, from combinations of 7 and 11 syllables. In other words, it is an irregular or free version of the silva or lira, with some verses of 8 and 9 syllables mixed in on occasion. Verses with an odd number of syllables will be much more frequent than even-numbered ones. Your students will tell you almost any poem is in free verse if they are unable to discern a pattern, or if they simply make too many mistakes in counting syllables. They tend to identify free verse with the absence of all rhythm, rather than seeing it a combination of various forms. By the same token, they often fail to discern rhyme, or confuse rhythm with rhyme.

*Neruda's Odas elementales use enjambment to disguise the metrical nature of the composition. The "verse" doesn't correspond to the "line." Look out for metrical groupings that are split between lines, or that are grouped within lines. (11+7)

Cuerpo feliz que fluye entre mis manos, [11]
rostro amado donde contemplo el mundo, [11]
donde graciosos pájaros se copian fugitivos, [7+ 7]
volando a la región donde nada se olvida [7 + 7] [Vicente Aleixandre]

*Poets like Cernuda, Canero, and Gil de Biedma write alejandrinos with combinations of 6 + 7 or 7 + 6. rather than the traditional 7 + 7.

"sus vergonzosas noches / de amor sin deseo" [Jaime Gil de Biedma]

These phrases are nicely balanced in their intonation, but asymmetrical. The earliest poetry in Castilian, the anonymous Cid, is written in a similar form. Lines of an inderminate number of syllables broken into two hemistiches of between 6 and 8 syllables.

Notice, though, that even more regular patterns can contain asymmetrical groupings of phrases:

"Gárrulas aguas, inútil pesquisa / De músico relieve" is an "endecasílabo de gaita gallega" followed by an heptasílabo. [Jorge Guillén] Within this regular pattern, repeated in the entire poem, we have a 5-syllable phrase followed phrases of 6 and 7. Repeat the identical asymmetrical pattern--

"Picos sin presas recoge la brisa / Que va tras lo más leve"

--and the asymmetry seems organized, a form of "planned chaos."

9. Tell me more about the alejandrino.

I'm glad you asked. The alejandrino (7+7) often tends toward a kind of sing-song effect (sonsonete). That is because the typical intonational pattern of these relatively short phrases (with two accents), answering each other, produce a kind of up / down movement: up in the first hemistiquio, down in the second hemistiquio. Read some Rubén Darío and you'll know what I mean.

Here is a non-singsong example. I've marked the cesura dividing the two hemistiquios. I've also noted the accentual pattern.

Mi infancia son recuerdos / de un patio de Sevilla, [2, 6 / 2, 6]
y un huerto claro donde / florece el limonero;. [2, 4, {6} / 2, 6]
mi juventud, veinte años / en tierras de Castilla; [4, 6 / 2, 6]
mi historia, algunos casos / que recordar no quiero [2, 6 / 4, 6] [Antonio Machado]

The accents here don't vary as much as the pauses. The syntactic phrases don't line up with the obligatory metrical cesura after the 7th syllable. There is a strong tendency for there to be two accents in each half line. Note that the almost "obligatory" accent on 6 in the second line falls on a weaker word "donde."

Note also the tendency of 7-syllable phrases to divide up into groups of 3 + 4 or 4 + 3. "Mi infancia / son recuerdos" "de un patio / de Sevilla." "en tierras / de Castilla." Within the binary structure, there is a marked assymmetry between a three-syllable phrase accented on the second syllable, and a four-syllable phrase accented on the third: "Mi infancia / son recuerdos" I find this incredibly cool.

{Remember that each hemistiquio is like an independent line of verse, and thus must be treated as such for the computation of syllables.

The same thing might occur with verses of 10 syllables grouped into 5 + 5

"Yo soy el símbolo / de la pasión" [GAB]

The first half of the line "Yo soy el símbolo" is esdrújulo, and hence has five syllables metrically, although it would seem to have six. The second hemistiquio, is "de la pasión," also a group of five syllables metrically, although as an agudo it will have only four.}

The occasional monotony of the 7-syllable line and the alejandrino is not due to its accentual pattern: actually there are four main variants, so we would expect a good deal of rhythmic variation. I believe that it is due, instead, to intonational factors. Each 7-syllable unit will usually have two accents, thus the "up-down" movement is constant. The endecasílabo, in contrast, usually has three accents in each line. More happens within each line.

10. Why do undergraduate students often fail to perceive assonant rhyme, or assert that there is rhyme where there is actualy none?

There are several factors involved. Some students use their eyes rather than their ears. They want to "look" only at the final syllable, not at the last two syllables (for llanos). They are distracted by the presence of weak vowels (in dipthongs), which do not affect the rhyme. They are unaware that "lágrima" rhymes with "casa." That is, they forget that the middle syllable of the esdrújulo does not count for the purpose of the rhyme.

11. What is the "metrical signature"?

I use this phrase to refer to the characteristic "sound" or "personality" of a poet—the sum-total of his or her habitual rhythmic style. Not merely the choice of what meters to use but also how they are used, especially in relation to the syntactic structure of the phrases. Compare José Angel Valente, who maintains much more of a separation between words, to Claudio Rodríguez, with his much more frequent use of sinalefa. Valente's sound is almost Germanic in contrast. Salinas likes short, sing-song like phrases. Aleixandre is addicted to the rhetorical structure of the alejandrino. The number of verse-forms used by Spanish poets is large, and the variations within each form are multiple as well.

Compare the Machado quoted above ("Mi infancia son recuerdos de un patio de Sevilla"" with Jorge Guillén, also writing 7 syllable lines

(El alma vuelve al cuerpo,
Se dirige a los ojos
Y choca. -- ¡Luz! Me invade
Todo mi ser. ¡Asombro!

Even if we write this out as 14 syllable alejandrinos

El alma vuelve al cuerpo, se dirige a los ojos
y choca. --¡Luz! Me invade todo el ser. ¡ Asombro!

We are still far away from Machado's cadence.

Mi infancia son recuerdos de un patio de Sevilla
y un claro huerto donde florece el limonero.

Guillén's variation in phrasal length-- between one and nine syllables in this case-- disguises the rhythmic shape and flow. Part of his "signature" is a kind of metrical virtuosity but a lack of interest in verse that sounds regular.

12. How do I know which syllables bear metrical accents?

For example, you might have noticed that there are other accents that I am not counting as part of the main rhythmic armature of the line:

*El dulce lamentar de dos pastores.

*De muchas tardes, para siempre juntas

Not all accents are created equal. Prepositions like "para" and certain adjectives like "mucho" have weaker accents. Say "para siempre" to yourself out loud. Chances are you said it as a single phonological phrase "parasiempre." The final accented syllable in any phonological phrase will be stronger. (That's the famous "nuclear stress rule.") So in the phrase "de dos pastores" dos has less stress than pastores.

These weaker accents are not rhythmically inert. They still contribute to the flow of these lines, which alernate between weaker and stronger syllables.

The 5 + 6 structure of Guillén's "Sapphic" endecasílabo gets to me every time. Its beauty is that it is both flowing and asymmetrical. The alternation between weak and strong is smooth as silk, yet the line divides up into two phrases of unequal length. This is certainly the tenth marvel of the world. It has the elegance of the metric modulations in a Max Roach drum solo, especially when alternated with other variants of the line.

The good news is that you already know how to speak Spanish, so you already know where to place the accents. You don't have to pronounce words differently than you would when speaking normally. Even "poetic licence" is based on more or less permissible pronunciations, not on strong distortions.

13. How about the 9-syllable line?

The eneasílabo is an acquired taste. Darío, Neruda, and Hierro are the poets who've put it to best use. "Juventud, divino tesoro...." It seems a little less "natural" than the more common 8- or 11-syllable lines. I don't know whether this is an intrinsic fact about this particular combination of syllables, or whether the form is not practiced enough to have gained a toe-hold. After all, the endecasílabo was seen as a foreign import, unsuited to the language and culture, when it was introduced in the 16th century. Now it seems completely castizo.

14. How about the role of intonation?

This is an interesting question. Oversimplifying greatly, we tend to raise our voice to a higher pitch with the first accented syllable in a phrase, then maintain that same pitch throughout the phrase, then do various things at the end depending on whether we are making a statement, asking an informational question, or asking a yes-no question. (Compare "¿Tienes sueño?" with "Qué tienes?") Therefore, the intonation of the poetic line will depend on its accentual pattern and the length of the phrases, as well as the presence or absence of interrogatives of two distinct types. Intonation plays a large role in the "metrical signature" of a particular poet, I believe.

15. Why is the llano the basis of our counting of syllables?

We define the endecasílabo, for example, as any verse having its tonic accent on the 10th syllable—whether this syllable is the última, penúltima, or antepenúltima of that particular word. So only lines ending in llanos (words like casa, palabra, mesa) will actually have 11 syllables. That's why the French alexandrine has twelve syllables and the Spanish alejandrino fourteen. We are essentially adding a syllable because the penultimate accentuation is statistically predominant in Spanish. The most significant syllable in a six-syllable line will be the fifth, and so on.

16. What is the difference in "feel" between double and triple rhythms?

Rhythms based on groups of three syllables tend to be more "swinging" or "lilting." Double rhythms are often described as sounding more "even" and stately.

17. What about enjambment?

Enjambment is not just the lack of punctuation at the end of a line, but, more broadly speaking, the non-coincidence of meter and syntax. It's effect, then, is to weaken the perceptibility of the main meter of the poem by creating alternative metrical phrases split between lines of verse. For example, parts of two lines might form a phrase of nine within a poem written in lines of eleven. Look what happens when we write out a section of a peom poem in phrases rather than in its original 11-syllable lines (I've marked the original line breaks as well with the barra oblicua: "/" and put the rhyme words in caps):

Ahora necesito más que nunca / mirar el cielo; [16]
Ya sin fe y sin NADIE, / [6]
tras este seco mediodía, [9]
alzo / los ojos, [5]
y es la misma verdad de ANTES, / [8]
aunque el testigo sea distinto; [9] [¡sinéresis in the word "sea"!]
riesgos / de una aventura sin leyendas ni ´ANGELES, / [13]
ni siquiera ese azul que hay en mi patria./ [11]
Vale dinero respirar el AIRE... / [11] [Claudio Rodríguez]

18. Could you summarize some of those basic principles to which you refer earlier? I think I've lost sight of them in all the extraneous detail you've added.


• Two and threes. Those are the basic groupings. Spanish verse can alternate between them easily, even in the same line.

• The crescendo effect: more regular, and more heavily weighted, rhythmic elements occur toward the ends of lines and phrases.

• Symmetry and asymmetry: even very regular forms contain asymmetrical or implicitly polyrhythmic elements. For example, a smoothly flowing endecasílabo might consist of two phrases of 4 and 7 syllables, or 5 and 6. 7-syllable lines have a structure of two accents each, yet often divide up into syllabic groups of 3+4 or 4+3.

Meter is hardly ever a rigid or invariant form. It is more like a structure that allows certain meaningful variations to occur.

19. What are some of the functions of meter?

Mnemonic. This might seem a merely pragmatic consideration: verse is easier to memorize than prose. Yet this also means that verse is more memorable in a more profound sense too. Think of Bécquer's idea that poetry vibrates in the memory of the reader.

Generic, metapoetic. It seems pretty amazing to me that a contemporary poet can write an octosílabo and evoke the cadence of the Cantar de mío Cid, written at the beginning of the thirteenth century. Or write an endecasílabo that takes the reader back to the 16th century and the renaissance. Meter involves a sense of the continuity of the poetic tradition, evoking particular poetic genres and epochs. It thus involves a metaliterary perspective.

Poetic. Meter focuses our attention on language itself, its materiality.

There may be other functions as well, ornamental, mimetic, ideological. Poetic forms can acquire certain meanings or functions depending one how and why they are used.

20. What is the role of meter in translation?

The phonetic structure of the source language is part of what is, almost by definition, left behind in translation. There is little hope in reproducing the distinctive "metrical signature" in the target language. Usually, translators look for a kind of cultural equivalence. For example, the heroic couplet in English was felt to be equivalent in the 18th century to the classical dactylic hexameter of Homer or Virgil.

The idea of searching for a phonological equivalence, rather than a cultural one, can often seem naive. For example, translating Japanese haiku into English using the 5-7-5 syllable pattern might lead to the addition of extraneous words, since the English "Autumn wind" is three syllables to the five of "aki no kaze." There is no reason to suppose that five syllables will have anywhere near the same effect in one language as in another. However, the effort to reproduce poetic forms in the target language can lead to metrical innovation.

21. How can I learn more?

Read poetry or classic "Golden Age" drama aloud. Once you internalize some of the main patterns, you will be able to discern them more rapidly and you will go beyond the "counting on the fingers" stage. Tomás Navarro Tomás's book Los poetas en sus versos is a good, non-threatening introduction to the subject. A goal might be to be able to perceive the rhythms of the most common verse-forms without actually counting the syllables.

Take the line "La lengua de los ásperos sajones" [Borges]. I perceive this line quickly as an endecasílabo quite easily without actually counting the syllables--either by saying it out loud or by looking at it on the page. It has the Gestalt, the organization, of the "heroic" 11-syllable line with accents on two, six, and ten. I've seen it thousands of times before so it becomes easy for me to recognize.

22. Help! I don't really know how to count syllables! I've been faking it all these years.

If there are two vowels adjoining each other in two words, we combine them into one syllable. "¿Cómoestáusted?" That's not just in poetry: it's the normal pronunciation of the phrase in Spanish. We call this "sinalefa" or, in English, elision. This is the normal thing, not some poetic license. It is hiato that is the exception. See above.

H at the beginning of the second word is silent. Words beginning with with hi or hu, however, are not subject to sinalefa. hielo, hueso. (Note that "hierba" is also written "yerba.")

If there are three vowels in a row, in three separate words as in "carne y alma" there is a choice to be made between "carne / yalma" and "carneialba." The first is usually preferred. The sinalefa can occur even when there is a punctuation mark separating the two words.

The other issue that comes up is the dipthong. A dipthong is a combination of a strong vowel and a weak one, or two weak ones.

AEO are strong
IU are weak ("You and I are weak")

When two strong vowels are adjoined in the same word, they form two separate syllables, not a dipthong.

There are tripthongs too, but they don't come up very often.

In determining the number of syllables, we count up to the last accented syllable, then add one more. "cerca del Guadalquivir" has seven syllables, but the last syllable bears an accent, so it is an 8-syllable line, for the purposes of meter. "dejando un rastro de lágrimas" is also an octosílabo, though it appears to have 9 syllables. "lá" is the seventh syllable of the line and the last accent of the line too.

23. How does sinalefa affect the flow of the line

If we compare a line without it

La lengua de los ásperos sajones

and one with a lot of it

Y es que en la noche hay siempre un fuego oculto... {Claudio Rodríguez]

The latter line would have 16 syllables if it were not for elision. It thus seems a lot longer on the page, but it sounds more or less like this:

Yes quen la nochay siemprun fuegoculto. There is a legato effect that contributes to Rodríguez's metrical signature.

24. Tell me again why I should care?

If you've gotten this far you might realize that this subject exercises a certain fascination for some people, even though the majority think it one of the dullest things on the face of the earth. You can be content with a basic knowledge and "feel" for the subject, or take it as much further, depending on where you fall along this continuum.

25. I read poetry fine and don't really worry about the verse form? Am I doing anything wrong?


26. How does sound affect meaning?

If you don't know Spanish, you won't be able to hear the sound of Spanish verse. In other words, you have to know what the words mean before you can hear their true sound in poetic context. It is meaning, then, that allows us to interpret the sound of verse in a poetically meaningful way. Meaning affects sound, not vice-versa, even for mimetic effects and sound symbolism. Ask not what sound can do for meaning, but what meaning can do for sound.

27. Can I ask a question?

Yes, just use comment box below. I'll delete comments once they're answered, or if they aren't appropriate to the purpose of this guide.