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mental principles. Metrically, both have a syllabic Hiatus and basis; but whereas Old French prosody is, aaura- broadly speaking, tolerant of hiatus, Italian abhors them to such a degree that it is prepared to elide almost any number of unaccented vowels—and even an accented vowel if it constitutes a whole word —rather than miss the satisfying consonant. Ariosto supplies an instance in which four vowels pertaining to three distinct words compose only one syllable—
"Di vera pudicizia e un paragone."
That is one difference. Another is the circumstance that, in passing from Old French and Provencal to Italian versification, the caesura ceases to be important. Thirdly, notwithstanding what has been said, you may occasionally come upon a masculine rhyme in Italian, but in Provencal poetry there are many more, and the sex of the rhymes is the chief formal distinction between the vers and the canson.
The nature of the Italian canzone, a very different and more complicated thing than its Troubadour rhc Italian namesake, has been luminously expounded canzone. in foe tenth and succeeding chapters of the De Vvlgari ffloquentia. From this invaluable account we learn that certain rhymes must be repeated. If the repetition occurs before what is called the dieresis, then the subdivisions, of which there are commonly two (though there may be three), are called pedes; and, in this case, the rest of the stanza is styled the cauda or syrma (Gr. "train"). If, on the other hand, the repetition takes place after the dieresis, then the subdivisions are called versus, and the first part of the stanza is known as the frons. The tripartite division of the Italian canzone is generally regarded as, outwardly, its most striking and significant feature, though it has its analogy in the stollen and abgesang of German minnesong. But, putting the matter another way, it may be said that the strophe consists of two parts—the more regular and highly organised, and the more simple and variable; and the separating—or, it might equally well be termed, the conjoining—line is the dieresis. Instances, however, are to be found where a strophe has both pedes and versus; and, in such cases, it is of course composed of four parts. A single example chosen at random will be useful in illustrating these remarks, though it must be clearly understood that, apart from the limitations above mentioned, and the necessity of all the stanzas being alike, the poet is a law unto himself, both as regards the length and number of the lines, and the order of the rhymes:—
"Cosi nel mio parlar voglio esser aspro,
In Troubadour verse it is usual to find the same rhymes recurring in all the stanzas of which the poem is composed, and which were named, therefore, coblas unissonans. The Italians, on the contrary, their rhyming vocabulary being less rich, almost always varied the rhymes in successive stanzas, which were accordingly, in Troubadour terminology, coblas singulars.
Besides coblas unissonans and coblas singulars the
Provencals knew of coblas esparsas, or isolated
stanzas, which were especially used for in
7Vi« sonnet. . , " _ T"
culcating moral lessons. Now one explanation of the sonnet is that it is really, morality apart, just such a cobla esparsa—that it was evolved out of the canzone- strophe, whose three-fold character it preserves. There is, however, a rival explanation. According to Biadene,1 the sonnet sprang from the fusion of a strambotto, or catch, of eight lines with another strambotto of six. The original rhyme-scheme was ababababcdeded. Afterwards the second strambotto was remodelled on the principle of the two-fold division of the first strambotto, so as to consist of two tercets instead of six lines rhyming alternately. This, if historical, may be taken as a conscious and deliberate attempt at improvement. The next step was the adoption of the scheme abba abba ede cde, except that the tercets, like the tail of the canzone, are suffered to wag pretty much as they please. If this account be accepted, the theory of the isolated stanzas, or cobla esparsa, which till lately held the field, must be given 1 Monad, 8tudj di FUol. Horn., fare. 10 (Rome, 1888).
up. It is worthy of notice that the scheme of the supposed primitive sonnet approximates closely to that of the Shakespearian variety, though the final couplet imparts to the latter a pointed, epigrammatic ending, foreign to the spirit of the Italian sonnet.
The earliest sonnets known are those of Dante da Majano and Paul Lanfranc, which are written in Provencal. So far, however, the fact has been invested with no particular significance; and the specimens in question are looked upon as freaks more than anything elsa The true home of the sonnet, or, at any rate, the region in which it attained fullest bloom, was Tuscany. Sonnets have been attributed to Sicilians, to Peter of the Vine, King Enzo, Mazzeo Ricco, and, above all, to Jacopo da Lentino; but in no instance is the attribution certain. As compensation, the Sicilians could boast of a diseordo answering to the Provencal deseart. The diseordo was composed of long irregular strophes; the lines were very short, and the rhymes followed one after the other. In some cases the meaning was so obscure as to suggest the complete ascendancy of the musical element, and possibly that may account for the speedy disappearance of the discordo. This was the kind of thing:—
"Si mi sdura
Di quant' eo ne veio
To return to the sonnet. In Tuscany it underwent sundry transformations. Settenarj were interposed between the endecasillabi, the results being the socalled sonetto doppio and sonetto rinterzato, forms for which Guittone d'Arezzo had a special predilection. The fourteen lines were composed of mixed cndecasillabi and settenarj, and instances occur of a sonnet being written wholly in settenarj. Other innovations affected the quatrains, which, to their perdition, Guittone raised from eight lines to ten. Monte Andrea did the same; and, in addition, he wrote real sonetti doppj of twentyeight lines, arranged as four quatrains and four tercets. The most notable change, however, was the invention of a coda in the shape of two (sometimes three) endecasillabi, or of a settenario rhyming with the preceding line and two endecasillabi rhyming together. I say "most notable," because, while other experiments were short-lived, the sonnet with the tail survived as the form for verse that was witty and
gayWhile the canzone was dedicated to lofty and serious subjects, and the sonnet was employed for all purposes, the ballata was a popular form designed to
The Ballats. °
accompany the dance. Unlike the balada, the ballata had no refrain, but the last line of the strophe echoes the ritornello or ripresa. The ripresa is a kind of chorus prefixed to the poem, and the name suggests that it was taken up again after each strophe, the strophe itself being sung as a solo. As regards the structure of the ballata, it has been clearly affected by the laws of the canzone, since it consists of two