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p. Harris 500 Complete Song Cycle 2 - Notes

Poetic choices

The cycle as a whole is lyrical and delicate, showing skill and considerable structuring in its composition. Imagery is drawn extensively from the natural world. The titles indicated in the whole cycle are not part of the original vocabulary, but are intended to capture the mood of the couple at that stage in their relationship, from initial meeting and courtship through doubt and conflict to resolution. All poems in the cycle are spoken by the woman (“sister”) to the man (“brother”).

Most Egyptian poetry does not seem to be metric in composition, in the sense of having a regular metre running through the whole. Syllabic counts, and a recurring pattern in which the second line of a couplet was typically shorter than the first, seems to have been a compositional principle. However, in translation, to reflect the compositional skill of the original author, some metrical consistency has been used, varying between duple (iambic or trochaic, with alternating stressed and unstressed syllables) and triple (dactylic or anapaestic, with two unstressed syllables between each stressed one) patterns. The choice of duple or triple has attempted to catch the mood of each one as follows:

  1. Introduction - optimistic and light-hearted - triple
  2. Attraction - torn between family duty and love - mixture of the two patterns
  3. Resolve - inner intent fixed - duple
  4. Approach - hesitancy at actually enacting the resolve - mixture of the two patterns
  5. Fulfilment - contentment and delight - triple
  6. Satisfaction - happy afterglow disturbed by the prospect of daily duty and a sense of reality intruding - mixture of the two patterns
  7. Anxiety - waiting for the man's return, troubled by inner doubts and jealousy - mixture of the two patterns
  8. Resolution - security for the future - duple

 

Syllable and couplet counts

Overall
94 lines, 70 in couplets (74% couplets)
Summary - Regular/Equal/Inverted ... 24/7/4
 
First poem
24 lines, 18 in couplets, pattern 3-3-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2 (75% couplets)
Couplet 1 - A-line 7 syllables, B-line 6 syllables ... Regular
Couplet 2 - A-line 9 syllables, B-line 11 syllables ... Inverted
Couplet 3 - A-line 9 syllables, B-line 6 syllables ... Regular
Couplet 4 - A-line 12 syllables, B-line 10 syllables ... Regular
Couplet 5 - A-line 10 syllables, B-line 10 syllables ... Equal
Couplet 6 - A-line 9 syllables, B-line 9 syllables ... Equal
Couplet 7 - A-line 9 syllables, B-line 10 syllables ... Inverted
Couplet 8 - A-line 11 syllables, B-line 7 syllables ... Regular
Couplet 9 - A-line 9 syllables, B-line 8 syllables ... Regular
Summary - Regular/Equal/Inverted ... 5/2/2
Second poem
10 lines, all in couplets (100% couplets)
Couplet 1 - A-line 11 syllables, B-line 10 syllables ... Regular
Couplet 2 - A-line 12 syllables, B-line 8 syllables ... Inverted
Couplet 3 - A-line 11 syllables, B-line 6 syllables ... Regular
Couplet 4 - A-line 9 syllables, B-line 8 syllables ... Regular
Couplet 5 - A-line 9 syllables, B-line 8 syllables ... Equal
Summary - Regular/Equal/Inverted ... 5/0/0
Third poem
7 lines, 4 in couplets, pattern 3-2-2 (57% couplets)
Couplet 1 - A-line 9 syllables, B-line 9 syllables ... Regular
Couplet 2 - A-line 9 syllables, B-line 9 syllables ... Inverted
Summary - Regular/Equal/Inverted ... 0/2/0
Fourth poem
10 lines, all in couplets (100% couplets)
Couplet 1 - A-line 10+ syllables, B-line 8 syllables ... Regular
Couplet 2 - A-line 7 syllables, B-line 6 syllables ... Regular/dd>
Couplet 3 - A-line 7 syllables, B-line 8 syllables ... Inverted
Couplet 4 - A-line 8 syllables, B-line 8 syllables ... Equal
Couplet 5 - A-line 9 syllables, B-line 7 syllables ... Regular
Summary - Regular/Equal/Inverted ... 3/1/1
Fifth poem
12 lines, 6 in couplets, pattern 3-2-3-2-2 (73% couplets)
Couplet 1 - A-line 12 syllables, B-line 10 syllables ... Regular
Couplet 2 - A-line 12 syllables, B-line 9 syllables ... Regular/dd>
Couplet 3 - A-line 11 syllables, B-line 11 syllables ... Equal
Summary - Regular/Equal/Inverted ... 2/1/0
Sixth poem
12 lines, 6 in couplets, pattern 3-3-2-2-2 (50% couplets)
Couplet 1 - A-line 8 syllables, B-line 7 syllables ... Regular
Couplet 2 - A-line 12 syllables, B-line 7 syllables ... Regular
Couplet 3 - A-line 11 syllables, B-line 8 syllables ... Regular
Summary - Regular/Equal/Inverted ... 3/0/0
Seventh poem
13 lines, 10 in couplets, pattern 2-3-2-2-2-2 (77% couplets)
Couplet 1 - A-line 12 syllables, B-line 6 syllables ... Regular
Couplet 2 - A-line 16 syllables, B-line 5 syllables ... Regular
Couplet 3 - A-line 11 syllables, B-line 9 syllables ... Regular
Couplet 4 - A-line 7 syllables, B-line 8 syllables ... Inverted
Couplet 5 - A-line 10 syllables, B-line 8 syllables ... Regular
Summary - Regular/Equal/Inverted ... 4/0/1
Eighth poem
6 lines, all in couplets (100% couplets)
Couplet 1 - A-line 9 syllables, B-line 9 syllables ... Equal
Couplet 2 - A-line 9 syllables, B-line 8 syllables ... Regular/dd>
Couplet 3 - A-line 12 syllables, B-line 7 syllables ... Regular
Summary - Regular/Equal/Inverted ... 2/1/0

Persistent imagery used in the glyphs

In preparation

 

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