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Aristotle's criticism of presocratic philosophy by Harold F Cherniss

By Harold F Cherniss

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12 According to this schema, the structure of a ‘tale within a tale’ which characterises the poem can be described by making the story of the last 38 Epic and Empire in Nineteenth-Century Britain minstrel himself, and his performance at Newark Castle at the end of the seventeenth century, the principal narrative or diegesis. The tale within this tale – the lay that he performs – becomes intradiegetic, while the moment of composition, Scott’s moment at the beginning of the nineteenth century, becomes metadiegetic.

Rather it is the much longer history which has led to the degradation of the national ballad metre from its heroic heyday to its present incarnation as the favoured measure of the commercial broadside ballad. Scott needed to find a measure which had the appropriate air of antiquity without the harrowing constrictions and vulgar associations of the ballad measure. The solution came thanks to hearing John Stoddart repeat the as-yetunpublished fragment ‘Christabel’. 11 It provided, in short, the effect of antiquity without the constrictions of actually existing historic verse-forms.

Is the most visible in this opening section. In general, however, the poem at this point makes use of a regular octosyllabic couplet which, while it draws on a colourful and faintly anachronistic vocabulary (‘caroll’d’, ‘palfrey’ and so on, in addition to ‘welladay’), makes no effort to manufacture a modern antique. This is in strong contrast to the minstrel’s lay itself, where the ‘Christabel’ metre and manner immediately indicates that we now are in the presence of a recreated antiquated idiom: The feast was over in Branksome tower, And the Ladye had gone to her secret bower; Her bower that was guarded by word and by spell, Deadly to hear, and deadly to tell – Jesu Maria, shield us well!

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