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2007 | 55 | 1 | 41-79

Article title

Polymetrie Polákovy Vznešenosti přírody



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The study deals with the polymetrics of Milota Zdirad Polák‘s (1788-1856) Vznešenost přírody (1819, The Sublime of Nature). This topic was not yet treated, not even in specialized studies (Jan Mukařovský, 1934; Miroslav Červenka, 1995). After a list of applied meters (Polák used a syllabotonic as well as quantitative prosody) the focus turns to a traditional hypothesis that meter is changed in relation to topic (or subtopic). This was not confirmed. However, metric alternation is not totally random: with the exception of cantos II. and V., there is some regularity: Písně (Songs) are in trochaic tetrameter, other parts (called Slavozpěvy, Chvalozpěvy, Mnohozpěvy etc) make, regarding to their numbers, length, and labeling, metrically heterogeneous lyrical insets. Their heterogeneity corresponds their very lyrical basis (link to the Boileau’s “un beau desordre” could be made as well). Trochaic tetrameter, an unusual meter not only in Czech literature, is with its 69% presence a preponderant meter. Motivation of its use could be seen in its inherent character (long verse lands to descriptions), but also in possible literary inspiration (in particular in European descriptive poetry, e.g. Thomson, Wieland, Ewald von Kleist). Although the trochaic tetrameter was not used in any of these examples, it appears in Brockes’ verse prologue to his (German) translation of Thomson’s The Seasons (translated 1745). On the other hand we cannot totally neglect the Czech context of the XVIII-Century. Descriptive poetry is very demanding for the reader. Yet Thomson sought ways how to make descriptive parts more vivid. Polák decided to solve this problem by rhythmical/metrical heterogeneity. (In coincidence with his main topic: heterogeneity of Nature.) This heterogeneity is better seen when one compares the former redaction of Vznešenost přírody (called Vznešenost přirozenosti, 1813) where the use of polymetrics is not so striking. The use of polymetrics in Vznešenost přírody was a novelty not only in the frames of genre (European descriptive poetry used just the monometrics), but also in the context of modern Czech literature – Mácha’s Máj (May), also polymetric, was published nearly twenty years later.




  • Česká literatura, redakce, Ústav pro českou literaturu AV ČR, v.v.i., Na Florenci 3, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic


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