Stylistic phonetics based on the examples of the works by P.B. Shelley

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Stylistic phonetics based on the examples of the works by P.B. Shelley


As this work is devoted to the subjects of stylistic phonetics, implemented by Percy Bysshe Shelley in his works, first the definitions of phonetics and stylistics, as well as stylistic phonetics on the whole should be given.

The linguistic science studies language from three different points of view: lexicology, grammar and phonetics.

Lexicology deals with the vocabulary of language, with the origin and development of words, with their meaning and word building.

Grammar defines the rules governing the modification of words and the combination of words into sentences.

According to the main subject of this work, it is important to give more detailed information about phonetics itself and what it studies.

Phonetics is the science that studies the sound matter of the language, its semantic functions and the lines of development. It is the pronunciation of human sounds in the process of the communication, «human noises» by which the thought is actualized, the nature of these noises, the combination and the functions in their relation to the meaning (intonation and stress). Phonetics also deals with speech sounds. In Greek phonetikos is a means pertaining to voice and sound.

The phoneticians investigate sounds as the phonemes (smallest units of language) and their allophones, the syllabic structure, the distribution of stress and intonation. They are interested in the sounds that are produced by the human speech-organs insofar as these sounds have a role in a language. This limited range of sounds is referred as the phonic medium and individual sounds within that range are referred as speech sounds. [13]

So, phonetics can be also defined as the study of the phonic medium – the way humans make, transmit, and receive speech sounds. Phonetics occupies itself with the study of the ways in which the sounds are organized into a system of units and the variation of the units in all types and styles of spoken language.
 Phonetics is a basic branch of linguistics. Neither linguistic theory nor linguistic practice can do without phonetics. No kind of linguistic study can be made without constant consideration of the material on the expression level.

As this work is devoted to the subjects of stylistic phonetics and it has been said about phonetics in general, attention should be paid to stylistics in general and then the subjects of stylistic phonetics should be defined.

Stylistics is not equal to linguistics science, such as lexicology, morphology, syntax and phonetics, because they are level disciplines as they treat only one linguistic level, and stylistics investigates the questions on all the levels and different aspects of the texts in general. The French linguist E. Benveniste used the word ‘level’ to characterize the hierarchical structure of language.

Stylistics can be defined as a branch of modern linguistics devoted to the detailed analysis of literary style, or of the linguistic choices made by speakers and writers in non-literary contexts. [4]

According to the Russian linguist I.R. Galperin, stylistics is a branch of general linguistics, which deals with the investigation of two independent tasks:

1. Stylistics studies the special media of language which are called stylistic devices and expressive means.

2. Stylistics studies the types of texts which are distinguished by the pragmatic aspect of the communication and are called functional styles of language. [11]

Stylistics must be subdivided into separate, independent branches – stylistic morphology, stylistic lexicology, stylistic syntax, stylistic phonetics. Whatever level we take, stylistics describes not what is in common use, but what is specific use, in this or that respect, what differentiates one sublanguage from others.

General (non-stylistic) morphology treats morphemes and grammatical meanings expressed by them in language in general, without regard to their stylistic value. Stylistic morphology is interested in grammatical forms and grammatical meanings that are peculiar to particular sublanguages, explicity or implicity comparing them with the neutral ones common to all the sublanguages.

Lexicology deals with stylistic classification (differentiation) of the vocabulary that form a part of stylistics. In stylistic lexicology each unit is studied separately, instead of as a whole text (group of words, word classification).General syntax treats word combinations and sentences, analyzing their structures and stating what is permissible and what is inadmissible in constructing correct utterances in the given language. Stylistic syntax shows what particular constructions are met with in various types of speech, what syntactical structures are style forming (specific) in the sublanguages in question.

As it was already mentioned, general (non-stylistic) phonetics investigates the whole articulatory – audial system of language. Stylistic phonetics describes variants of pronunciation occuring in different types of speech; special attention is also paid to prosodic features of prose and poetry. Unfortunately, there is no adequate definition of stylistic phonetics, although many well-known linguists, who devoted their works to the study of stylistics, among them I.R. Galperin, V.M. Zhirmunsky, L. Bloomfield, Yu. Skrebnev, I. Arnold always paid special attention to it, underlining its meaning for the style-forming phonetic features. The works of the mentioned above linguists will be also used for the analysis in this work.

As here the subjects of stylistic phonetics are going to be investigated, it should be necessary to mention phonetic expressive means and stylistic devices.

Phonetic expressive means include:

Intonation which is a complex unity of non-segmental features of speech, such as melody or pitch of the voice, stress, pausation and different temporal characteristic.

Sentence stress which is a greater prominence of words.

Pitch of the voice which represents the fundamental frequency of a speech sound and is closely connected with the sentence stress.

Here whispering, pauses, singing and other ways of human voice using are referred.

To the phonetic stylistic devices, the more detailed descriptions of which will give be given in the main part of this work, we refer:

Onomatopoeia, or sound imitation, is the use of words or word combinations that imitate some natural sound.

Alliteration, is the use of the similar initial sounds in close succession, aiming at imparting a melodic effect to the utterance.

Rhythm, is a flow, movement, procedure, etc., characterized by basically regular recurrence of elements or features… [6]

Rhyme, is the repetition of identical or similar terminal sound combinations of words.

The poem, that was chosen for the analysis, and for investigation of the given above phonetic expressive means and stylistic devices on its example is «To the Men of England» by Persy Bisshe Shelley. For closer investigation of the points of stylistic phonetics there also will be given examples of works of some other authors.

1. Theoretical part

1.1 Galperin and other linguists’ points of view on stylistic phonetics

The subject of stylistics can be outlined as the study of the nature, functions and structure of stylistic devices, on the one hand, and, on the other, the study of each style of language as classified above, i. e. its aim, its structure, its characteristic features and the effect it produces, as well as its interrelation with other styles of language. So, it’s necessary to make an attempt to single out such, problems as are typically stylistic and cannot be treated in any other branch of linguistic science.

The stylistic approach to the utterance is not confined to its structure and sense, there is another thing to be taken into account which, in a certain type of communication, viz. belles-lettres, plays an important role. This is the way a word, a phrase or a sentence sounds. The sound of most words taken separately will have little or no aesthetic value. It is in combination with other words that a word may acquire a desired phonetic effect, the way a separate word sounds may produce a certain euphonic impression, but this is a matter of individual perception and feeling and therefore subjective. For instance, a certain English writer expresses the opinion that angina [æn'dgainə], pneumonia [nju'mouniə], and uvula ['ju:vjulə] would make beautiful girl's names instead of what he calls «lumps of names like Joan, Joyce and Maud». In the poem «Cargoes» by John Masefield he considers words like ivory, sandal-wood, cedar-wood, emeralds and amethysts as used in the first two stanzas to be beautiful, whereas those in the 3rd stanza «strike harshly on the ear!»

«With a cargo of Tyne coal,

Road-rails, pig-lead,

Fire-wood, iron-ware and cheap tin trays.»

As one poet has it, this is»… a combination of words which is difficult to pronounce, in which the words rub against one another, interfere with one another, push one another.»

Verier, a French scientist, who is a specialist on English versification, suggests that we should try to pronounce the vowels [a:, i:, u:] in a strongly articulated manner and with closed eyes. If we do so, he says, we are sure to come to the conclusion that each of these sounds expresses a definite feeling or state of mind. Thus he maintains that the sound [u:] generally expresses sorrow or seriousness; [i:] produces the feeling of joy and so on.

L. Bloomfield, a well-known American linguist says:

«…in human speech, different sounds have different meaning. To study the coordination of certain sounds with certain meanings is to study language.» [7]

An interesting statement in this regard is made by a Hungarian linguist, Ivan Fonagy:

«The great semantic entropy (a term from theory of communication denoting the measure of the unknown.) of poetic language stands in contrast to the predictability of its sounds. Of course, not even in the case of poetry can we determine the sound of a word on the basis of its meaning. Nevertheless in the larger units of line and stanza, a certain relationship can be found between sounds and content.» [10]

The Russian poet B. Pasternak says that he has

«…always thought that the music of words is not an acoustic phenomenon and does not consist of the euphony of vowels and consonants taken separately. It results from the correlation of the meaning of the utterance with its sound.» [3]

The theory of sound symbolism is based on the assumption that separate sounds due to their articulatory and acoustic properties may awake certain ideas, perceptions, feelings, images, vague though they might be. Recent investigations have shown that «it is rash to deny the existence of universal, or widespread, types of sound symbolism.» In poetry we cannot help feeling that the arrangement of sounds carries a definite aesthetic function. Poetry is not entirely divorced from music. Such notions as harmony, euphony, rhythm and other sound phenomena undoubtedly are not indifferent to the general effect produced by a verbal chain. Poetry, unlike prose, is meant to be read out loud and any oral performance of a message inevitably involves definite musical (in the broad sense of the word) interpretation.

Stylistics also studies the expressive means of language, but from a special angle. It takes into account the modifications of meanings which various expressive means undergo when they are used in different functional styles. Expressive means have a kind of radiating effect. They noticeably colour the whole utterance, no matter whether they are logical or emotional. [11]

1.2 Phonetic expressive means

The most powerful expressive means of any language are phonetic. Ways of the voice using are much more effective than any other means in intensifying an utterance emotionally or logically and the human voice can indicate most subtle nuances of meaning. In the language course of phonetics the patterns of emphatic intonation have been worked out, but many devices have so far been little investigated.

So, phonetic expressive means are the following:

Intonation, which is a language universal. Phoneticians give different definitions of intonation, but the most accepted one is by S.F. Leontyeva. According to Leontyeva’s point of view, intonation is considered to be a complex unity of pitch (melody), stress, tempo, temper and tamber and the way they are realized in speech. [13]

Intonation is very important. It serves to form sentences and determines their communicative types. It divides sentences into intonation groups, it expresses the speaker’s thoughts and conveys the attitudinal meaning. One and the same sentence may express different meaning, when pronounced with different intonation:

e.g. When it’s a general questionIsn’t it ridiculous?

An exclamationIsn’t it ridiculous!

Intonation determines the communicative type of sentences. The communicative types are differentiated in speech according to the aim of the utterance from the point of view of communication. There 4 main types of sentences:

Statements – I like music.

QuestionsCan you do it?

Imperative sentences or commands – Just do it!

ExclamationsRight you are

The pitch component of intonation or a melody is the changers in the pitch of the voice in connected speech.

Sentence stress or accent is the greater prominence of one or more words among others words in the same sentence.

Word stress is realized since all the syllables in a word are pronounced with the same degree of force: usually one syllable is made more prominent than the others by means of stronger current of air, by a stronger expiration; such a syllable is called the stressed syllable. Word’s stress in English is free; the position of stress is not fixed:

e.g. ‘many – be’llow – photo’graphic.

Tempo of speech – the rate of utterance which is connected with rhythm – the regular alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables. It is so typical of an English phrase that the incorrect rhythm betrays the non-English origin of the speaker. Each sense-group of the sentence is pronounced at approximately the same period of time, unstressed syllables are pronounced more rapidly: the greater the number of unstressed syllables, the quicker they are pronounced. In its turn, rhythm is connected with sentence stress. Under the influence of rhythm words which are normally pronounced with two equally strong stress may lose one of them, or may have their word stress realized differently.

E.g., Picca’dilly -, Piccadilly ‘Circus – ‘close to, Picca’dilly, prin’cess – a, princess ‘royal

Temper is the relative speed with which sentences and intonation groups are pronounced in connecting speech.

Speech tamber is a special colouring of voice which shows the speaker’s emotions:

e.g. pleasure – displeasure

Paradoxal though it may seem, many of these means, the effect of which rests on a peculiar use of the voice, are banned from the linguistic domain. But there has appeared a new science – «paralinguistics» – of which all these devices are the inventory.

1.3 Phonetic stylistic devices

Now let us see what phonetic stylistic devices secure this musical function.

Onomatopoeia is a combination of speech sounds which aims at imitating sounds produced in nature (wind, sea, thunder, etc.) by things (machines or tools, etc.) by people (singing, laughter) and animals. Therefore the relation between onomatopoeia and the phenomenon it is supposed to represent is one of metonymy There are two varieties of onomatopoeia: direct and indirect.

Direct onomatopoeia is contained in words that imitate natural sounds, as ding-dong, burr, bang, cuckoo. These words have different degrees of imitative quality. Some of them immediately bring to mind whatever it is that produces the sound. Others require the exercise of a certain amount of imagination to decipher it. Onomatopoetic words can be used in a transferred meaning, as for instance, ding – dong, which represents the sound of bells rung continuously, may mean

1) noisy, 2) strenuously contested.

Indirect onomatopoeia demands some mention of what makes the sound, as rustling of curtains in the following line:

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain.

Indirect onomatopoeia is a combination of sounds the aim of which is to make the sound of the utterance an echo of its sense. It is sometimes called «echo writing».

An example is: «And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain» (E.A. Poe), where the repetition of the sound [s] actually produces the sound of the rustling of the curtain. [11]

Alliteration is a phonetic stylistic device which aims at imparting a melodic effect to the utterance. The essence of this device lies in the repetition of similar sounds, in particular consonant sounds, in close succession, particularly at the beginning of successive words: «The possessive instinct never stands still (J. Galsworthy) or, «Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before» (E.A. Poe).

Alliteration, like most stylistic devices, does not bear any lexical or other meaning unless we agree that a sound meaning exists as such. But even so we may not be able to specify clearly the character of this meaning, and the term will merely suggest that a certain amount of information is contained in the repetition of sounds, as is the case with the repetition of lexical units.

But even so we may not be able to specify clearly the character of this meaning, and the term will merely suggest that a certain amount of information is contained in the repetition of sounds, as is the case with the repetition of lexical units.

However, certain sounds, if repeated, may produce an effect that can be specified.

For example, the sound [m] is frequently used by Tennyson in the poem «The Lotus Eaters» to give a somnolent effect.

«How sweet it were,…

To lend our hearts and spirits wholly

To the music of mild minded melancholy;

To muse and brood and live again in memory.»

Therefore alliteration is generally regarded as a musical accompaniment of the author's idea, supporting it with some vague emotional atmosphere which each reader interprets for himself. [11]

Rhyme is the repetition of identical or similar terminal sound combination of words. Rhyming words are generally placed at a regular distance from each other. In verse they are usually placed at the end of the corresponding lines.

Identity and similarity of sound combinations may be relative. For instance, we distinguish between full rhymes and incomplete rhymes.

The full rhyme presupposes identity of the vowel sound and the following consonant sounds in a stressed syllable, including the initial consonant of the second syllable (in polysyllabic words), we have exact or identical rhymes.

Incomplete rhymes present a greater variety. They can be divided into two main groups: vowel rhymes and consonant rhymes.

In vowel-rhymes the vowels of the syllables in corresponding words are identical, but the consonants may be different as in flesh – fresh – press. Consonant rhymes, on the contrary, show concordance in consonants and disparity in vowels, as in worth – forth, tale – tool – treble – trouble; flung – long.

Modifications in rhyming sometimes go so far as to make one word rhyme with a combination of words; or two or even three words rhyme with a corresponding two or three words, as in «upon her honour – won her», «bottom – forgot them – shot him». Such rhymes are called compound or broken. The peculiarity of rhymes of this type is that the combination of words is made to sound like one word – a device which inevitably gives a colloquial and sometimes a humorous touch to the utterance. Compound rhyme may be set against what is called eye – rhyme, where the letters and not the sounds are identical, as in love – prove, flood – brood, have – grave. It follows that compound rhyme is perceived in reading aloud, eye – rhyme can only be perceived in the written verse.

Many eye-rhymes are the result of historical changes in the vowel sounds in certain positions. The continuity of English verse manifests itself also in retention of some pairs of what were once rhyming words. But on the analogy of these pairs, new eye-rhymes have been coined and the model now functions alongside ear-rhymes.

According to the way the rhymes are arranged within the stanza, certain models have crystallized, for instance:

1. couplets – when the last words of two successive lines are rhymed. This is commonly marked aa,

2. triple rhymes–aaa

3. cross rhymes–abab

4. framing or ring rhymes–abba[11]

Rhythm exists in all spheres of human activity and assumes multifarious forms. It is a mighty weapon in stirring up emotions whatever its nature or origin, whether it is musical, mechanical or symmetrical as in architecture. The most general definition of rhythm may be expressed as follows: «rhythm is a flow, movement, procedure, etc. characterized by basically regular recurrence of elements or features, as beat, or accent, in alternation with opposite or different elements of features» [6].

Rhythm can be perceived only provided that there is some kind of experience in catching the opposite elements or features in their correlation, and, what is of paramount importance, experience in catching regularity of alternating patterns. Rhythm is a periodicity, which requires specification as to the type of periodicity. Inverse rhythm is regular succession of weak and strong stress. A rhythm in language necessarily demands oppositions that alternate: long, short; stressed, unstressed; high, low and other contrasting segments of speech.

Academician V.M. Zhirmunsky suggests that the concept of rhythm should be distinguished from that of a metre. Metre is any form of periodicity in verse, its kind being determined by the character and number of syllables of which it consists. The metre is a strict regularity, consistency and unchangeability. Rhythm is flexible and sometimes an effort is required to perceive it. In classical verse it is perceived at the background of the metre. In accented verse – by the number of stresses in a line. In prose – by the alternation of similar syntactical patterns. Rhythm in verse as a stylistic device is defined as a combination of the ideal metrical scheme and the variations of it, variations which are governed by the standard. [2] There are the following rhythmic patterns of verse:





Rhythm is not a mere addition to verse or emotive prose, which also has its rhythm. Rhythm intensifies the emotions. It contributes to the general sense. Much has been said and writhen about rhythm in prose. Some investigators, in attempting to find rhythmical patterns of prose, superimpose metrical measures on prose. But the parameters of the rhythm in verse and in prose are entirely different. [11]

In poetry all these phonetic expressive means and stylistic devices play the most significant role. Their realization can be best seen on the example of the works by Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose poems are often called «songs» in order to underline the melody of his speech. [5]

2. Practical Part

2.1 Percy Bisshe Shelley’s life and literary work

To understand better Shelley’s manner of writing, it’s necessary to say first some words about his life and literary work.

As a writer, Shelley has been criticised for his obscure symbolism, intellectual arrogance and intense self-pity. However, in his greatest works he transcends these limitations and conveys a message of hope and aspiration through strikingly beautiful prose and poetry.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (4 August 1792 – 8 July 1822) was one of the major English Romantic poets and is critically regarded among the finest lyric poets in the English language. He is most famous for such classic anthology verse works as Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, and The Masque of Anarchy, which are among the most popular and critically acclaimed poems in the English language. His major works, however, are long visionary poems which included Prometheus Unbound, Alastor, Adonaïs, The Revolt of Islam, and the unfinished work The Triumph of Life. The Cenci (1819) and Prometheus Unbound (1820) were dramatic plays in five and four acts respectively. He wrote the Gothic novels Zastrozzi (1810) and St. Irvyne (1811) and the short works The Assassins (1814) and The Coliseum (1817).

Shelley was famous for his association with John Keats and Lord Byron. The novelist Mary Shelley was his second wife.

Shelley never lived to see the extent of his success and influence. Some of his works were published, but they were often suppressed upon publication. Up until his death, with approximately 50 readers as his audience, it is said he made no more than 40 pounds from his writings. For example, in 1813, at age 21 Shelley «printed» his first major poem, «Queen Mab». He set the press and ran 250 copies of this radical and revolutionary tract. «Queen Mab» was infused with scientific language and naturalizing moral prescriptions for an oppressed humanity in an industrializing world. He intended the poem to be private and distributed it among his close friends and acquaintances.

His early works are characterized by intense political passion. In them he proposed republicanism, free love, atheism and vegetarianism. They contain many autobiographical references and introduced the theme of struggle and renewal, which is present in much of his later works. Musical patterns of his works, which are built on internal rhyme, assonance and run-on lines, clearly show the poet’s mastery of his art. [9]

2.2 The analysis of the content of the song «To the Men of England»

First of all one should introduce the poem itself:

Men of England, wherefore plough

For the Lords who lay you low?

Wherefore weave with toil and care,

The rich robes your tyrants wear?

Wherefore feed, and clothe and save,

From the cradle to the grave,

Those ungrateful drones who

Drain your sweat – nay, drink your blood!

Have ye leisure, comfort, calm,

Shelter, food, love's gentle balm?

Or what is ye buy so dear

With your pain and with your fear?

The seed ye sow, another reaps;

The wealth ye find, another keeps;

The robes ye weave, another wears;

The arms ye forge, another bears.

Sow seed – but let no tyrant reap;

Find wealth – let no impostor heap;

Weave robes – let not the idle wear;

Forge arms – in your defence to bear.

Trace your grave, and build your tomb,

And weave your winding sheet, till fair

England be your sepulcher.

The text poem in details and its translation into Russian, made by S.Y. Marshak can be seen in Supplement №1.

The song «To the Men of England» was written by Shelley in 1818, while he was staying in Italy. It is an expression of his indignation at the cruelty of capitalist exploitation. Thus it is imbued with bitter irony and wrath. The poem is built on a contrast between «Men of England» – the labourers, who create real value, and the lords – «the ungrateful drones» who exploit the toilers – «drink their blood». Thus, at first look it is quite obvious that this song is meant to be an empowering anthem for the workers of England. However, upon closer examination, it becomes quite clear that Shelley’s message may be a little bit more complicated than it seems. [14]

The poem possesses many confusing paradoxes, it is dominated by paradox. With all these features Shelley’s intentions no longer seem to be clear. However, when all of them are put together, it can be seen that the negative and cynical aspects of the poem serve to make «To the Men of England» not just a cry of empowerment, but an urgent, stirring call to action for the labourers of he country.

The first paradox arises in lines seven and eight:

«Those ungrateful drones who would

Drain you sweat-nay, drink your blood!»

In these lines the author refers to the lords of workers as «ungrateful drones». A drone is defined as a male bee that neither works nor does any harm, because it is stingless. So, this part undermines the power of the workers’ lords, insults them and makes a mockery at them. However, the idea of lords being harmless and lazy is immediately followed by a very disturbing statement «drink your blood», which changes the tone of the message completely. Not only do the lords have power to drain the sweat out of workers, but they drink their blood! The lords are compared to vampires, immortal bloodsuckers who render their victims powerless and dead.

The same paradoxical idea appears throughout the poem. The author treats the lords as tyrants in lines four and twenty-one, indicating their powers as absolute. At the same time he calls them «stingless drones» in lines eleven and idle in line twenty-three, rendering them powerless and ridiculous.

So, what are the lords? How does the poet want the reader to see them? Are they powerless, lazy drones or tyrannical, immortal vampires, sucking the blood and life out of their victims?

Solving another mystery of the poem can answer these questions. In the last two stanzas the poem takes a dramatic turn. The poet shifts from commanding the workers to work for themselves and overthrow their tyrants to hide in their cellars, holes and cells (line twenty-five) and to build their graves. But the last stanza seems to insult the workers and to surrender hope for them. It ends the poem in a dreary note, telling the workers to «Trace your grave and build your tomb, And weave your winding-sheet till fair, England be your sepulcher.» (lines thirty to thirty-two). Now, it seems as if the author has been insulting the workers all along. He tells them that they allow themselves to be bullied by lazy, harmless men so that they may as well just build their own graves. His language shifts from romantic and sensitive in the beginning of the poem, to harsh, dark monosyllabic words, like «with plough and spade and hoe and loom, Trace your grave and build your tomb» in the last stanza. Thus, the author delivers the hammering effect. As a result, the last stanza creates a sense of urgency and anger, making its message stand out from the rest of the poem.

So, has the poem been trying to empower workers all along or has it been contemptuously criticizing them? The answer is actually both. Though the last stanza serves to offset the rest of the poem, it doesn’t overpower the initial message of the empowerment. Instead, it actually emphasizes the message. Throughout the beginning of the poem, the author is really pointing out the way things are. He recognizes the absurdity and unfairness of things. Then, in the middle he tells the workers how it should be:

«Sow seed-but let not tyrant reap;

Find wealth, – let no imposter heap;

Weave robes, – let not the idle wear;

Forge arms, – in your defence to bear.» (lines twenty-one to twenty-four).

And finally, the last stanzas come. The last two stanzas again tell the workers of how things are:

«Ye see The steel ye tempered glance on ye». (lines twenty-seven to twenty-eight).

Basically, he tells the workers that they are digging their own graves by giving power to their initially harmless lords. Here, commanding them to dig their graves is different from the commands he gave them in lines twenty-one to twenty-four. By telling them to dig their graves, he is simply telling them what is going to happen if they continue to live with how things are.

What is actually happening is a juxtaposition of two ideas: of how things are, how things should be, and how things are again. In this way, the poet successfully delivers an image, a message. He successfully shows the contrast between the two ideas by sandwiching one inside the repetitions of the other. The middle idea, lines twenty-one to twenty-four, which is that of empowerment, then becomes like a bright, red flower sticking out amidst a dark, dreary landscape of reality. Furthermore, the last stanzas delivering the final repetition of the initial imagery are so dark and urgent with a hint of insult that it stirs the emotion of the reader. A worker reading the poem would have been angered by the last stanza and be stirred to follow true message of the poem in order to prevent the ending from becoming a reality.

2.3 The analysis of the song «To The Men of England» from the point of view of stylistic phonetics

The stylistic analysis of the Shelley’s song «To the Men of England» will be better understood with the help of the following table:



«Men of England, wherefore plough

For the lords who lay ye low

Here is the imperfect rhyme in the first stanza. These first two lines are meant to be an appeal, expressed through a syntactical stylistic device of rhetorical question.

«Wherefore weave with toil and care,

The rich robes your tyrants wear

Here is the incomplete compound rhyme, which can only be perceived in reading aloud, since the pronunciation of «care» and «wear» are quite similar: [keə] and [weə].

There is also a case of alliteration – werefore, weave, with; rich robes. Here it aims at imparting a melodical effect to the stanza, thus making it sound agitative.

«Wherefore feed, and clothe, and save

From the cradle to the grave…»

«Have ye leisure, comfort, calm,

Shelter, food, love’s gentle balm

«Weave robes, – let no idler wear;

Forge arms, – in your defence to bear

«Shrink to your cellars, holes, and cells;

In halls ye deck, another dwells

Here are the cases of the full or identical rhyme. The rhyming scheme is couplet (aa bb). Throughout the whole poem there are only several cases of different kinds of incomplete rhymes and the full rhymes are prevailing. Using rhymes, the author reinforces the meaning he wishes to convey and gives a tone and pace of the poem, making it sound agitating, worrying and sometimes even looming.

«The seed ye sow, another reaps;

The wealth ye find, another keeps;…

«Sow seed – but let no tyrant reap;

Find wealth, – let no impostor heap;…»

The ideas, expressed in these lines from fourth and sixth stanzas are expressed through a syntactical stylistic device of parallel constructions, forming a kind of antithesis. Although this stylistic device is syntactical, it also produces a strong phonetic effect, making these lines sound imperative.

«With plough and spade, and hoe and loom,

Trace your grave, and build your tomb,

And weave your winding-sheet, till fair

England be your sepulchre

The lines of the last stanza bear cases of compound rhyme, which can only be perceived in oratory speech. The last words of each line are pronounced quite similar: [lu:m] – [tu:m], [feə] – ['sep(ə) lkə]. This stanza with its broken rhymes presents a kind of sinister warning.

«Why shake the chains ye wrought? Ye see

The steel ye tempered glance on ye

«The robes ye weave, another wears;

The arms ye forge,

another bears.»

One must note that the use of archaic form of pronounce «ye» adds to a solemn atmosphere created by the use of phonetic stylistic devices and some syntactical stylistic devices and heightens the emotional appeal of the poem. In the seventh stanza «ye» and «see» also produce a full rhyme.

Having analyzed the song «To the Men of England», it can be said that he possesses a great mastery, expressing it through the use of the phonetic stylistic devices and expressive means. Through his strikingly beautiful prose and poetry he conveys a message of hope and aspiration, though he has been criticized for his obscure symbolism and arrogance.

In this song Shelley pays special attention to rhymes, especially to full or perfect rhymes, and also to alliteration. With the help of alliteration he makes his stanzas sound imperative and also gives them a colouring of bitter irony. The rhyming scheme of the poem is couplet, which is the most melodical one. [9]

All phonetic expressive means, used by Shelley in the poem, were introduced with the help of syntactical stylistic devices and graphical means.

There are imperfect compound rhymes in the two first stanzas and in the last one. These compound or broken rhymes produce an effect of sinister warning.

There is no cases of direct or indirect onomatopoeia in the poem, but the choice of sounds, especially of consonants [w], [r], [s] makes the poem sound loom and sinister and on the same time quite melodically, so it is even called song.

Throughout the poem the archaic form of the pronoun «ye» was used. The use of this archaic form makes the atmosphere of the poem more solemn and also produces a certain melodical effect, since the sound [i] repeats quite often throughout it.

The results of the investigation of the poem can be seen in Supplement №2.


So, the poem «To the Men of England» was investigated from the point of view of the most widely used expressive means and stylistic devices, with the help of the works of different linguists and phoneticians, both Russian and foreign. After this investigation the following summaries can be made:

-   Among all the stylistic devices and expressive means, the phonetic ones are the most powerful, because they can produce any emotional effect that an author wishes, they can add solemnity or severity to an utterance or make it imperative, loom or worrying, or, on the contrary, gentle and pleasant.

-   Phonetic expressive means, such as intonation, stresses, pitch of the voice or speech tempo and tamber are mainly introduced in oratory speech or while reading aloud and they are considered to be changeable ones. That’s why in writing one can come across only phonetic stylistic devices. Phonetic expressive means are introduced in writing with the help of syntactical stylistic devices of different repetitions, rhetorical questions, parallel constructions and so on, and also with the help of graphical means of exclamation and question marks, commas, dashes and points. That’s why sometimes authors introduce their own, authors’ punctuation, aiming at emphasizing the thoughts or points they want the reader to pay special attention to or to think about.

-   Speaking about Shelley’ works, their mastery through the use of the phonetic stylistic devices can not be denied. Through his strikingly beautiful prose and poetry he conveys a message of hope and aspiration, though he has been criticized for his obscure symbolism and arrogance.

-   There are imperfect compound rhymes in the two first stanzas and in the last one. These compound or broken rhymes produce an effect of sinister warning.

-   There is no cases of direct or indirect onomatopoeia in the poem, but the choice of sounds, especially of consonants [w], [r], [s] makes the poem sound loom and sinister and on the same time quite melodically, so it is even called song.

-   Throughout the poem the archaic form of the pronoun «ye» was used. The use of this archaic form makes the atmosphere of the poem more solemn and also produces a certain melodical effect, since the sound [i] repeats quite often throughout it.

So, it is obvious that the sound of most words taken separately will have little or no aesthetic value. It is in combination with other words that a word may acquire a desired phonetic effect. The way a separate word sounds may produce a certain euphonic effect, but this is a matter of individual perception and feeling and therefore subjective. Thus the theory of sense – independence of separate sounds is based on a subjective interpretation of sound associations and has nothing to do with objective scientific data. However, the sound of a word, or more exactly the way words sound in combination, can not fail to contribute something to the general effect of the message, particularly when the sound effect has been deliberately worked out. This can easily be recognized when analyzing alliterative word combinations or the rhymes in certain stanzas or from more elaborate analysis of sound arrangement and from this work it is clear that the works by Percy Bysshe Shelley can be a very good example of it.

Although the importance and significance of the stylistic phonetics is obvious, still there is no clear definition of it, may be because of the extensiveness of the studied subjects and their ambiguousness. Professor Seymour Chatman introduces the term «phonostylistics» and defines it as a subject the purpose of which is «the study of the ways in which an author elects to constrain the phonology of the language beyond the normal requirements of the phonetic system. "[8] As can be inferred from this quotation, phonetic expressive means and particularly phonetic stylistic devices are not deviations from «the normal requirements of the phonetic system» but a way of actualizing the typical in the given text. [8]

Because of the ambiguousness of the subjects of stylistic phonetics, some authors prefer even not to enumerate phonetic stylistic devices, considering them quite similar and interdependent, for example I. Arnold. She states that on all levels, especially on the phonetic one, all expressive means and stylistic devices are united by the cohesion. She defined cohesion as «similar elements in ‘similar position that make text coherent. This phenomenon may occur on different levels – phonetic, structural or semantic.» [1] Her concept is very interesting and really unconventional, but this work was made following the more generally accepted concepts of I.R. Galperin. The use of his concepts of stylistics and the idea of stylistic phonetics allowed making a thorough analysis of the Shelley’s song «To the Men of England» and understanding on its examples the ways of imparting a piece of work a strong emotional effect with the help of the sound features. It is necessary for the points of stylistic phonetics to be investigated further.


1. Арнольд И.В. «Стилистика современного английского языка», «Просвещение» 1981 г.

2. Жирмунский В.М. «Введение в метрику», 1925 г.

3. Пастернак Б. «Литературная Москва», 1956 г.

4. Скребнёв Ю.М. «Основы стилистики английского языка», «Высшая школа», 1994 г.

5. Чуковский К.В. «Высокое искусство», 1998 г.

6. Baldick, Chris «Oxford Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms», 1996

7. Bloomfield L. «Language. NY», 1961

8. Chatman, Seymor «Stylistics: Qualitive and quantative», 1967

9. Delaney D., Ward G., Fiorina C.R. «Fields of Vision: English Literature in English», «Longman», 2009

10.  Fonagy I. «Communication in Poetry», 1961

11.  Galperin I.R. «Stylistics» «Moscow Higher School», 1977

12.  Jakobson R. «Linguistics and Poetry. Style in Language.», 1929

13.  Leontyeva S.F. «A Theoretical Course of English Phonetics», 2004

14.  Soshalskaya E.G., Prokhorova V.L. «Stylistic Analysis», «Moscow Higher School», 1976

15.  Webster’s New World Dictionary, 2009

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