Someone asked: "What do you mean, Dom Gregory, when you keep saying our Bishops are Edwardian?"
Dix: "Strictly Edward VI in theology; strictly Edward VII in mental equipment and strictly Edward VIII in their views on marriage."
[Dix once wrote a satirical poem in English about an 'ecumenical' bishop ... basically in iambs until the final couplet:
His funeral was Protestant and shabby
With a memorial service in Bath Abbey.
What is it about trochees that ineluctably suggests bathos?]
The abbey/shabby rhyme is well known:
"The Trellwyn Methodists have built a church,
The front looks like an abbey;
But thinking they can fool the Lord
They've built the back part shabby."
In English, trochees tend to be associated with nursery rhymes: Mary, Mary, quite contrary; Baa baa black sheep; Twinkle, twinkle, little star; Mary had a little lamb - etc, etc. So by a sort of reverse logic, any verse that isn't a hymn will have a tendency to sound a little childish - and thus, if treating any serious topic, bathetic.
Why do trochees suggest bathos? An interesting question. Well, I suppose it’s because in metered verse, the syllable pattern of trochees creates what is called a falling rhythm – first a great whopping stomp followed by a weak ending which creates an anti-climax.
This effect is marvellously illustrated all the way through the trochaic "Dies irae, dies illa" and is suited to its purpose of the salutary warning that we should not glory in earthly achievements, for they (like us) will end in dust. You cannot get any more bathetic than that!
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