The principal authority on this head is Korš, whose edition of the text is virtually a monograph and metrical reconstruction. With his bold interpolations and omissions it would be premature to agree; his accentual lore one must gratefully follow.
The metrical basis consists of two main accents, the first of which may be preceded, by one, two or more enclitic syllables, each foot usually
being dactylic: these two accents are followed by a caesura, after which comes a third subsidiary dactylic ending, such as is always found in the ballad metre. Examples of such perfect lines are
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
To analyse the metre in full would betray me into a discussion, too long for this introduction; and I rather doubt whether it would be profitable, either to truth, or the advancement of the subject. The few hints given in this section are all derived from Korš; for the rest the reader had far better trust to his own ear; and the richness of this three-beat
measure will ring out. The position of the accented syllable in the foot is variable, as also, within reason,--unlike the style of the later bylíny,--the number of the unaccented syllables.
The regularity of the alliteration approximates the metre to that of the old German poems; but the freedom of the Slav has released this Russian verse from the stiffness and artificiality that characterize some of the Early English alliterative poems.
Later, this Russian liberty of accent and syllabization developed into anarchy in the popular ballads; and form had to be restored to Russian verse in the eighteenth century by the imitation of Western models.
The Slóvo is important in the history of early Slav literature, not least as an instance of native poetry with the just balance of form and license.