Comment on the prosodic features of Doctor Faustus with the phrase "Was this the face that launched a thousand ships / And burnt the topless tower of Ilium"?

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This "poem" is actually a speech spoken by Faustus in Marlowe's play Doctor Faustus. Prosody is chiefly concerned with how a writer creates a sense of rhythm or meter, but it is also concerned with meaning.

This passage creates a sense of rhythm by being written in iambic pentameter. In an iambic meter, the stress falls on the second of two syllables in a 'da-Dum, da-Dum' pattern. The word "pentameter" indicates that a line has five metrical feet, which are two-syllable units, making ten syllables in total. The regularity of this meter develops a pleasing cadence.

Marlowe also uses repetition to create a sense of rhythm. Faustus repeats words that are important to him, such as "come," "lips," and "soul." The repetition of these words creates a sense of emphasis that underlines the play's meaning. Faustus is once again willing to give up his soul—let it fly away—in return for a carnal pleasure: in this instance, "lips."

Alliteration and assonance also create rhythm from the proximity of words beginning with the same letter, such as in "colors" and "crests" or "Arethusa’s azur’d arms."

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This line is from the literary work Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. These are the opening words of this poem, which is revered as an example of great English poetry.

The main prosodic feature of this English language poem is the formal style in which it was written. Marlowe wrote this in "Blank Verse", which is unrhymed iambic pentameter. The poem from Doctor Faustus is 20 lines long and it is contained within one stanza, looking at it as a separate section of the overall work.

The regular meter of the poem gives the piece a structure and momentum that propels the story forward. The meter lends a regal air to the poem, appropriate for the narrator's feelings towards Helen.

The use of alliteration is also a prosodic feature of the poem. Marlowe also varies from the strict meter of Blank Verse (the use of 10 syllables per line), by varying the number of syllables in some lines. This breaks up the monotony, which can result from strict unstressed/stressed, 10 syllable iambic pentameter.

Another prosodic feature of the poem is assonance - which is the repeating of identical or similar vowel sounds in neighboring words. Marlowe also employs consonance - which is recurring similar sounds, particularly consonants that are in close proximity. 

Additional Resource: Blank Verse -A Guide to Its History and Use (Hardcover Textbook, Robert B. Shaw, Ohio University Press, Copyright 2007)

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