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Yati, a Structural Principle in Old Javanese Versification

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The principle of yati, divisions of the metrical arrangement of the quantitative meters of Sanskrit at line-end or at specified points internal to the line (pada), has often been likened to caesura in meters of the European tradition, and in the Indian tradition to a "break in recitation". However, in a principled study of the subject Pollock (1977) has shown that when line-internal yati is specified for one of the quantitative meters it is in fact linked to the arrangement of syntactic units within the line, and not to any suprasegmental aspect of versification, like intonation or the control of phrasing in terms of units of 'breath'. Based on this reasoning Pollock has been able to demonsrate a progression in the Indian tradition from "monotonic" uses of yati in Aśvaghosa, through the effects of "suspension" achieved by Kālidāsa and a movement towards "dissonance" in the works of later stylists like Bhavabhūti Rājaśekhara, Bhattanārāyana, Murāri and Bilhana, where a drive towards transcendence of the constraints of yati is very much in evidence. Given that the majority of meters of the Old Javanese kakawin genre are based on the quantitative meters of the Indian Kāvya, it is natural to suppose that line-internal yati may have been preserved in some of the Old Javanese quantitative meters. This study is devoted to an examination of this question for a selection of the Indian quantitative meters adopted for use in the kakawin, and for a further set of Indo-Javanese meters that follow the isosyllabic requirements of the Indian system, but were developed by Javanese stylists of the kakawin. Special attention is given to the meter Śārdūlavikrīdita, a meter important in Pollock's (1977) study of yati in the Indian tradition and also of great popularity in the Javano-Balinese tradition, and to the Indo-Javanese meter Jagaddhita.


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