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METER IN POETRY

An overview of meter in poetry, including feet and stressed/unstressed syllables
by

Robert Woerheide

on 18 February 2014

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Transcript of METER IN POETRY

METER IN POETRY
Meter in Poetry
Scansion in Poetry
To indicate metrical patterns, scholars put symbols, or signs, over syllabic units.
Poets have a Foot Fetish!
"Feet" in poetry refers to units of syllabic stressed/unstressed syllables.
"Metrical Feet"
by Samuel Coleridge

Trochee
trips from long to short

From long to long in solemn sort

Slow
spondee
stalks; strong foot yet ill able

Ever to run with the
dactyl
trisyllable.

Iambics
march from short to long.

With a leap and a bound the swift
anapests
throng.
Exploiting Meter
Poets use meter to emphasize a theme or element of the poem's subject
The Tyger
Meter comes from sound
Consider the sound of the red-colored word in each sentence ...
Rhyme is only part of poetry. The main component of poetry is its METER—the regular pattern of strong and weak stress.
Traditions of patterned sound.
Darth Vader decided to crush the
rebel
soldier.
Luke Skywalker will
rebel
against his father's wishes.
The difference is a change of syllabic stress—changes meaning & type.
DARTH VAder deCIDed to CRUSH the REBel SOLDier
LUKE SKYWALKer WILL reBEL aGAINST his FATHer's WISHes
The syllabic rhythm of English is ingrained in our minds, and we sense its tempo even when we don't realize it.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate
These symbols indicate stressed/unstressed syllables
Shall I
compare
thee to
Shall I compare thee to
We have
five feet
containing
an
unstressed-stressed
pair
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
FIVE FEET is called "Pentameter" (Penta is Greek for 5)
UNSTRESSED-STRESSED foot is called "iamb"
Therefore, Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18"
is written in "
Iambic Pentameter
"
Tyger tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
has a tribal drumbeat , repeated 'da-dum' effect
Sometimes poets will break a meter
to disconcert the reader
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame they fearful symmetry?
the last line breaks the strong da-dum meter, making it a "soar thumb" line
Full transcript