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Poetry as Shape and Imagery, Voice and Experience

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marilyn alvarico

on 1 July 2014

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Transcript of Poetry as Shape and Imagery, Voice and Experience

a poem is a composition written for performance by the human voice. What your eyes see on the page is the composer's verbal score, waiting for your voice to bring it alive as you read it aloud or hear it in your mind's ear.Unlike our reading of a newspapers, the best reading-that is to say, the most satifying reading-of poem involves a simultaneous engagement of eye and ear: the eye attentive not only to thr meaning of words,but to their grouping and spacing as lines on a page ; the ear attuned to the grouping and spacing of sounds. The more one understands of musical notation and the principles of musical composition, the more one will understand and appreciate a composer's score. Similarly, the more one understands of versification (principles and practice of writing verse), the more one is likely to understand and appreciate poetry and in particular,the intimate relationship between its form and its content. What a poem says or means is the result of how itis said, a fact that poets are often at pains to emphasize.
2. Dramatic poetry: poetry in which one or more characters speak to other characters,themselves or the reader. It may be a monologue or dialogue , written in the voice of a character assumed by the poet. Examples Tenny's "Ulysses" and Browning's "My Last Duchess".
The oldest classification of poetry into three broad categories still holds (Danziger and Johnson, 1961)
Epic : a long narrative poem that traces the adventures of hero, frequently extending to several "books' (sections of several hundred lines), on a great and serious subject. For Example: Spencer's The Faerie Queene, Milton's Paradise, Lost, and Wordsworth;s The Prelude. Epics intertwine myths, legends, and history, reflecting the values of the societies in which they originate . In epics,gods and goddesses often intervence in the affairs of humans.
Marilyn F. Alvarico
Poetry as Shape and Imagery, Voice and Experience
3. Lyric: originally, a song performed in ancient Greece to the accompaniment of a small harplike instrument called a lyre. The term is now used for any fairly short poem in the voice of a single speaker, although that speaker may sometimes quote others. The reader should be wary of identifying the lyric speaker with the poet, since the "I" of a poem will frequently be that of a fictional character invented by the poet.

Poetry is the most compressed form of language. Rhythm is an essential component of language. Rhythm is the pattern of beats created by the arrangement of stressed and unstressed syllables, particularly in poetry. Rhythm gives poetry a musical quality that helps convey its meaning. Rhythm can be regular, with a predictable pattern or metter, or irregular. When we speak, we hear a sequence of syllables. These, the basic units of pronunciation, can consist of a vowel sound alone or a vowel with attendant consonants: oh; syllable. Sometimes m, n, and I are counted as vowel sounds,
as in riddle (rid-dl) and prism (pri-zm). in other words of two or more syllables, one is almost always given more emphasis or, as we say, is more heavily stressed than the others, so that what we hear in ordinary speech is a sequence of such units, variously stressed and unstressed as, for example:

The dew was gone that made his blade so keen

Before I came to view the leveled scene.
if a poem's rhythm is structured into a recurrence of regular -that is, approximately equal - units, we call it meter (from the Greek word for "measure"). It is a regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables that gives a line of poetry a predictable rhythm. There are four metrical systems in English poetry: the accentual, the accentual-syllabic, the syllabic, and the quantitative. Of these, the second accounts for more poems in the English language.

Accentual-syllabic meter provided the metrical structure of the new poetry to emerge in the fourteenth century, and its basic unit was the foot a combination of two or three stressed and/ or unstressed syllables. The four most common metrical feet in poetry are (Danziger & Johnson, 1961):

1. Iambic (the noun is "iamb"): an unstressed followed by a stressed syllable, for example:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

2. Trochaic (the noun is "troche": a stressed followed by an unstressed syllable, for example:
London bridge is falling down

3. Anapestic (the noun is "anapest): two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable, for example:
The Assyr ian came down like the wolf on the fold

The last three letters of the word "Assyrian should be heard as one syllable a form of contraction known as elision.

4. Dactylic (the noun is "dactyl"): a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables, for example:
Women much missed, how you call to me, call to me
5. Spondaic (the noun is "spondee") two successive syllables with approximately equal strong stresses, for example:
Listen you hear the grat ing roar
Of peb bles which the waves draw back, and fling

6 Pyrrchic (the noun is also "pyrrchic"): two successive unstressed or lightly stressed syllables, as in the second foot of the second line above , where the succession of light syllables seems to mimic the rattle of light pebbles that the heavy wave slowly draws back.

Monometer is a line of one foot: "Alone" (iambic monometer), "Constantly" (dactylic monometer). Dimeter has two feet: "Softly, softly (trochaic dimeter), :Off again, on again" (dactylic dimet
er). Trimeter has three feet: " Lamentation, and mourning and woe" (anapestic trimester). Tetrameter has four feet: "Wake: the vaulted shadow shatters" (trochaic tetrameter). Pentameter lines have five feet: "The curfew tolls the knell of parting day (iambic pentameter). Hexameters have six feet (iambic hexameters are often called alexandrines): the rarer heptameter and octameter have seven and eight feet respectively (an iambic heptameter is sometimes called a fourteener).

Rhyme is the repetition of sounds in: words that appear close to each other in a poem. It is a concurrence, in two or more lines, of the last stressed vowel and of all speech sounds following that vowel. Rhyme has been a crucial element in the music of poetry memorable. Notice the last syllables at the end of these lines taken from Hopkins' sonnet "God's Grandeur."

Having looked at - and listened to - the ways in which metrical feet combine in a poetric line, one can move on to see - and hear - how such lines combine in the larger patterns of the dance, what are known as the forms of poetry.

1. Blank Verse, at one end of the scale, consists of unrhymed (hence "blank
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