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Questions tagged [meter]

Questions about determining and representing the meter of a poem, a practice called scansion.

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How does Shakespeare's iambic pentameter work with Original Pronunciation?

In school, students are often taught about iambic pentameter via Shakespearian examples. These, however, were based on the Received Pronunciation (RP) reading of Shakespeare's works. In reality, ...
Plumbing for Ankit's user avatar
21 votes
2 answers
3k views

Were English poets of the sixteenth century aware of the Great Vowel Shift?

The Great Vowel Shift was a series of changes in the pronunciation of English vowel sounds, marking the dividing line between Middle English and Modern English. A wholesale shift of sounds took place ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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18 votes
4 answers
4k views

Why did the alexandrine become the "natural" metre for French verse drama, whereas English renaissance drama adopted the iambic pentameter?

We previously had a question asking Were all of Shakespeare's plays fully in iambic pentameter?, but of course, it wasn't just Shakespeare who used iambic pentameter; it became the prevalent metre in ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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15 votes
1 answer
3k views

What meter are "I lik the bred" poems in?

I'm trying to determine the meter of "i lik the bred" poems: "i lik the bred" is a series of short poems about a domesticated cow written by British author Sam Garland, better ...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why did iambic pentameter become so 'standard' in classical English poetry?

Iambic pentameter is probably the most prevailing and widely used meter in classical English poetry, and it's the 'standard' form of verse in many forms of poetry such as sonnets. From Wikipedia (...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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14 votes
3 answers
13k views

Were all of Shakespeare's plays fully in iambic pentameter?

Were the plays within The Complete Works of Shakespeare entirely in iambic pentameter? I seem to recall singing bits (when there were lyrics) from Twelfth Night and definitely from Much Ado About ...
Mikey's user avatar
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13 votes
2 answers
13k views

Why do the witches in Macbeth rarely speak in iambic pentameter?

Shakespeare is pretty well known for writing in iambic pentameter. One important exception to this are the witches in Macbeth, who speak in everything from trochaic meter: Double, double toil and ...
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12 votes
1 answer
10k views

Why did Shakespeare write in iambic pentameter?

Shakespeare is incredibly famous for writing a lot in iambic pentameter. But why did he choose to write in this specific style of having ten beats and 5 stressed syllables per line? Considering it ...
SleepingGod's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
835 views

How does scansion work in Arabic poetry?

I was reading about Arabic poetry on Wikipedia, and specifically the description of scansion: The rhymed poetry falls within fifteen different meters collected and explained by al-Farahidi in The ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
371 views

What evidence is there for the "recession of accent" theory?

In the late 19th and early 20th century, there was a theory that certain oddities in the rhythms of Shakespeare and other early modern English poets could best be explained by recession of accent. ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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10 votes
3 answers
727 views

Do English language poems actually have feet?

The question Catalectic trochaic tetrameter or acephaleous iambic tetrameter? Scanning "Kubla Khan" describes an interesting case when the placement of feet has no effect on the ...
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9 votes
1 answer
720 views

Can three unstressed syllables constitute a substitute foot in Shakespeare?

While trying to ascertain the accentuation of certain names in Shakespeare, by analyzing lines of verse where they occur, I encountered a couple of lines that I was tempted to scan with a substitute ...
Brian Donovan's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
958 views

Why isn't Coleridge's line about trochees missing an unstressed syllable?

Samuel Coleridge wrote this really fun poem, Metrical Feet: Lesson for a Boy, that names and gives examples of the various types of metric feet. I've included a copy and scanned the poem to make the ...
user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
2k views

Catalectic trochaic tetrameter or acephaleous iambic tetrameter? Scanning "Kubla Khan"

I'm currently teaching myself to scan, and I'm practicing with Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" at the moment. You can read the entire poem online. I've arrived at line 32: "Floated midway on the waves;" and ...
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7 votes
2 answers
700 views

Scanning the line "And every spirit upon earth" in Thomas Hardy's "The Darkling Thrush"

In the Thomas Hardy poem "The Darkling Thrush", one line seems to scan quite jarringly compared to the even iambic meter of the others: The land's sharp features seemed to me The Century's corpse ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
827 views

Do rap lyrics require metrical feet in English with long and short syllables?

I finally got a round to checking out Straight Outta Compton and it got me thinking seriously about metric feet in English poetry, and English poetry in general. It's long been my suspicion that one ...
DukeZhou's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
638 views

Is there a difference between Russian and English speaking cultures in the sense of rhythm when reciting poetry?

It may a vague question, but I haven't found any data on this myself. I am Russian and I've heard a lot of reading of Russian poetry, since my childhood (poetry reading by heart is a staple assignment ...
DrTyrsa's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
508 views

How to scan the "Clark" poem from "One Fish, Two Fish"?

One of my favorite things about Dr. Seuss's One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish is the combination of rhyme and rhythm or meter in its poems. I think I've found satisfying rhythms for reading all ...
Dan Getz's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
2k views

Confused about the meter and rhythm of Ulysses by Tennyson

Ulysses is written in iambic pentameter. There are a few spondees and trochees thrown in for good measure, but I'm confused in some places, like here: I cannot rest from travel: I will drink Life ...
Yeats's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
289 views

How does this song lyric "Simple and Clean" scan?

From the English version of "Simple and Clean" by Utada Hikaru: When you walk away You don't hear me say Please, O baby, don't go Simple and clean is the way that you're making me feel ...
Fomalhaut's user avatar
  • 573
6 votes
2 answers
281 views

"America for Me" - too regular metre?

I'm reading this older book called Poetic Meter and Poetic Form by Paul Fussell. In a chapter called "Metrical Variations", a part of a poem is cited as an example of overly regular metre. ...
user392289's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
458 views

What is the metrical style of Hungarian poetry?

While reading about Hungarian poetry, I came across the claim that: pure syllabic/quantitative metre is very rare = Hungarian, Greco-Roman ‘időmértékes’ metre I don't know what "pure syllabic/...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
1k views

Is there a name for a version of trochaic tetrameter with lines of 8|7|8|7 syllables?

Is there a name for the meter used in Clementine: Drove she ducklings to the water Every morning just at nine Struck her foot against a splinter Fell into the foaming brine Or in Schiller's Ode to ...
Michael Kay's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
359 views

What is "epic caesura" in French "chansons de geste"?

I'm reading the book La chanson de geste by Jean Rychner. In a certain passage, the expression "epic caesura" ("césure épique" in the French original) appears, which I don't ...
Charo's user avatar
  • 2,645
5 votes
1 answer
802 views

How to scan Wyatt's "They flee from me"?

I was told in my class that "They flee from me" is written in iambic pentameter, except for line number 6 in the second stanza in iambic tetrameter. However, some lines in my textbook have ...
Ahmad Nourallah's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
290 views

What form of poem is "A Child of Mine" by Edgar Guest?

What form of poem (ie. sonnet, limerick, haiku, etc.) is Edgar Guest's "A Child of Mine?" I would be looking for the scansion and rhyming pattern if there is one. Any relevant information in ...
Dr Gore's user avatar
  • 59
5 votes
0 answers
100 views

'meter' vs. 'rhythm': How do their meanings in poetry differ from those in music?

'meter' and 'rhythm' are termed in poetry and music. So what are their parallels? Their differences? Source: Listening to Music (2013 7 ed, but ∃ 8 ed) by Yale Prof. Craig Wright: [p. 463] meter: ...
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5 votes
0 answers
87 views

A break in the 5-7-5-7-7 meter?

So I was reading about Waka poetry and then about the tanka meter, when I came across several poems by Ono no Komachi and Narihira. The ついにゆく poem from Narihira has 8 syllables rather than 7 in the ...
Horus's user avatar
  • 171
4 votes
2 answers
227 views

How does anacrusis simulate a ship's pushing back from dock?

[ Source : ] Interestingly, anakrouein or anacrusis is also found in Greek poetry, where the first syllable is not accented. Being the sea-faring people as they were, starting a poem with anacrusis ...
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4 votes
2 answers
257 views

Should there be a trochee in the second to last line of Thomas Hardy's "The Oxen"?

I'm working through the website For Better for Verse, and I'm currently working on a scansion of Thomas Hardy's "The Oxen". The last verse looks like this: "In the lonely barton by yonder comb ...
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4 votes
1 answer
246 views

How do we divide syllables when scanning a poem?

In this line from Donne's A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning, It leans and hearkens after it I would scan it this way: It leans and hear-kens af-ter it However, my dictionary says that hearken is ...
Ahmad Nourallah's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
168 views

Scanning Langston Hughes' "The South"

Here's the poem "The South" by Langston Hughes scanned by me (a non-native English speaker): The lazy, laughing South With blood on its mouth. The sunny-faced South, Beast-strong, Idiot-...
user392289's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
661 views

Scanning "Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote"

How would you scan the first line of The Canterbury Tales: Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote This blogger says that it's an iambic pentametre line with a headless initial foot and a feminine ...
user392289's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
1k views

How to scan Robert Frost's "For Once, Then, Something"

I just read a fascinating blog post titled "Frost, Hendecasyllabics & For Once, Then, Something". The blog post describes the challenges of scanning Robert Frost's poem "For Once, Then, Something" ...
user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
89 views

Scansion of a line in Yeats' "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death"?

"An Irish Airman Foresees His Death" holds a firm iambic tetrametric rhythm throughout, except for line 8, which includes 9 syllables: Or leave them happier than before; How would you scan ...
Pearl's user avatar
  • 71
4 votes
1 answer
352 views

What is the meter of the poem "Snow" by Louis MacNeice?

I'm struggling to find the meter in which the poem "Snow" is written. I know that Shakespeare's poetry was written in iambic pentameter. So far, I've read that the poem "Snow" has a rough meter, and ...
Bobby's user avatar
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4 votes
0 answers
90 views

What's the role of "a, a" at the end of every stanza in Jaufré Rudel "No sap chantar qui so non di"?

At page 165 of the book Los trovadores. Historia literaria y textos by Martín de Riquer one finds the text of the cansó No sap chantar qui so non di (262, 3) by the troubadour Jaufré Rudel: No sap ...
Charo's user avatar
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4 votes
0 answers
58 views

How does one count syllables in medieval Galician-Portuguese poetry?

I'm trying to figure out how to count syllables in medieval Galician-Portuguese cantigas. I've tried to find it in the book A poesía lírica galego-portuguesa by Giuseppe Tavani, which I found in my ...
Charo's user avatar
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3 votes
4 answers
2k views

Are there any gender-neutral alternatives to the phrase "feminine ending"?

A feminine ending is a line in verse where the last syllable is slack. For example, the first four lines of Hamlet's famous "to be or not to be" monologue all have feminine endings. To be, or not ...
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3 votes
2 answers
656 views

Resources for determining the meter of a line in Shakespeare

Most of Shakespeare's plays are written in iambic pentameter,‎ which is part of what makes the verse so powerful.‎ However,‎ due to differences between different manuscripts of the text, and words ...
ak0000's user avatar
  • 247
3 votes
1 answer
7k views

How to figure out if something is iambic pentameter?

I have an assignment where I have to write a Shakespearean sonnet for my professor (who is very strict about the formatting of the assignment). Are there any ways/tricks in which I can figure out if ...
Joe Kerr's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
105 views

In metrical poetry, what is equal timed?

In metrical poetry, what is equal timed (isochronous)? Is it: the foot, or the ictus, stressed syllable, in a foot, or something else, or nothing in particular?
user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
423 views

What is the metre of "High Waving Heather" by Emily Bronte?

I really like "High Waving Heather" by E. Bronte: High waving heather 'neath stormy blasts bending, Midnight and moonlight and bright shining stars, Darkness and glory rejoicingly blending, ...
xyz's user avatar
  • 133
3 votes
1 answer
117 views

How do I analyze the stress/unstress in this Stephen King based novel?

Many of the jinni lines follow a stressed/unstressed sound pattern The author talks about this in the ending. What does this mean exactly? Here are some sequential lines from the jinni I would like ...
SwimBikeRun's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
553 views

Significance of rising/falling meter

If I am analyzing a poem and I realize that it has rising meter, what does that say about the poem. Like do happy tone poems have rising meters whereas sad poems have falling meter?
tim's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
112 views

Analysis of a self-written stanza in terms of meter?

A long time ago I used to write poetry, and there was one particular stanza that has always stuck with me and seemed inherently rhythmic, but I’m not familiar with the relevant terminology and so I’m ...
TheIronKnuckle's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
134 views

What is the meter of these lines from 'If' by Rudyard Kipling?

The poem is in iambic pentameter and employs a feminine ending to the odd lines; but there are a few lines whose rhythm confounds me: If you can wait and not be tired by waiting Twisted by knaves to ...
Pearl's user avatar
  • 71
3 votes
1 answer
938 views

What is the rhythm of the line 'I want a hero, an uncommon want'?

What is the rhythm of the following line from the start of Byron's Don Juan? I want a hero: an uncommon want, Is it iambic or trochaic? It's a tetrameter and not a pentameter that I am aware of. ...
Sanjana's user avatar
  • 139
3 votes
1 answer
7k views

Meter and number of syllables per line in "The Raven"

After reading some analysis of "The Raven", I've become confused about how syllables are counted. For example, in the second line: Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore A few ...
Daniel's user avatar
  • 39
3 votes
0 answers
48 views

Are there standard guidelines on apostrophising to denote swallowed syllables for scansion?

There are various words in English which can be pronounced in different ways with different numbers of syllables. Poetry often requires them to be read in a particular way for appropriate scansion, ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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