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English Poetry

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This is from my study notes.

♥ By Robert Herrick (1591–1674)

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day

To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

♥ By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.

♥ Poetry Meter

In poetry, a unit of stressed and unstressed syllables is called a foot. For example, look at this line from Shakespeare: “No longer mourn for me when I am dead.” The rhythm is, “bah-BAH bah-BAH bah-BAH bah-BAH bah-BAH. We read it like this: “no LON-ger MOURN for ME when I am DEAD.” The type of foot Shakespeare used here is called an iamb (抑扬格,短长格).

  • An iamb or an iambic foot has the rhythm bah-BAH. An unstressed syllable, then a stressed one. The iamb is the most common kind of foot in English poetry.
  • The trochee or trochaic foot is the opposite of an iamb — the rhythm is BAH-bah, like the words “apple,” and “father.”
  • The anapest or anapestic foot sounds like bah-bah-BAH, like the words “underneath” and “seventeen.”
  • The dactyl or dactylic foot the opposite of an anapest — the rhythm is BAH-bah-bah,” like the the words “elephant” and “stepmother.”
  • If there are two feet per line, it’s called dimeter. Here’s a sentence in trochaic dimeter: “Eat your dinner.” BAH-bah (1) BAH-bah (2).
  • Three feet per line = trimeter. Here’s a sentence in iambic trimeter: “I eat the bread and cheese.” Bah-BAH (1) bah-BAH (2) bah-BAH (3).
  • Four feet per line = tetrameter. Here’s a sentence in trochaic tetrameter: “Father ordered extra pizza.” BAH-bah (1) BAh-bah (2) BAH-bah (3) BAh-bah (4).
  • Five feet per line = pentameter. Here’s a sentence in iambic pentameter: “I’ll toast the bread and melt a piece of cheese.” Bah-BAH (1) bah-BAH (2) bah-BAH (3) bah-BAH (4) bah-BAH (5).
  • Six feet per line = hexameter or Alexandrine. A sentence in iambic hexameter: “I’ll toast the bread and melt a piece of cheese, okay?” Bah-BAH (1) bah-BAH (2) bah-BAH (3) bah-BAH (4) bah-BAH (5) bah-BAH (6).
  • Seven feet per line = heptameter. …

♥ Meter and Rhythm

  • None of us talk like robots. We give certain words and sounds more emphasis than others in a sentence, depending on a number of factors including the meaning of the words and our own personal speaking style. So not all of the stressed syllables have the same amount of stress, etc.
  • We pause at the ends of ideas or the ends of sentences, even if these occur partway through a poetic line. So this creates a rhythmically variation. When the sentence ends or has a natural pause in the middle of a line of poetry, that’s called a caesura.
  • Poets vary meter or make exceptions in order to create desired rhythmic effects.

See How to Write Poetry.


Written by Boathill

2014-03-12 at 22:00

Posted in , Poems, study notes

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