Meter • Learning Outcomes: • To have an understanding of how to identify metrical patterns. • To be able to evaluate the effect of verse form and meter. The measured pattern of rhythmic accents in poems.
Some Important terms Foot A metrical unit composed of stressed and unstressed syllables. Anapest (anapestic) Two unaccented syllables followed by an accented one, as in: duh-duh-DUH, as in but of COURSE! com-pre-HEND or in-ter-VENE Dactyl (Dactylic) A stressed syllable followed by two unstressed ones, as in: DUH-duh-duh, as in HONestly, FLUT-ter-ing or BLUE-ber-ry. Iamb (Iambic) An unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one, as in: duh-DUH, as in collAPSEor to-DAY. Trochee (trochaic) An accented syllable followed by an unaccented one, as in: DUH-duh, as in PIZzaor FOOT-ball. 1 foot: monometer 2 feet: dimeter 3 feet: trimeter 4 feet: tetrameter 5 feet: pentameter 6 feet: hexameter
Joining the Two…. Iamb + 5 feet (pentameter) = iambic pentameter Which means… 5 unstressed syllables, each followed by a stressed syllable. E.g. in Christopher Marlowe's line from Dr. Faustus: “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?”
And again….. Dactyl+ 2 feet (Dimeter) = Dactylic Dimeter Which means Two lots of stressed syllables, each followed by two unstressed syllables. E.g. “Battering hurricanes”
Get Poetic! Write me a poem about WAR. • The first stanza should use trochaic trimeter. • The second verse should use anapestic hexameter. • The third verse should use iambic tetrameter.
Romantic Ireland's dead and gone, It's with O'Leary in the grave. • What poem are these lines from? • Describe the meter. ANSWER: Iambic tetrameter How could you build this into an evaluative comment? The use of iambic tetrameter in these repeated lines gives the verse a lyrical and prayer-like quality, reinforcing the plaintive nature of the words.
Remember…. • Identifying the meter and rhyme scheme of a poem is pointless if you do not evaluate its effect. • Don’t sweat blood trying to work out the metrical pattern of every poem. Instead, get a feel for the rhythm and its regularity or irregularity and consider how this reflects the tone or ideas of the poem.