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The Rhythm of

Poetry:

Syllable - Poetic feet - Meter

Syllables
English words have clear syllables.
We can usually divide words into
syllables easily.
We can also determine which syllables to
emphasize, or stress in each word.
For example:
Angel = AN-gel (not an-GEL)
Complete = com-PLETE (not COM-plete)

More Syllables
poem = PO-em.(1 stressed + 1 unstressed)
poetry = PO-e-try.(1 stressed + 2 unstressed)
relief = re-LIEF. (1 unstressed + 1 stressed)
recommend = re-com-MEND. (2 unstressed + 1 stressed)
discomfort = dis-COM-fort (1 unstressed + 1 stressed + 1 unstressed)
entertainment = en-ter-TAIN-ment (2 unstressed + 1 stressed + 1 unstressed)

Scansion
(1) the act of scanning, or analyzing poetry
in terms of its rhythmic components
(2) the graphic representation,
indicated by marked accents, feet, etc.,
of the rhythm of a line or lines of verse
You may have seen scansion marks like the
following:
The curved lines are
unstressed syllables while the
straight slashes are stressed

Poetic Meter
Meters are the rhythms within poems.
Meters are the arrangement of
stressed/unstressed
syllables to
stressed
occur at apparently equal intervals.
Metered verse has prescribed rules as
to the number and placement of
syllables used per line.

Poetic Foot
A poetic foot is a repeated sequence of
rhythm comprised of two or more
stressed and/or unstressed syllables.
Poetic meter is comprised of poetic feet

Five main patterns to poetic feet:


1. Iambic

2. Trochaic

Anapestic
4. Dactylic
5. Spondaic
3.

Iambic pattern
1 unstressed syllable
stressed syllable
EXAMPLES:
repose (re-POSE)
POSE
belief (be-LIEF)
LIEF
complete (com-PLETE)
PLETE

followed by

Trochaic Pattern

1 stressed syllable followed by 1


unstressed syllable
EXAMPLES:
garland (GAR-land)
speaking (SPEAK-ing)
value (VAL-ue)

Anapestic pattern
2 unstressed syllables
stressed syllable

followed by

EXAMPLES:
on the road
interrupt (in-ter-RUPT)
RUPT
unabridged,
bridged contradict,
dict engineer,
eer
masquerade,
rade Galilee

Dactylic pattern

1 stressed syllable followed by 2


unstressed syllables
EXAMPLE:
happiness (HAP-pi-ness)
galloping (GAL-lop-ing)
fortunate,
Saturday,
daffodil,
murmuring,
for
Sat
daf
mur
rhapsody
rhap

Spondaic Pattern

All syllables have equal stress


EXAMPLE:
Heartbreak
Out, out
"pen-knife," "ad hoc," "heartburn"

The Iambic foot


The iamb = (1 unstressed syllable + 1 stressed syllable) is the
most common poetic foot in English verse.
iambic foot examples:
behold
destroy
the sun (articles such as the would be considered unstressed syllables)
and watch (conjunctions such as and would be considered unstressed
syllables)

Lines containing iambic feet


Behold / and watch / the sun / destroy / and grow (5 iambs)
When I / do COUNT / the CLOCK / that TELLS / the
TIME

[Shakespeares Sonnet 12] (5 iambs)

Shall I / compare /thee to / a sum / mer's day?


[Shakespeares Sonnet 12] (5 iambs)

Come live/ with me/ and be/ my love (4 iambs)


(poem by Christopher Marlowe)

Trochaic poem: a stressed syllable


followed by an unstressed one
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha
By the / shores of / Gitche / Gumee,
By the / shining / Big-Sea /-Water,
Stood the / wigwam / of No / komis,
Daughter / of the / Moon, No / komis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before' it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

Anapestic poetry:

2 unstressed syllables + 1 stressed one

Limericks contain anapestic meter (in blue)

A Limerick by Edward Lear:


There was / an Old Man / with a beard,
Who said, "It is just / as I feared!
Two Owls / and a Hen,
Four Larks / and a Wren,
Have all / built their nests / in my beard!"

Dactylic poem:

1 stressed + 2 unstressed

Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Half a league, / half a league,
Half a league / onward,
All in the / valley of / Death
Rode the / six hundred.
"Forward, the / Light Brigade!
Charge for the / guns!" he said:
Into the / valley of / Death
Rode the / six hundred.

Spondaic Poem: 2 equal syllables


Because of this nature of the spondee,
a serious poem cannot be solely
spondaic.
spondaic
It would be almost impossible to construct
a poem entirely of stressed syllables.
syllables
Therefore, the spondee usually
occurs within a poem having another
dominant rhythm scheme.

Combinations of Poetic Feet

One foot per line: monometer


Two feet per line : dimeter
Three feet per line : trimeter
Four feet per line : tetrameter
Five feet per line : pentameter
Six feet per line : hexameter

Type + Number = Meter

Types of Poetic Feet


Iambic (1 unstressed + 1 stressed)
Trochaic (1 stressed + 1 unstressed)
Anapestic
Dactylic (1 stressed + 2 unstressed)
Spondaic (all syllables equal)
(2 unstressed + 1 stressed)

Number of feet per line

Monometer
Dimeter
Trimeter
Tetrameter
Pentameter
Hexameter

Meters & Feet

Q: If a poem had 1 foot per line,


line and
the foot was iambic (1 unstressed + 1 stressed),
what type of poem would it be?

A: Iambic monometer

Meters & Feet

Q: If a poem had 2 feet per line,


line and
the foot was iambic (1 unstressed + 1 stressed),
what type of poem would it be?

A: Iambic dimeter

Meters & Feet

Q: If a poem had 3 feet per line,


line and
the foot was iambic (1 unstressed + 1 stressed),
what type of poem would it be?

A: Iambic trimeter

Meters & Feet

Q: If a poem had 4 feet per line,


line and
the foot was iambic (1 unstressed + 1 stressed),
what type of poem would it be?

A: Iambic tetrameter

Meters & Feet

Q: If a poem had 5 feet per line,


line and
the foot was iambic (1 unstressed + 1 stressed),
what type of poem would it be?

A: Iambic pentameter

Meters & Feet

Q: If a poem had 3 feet per line,


line and

the foot was trochaic (1 stressed +1 unstressed),


what type of poem would it be?

A: Trochaic tetrameter

Go ahead
experiment with
different metric styles
in your own poetry!
End of presentation.