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Materials :
Prosody and stanzaic
form of poetry
After finishing this unit, the students are
expected to be able to identify and explain
the meter, poetic feet, rhythm, rhyme and
stanzaic form of a poem
1. What is the correct pronunciation of this
sentence? Add or change the punctuation if
possible. Does it change the meaning?
Ini jambu monyet.
2. Say hello to:
a. A friend you meet regularly
b. A friend you havent met for ten years
c. A neighbor you dont like
d. A 6-month-old baby
Did you use similar intonations in the four
situations? Why or why not? Explain.
Prosody (the pronunciation of a
song or poem) is the general word
describing the study of poetic
sounds and rhythm. Common
alternative words are
versification (which can also be
referred to as the study of the
structure of a verse), mechanics
of verse, and music of poetry.
Like music, poetry often requires a regular
beat, an appropriate speed and expressiveness
of delivery, which help the poets convey the
meanings of their words or facilitate the readers
to understand the ideas, the emotions the
poets communicate through their words. Given
these significant roles of sounds and rhythm of
a poem, readers may accept that the analysis
of a poems prosodic technique cannot be
separated from that of its content.
1. Rhythm
In poetry, rhythm is created by the pattern
of repeated soundsin terms of both
duration and qualityand ideas. It is a
combination of vocal speeds, rises and
falls, starts and stops, vigor and
slackness, and relaxation and tension.
All these are related to emotions that are
charged in the poem.
a) Rhythm and scansion
Scansion is the act of scanning a poem to discover how
the poem establishes a metrical patternwhich syllables
are accented (receive stress) and which are not (receive
no stress). The accented syllables are usually marked with
a bowl-like half circle called a breve . Example:

(Wordsworth, The World Is Too Much with Us)

(Donne, Song)
2. Rhyme
Rhyme is the identical final syllables of words. Rhyme gives
delight and strengthens a poems psychological impact. The
similar sounds help promote our memory on the poem. Most
often, rhymes are placed at the ends of lines. Rhymes may
appear in two successive lines, in alternating lines, or at
intervals of four, five, or more lines. However, if rhyming
sounds are too far away from each other, they lose their
immediacy and effectiveness.
When we want to describe the rhyme pattern in a poem of a
stanza, we label the first sound at the end of a line a, the
next b, then c, d, and so forth. When a sound reappears,
we use the same letter to label the sound. We would then
say that the pattern, or the rhyme scheme of a stanza or
poem, is abcbca, abba, etc.
There are several variations of
rhymes. They are, among others:
a) Perfect rhyme and half rhyme
Perfect rhymes of exact rhymes occur when the stressed vowel following
sounds are identical like in slow - grow, fleet - street, or buying -crying. Half
rhymes occur when the final consonant sounds of the words are identical,
but the vowels are different, creating similar but not identical sounds (as in
quietness - express).
b) Masculine and feminine rhyme
Masculine rhyme occurs when the final syllables of the rhyming words are
stressed, such as inquired desired. A feminine rhyme is the rhyming of
stressed syllables followed by identical unstressed syllables, like in flowers
c) Internal rhyme
This is when the rhyming words are found within the line, often a word in the
middle of a line rhyming with the last word or sound of the line.
Example: Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
(Browning, The Pied Piper of Hamelin)
d) Alliteration
It is the identical consonant sounds that start several words that are close
to each other. Check the following example. What effect do the repeated
sounds produce? For winter's rains and ruins are over, And all the
season of snows and sins; The days dividing lover and lover, The light
that loses, the night that wins;
(Swinburne, Chorus from Atalanta)
e) Assonance
The repetition of identical vowel sounds in different words that are close
to one another. One example is bird and thirst. (The er sound is identical
in both words.)
f) Consonance
Words have the same consonants but not the same vowel sounds, as in
pat and pit. Assonance and consonance are known as slant rhyme.
g) Onomatopoeia
It is a blend of consonant and vowel sounds designed to
imitate or suggest a situation or action. This technique
uses a word whose spund suggests its meaning, such as
buzz, crackle, hum, etc.
h) Blank verse
It is unrhymed iambic pentameter. Shakespeares plays
and Miltons Paradise Lost are two popular examples.
i) Free verse
Some poetry is composed in lines which are free of the
traditional patterns of lines and meter. The rhythm is
based on the stress resulting from the meaning of the
line and its natural and punctuated pauses.
3. Stanzaic Forms
particular rhyme scheme. Some of the more common
stanzas are:
1) Coupleta stanza of two lines which usually rhymes.
2) Triplet/terceta stanza of three lines
3) Quatrain--a stanza of four lines
4) Sesteta stanza of six lines
5) Septeta stanza of seven lines
6) Rhyme royala stanza of seven lines written in iambic
pentameter and rhyming ababbcc
7) Octavea stanza of eight lines
8) Sonnet a stanza of fourteen lines
9) Spenserian stanza
This stanza has nine lines; the first eight are iambic pentameter
while the last is iambic hexameter. The final line typically has a
caesura, or break, after the first three feet. The stanza rhymes
ababbcbcc. An example of the form is the first stanza of
Spensers Book I of The Faerie Queene (Smith, n.d.):
A gentle knight was pricking on the plaine, Ycladd in mightie
armes and silver shielde, Wherein old dints of deepe woundes
did remaine, The cruell markes of many a bloody fielde; Yet
armes till that time did he never wield: His angry steede did
chide his foaming bitt, As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:
Full jolly knight he seemed, and faire did sitt, As one for knightly
jousts and fierce encounters fitt.
10) Ottava rimaa stanza of eight lines
The stanza consists of eight lines written in iambic
pentameter. The following example is from Byrons Don
But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think;
'T is strange, the shortest letter which man uses
Instead of speech, may form a lasting link
Of ages; to what straits old Time reduces
Frail man, when papereven a rag like this,
Survives himself, his tomb, and all that 's his.

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