Poetry is repetition – scanning poetry


Posted by pbakes | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on September 17, 2012

When a poet writes a structured piece of poetry – sonnet, ballad, quatrain etc – they are seeking to achieve a specific rhyme and/or rhythm pattern. This is done by paying special attention to the metre which is the basic rhythmic (beat) structure of a line or lines of verse. The regularity is achieved by combining weak (unstressed) and strong (stressed) syllables into a repetitive pattern.

Rhythm comes from the Greek (rheo) meaning to flow
Metre comes from the Greek (metron) meaning to measure

Each line of poetry consists of a series of words which can be broken into syllables. A syllable can have a stressed or an unstressed emphasis. A syllable is each part of a word that has one single vowel sound

Try this source: how to scan poetry

When poetry is scanned each stressed syllable is shown with a ‘/’ while an unstressed syllable is shown with an ‘x’. In the examples below stressed syllables are shown in bold

recognized metres are

iamb (weak/strong) – a double rising rhythm

So long / as men / can breathe, / or eyes / can see,
So long / lives this, / and this / gives life / to thee.

Shakespeare – Sonnet 18

trochee (strong/weak) a double falling rhythm

Double, / double, / toil and / trouble;
Fire / burn and / cauldron / bubble.

Witches in Macbeth by Shakespeare

anapest (weak/weak/strong) a triple rising rhythm

The Assyr / ian came down / like a wolf / on the fold
And his co / horts were gleam/ ing in pur / ple and gold
And the sheen / of their spears / was like stars / on the sea
When the blue/ wave rolls night / ly on deep/ Galilee.

Byron’s The Destruction of Sennacherib:

dactyl (strong/weak/weak) a triple falling rhythm

Just for a / handful of / silver he / left us
Just for a/ riband to / stick in his / coat

Robert Browning The Lost Leader

amphibrach (weak strong weak) a rocking rhythm

All ready / to put up / the tents for / my circus.
I think I / will call it / the Circus / McGurkus.
And NOW comes / an act of / Enormous / Enormance!
No former / performer’s / performed this / performance!

Dr Seuss: If I ran the circus

spondee (strong/strong) – often only seen as part of a line

Be near / me when/ my light / is low,
When the blood creeps / and the nerves prick (note the two spondees in this line)
And tingle; / and the heart / is sick,

In Memorium by Alfred Tennyson

When you repeat these patterns in a line you set up a particular rhythm.

Lines of poetry are named according to how many of these patterns (called feet) are in a line

Iambic pentameter, for example, has 5 iambs in the one line making a total of 10 syllables.

monometer is 1 foot
dimeter is 2 feet
trimeter is 3 feet
tetrameter is 4 feet
pentameter is 5 feet
hexameter is 6 feet
heptameter is 7 feet
octameter is 8 feet

Now complete the poetry worksheet handed out in class.

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