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Published byWarren Kingman Modified over 8 years ago
Rhythm in poetry in general and in the works of Will Shakespeare in particular.
Some poetry has a very specific rhythm called “ METER.” This rhythm is achieved through the use of stressed and unstressed syllables.
Syllables are the building blocks of words. You say all of the letters in one syllable together. When you move your mouth to say another group of letters, you are moving to the next syllable. SYL – LA - BLE
You say all of the letters in the word “stressed” together in one syllable: STRESST.
Chances are, you said the word “stressed” louder and with greater emphasis than the word “I’m.” That makes “stressed” a stressed syllable! Now say those two words aloud:
…Think of stressed and unstressed words as the boxes on a hopscotch board. The squares you land on with one foot are unstressed syllables. The rectangles you land on with both feet are stressed syllables.
Say the word “horizon” out loud. How many syllables does it have? Which syllable did you stress the most when you said it?
“Horizon” has three syllables. The middle syllable is stressed. The other two syllables are unstressed.
On a hopscotch board, “horizon” would look like this:. hor I zon
This is how you would mark up the meter of word “horizon”. The unstressed syllables have a above them. The stressed syllable has a above it.
Marking up meter in this way is called scansion. The two symbols have names: = breve (pronounced “breeve”) = ictus
Bar bar a Jen nes Now, write your name and mark up its scansion.
Sometimes poets use repeating units of rhythm in their poems. These units are called “feet” (a single unit is called a “foot”). Speaking of feet…
Iamb: (today, because) Trochee: (happy, lightly, yonder) Anapest: (understand, interrupt) Dactyl: (strawberry, obvious) Spondee: (love song, ding-dong) Common poetic feet:
The iambic foot is one of the most popular “building blocks” of meter used in poetry. It has a driving rhythm: Da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM I am an iamb:
Shakespeare used iambic meter extensively in his plays. He worked in a form called “blank verse” – unrhymed iambic pentameter. Will-i-amb?
Look at the term above. If iambic means “using iamb feet” and meter means “rhythm,” what’s the “ penta ” part for? iambic pentameter
Pentagon Pentagram Pentadactyl penta = five
I am a pi- rate with a wood en leg iambic pentameter = having five iamb feet 1 2 3 4 5
i AM a P I-rate WITH a WOOD- en LEG i AM a PI- rate WITH a WOOD- en LEG
that DOG is RA- bid, PLEASE don’t TAKE its BONE that DOG is RA- bid, PLEASE don’t TAKE its BONE
o ROS- a- LINDthese TREES shall BE my BOOKS o, ROS - a - LIND these TREES shall BE my BOOKS
and ONE man INhis TIME plays MAN- y PARTS and ONE man IN his TIME plays MAN- y PARTS
TRY IT YOURSELF!
Q: WHY DO POETS WRITE POEMS THAT ADHERE TO STRICT METER PATTERNS? (like iambic pentameter)
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