2StressesIn English, and most European languages, words of more than one syllable alternate stressed and unstressed syllables. For example, the word imagination is pronounced with stresses on the second and fourth syllables (stressed syllables are capitalized): i-MA-gi-NA-tion.
3Iambic MeterThis pattern of alternating unstressed and stressed syllables is the most common in English poetry. It is called iambic meter. An iamb is a metric foot (one unit of meter or rhythm in a poem) that includes an unstressed syllable (represented by an x) followed by a stressed syllable (represented by a /), as in the word aLONE.
4Basic Poetic Feet There are four basic feet used in English poetry: FOOTPATTERNEXAMPLEiambx /aLONEtrochee/ xONlyanapestx x /in a DREAMdactyl/ x xMEMories
5Additional Poetic Feet The following feet, which obviously cannot be used alone in a poem, are often substituted for one of the basic feet:FOOTPATTERNEXAMPLEpyrrhicx xof thespondee/ /OLD LOVEStribrachx x xof a re-molossos/ / /MOTE LOST LAND
6Still More Poetic FeetOther feet of three or four syllables exist for every possible combination of stressed and unstressed syllables, but they are seldom used.
7Iambic PentameterThe most common line of poetry in English is iambic pentameter, like these lines from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130:I LOVE to HEAR her SPEAK, yet WELL I KNOWThat MUSic HATH a FAR more PLEASing SOUND
8MeterA line of poetry may have from one to eight metric feet. Each of these forms has a name:Monometer—one foot per lineDimeter—two feet per lineTrimeter—three feet per lineTetrameter—four feet per linePentameter—five feet per lineHexameter—six feet per lineHeptameter—seven feet per lineOctameter—eight feet per line
9RhymeIn poetry, sounds and entire words are repeated to tie words together or emphasize certain ideas.Rhyme is the repetition of a stressed vowel and the consonants that follow it. The consonants before the vowel are different. The following words rhyme: trick, quick, lick, pick.
10Marking a Poem’s Rhyme Scheme Lowercase letters are used to indicate the rhyme scheme in a poem.My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.abThe a rhyme is –un in sun and dun, and the b rhyme is –ed in red and head.
11SonnetThe sonnet, probably the poetic form most commonly used in English, is fourteen lines of rhymed iambic pentameter (five iambs per line). There are two common rhyming patterns for sonnets: Italian or Petrarchan and English or Shakespearian.
12Italian SonnetsThe rhyme scheme for the Italian sonnet is abbaabba cdecde (or cdcdcd). The first eight lines are the octave, in which a problem or situation is presented. In the sestet, or last six lines, that problem is resolved. The best known Italian sonnet in English is “How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
13English SonnetsThe rhyme scheme for the English sonnet is abab cdcd efef gg, with three quatrains (a set of four lines) and a final couplet (two lines). Notice that there are more rhymes in the English sonnet. Because so many Italian words end in vowels, it is easier to find four words that rhyme in that language than it is in English.
14Sample Sonnets My lady’s presence makes the roses red My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun“On the Sonnet”How do I love thee? Let me count the ways“To Shakespeare, Keats, and Hopkins”
15My lady’s presence makes the roses red by Henry Constable (1562-1613) Because to see her lips they blush for shame.The lily’s leaves, for envy, pale became,And her white hands in them this envy bred.The marigold the leaves abroad doth spreadBecause the sun’s and her power is the same.The violet of purple color came,Dyed in the blood she made my heart to shed.In brief, all flowers from her their virtue take;From her sweet breath their sweet smells do proceed;The living heat which her eyebeams doth makeWarmeth the ground and quickeneth the seed.The rain wherewith she watereth the flowersFalls from mine eyes, which she dissolves in showers.
16My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun by William Shakespeare ( )My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.I have seen roses damasked* red and white,But no such roses see I in her cheeks;And in some perfumes is there more delightThan in the breath that from my mistress reeks.I love to hear her speak, yet well I knowThat music hath a far more pleasing sound;I grant I never saw a goddess go;My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rareAs any she belied with false compare.
17“On the Sonnet” by John Keats (1795-1821) If by dull rhymes our English must be chained,And, like Andromeda, the Sonnet sweetFettered, in spite of painéd loveliness;Let us find out, if we must be constrained,Sandals more interwoven and completeTo fit the naked foot of poesy;Let us inspect the lyre, and weigh the stressOf every chord, and see what may be gainedBy ear industrious, and attention meet;Misers of sound and syllable, no lessThan Midas of his coinage, let us beJealous of dead leaves in the bay-wreath crown;So, if we may not let the Muse be free,She will be bound with garlands of her own.
18How do I love thee? Let me count the ways by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) I love thee to the depth and breadth and heightMy soul can reach, when feeling out of sightFor the ends of Being and ideal Grace.I love thee to the level of everyday'sMost quiet need, by sun and candle-light.I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.I love thee with a passion put to useIn my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.I love thee with a love I seemed to loseWith my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,I shall but love thee better after death.
19“To Shakespeare, Keats, And Hopkins” by Elizabeth Clark (1956- ) Unnumbered verses, artless, without measure,debased, deformed, demeaning each word’s worth,prospective chart not yielding promised treasure,unhallowed hollow creed but prompting mirth,not faith or works (A lisping infant’s curse,with far more definition, so unhitchesall sense from sound.)—inharmony! or worse—unruly, pouring forth in fevered pitches,delude, deluge the world with reigning passionincensed, in fondness penned by anyonebut, worshipful of idle, awful fashion,without content. Why will they not have done?With reason will your feats become the normagain: true poetry in ideal form.