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POETIC STRUCTURE How to Use Meter, Rhyme, Stanza and Line in Poetic Interpretation.

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Presentation on theme: "POETIC STRUCTURE How to Use Meter, Rhyme, Stanza and Line in Poetic Interpretation."— Presentation transcript:

1 POETIC STRUCTURE How to Use Meter, Rhyme, Stanza and Line in Poetic Interpretation

2 Scansion Definition: Definition: Noun: “the analysis of verse into its metrical or rhythmic components.” -Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. Formal Uses: Scan “closed form” poems to find the metrical feet and line length. Formal Uses: Scan “closed form” poems to find the metrical feet and line length. Informal Uses: Assess the shifts in rhythm and line to find a poet’s emphasis or shift in argument. Informal Uses: Assess the shifts in rhythm and line to find a poet’s emphasis or shift in argument.

3 Scansion—Difficulty with “The Flea” In the Poetry Handbook, John Lennard, writing about scansion and meter in “The Flea,” claims that, despite the overall use of alternating iambic tetrameter and pentameter, John Donne’s “argument... becomes sufficiently vehement to put his metre under considerable pressure” (15). In the Poetry Handbook, John Lennard, writing about scansion and meter in “The Flea,” claims that, despite the overall use of alternating iambic tetrameter and pentameter, John Donne’s “argument... becomes sufficiently vehement to put his metre under considerable pressure” (15). “Donne, for not keeping of accent, deserved hanging”—Ben Jonson “Donne, for not keeping of accent, deserved hanging”—Ben Jonson

4 How to Scan and Interpret Meter in Closed Form: The Simpler, the Better Cru-el /and sud/den, has/ thou since [a] Purpled /thy nail / in blood /of in /nocence? [a] Wherein /could this /flea guil/ty be, [b] Except /in that /drop which /it sucked /from thee?[b] Yet thou /triumph’st, /and say’st /that thou [c] Find’st not /thyself, /nor me, /the wea/ker now; [c] ‘Tis true; /then learn /how false /fears be; [d/b] Just so /much hon/or, when /thou yield’st /to me, [d/b] Will waste,/as this/flea’s death/took life /from thee.[d/b] “The Flea” (581, ln 19-27) by John Donne

5 Lennard continues: Lennard continues: Even here, the iambic beat is quite strong enough for “[cruel] and [sudden]” to leap into auditory focus: “[cruel]” (helped by its spelling) drags out over both beats as a near-spondee... while the brutally trochaic “[sudden]” is broken over the foot division... reflecting the sudden pressure needed to kill a flea, and the jet of blood that results if it has just sucked” (17). 1) Cru-el /and sud/den, has/ thou since Spondaic (stress-stress) “Cru-el”/ and trochaic “sudden” split unnaturally into iambic: “and sud/ den has” 2) Cruel and/ sud-den, /has thou since Trochaic (stress-un-stress) “Cruel and” followed by trochaic “sud-den” and then an ill-metered (stress-un-stress) “has thou since”

6 Scansion in Traditional Vs. Modified Closed Form Traditional Villanelle: Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night” (642) Do not go gentle into that good night, [A1] Old age should burn and rave at close of day; [b] Rage, rage against the dying of the light. [A2] Though wise men at their end know dark is right, [a] Because their words had forked no lightning they [b] Do not go gentle into that good night. [A1] Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright [a] Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, [b] Rage, rage against the dying of the light. [A2] Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, [a] And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, [b] Do not go gentle into that good night. [A1]

7 Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight [a] Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, [b] Rage, rage against the dying of the light. [A2] And you, my father, there on the sad height, [a] Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. [b] Do not go gentle into that good night. [A1] Rage, rage against the dying of the light. [A2] Now try your hand at scansion above. What shifts in meter do you see? What might this shift emphasize?

8 Now, Compare Villanelles: “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop (635-36) The art of losing isn't hard to master; [A1] so many things seem filled with the intent [b] to be lost that their loss is no disaster. [A2] Lose something every day. Accept the fluster [a] of lost door keys, the hour badly spent. [b] The art of losing isn't hard to master. [A1] Then practice losing farther, losing faster: [a] places, and names, and where it was you meant [b] to travel. None of these will bring disaster. [A2?] I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or [a] next-to-last, of three loved houses went. [b] The art of losing isn't hard to master. [A1]

9 I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster, [a] some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent. [b] I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster. [A2?] --Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture [a] I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident [b] the art of losing's not too hard to master [A1?] though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.[A2?] What do you notice about this use of the villanelle structure? Is the meter the same as Thomas’s? Different? How? What effect does this have on the reader?

10 Using Scansion in Open Form Poetry: “Flower Feet” (655-56) Ruth Fainlight’s poem on Chinese foot binding steps across cultural boundaries, and while she doesn’t use formal structure, she uses precisely chosen line breaks, enjambment, alliteration, assonance and consonance, to shine light on an unfamiliar, even forgotten practice. Ruth Fainlight’s poem on Chinese foot binding steps across cultural boundaries, and while she doesn’t use formal structure, she uses precisely chosen line breaks, enjambment, alliteration, assonance and consonance, to shine light on an unfamiliar, even forgotten practice. Chinese Foot Binding Chinese Foot Binding Chinese Foot Binding Chinese Foot Binding

11 In the following lines from Fainlight’s poem, look for interesting line breaks (enjambment), shifts in rhythm or stress (meter), unique sound patterns (alliteration, consonance), or comparisons in a single line or stanza. Those hearts, tongues, crescents, and disks, leather shapes an inch across, are the soles of shoes no wider or longer than the span of my ankle (5-7) it could not hurt more than broken toes, twisted back and bandaged tight. An old woman, leaning on a cane outside her door in a Chinese village, smiled to tell how she fought and cried, how when she stood on points of pain that gnawed like fire, nurse and mother praised her tottering walk on flower feet. (9-16)

12 Concrete Poems: “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams (619) so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens

13 Finding Structural Meaning in Free Verse: e.e. cummings’ “next to of course god america i” (710-11) “next to of course god america I love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh say can you see by the dawn’s early my country ‘tis of centuries come and go and are no more what of it we should worry in every language even deafanddumb thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry by jingo by gee by gosh by gum why talk of beauty what could be more beautiful than these heroic happy dead who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter they did not stop to think they dies instead then shall the voice of liberty be mute?” He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water. (1926)

14 “next to, of course, God, America I love you. Land of the pilgrims’ and so forth. Oh say can you see by the dawn’s early [light] my country ‘tis of [thee] centuries come and go and are no more. What of it? We should worry. In every language, even deaf and dumb, thy sons acclaim your glorious name, by gorry, by jingo, by gee, by gosh, by gum Why talk of beauty? What could be more beautiful, than these heroic happy dead who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter? They did not stop to think. They died instead. Then shall the voice of liberty be mute?” He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water. (1926)

15 How does cummings’ manipulation of structure affect his message? Any other questions?

16 Gertrude Stein: Tender Buttons “ SALAD DRESSING AND AN ARTICHOKE ” Please pale hot, please cover rose, please acre in the red stranger, please butter all the beef-steak with regular feel stranger, please butter all the beef-steak with regular feelFaces.


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