Versification: A Short Introduction

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English is an accentual language, and therefore beats and offbeats stressed and unstressed syllables take the place of the long and short syllables of classical systems. In most English verse, the metre can be considered as a sort of back beat, against which natural speech rhythms vary expressively.

The most common characteristic feet of English verse are the iamb in two syllables and the anapest in three. See Foot prosody for a complete list of the metrical feet and their names. The number of metrical systems in English is not agreed upon.


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Accentual verse focuses on the number of stresses in a line, while ignoring the number of offbeats and syllables; accentual-syllabic verse focuses on regulating both the number of stresses and the total number of syllables in a line; syllabic verse only counts the number of syllables in a line; quantitative verse regulates the patterns of long and short syllables this sort of verse is often considered alien to English.

The most frequently encountered metre of English verse is the iambic pentameter , in which the metrical norm is five iambic feet per line, though metrical substitution is common and rhythmic variations practically inexhaustible. John Milton 's Paradise Lost , most sonnets , and much else besides in English are written in iambic pentameter. Lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter are commonly known as blank verse. A rhymed pair of lines of iambic pentameter make a heroic couplet , [14] a verse form which was used so often in the 18th century that it is now used mostly for humorous effect although see Pale Fire for a non-trivial case.

The most famous writers of heroic couplets are Dryden and Pope. Another important metre in English is the ballad metre , also called the "common metre", which is a four-line stanza, with two pairs of a line of iambic tetrameter followed by a line of iambic trimeter ; the rhymes usually fall on the lines of trimeter, although in many instances the tetrameter also rhymes. This is the metre of most of the Border and Scots or English ballads. In hymnody it is called the "common metre", as it is the most common of the named hymn metres used to pair many hymn lyrics with melodies, such as Amazing Grace : [15].

Emily Dickinson is famous for her frequent use of ballad metre:. In French poetry , metre is determined solely by the number of syllables in a line. At the end of a line, the "e" remains unelided but is hypermetrical outside the count of syllables, like a feminine ending in English verse , in that case, the rhyme is also called "feminine", whereas it is called "masculine" in the other cases. The most frequently encountered metre in Classical French poetry is the alexandrine , composed of two hemistiches of six syllables each.

Two famous alexandrines are. Classical French poetry also had a complex set of rules for rhymes that goes beyond how words merely sound. These are usually taken into account when describing the metre of a poem. In Spanish poetry the metre is determined by the number of syllables the verse has. Still it is the phonetic accent in the last word of the verse that decides the final count of the line. If the accent of the final word is at the last syllable, then the poetic rule states that one syllable shall be added to the actual count of syllables in the said line, thus having a higher number of poetic syllables than the number of grammatical syllables.

If the accent lies on the second to last syllable of the last word in the verse, then the final count of poetic syllables will be the same as the grammatical number of syllables. Furthermore, if the accent lies on the third to last syllable, then one syllable is subtracted from the actual count, having then less poetic syllables than grammatical syllables.

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Spanish poetry uses poetic licenses, unique to Romance languages, to change the number of syllables by manipulating mainly the vowels in the line. Regarding these poetic licenses one must consider three kinds of phenomena: 1 syneresis, 2 dieresis and 3 hiatus. There are many types of licenses, used either to add or subtract syllables, that may be applied when needed after taking in consideration the poetic rules of the last word. Yet all have in common that they only manipulate vowels that are close to each other and not interrupted by consonants. In Italian poetry, metre is determined solely by the position of the last accent in a line, the position of the other accents being however important for verse equilibrium.

Syllables are enumerated with respect to a verse which ends with a paroxytone , so that a Septenary having seven syllables is defined as a verse whose last accent falls on the sixth syllable: it may so contain eight syllables Ei fu. Siccome im mo bile or just six la terra al nunzio sta. Moreover, when a word ends with a vowel and the next one starts with a vowel, they are considered to be in the same syllable synalepha : so Gli anni e i giorni consists of only four syllables "Gli an" "ni e i" "gior" "ni". Even-syllabic verses have a fixed stress pattern. Because of the mostly trochaic nature of the Italian language, verses with an even number of syllables are far easier to compose, and the Novenary is usually regarded as the most difficult verse.

Apart from Ottoman poetry, which was heavily influenced by Persian traditions [17] and created a unique Ottoman style, traditional Turkish poetry features a system in which the number of syllables in each verse must be the same, most frequently 7, 8, 11, 14 syllables.

The end of each group in a verse is called a "durak" stop , and must coincide with the last syllable of a word. About twelve of the commonest Persian metres were used for writing Turkish poetry. The moras , or syllables, are divided into three basic types:. In writing out a poem's poetic metre, open syllables are symbolized by ".

From the different syllable types, a total of sixteen different types of poetic foot—the majority of which are either three or four syllables in length—are constructed, which are named and scanned as follows:. These individual poetic feet are then combined in a number of different ways, most often with four feet per line, so as to give the poetic metre for a line of verse.

Some of the most commonly used metres are the following:. Portuguese poetry uses a syllabic metre in which the verse is classified according to the last stressed syllable. The Portuguese system is quite similar to those of Spanish and Italian, as they are closely related languages. The most commonly used verses are:. Metrical texts are first attested in early Indo-European languages. The earliest known unambiguously metrical texts, and at the same time the only metrical texts with a claim of dating to the Late Bronze Age , are the hymns of the Rigveda.

That the texts of the Ancient Near East Sumerian, Egyptian or Semitic should not exhibit metre is surprising, and may be partly due to the nature of Bronze Age writing. Latin verse survives from the Old Latin period c. Persian poetry [25] arises in the Sassanid era. Tamil poetry of the early centuries AD may be the earliest known non-Indo-European.

Renaissance and Early Modern poetry in Europe is characterized by a return to templates of Classical Antiquity, a tradition begun by Petrarca 's generation and continued into the time of Shakespeare and Milton. Not all poets accept the idea that metre is a fundamental part of poetry. Or if someone claimed that there were just 2 colors in creation? Now, ponder if such a thing were true.

Moore went further than Jeffers, openly declaring her poetry was written in syllabic form, and wholly denying metre. These syllabic lines from her famous poem "Poetry" illustrate her contempt for metre and other poetic tools. Even the syllabic pattern of this poem does not remain perfectly consistent:. Williams tried to form poetry whose subject matter was centered on the lives of common people.

He came up with the concept of the variable foot. Williams spurned traditional metre in most of his poems, preferring what he called "colloquial idioms. Hopkins' major innovation was what he called sprung rhythm. He claimed most poetry was written in this older rhythmic structure inherited from the Norman side of the English literary heritage, [ citation needed ] based on repeating groups of two or three syllables, with the stressed syllable falling in the same place on each repetition.

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Main article: Enjambment. Main articles: Sanskrit prosody and Vedic metre. Main article: Prosody Latin. Further information: Prosody Greek. See also: Arabic prosody. Main article: Arabic prosody. Further information: Persian metres. Main article: Classical Chinese poetry forms. A diphthong is made from two consecutive vowels in a word which do not normally form one: poe-ta , leal-tad instead of the standard po-e-ta 'poet' , le-al-tad 'loyalty'. The opposite of syneresis. A syllable break is inserted between two vowels which usually make a diphthong, thus eliminating it: ru-i-do , ci-e-lo for the standard rui-do 'noise' , cie-lo 'sky' or 'heaven'.

Synalepha Spanish sinalefa. The final vowel of a word and the initial one of the next are pronounced in one syllable. Further information: History of poetry. Cummings Cummings Study Guides. Retrieved Thus, a line with three iambic feet is known as iambic trimeter. A line with six dactylic feet is known as dactylic hexameter. Dactyl is one long two short syllables from dactyl, meaning "finger" Greek: daktylos. Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved 9 March The Persian Metres The essay is reprinted in Baker, David , ed. Prosody and purpose in the English renaissance.

Johns Hopkins University Press. See p. Hebrew Poetry of the Old Testament calls them 'Procrustean'. Poetic meters. Categories : Poetic rhythm. Hidden categories: Articles containing Spanish-language text Articles containing Turkish-language text CS1 errors: markup All articles with dead external links Articles with dead external links from September Use British English from July Articles needing additional references from February All articles needing additional references Articles containing Arabic-language text All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from January Articles with unsourced statements from February Namespaces Article Talk.

Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Oh beloved, since the origin we have been the slaves of the shah of love Oh beloved, we are the famed sultan of the heart's domain [19]. Though I may fail to please with my matchless verse The fault lies in those languid eyes and not my words. At the gathering of desire you made me a wine-cup with your sugar smile Oh saki, give me only half a cup of wine, you've made me drunk enough [20].

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What use in revealing my sickness of heart to my love I know my love knows the whole of my sickness of heart. We are desire hidden in the love-crazed call of the nightingale We are blood hidden in the crimson heart of the unbloomed rose [21]. Have one to sell? Sell now - Have one to sell? Get the item you ordered or get your money back. Learn more - opens in new window or tab. Seller information hoffmansbooks Contact seller. Visit store. See other items More See all. Item Information Condition:.

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Poetry In Voice 2016 winner Marie Foolchand recites at Griffin Poetry Prize awards ceremony

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Seller assumes all responsibility for this listing. There is a small bit of sticker remnants to the top edge of the upper cover. The binding is solid. The contents are bright and clean, but with some previous owner notations in pencil. First Edition. This book is hard-bound in blue cloth with gilt stamping to the spine, in a very nice dust jacket.