Poetic Metre

Posted by moodyharsh on 2016-06-05

A poem has meter and rhyme like rhythm and melody in music.

How do we identify meter ?

First Some Definitions [1]

  • syllable : enunciable unit of a word. Often represented in dictionaries with -‘s.
    Example = ex-am-ple, id-e-a, wo-rd
    
  • accent : style of enunciating.
  • iamb : any two syllables, usually a single word but not always, whose accent is on the second syllable.
    Example = upon, arise
    
  • trochee : any two syllables, usually a single word but not always, whose accent is on the first syllable.
    Example = virtue, further
    
  • spondee : any two syllables, sometimes a single word but not always, with strong accent on the first and second syllable.
    Example = In "The long day wanes, the slow moon climbs", the words "day wanes" form a spondee.
    
  • pyrrhic : any two syllables, often across words, with each syllable unstressed/unaccented.
  • anapest : any three syllables, usually a single word but not always, whose accent is on the third syllable.
    Example = intervene
    
  • dactyl : any three syllables, usually a single word but not always, word whose accent is on the first syllable.
    Example = tenderly
    

Definitons For A Line

  • foot : 1 or more words which have [2-3] syllables
  • dimeter, trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, hexameter : n foot, where is 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or 6
  • iamb-ic, troch-aic, spond-aic, pyrrh-aic, anapest-ic, dactyl-ic: when the line is made of iambs or trochee or …

If (iambic pentameter)

x = unstress
/ = stress
iamb = x /

x / x / x / x / x /
If you can keep your head when all a-bout you
x / x / x / x / x /
Are los-in-g theirs and blam-in-g it on you;
x / x / x / x / x /
If you can trust your-self when all men doubt you,
x / x / x / x / x /
But make al-low-ance for their doubt-in-g too:
x / x / x / x / x /
If you can wait and not be tired by wait-in-g,
x / x / x / x / x /
Or, be-in-g lied a-bout, don’t deal in lies,
x / x / x / x / x /
Or be-in-g hat-ed don’t give way to hat-in-g,
x / x / x / x / x /
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

-Rudyard Kipling[2]

The hypenation, as seen on

x / x / x / x / x /
But make al-low-ance for their doubt-in-g too:

Using a dictionary we can add hypenations that can help the reader analyse a poem.

[1] http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/users/m/morillo/public/prosody1.htm
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scansion
[3] https://code.google.com/p/hyphenator/