About Meter
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#1: About Meter Author: fogglethorpeLocation: Some western outpost PostPosted: Fri Feb 24 12:43:25 EST 2012
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Let's begin with a basic definition of meter (or metre):

The rhythmic arrangement of syllables, by quantity and natural accent, in lines of verse.

This installment will concentrate on the four most common types of meter in modern Western poetry:

Iambic, Trochaic, Dactylic, and Anapestic


Feet

Meter is measured in increments called feet, which are basically phonetic building blocks. In the sample words below, the normal text is unstressed, and the bold text is stressed:

iamb: Two syllables. The first is unstressed, and the second is stressed. Example: connect

trochee: Two syllables. The first is stressed, and the second is unstressed. Example: walking

dactyl: Three syllables. The first is stressed, the second is unstressed, and the third is unstressed. Example: fantasy

anapest: Three syllables. The first is unstressed, the second is unstressed, and the third is stressed. There are very few words in English that are anapest when they stand alone, and even that depends on context. Example: interrupt Usually, a combination of words is more effective. The following example is two anapestic feet: in the blink of an eye


Counting feet in lines of verse

monometer: A line of verse containing one metric foot

dimeter: A line of verse containing two metric feet

trimeter: Three metric feet.

tetrameter: Four metric feet

pentameter: Five metric feet.

and so on..hexameter is six feet, heptameter is seven feet, and octameter is eight.


Metered verse

The opening line of Shakespeare's Sonnet L is an example of iambic pentameter:

How heavy do I journey on the way

It has five iambic feet (ten syllables)..

How heavy do I journey on the way


The example below, from my poem "Philosopher's Stone", is an example of anapestic tetrameter:

and an ugly base metal that longs to be gold

It has four anapestic feet (twelve syllables)..

and an ugly base metal that longs to be gold





If there is a sufficient level of interest, I will make this a series.

#2: Re: About Meter Author: wordsmithwannabeLocation: Somewhere between a rock, a hard place, and all points in between. Also known as Vancouver, WA... PostPosted: Fri Feb 24 13:38:56 EST 2012
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love this. thanks for taking the time to post it, H. i would love to read more...

#3: Re: About Meter Author: fogglethorpeLocation: Some western outpost PostPosted: Fri Feb 24 13:50:45 EST 2012
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Thanks for reading it, and for the positive response. I will most likely add to it.

#4: Re: About Meter Author: electrictigerLocation: Birmingham, Alabama PostPosted: Fri Feb 24 15:46:20 EST 2012
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Yes, by all means - I think there is lots of interest. And thanks for taking the time to do this.

#5: Re: About Meter Author: OzymandiasLocation: Near Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Fri Feb 24 19:18:18 EST 2012
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A useful thread. It would be good to see more poems written in regular meter here. If nothing else it's good self-discipline.

I spent some time trying to think of more English anapests. Out of Anglo-Saxon words I thought of redefine, nondescript, anti-gay, disbelief, undermine and overact. It's interesting that all of them, as well as Foggie's interrupt, begin with prefixes.

Australian Aboriginal languages have given rise to a few anapests like kangaroo and place-names like Bungaree and Orroroo.

It would be interesting to try to write a poem based on anapestic rhymes:

There's many a handsome kangaroo
'Round Bungaree and Orroroo....

but it would take quite a bit of talent to go on like that for any length!

#6: Re: About Meter Author: deepaliLocation: valley of flowers PostPosted: Fri Feb 24 23:25:23 EST 2012
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very useful.
Thanks a lot!

#7: Re: About Meter Author: fogglethorpeLocation: Some western outpost PostPosted: Sat Feb 25 1:44:04 EST 2012
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Thanks for all the positive feedback. I will continue the series.

#8: Re: About Meter Author: anna9 PostPosted: Sat Feb 25 3:53:50 EST 2012
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oh, this is good. sorry for the late response, Hugh.

how is meter different from beat?

and how about when we really discuss with our examples in the comments section? Can a few of the poets comfy with meter help us?

#9: Re: About Meter Author: anna9 PostPosted: Sat Feb 25 3:56:27 EST 2012
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oh, and I learnt the iamb this way, i am crazy about philosophy so here is what i remember,

i think, therefore, i am, i am, i am.

Hugh, how do we learn which is the stressed syl?

#10: Re: About Meter Author: fogglethorpeLocation: Some western outpost PostPosted: Sat Feb 25 11:13:08 EST 2012
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anna9 wrote:
oh, this is good. sorry for the late response, Hugh.

how is meter different from beat?

and how about when we really discuss with our examples in the comments section? Can a few of the poets comfy with meter help us?

I think of poetry like music. A beat is the pulse, bass or drums. It's the bottom, so to speak. Meter is more like melody than beat..it's the top.


Last edited by fogglethorpe on Sat Feb 25 11:21:43 EST 2012; edited 1 time in total

#11: Re: About Meter Author: fogglethorpeLocation: Some western outpost PostPosted: Sat Feb 25 11:19:43 EST 2012
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anna9 wrote:


Hugh, how do we learn which is the stressed syl?

Some syllables have a natural prominence. I usually speak a line of poetry to hear how the syllables fit.

#12: Re: About Meter Author: maryannsLocation: Aberdeen, Washington PostPosted: Sat Feb 25 21:21:30 EST 2012
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Excellent, thank you Hugh... so glad to find this thread.

And, no kidding; without reading out loud it's just amazing what can be missed!!

Thanks, Mary Ann

#13: Re: About Meter Author: alana PostPosted: Sun Feb 26 3:00:40 EST 2012
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I want more meter, more kilometer, more hectameter, more decameter, and more

#14: Re: About Meter Author: OzymandiasLocation: Near Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Sun Feb 26 3:25:41 EST 2012
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alana wrote:
I want more meter, more kilometer, more hectameter, more decameter, and more

OK, but beware of poems in archaic parkingmeter.

#15: Re: About Meter Author: maryannsLocation: Aberdeen, Washington PostPosted: Sun Feb 26 3:39:47 EST 2012
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Ha-ha-ha... can I please still write po'ems in maryannsameter if I'm not good enough at math??? LOL! Pennies for your thoughts 'n meters.

#16: Re: About Meter Author: Deleted_User_9564 PostPosted: Sun Feb 26 13:01:50 EST 2012
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Glad to have found this.
I'm in awe of those of you that write in structured meter and the more difficult forms.
I have lots of studying to do Wink

#17: Re: About Meter Author: Deleted_User_9564 PostPosted: Sun Feb 26 13:02:57 EST 2012
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*tossing Ozymandias a coin for his parking meter*

#18: Re: About Meter Author: wordsmithwannabeLocation: Somewhere between a rock, a hard place, and all points in between. Also known as Vancouver, WA... PostPosted: Sun Feb 26 14:30:17 EST 2012
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i once prayed to the goddess Demeter for help with a rhyme scheme, but alas she is the goddess of the harvest. all i got was a corny poem...

sorry Hugh, couldn't help myself.

ok no more jokes, back on the metered track people!!

#19: Re: About Meter Author: OzymandiasLocation: Near Melbourne, Australia PostPosted: Sun Feb 26 17:50:25 EST 2012
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zoe_in_a_bubble wrote:
*tossing Ozymandias a coin for his parking meter*

I should have elaborated on this point. The rhythm of archaic parking meter is tick-tick-tick. In Australian cities the councils employ poets in uniforms who go around leaving little poems in archaic parkingmeter on car windscreens, like:

"Within this space you've overstayed:
A parking fine must now be paid!"

This is not a very popular type of poetic meter, which is no doubt why Foggie and others did not mention it.

#20: Re: About Meter Author: butterflyzrfreeLocation: Miami,FL PostPosted: Sun Feb 26 21:48:24 EST 2012
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I love this and will be keeping an eye on it. thanks

#21: Re: About Meter Author: kylebankLocation: Victoria, BC PostPosted: Fri Mar 9 20:31:50 EST 2012
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a great piece, Hugh! I think all us free verse bums could use a good reminder of meter and feet.

I'd also like to give special kudos to wordsmithwannabe for his excellent Demeter joke, which no one seems to have commented on.

#22: Re: About Meter Author: wordsmithwannabeLocation: Somewhere between a rock, a hard place, and all points in between. Also known as Vancouver, WA... PostPosted: Fri Mar 9 20:45:19 EST 2012
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kylebank wrote:
I'd also like to give special kudos to wordsmithwannabe for his excellent Demeter joke, which no one seems to have commented on.

that's because it was a terrible joke!!

but thanks Embarassed

#23: Re: About Meter Author: fogglethorpeLocation: Some western outpost PostPosted: Mon Mar 12 10:54:59 EDT 2012
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Ozymandias wrote:


Australian Aboriginal languages have given rise to a few anapests like kangaroo and place-names like Bungaree and Orroroo.

It would be interesting to try to write a poem based on anapestic rhymes:

There's many a handsome kangaroo
'Round Bungaree and Orroroo....

but it would take quite a bit of talent to go on like that for any length!

Those are distinctive words.

I'd like to note that Dr. Seuss used anapestic meter frequently:

I know it is wet
And the sun is not sunny.
But we can have
Lots of good fun that is funny!

#24: Re: About Meter Author: wordsmithwannabeLocation: Somewhere between a rock, a hard place, and all points in between. Also known as Vancouver, WA... PostPosted: Mon Mar 12 11:15:51 EDT 2012
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fogglethorpe wrote:


I'd like to note that Dr. Seuss used anapestic meter frequently:

I know it is wet
And the sun is not sunny.
But we can have
Lots of good fun that is funny!

funny that i never connected those dots before...i'm so much more aware of meter and rhyme than i ever was before. you learn something new every day, i suppose!

#25: Re: About Meter Author: fogglethorpeLocation: Some western outpost PostPosted: Mon Mar 12 11:42:16 EDT 2012
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Three other types of meter

spondee: Two syllables. Both are stressed. Examples: cupcake, doormat

amphibrach: Three syllables. The first is unstressed, the second is stressed, and the third is unstressed. Examples: abundance, pervasive

pyrrhic: Two syllables. Both are unstressed. Due to the level of difficulty as well as the monotony, very little verse is constructed in this meter (or lack of meter). One of the few examples available is from Lord Byron’s Don Juan..

My way is to begin with the beginning.



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