Terms for Discussing Prosody Analyzing Meter in Poetry Basic Terms • Prosody: The metrical pronunciation of a song or poem. • Rhythm: A combination of vocal speeds, rises, and falls; in poetry, heavy and light stress. Patterns are called "feet." • Scansion (scan). The process of marking beats in a poem to establish the prevailing metrical pattern. Naming Numbers of Feet • • • • • • • • One foot: monometer Two feet: dimeter Three feet: trimeter Four feet: tetrameter Five feet: pentameter Six feet: hexameter Seven feet: heptameter or the septenary Eight feet: octameter Kinds of Feet: Spondaic and Pyrrhic Spondee: stressed stressed Pyrrhic: unstressed unstressed Kinds of Feet: Iambic • Iamb/ iambic: unstressed stressed • The most natural and common kind in English, this meter elevates speech to poetry (iambic pentameter) • Example: The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea, The plowman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness, and to me. • When you say this aloud, what syllables are stressed? Mark them with a “strong” mark (‘) above the syllable. Sounding out the Rhythm • The CURfew TOLLS the KNELL of PARTing DAY, The LOWing HERD wind SLOWly O’ER the LEA, The PLOWman HOMEward PLODS his WEARy WAY, And LEAVES the WORLD to DARKness, AND to ME. Kinds of Feet: Trochaic • Trochaic/trochee: stressed unstressed • Example: Tyger, tyger, burning bright In the forest of the night What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry? • Say this quatrain aloud and mark the accented syllables. Where are the strong syllables? Sounding out the Rhythm • TYger, TYger, BURNing BRIGHT IN the FORest OF the NIGHT WHAT imMORtal HAND or EYE COULD FRAME thy FEARful SYMmetRY? Kinds of Feet: Dactylic • Dactyl/dactylic: stressed unstressed unstressed • Example: This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic. • Say the first line aloud and mark the stressed syllables. Sounding out the Rhythm THIS is the FORest primEVal. The MURmuring PINES and the HEMlocks, Kinds of Feet: Anapestic • Anapest/ anapestic: unstressed unstressed stressed • 'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there. • Say this aloud and mark the stressed syllables. Sounding out the Rhythm • 'Twas the NIGHT before CHRISTmas and ALL through the HOUSE, Not a CREAture was STIRring, not EVen a MOUSE. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there. Practice •Try to figure out the meter for each selection, and then go on to the next slide, where the answer will be given. First Practice Go, and catch a falling star, Get with child a mandrake root Tell me where all past years are, Or who cleft the Devil's foot . . . --John Donne, “Song” Answer • Trochaic tetrameter. • Notice the words that are emphasized: Line 1: Go, catch, fall, star Line 2: Get, child, man, root Second Practice • Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw-For he's the master criminal who can defy the law. He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair: For when they reach the scene of the crime-Macavity's not there! Answer • Iambic heptameter (or the septenary). • Note the stresses: MaCAViTY’s the MYStery CAT: he’s CALLED the HIDden PAW. • “Mystery” is pronounced like “mystry” here. Third Practice • 'Tis the voice of the Lobster: I heard him declare "You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair." As a duck with its eyelids, so he with his nose Trims his belt and buttons, and turns out his toes. Answer • Anapestic tetrameter. • ‘Tis the VOICE of the LOBster: I HEARD him deCLARE. • If you listen to the rhythm, it sounds just like “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” which is written in the same meter. Fourth Practice • By the shores of Gitche-Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water Stood the wigwam of Nokomis, Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis. Dark behind it rose the forest, Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees Rose the firs with cones upon them. Answer • Trochaic tetrameter. • BY the SHORES of GITCHe-GUmee BY the SHINing BIG-sea-Water • This is trochaic tetrameter with the last syllable added. Fifth Practice • How say that by law we may torture and chase A woman whose crime is the hue of her face? With her step on the ice and her arm on her child, The danger was fearful, the pathway was wild. . . . Answer • Anapestic tetrameter, although this meter varies somewhat. • How SAY that by LAW we may TORture and CHASE / A WOman whose CRIME is the HUE of her FACE? • This serious poem makes use of galloping meter because it deals with a mother escaping from slavery. She is pursued as she crosses the river into freedom. The meter gives the rhythm of the poem a sense of urgency.