Vanessa Clayberg and Arati Sharma
Reoccurring patterns of sounds that give poems, written in verse, their
distinctive rhythms.
Quantitative Meter
The relative length of the utterance of syllables (long and short) that
constitute a poetic line.
• This type of meter was used predominately in Latin and Greek
Syllabic Meter
Syllabic meter depends on the number of syllables in a line, without
regard to their strees.
• This type of meter is used mainly in French, Spanish, and
Japanese poetry.
The special emphasis given in pronouncing some syllables.
Accentual Meter
The number of stressed syllables in each line, without regard to
unstressed syllables.
• This meter is often featured in Germanic poetry.
Accentual-Syllabic Meter
Accentual-Syllabic Meter is based on both the number of syllables in
a line and on the pattern of stresses in each metrical unit, or foot.
Metrical Feet
The 'Foot' in Literary Terms refers to two or more syllables that
together make up the smallest unit of rhythm in a poem. It is
composed of stressed and unstressed syllables.
A metrical foot consisting of an unaccented syllable and an accented
or stressed one. For example:
unaccented syllable (noted by "x") and an accented (noted by "/")
/ a wall
Iambic is the most common metrical measure in English verse.
A line from Christopher Marlow:
x / x / x / x / Come live | with me | and be | my love.
An anapest (or anapaest) comprises two unstressed syllables and one
stressed one: for example,
"unabridged," "intercede," "on the loose."
And the sound of a voice that is still
A trochee is a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one:
For example:
Tell me not in mournful numbers
A dactyl is a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables.
For example:
This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlock.
(The final dactyl is replaced by a Trochee
Number of Feet in a Line
A rare form of verse in which each line consists of a single metrical
unit (foot).
Desmond Skirrow’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn Summarized”:
Gods chase
Round vase.
What say?
What play?
Don’t know
Nice, though
A line of verse composed of two feet.
For example:
“Some go local / Some go express
Some can’t wait / To answer Yes,”
by Muriel Rukeyser in her poem “Yes,”
A line of verse that consists of three feet.
For example:
Fresh green /upon /the tree.
When here /the spring / we see,
A line of verse that contains four feet. For example :
Though she/ were true/ when you/ met her
And last/ till you/ write your/ letter
A line of verse that contains five feet.
For example :
To be | or not | to be, | that is | the question
A line of verse that contains six feet.
For example :
Down in a | deep dark | hole sat an | old pig | munching a | bean stalk.
(All of it is supposed to be in one line)
A line of verse that contains seven feet.
This kind of verse is very rare in poems, because of it's complexity.
Naming the Meter
Iambic Pentameter
A line comprised of five iambs.
• This meter is closest to English speech.
"When you / are old / and grey / and full / of sleep,
And nod / ding by the fire, / take down/ this book."
-William Butler Yeats, "When you are old
Trochaic Trimeter
A line made up of three feet of trochees.
"Higher / still and / higher
From the/ earth thou / springest
Like a / cloud of / fire
The deep / blue thou / wingest"
-Percy Bysshe Shelley, "To a skylark"
Dactylic Tetrameter
A line made up of four dactyls.
"Woman much / missed, how you / call to me, / call to me"
-Thomas Hardy, "The Voice"
Common Substitutions
Any variant foot within a line that consists predominately if another
metrical patten.
Spondee (Spondaic Foot)
Two stressed syllables in a row.
"Rough winds / do shake / the dar / ling buds / of May,
And sum / mer's lease / hath all / too short / a date."
-William Shakespeare, "Sonnet 18"
A missing unstressed syllable at the end of a Trochaic or Dactylic
"Go and / catch a / falling / star,
Get with / child a / mandrake / root"
-John Donne, "Song"
Masculine Endings
Lines that end with a strong stress.
"I wake / to sleep / and take / my wak / ing slow."
-Theodore Roethke, "The Waking"
Feminine Endings
Lines that end in an unstressed syllable.
"To be / or not / to be, / that is / the ques / tion."
-William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Pauses Within and Between Lines
of Verse
End-stopped Lines
These lines contain a complete sentence of an independent clause. So
they have a distinct pause at the end.
For example:
The Burning Babe by Robert Southwell.
As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat, which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear.
Enjambed Lines
A line which does not end with a grammatical break, that is, where
the line cannot stand alone, cannot make sense without the following
For example:
A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness but still
will keep A bower quiet for us, and asleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing
The first and last lines are end-stopped. Lines 2,3,4 are enjambed.
Caesura is a pause somewhere in the middle of a verse. Some lines
have strong (easily recognizable) caesurae, which usually coincide
with punctuation in the line, while others have weak ones.
For example: A poem by Alexander Pope
Alas how changed! || What sudden horrors rise!
A naked lover || bound and bleeding lies!
Where, where was Eloise? || her voice, her hand,
Her poniard, || had opposed the dire command.
The process of analyzing and marking the type and number of feet in
each line of verse.