1. Warp Zone
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    Warp Zone Contributing Member

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    Are there different types of enjambment?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Warp Zone, Feb 9, 2013.

    So, I read the sonnet "Reuben Bright" for the first time in English class yesterday, and something stuck out about it to me. There seemed to be a "light" and a "heavy" enjambment in it: the light enjambment didn't affect the flow of the stanza and the poem still read naturally, while the heavier enjambment interrupted the flow enough to force the reader to read it like prose, and also destroyed the effects of the rhyme scheme.

    The "light" enjambment is found here:

    Because he was a butcher and thereby
    Did earn an honest living (and did it right),
    I would not have you think that Reuben Bright
    Was any more a brute than you or I:

    You can still have that slight stop at the end of each line, and it'll sound natural. Meanwhile, this "heavy" enjambment is found in these lines:

    He packed a lot of things that she had made
    Most mournfully away in an old chest
    Of hers, and put some chopped-up cedar boughs
    In with them, and tore down the slaughterhouse.

    While you can still have that slight stop after "made," if you put that natural slight stop after "chest," "Of hers" sounds off, forcing you to ignore the line break. This also happens with "boughs In with them." This ruins the rhyme between "boughs" and "slaughterhouse," and between "rest" (from an earlier line) and "chest."
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Emjambment isn't always used for flow. Sometimes the poet may want to emphasize a particular word, which is done by putting it at the end of a line. In the second stanza, Robinson probably wants to draw attention to "chest" rather than "hers" or "old." Had he wanted to emphasize a different word, I'm sure he could have rewritten the poem accordingly.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    aside from all that, i have to wonder why the first quoted quartet was rhymed and the other was not... is the entire poem a ragged mix of rhymed and unrhymed stanzas?

    and why was the poet's name not given?
     
  4. Warp Zone
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    Warp Zone Contributing Member

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    Sorry mammamaia, I didn't post the whole sonnet (only the parts that had interested me), which is why the rhyming seems off. Here's the entire poem:

    Because he was a butcher and thereby
    Did earn an honest living (and did right),
    I would not have you think that Reuben Bright
    Was any more a brute than you or I;
    For when they told him that his wife must die,
    He stared at them, and shook with grief and fright,
    And cried like a great baby half that night,
    And made the women cry to see him cry.

    And after she was dead, and he had paid
    The singers and the sexton and the rest,
    He packed a lot of things that she had made
    Most mournfully away in an old chest
    Of hers, and put some chopped-up cedar boughs
    In with them, and tore down the slaughter-house.

    It's by Edwin Arlington Robinson.
     

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