1. Jayray7352
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    Jayray7352 New Member

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    Poetry Is there a formal structure to Kipling's "Law of the Jungle"?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by Jayray7352, May 12, 2014.

    I am trying to find information on the structure of this poem, specifically its syllabic structure. Is this an established form of poetry, or was it simply free form? I am fairly new to writing poetry, so I am trying to delve into a few of my favorites. This poem comes out to the following syllabic structure: 17,19,18,18,17,20,17,17,17,17,17,17,18,18

    Can anyone provide information on this "style" of poetry? Any help is appreciated.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    syllable count alone is not sufficient for analyzing the structure... you also have to consider which syllables are 'silent' or elided, when read and which are stressed...

    it would seem from that list of numbers that kipling had established a 17-syllable line structure and only strayed from it as the wording required... when read, i'd guess it sounds consistent...

    and i don't know of any 'traditional' form that has a consistent 17-syllable structure...

    ok, i just googled it, since i'd read it many decades ago and couldn't recall how it went... and i find that you've combined lines, instead of counting each one...

    it's not written as couplets, but as quatrains, so you need to count each line in the 4-line stanzas...

    and yes, it does read smoothly, despite the few departures from the commonly used 8/9-syllable count...
     
  3. Jayray7352
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    Jayray7352 New Member

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    Thanks for the response :) I wasn't sure if it was "couplets" or "quatrains" (new terms for me, thank you :) ). So is the 8/9-syllable count a traditional structure?
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't know if it could be considered 'traditional,' but it is certainly a commonly used structure favored by many poets, including myself... it has what i find to be a 'natural' rhythm that flows easily off the tongue, or in the mind...
     
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  5. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that the original form used by Kipling is that of rhyming couplets, not quatrains - although there might be modern editions of the poem which break couplets in two. You might remember that, in the context of the "Jungle Book", Baloo was used to sing-along - that's why it was important to retain a simple system of rhymes. :)

    @Jayray7352 it is important to remember that English verse is not simply syllabic - that is, the type of verse is not deciphered by simply counting the syllables (which is possible in some languages, like Slavic or Baltic). Rather, the traditional English verse is accentual, or accentual-syllabic - that is, you pay attention to the number of stresses in a line, as well as the number of syllables.
    If you are interested in metrics, I recommend this great little place to start:
    www.implicatedisorder.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/a-guide-to-poetry-1-on-metrics-4/
     
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  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    without seeing kipling's original ms, or mention of his intent in his own writings, it's not possible to tell whether he meant it to be couplets or quatrains, but since longer lines were the norm back then, it's certainly possible he could have wrtitten it as couplets... though, if he had, i can't even imagine any publisher having the temerity to change the structure...

    ok, so plenty of folks would, it seems!... just did some more googling and among the many forms i see this piece shown in are:
    no separation between halved lines
    separated as couplets
    separated as quatrains
    centered in halved lines [! :eek:]

    however, since the venerable 'kipling society' shows it as 'long-lined' couplets, i will bow to their judgement and retract my erroneous 'correction' in the above post... apologies to jayray for my not having done my homework well enough :oops:...
     
  7. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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  8. Jayray7352
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    Jayray7352 New Member

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    Great information, folks...thanks so much :)
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    darn, bb!... why didn't you mortgage the house?
     

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