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A study of Metrical Writing, Part 10: The Rising and Falling Rhythm of double Ionics

Published by OJB in the blog OJB's blog. Views: 182

Welcome to part 10 of my study on Metrical writing; today we will be looking at my favorite device in meter, the double Ionic. We will first be looking at the different stress patterns that occur within these rising and falling Rhythms, then we will be looking at the Grammtic construction of these different patterns.

There are two types of Ionics: Major Ionic, and Minor Ionic.

Major Ionic (Falling Rhythm) is a Stressed-Stressed-/Unstressed-Unstressed pattern.

Their Metrical pattern looks like this: 3-4/1-2 OR 4/3-2/1

Minor Ionic (Rising Rhythm) is a unstressed-unstress/Stressed-Stressed pattern.

Their Metrical pattern looks like this: 1-2-3-4, OR 2-1-3-4.

So in essences, we have four patterns to play with.


But what is the purpose of knowing these Rhythm patterns? If someone wrote a line with all 1-4s, say like This:

To (1) Live (4), To(1) Die(4), To(1) breathe(4), to(1) fight(4) and(1) suff(4)er(1).

Their writing would have a very monotone sound to it. Rising and Falling Rhythm (along with promotion and demotion) helps keep Iambic Pentameter from being monotone. It also helps by giving the writer more grammatic freedom.

So let us look at some examples of these Rhythm patterns and look at how we can construct them grammatically.

Frist, 1-2/3-4 (double Iamb).

The (1) Old (2) Man (3) Ran (4).

Article + Adjective + Noun + Verb - All Monosyllable.

This is a very basic Rising pattern that people will see a lot in Metrical writing.

Stand/ing (1) by (2)/ Dan's (3) Car (4)

-Ing ending (or any suffixe ending) + preposition+ possessive Adjective + noun

This is another good example.

look/ing (1) like(2) /bad(3) Weath(4)/er

Undstressed syllable ending + comparision+ Adjective + Front stressed double-Syllable word

I wanted to note that in my substitution guide I said that double Iambs don't count as being a substitution. Why? Because all a double Iamb really is, is a light Iamb being followed by a heavy Iamb. You will still have two Iambs, the thing is, the unstressed syllable in the heavy iamb out stresses the stressed Syllable in the light iamb (hence why it is called, Double Iamb).

Also, 'Die(1), Die(2), Die (3), Die (4), is a rising Rhythm. When you repeat words you voice naturally rises. (Don't believe me? Go watch a movie where a character says that same word over and over again, You will hear his voice 'rise.' ) This rising pattern is very natural to English Speakers. In fact, it is how people can tell when English is someone's second language despite them speaking it grammatically correct. Rising Rhythm is a phenomenon in the English Langauge.

Next is the 2-1/3-4 pattern. (Trochee/Iamb). While I've not gone into Trochees extensively yet, for a reminder they are a stressed-unstressed foot.

By (2) the (1)/ red (3) car (4) (Trochee/Iamb.) Preposition+Article+Adjective + noun.


Next, 3-4/1-2

"Burn (3) Fool!(4)" The (1) Red (2) Imp (3) shout(4)ed

You can see the line starts strong, but drops down then rises. This occurs a lot in Metrical writing when you start a line with a Spondee/Heavy Iamb and follow it up with a double Iamb.


Last, 4-3-2-1. This one takes a little more thinking to pull off, and is rare. It occurs when you have an Iamb with a heavy ending/a light Trochee/Iamb. Here is an example I wrote.

And death(4)/, in (3) an(2)/ un(1)kind(4)/ly man(4)ner(1), killed (4)

The real trick is to have a Preposition + Article trochee, followed by a Multistressed Adjective where the first syllable is unstressed but the second syllable is stressed.


I wanted to end here by saying that Rising and falling Rhythms might seem confusing; the only way to understand them is by reading a TON of metrical writing. I did not understand them fully until I read Tennyson's Idylls of the King, in which he uses them a lot. This blog series is only a guide and no amount of reading it will help anyone if they don't practice and don't read metrical writing (If you need suggestions ask. I have a ton of books.)


Next, we will be looking at the Hypermetrical/Feminine ending.

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