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A study of Metrical Writing, Part 6: The Caesura, an Introduction.

Published by OJB in the blog OJB's blog. Views: 226

Before we can move onto the more advanced aspects of Meter, we need to talk about the Caesural pause. I see a lot of confusion when talking about the Caesural pause, but it is rather simply: It is when there is a pause in the Rhythm of a line due to a punctuation mark.

In other words, just like how you pause when reading prose when you hit punctuation, you do also in Verse.

The reasons that this is important will be discussed further in depth later, but to give you an answer now, When you add Rhetorics and Parallelism to Metrical writing, the Caesural pause becomes extremely important. It is also important in regards to the Trochee substitute we talked about in Part 3. Sometimes, A writer will place a mid-line Trochee after the Caesural pause.

Here are a few examples: (II) will be the symbol for the Caesural pause.

From Living Apart by Maura Stanton.


I leave our house, (II) our town, (II) familiar fields.


As we can see, you can have two Caesural pauses in a single line.

There are also 'invisible' Caesural pauses as well. Here is an example. Let's see if you can find it.


Those monsters dwell within shade and light.


Did you find it?

Here is the answer.

Those monsters dwell (II) within both shade and light.

The purpose of punctuation is to end a clause or separate a phrase or dependent clause from the main clause, but in Grammar, there are times you can omit the comma despite a phrase or a dependent clause being connected to the main clause. It is where the main clause ends that a light Caesural pause will take place.


Some lines will have no Caesural pause.
Some lines will have an invisible -weak- Caesural pause.
Some lines will have a semi-strong Caesural pause (,)
And Some lines will have a Strong Caesural pause(. ! ? ; : -)

Is there any place where I can't put a Caesural pause at?

There is no rule about it, but I would not put one before the first stress on the line.

Also, in terms of Rhythm, a Caesural pause can split a foot (Feminamin Caesural pause) or it can end at after a stress (Masculine Caesural pause).

I hope my explanation about Caesural pauses help people who want to write meter (I see this question come up a lot).


Our next Move:

Before we move onto more Advanced theory in terms on Meter, we are going to do a 14 part study of Lord Alfred Tennyson's Idylls of the King, a story about the rise and fall of King Arthur, written in Blank Verse (Iambic Pentameter).


If you have any questions or have thoughts, please leave a comment or like!

Previous post: https://www.writingforums.org/entry/a-study-of-metrical-writing-part-5-self-discipline.63888/

Next post: https://www.writingforums.org/entry/a-study-of-metrical-writing-part-7-promotion-and-demotion.63993/

Idylls of the King study: https://www.writingforums.org/entry/meter-a-study-of-idylls-of-the-king-part-1-an-introduction.63905/
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