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  1. Aceldama

    Aceldama Senior Member

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    Poetic Meter

    Discussion in 'Poetry' started by Aceldama, Jun 20, 2020.

    I've been researching meter and trying to understand it better and I was hoping to get some thoughts on it. Thoughts that come from you, not the interent. I don't need a google definition of meter nor have it explained to me like I am a child.

    I mostly cannot understand how one can determine what kind of foot is used. When its a 2 syllable foot or longer being as the syllable count isn't restricted to one word but can carry over.

    What are your understanding of meter and its application?
     
  2. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

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    Meter is unrestricted by word boundaries. It is the stress patterns of a line that accentual meter must heed. If you're asking how to tell what meter a poem is in, then the answer is that a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables becomes obvious to the reader, which is all that any meter is--a specific pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables.
     
  3. Aceldama

    Aceldama Senior Member

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    Okay. Im guessing my ignorance of certain types of meter I.e. iambic pentameter is what's causing the confusion.
     
  4. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

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    Yeah, probably reading different poems in specific meters would help. Nothing for it but practice.
     
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  5. Richach

    Richach Contributor Contributor

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    I am not being obstinate, pompous or antagonistic when I say this, I truly believe in what I have written here. I truly support those that have opposing views which is most likely the majority.

    All creativity is first a notion in someone's mind. Let's say that notion is a poem. Maybe the poem is written it down and even shared with others. That is a fairly familiar process.

    It is human nature to make sense of things and this is certainly true of poetry. The poem gets interpreted by others using some kind of theory/rules/structure which includes meter among other things.

    Chronologically speaking the notion was first, then the writing and finally, people made sense of it after the fact. So in my head, this is a first-generation poem. The question, therefore, is 'how can meter have any bearing on either the notion or the written poem as it came after the fact?' The answer is that it has no bearing whatsoever.

    Meter does, however, have a bearing on the second generation poem (2nd draft) and subsequent poems. Thing is, this only applies if one becomes affected by poetic forms and structures as it surely does exist. I do not, however, pay any mind to it as I crave the purest poetic form of all, that closest to its conception. That is my best first effort and nothing else. I draw a line under the piece and move onto the next. I will admit that feedback does play a part in my thinking and this is often helpful. But I do not actively seek to better understand the theory and structure. That would be too contrived for my own taste.

    To be clear, if I enjoy a poem I enjoy it, no matter if it is the first generation or the zillionth. As I don't understand the form and don't wish too, I just enjoy it. It is not that I think I don't need help, I do. Just not going to research the internet or books. Just happy to read poetry, write poetry and hope it is enjoyed.

    Anyway, didn't mean to knock your thread off course. To answer your question specifically, I don't consciously use meter, I would be more inclined to use musical timing and beats which are more forgiving and lend themselves better to creativity in a far less judgy way.
     
  6. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    There is a lot to meter, more than what could be covered in a single reply. But this is a good enough spot as any to begin. Meter is made up of two parts: Feet type and Line length. There are four type of feet in English.

    Iambs: da-DUM
    Trochees: DUM-da
    Anapest: da-da-DUM
    Dactyl: DUM-da-da

    The second part of a meter is the line length, how many feet per line: 1 foot (mono), 2 feet (di), 3 feet (tri), 4 feet (tetra), 5 feet (penta), 6 feet (Hexa)

    Anything above 6 feet becomes hard to maintain; even 6 feet has its difficulties.

    So when he use the term Iambic Pentameter, we mean five Iambic feet per line.

    -

    There is a couple factors that go into determining the type of feet being used in a line, but the two biggest factors is where the monosyllable verbs and nouns fall, and where the primary stress of a multi-syllable word falls. Let's take the opening line of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 to use as an example.

    'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?'

    The first thing I would do is mark where the primary stress in any multi-syllable word falls. If you can't 'hear' them, a good dictionary will help (I suggest dictionary.com). If you look up the words, 'Summer' and 'Compare' you will find the first syllable of Summer takes the primary stress, and the second syllable of compare takes the primary stress. So I'll mark that in the line.

    'Shall I com-pare thee to a sum-mer's day?

    The next step would be to mark any monosyllable nouns and verbs, which there is one, day. So now the line looks like this.

    Shall I com-pare thee to a sum-mer's day?

    The next thing we have to look at is if there is anything being promoted. Because English is a stressed-based language, and we don't speak in monotone, anytime we have three unaccented words or syllables in a row, you 'promote' the middle one ever so slightly. We have two words that fit this definition, 'I' being in between 'shall' and 'Com-', and 'To', being in between 'thee' and 'a'. If we mark those words, we arrive at this.

    Shall I com-pare thee to a sum-mer's day?

    Now that we see where the accents are landing, let's break this line into feet. We only have one foot that matches, an Iamb (da-DUM).

    Shall I /com-pare /thee to /a sum/-mer's day? (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)

    Five Iambs. Iambic Pentameter.

    -

    That is the basic idea behind how scansion works. This is a pretty easy poem to scan, but not all metrical poetry scans this easily as there is a lot of nuance and metrical devices that can be used throughout a poem.

    -

    -OJB
     
  7. Aceldama

    Aceldama Senior Member

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    Okay that was very helpful. I was aware of the different foot types (iamb, trochee, etc.) In fact according to Wikipedia (lol) you missed two. Amphibrach which unstressed+stressed+unstressedd and Pyrrhic which is unstressted+unstressed.

    --

    I was unaware there was such a process involved with determining the meter. Scansion as you put it. Definitely gonna look more into and study your reply a little more. Thank you.
     
  8. Aceldama

    Aceldama Senior Member

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    I don't see it as contrived. I see meter as the refining of an already organic process of making rhythm. Every poem has a rythem or it isnt poetry. Meter is just putting a name to the face sort to speak. A formal meterical pattern isn't required but rhythem sure is.
     
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  9. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    Amphibrach is heavily debated on rather or not it exists in English. Pyrrhic do not because we don't speak in monotone. These terms are abstract patterns burrowed from duration based languages (Greek, Latin). English is a stressed-based language. While they are approximates, they don't accurately describe what we hear when listen to people speak English.

    If you want to get an in-depth look at meter, I suggest you buy Timothy Steele's All the Fun's in how you say a thing. It is pretty much the standard work on meter currently.
     
  10. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    No one writes to form by accident. Using meter and playing with form is much more complicated than a list of feelings or what have you. Sure, we can call anything poetry. But to understand meter and form gives you a better relationship with language which is good for any writer. I guess I don't really understanding having an appreciation for something and not want to know anything about the inner workings.
     
  11. Richach

    Richach Contributor Contributor

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    Form has it's place, but it is not all it's cracked up to be IMO. It is a marginal academic subject that helps to rationalise poetry but it often has an unintended consequence. That being it actually marginalises poetry itself and that I am afraid is a crying shame. This is where I am coming from with my 'it ain't all about form and meter' opinions.

    Ask yourselves a question. If this is a writing forum, where are all the new aspiring poets? I think that every writer has a poem in them. I definitely get the impression that folks would like to have a go, but that big heavy rule book called 'form' keeps getting quoted, maybe that looks kinda intimidating...
     
  12. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Form and meter are the backbone of poetry. It's not a "marginal academic subject." It doesn't rationalize anything. And if someone wants to get into poetry, they should know about these things. Not to please anyone or limit them but to help them expand their horizons and poetic abilities. Honestly, things like form and meter can become invisible when done correctly. Meter sets a tempo. Different forms will take writers new places. This isn't about rules and breaking them or not breaking them. Poetry is an art form. Poetry written to form can be a greater art form.

    I'm not worried about new aspiring poets on a forum. There are still new and aspiring poets out there. And I would suggest writing poetry in as many forms as possible. Try them all out. Have fun with them. It shouldn't be any more intimidating than writing a novel. An aspiring poet should know or want to know poetry. Form and meter are an important part of the lesson. Sure, you don't have to always use them, but you should be aware of them if you truly have an interest in poetry.
     
  13. Richach

    Richach Contributor Contributor

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    Poetic horizons are not expanded by form. Maybe you meant defined? Channelled? Focused? The exact opposite then of expanded. Like using a spotlight instead of having general stage light. So for instance, meter adds an element to a poem, shining a light on that particular element. I absolutely agree with that, who wouldn't. It makes sense. My point all along has been about creativity, without which the spotlight would be shining on absolutely zilch. Without creativity, there would be no poem, not in any recognisable sense. Where would be the intention? A huge creative element, beauty, emotional content. The carefully chosen words. These creative and engaging elements to name but a few make no demand of the poet. There is no standard to achieve, they just are what they are. IMO they are honest. It is about sharing and not looking inwards.

    I think that this thread is turning into @Richach is attacking or rejecting form. That is not the case. I just want people to talk about the broader aspects of poetry, of which there are many. If you tell me there are no such aspects other than form then I will really have to give you up as a lost cause. No offence intended!
     
  14. Aceldama

    Aceldama Senior Member

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    Honestly the aversion to traditional poetic form takes the appearence of creative liberty but stripped down to its core it really just sounds like excuses made so as to not have to learn the art and craft of poetry.

    I know none of the hundreds of poems I've written ever adhered to traditional structure. Because for one, I was ignorant there was any, and two when I found out about meter I found it difficult and often fell back on the "its restrictive to my creativity" deal to compensate for my inability to complete a sonnet in iambic pentameter.

    I want to learn more about form and learn to implement it better because I believe it'll only add to my creativity and merit as a poet.
     
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  15. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    You have to be very creative to pull off certain forms. Sure, it's different than anything goes, but really understanding different forms is a good foundation no matter what you want to write. I wouldn't call myself a poet, but I read a lot of poetry and I studied it. I learned many of the forms and tried writing them. It's hard. You've really got to get creative. It's a good challenge for an aspiring poet. Nothing bad is going to come of learning and understanding different forms of poetry. It's really an opportunity to grow as a writer in general. That was my experience.
     
  16. Lazaares

    Lazaares Member

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    Say the sentence out loud. There really is no perfect way to do it. Any one sentence in English will likely have multiple ways the mora are interpreted depending on accents and dialects.

    You'll hear yourself focus on specific syllables, while also simply using others to "connect" these. The ones you focus on will be the stressed mora.

    I consider it a vital part of writing any text that aims to capture and maintain attention. In a way, I hold it on the same level as sentence length. If you refuse to acknowledge the length of your sentences, or if you fail to keep them under control, you will end up with lengthy, run-on sentences that don't seem to ever end and the moment you think they would, they just get larger and larger until you forget the beginning. Or they sound plain. Each of them short. Same amount of words. Not a good diction. Neither a good prose.

    I really don't suggest you try epic forms (dactyls + spondees) straight away, as they don't sound all that well in English. Trust Shakespeare and go with a bunch of Iambs, always works fine in English. Ba-boom-ba-boom-ba-boom. Compare that to the /very epic/ boom ba ba boom ba ba boom ba ba boom boom.
     
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  17. Aceldama

    Aceldama Senior Member

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    I was actually looking forward to purchasing a leather bound edition of the illiad+the oddyssey. Are you saying the form got murdered in their translation to English?
     
  18. Lazaares

    Lazaares Member

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    Nope, I more meant /trying/ to write in epic meter. It's all fine in translation; though Iambic meter feels nicer to me in English than Dactyls do.
     
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  19. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I've been kind of into exploring translated poetry lately. Translating poetry is as much of an art as writing it, in my opinion. I recently read a wonderful translation of a poem. I read a different translation of the same poem, and while it was still good, I instantly thought it was a man doing the translation. I hadn't looked at the byline until I thought this and was right. Gender didn't cross my mind when I read the first translation. Both were brilliant, but there was a noticeable difference in language choice and the feel it gave off. Translation is an interesting aspect of poetry.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
  20. Aceldama

    Aceldama Senior Member

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    Yeah, I was thinking about translations when I was researching Romance of the three kingdoms. It's more than just going word for word. You really gotta understand the vibe sort to speak of what the person is saying and translate that as well. Takes a sort of empathy personalty type to be a good translator I would say.
     
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  21. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Living in my own little world Contributor

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    If you want a good example of perfect anapestic tetrameter (one of my personal favorite meters to use) try Lord Byron's The Destruction of Sennacherib. I bolded the stressed syllables/words in the first stanza. I find this one really easy to "hear" the beats, so hopefully it'll help you too.

    The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
    And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
    And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
    When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

    Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
    That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
    Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
    That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

    For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
    And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
    And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
    And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

    And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
    But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
    And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
    And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

    And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
    With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
    And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
    The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

    And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
    And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
    And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
    Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!
     
  22. Aceldama

    Aceldama Senior Member

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    Lord Byron was a favorite of Poe. In fact his step father thought him a bad influence. Poe tried to convince his step father that he no longer considered Lord Byron an influence so as to get money loaned to him to publish a collection of poetry.

    I will need to look up anapestic tetrameter, but this poem is beautifully written in terms of coherent rhyme scheme and rhythm. Beautiful thing in my opinion, when the rhymes aren't pulled out of thin air to keep a scheme but are as apart of the poem as the theme.
     
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  23. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I'm torn here. I partly agree with @deadrats when he says it's natural to want to learn and understand the inner working of something that interests you, but at the same time my favourite poet, WCW, helped change the idea of what poetry 'could be', and I don't think his views on the art form were that far removed from yours, @Richach.
     
  24. keysersoze

    keysersoze Active Member

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    I will try to respond to this thread in iambic meter (Can't promise the foot though).
     

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