Friday, July 1, 2016

A Brief Discussion Of Poetic Meter

Poems are fun! They're not always the most musically related things, but they help inform lyrics, and lyrics are a large part of how people engage with most songs. Let's dive in!

As always, you can put your answers in the comments below or on the main video.

1) Let's start simple. Find a poem. It can be one you already know and like, or you can find a new one. Go through it and try to identify the accents. Do they fall into a pattern? Which of the feet we described does it use? Or does it not seem to use any of them?

2) Continuing from that, we left out quite a few feet in the video. We covered 2- and 3-syllable feet with one accent, but there are names for every possible arrangement of accents, as well as names for 4-syllable feet. You can find a full list here. Can you think of some words that exemplify other accent patterns?

3) Finally, let's try writing some poetry in meter. Iambic Pentameter, where each line is five iambs, is a pretty popular form. Try writing a rhyming couplet, with two lines of iambic pentameter. Or try four. Or hey, if you want to get crazy, maybe try your hand at a whole sonnet! Just familiarize yourself with the idea of thinking in stress patterns.

And that's it! See you next week!


  1. Here's what I came up with!!!

    1: I chose the first two verses of The Cat and the Hat, but I may have completely missed the mark on this question.

    The sun did not shine,
    It was too wet to play.
    So we sat in that house
    All that cold, cold, wet day.

    I sat there with Sally.
    We sat there, we two.
    And I said, "How I wish
    We had something to do!"

    The SUN did not SHINE,
    ˘ - ˘ ˘ -
    It was TOO wet to PLAY.
    ˘ ˘ - ˘ ˘ -
    So we SAT in that HOUSE
    ˘ ˘ - ˘ ˘ -
    All that COLD, cold, wet DAY.
    ˘ ˘ - ˘ ˘ -

    I SAT there with SALly.
    ˘ - ˘ ˘ - ˘
    We SAT there, we TWO.
    ˘ - ˘ ˘ -
    And I SAID, "How I WISH
    ˘ ˘ - ˘ ˘ -
    We had SOMEthing to DO!"
    ˘ ˘ - ˘ ˘ -

    I would say that it is dimeter with quite a few anapests (the last three lines of the first verse and the last two lines of the second verse), but I am unsure if this kind of irregular pattern is correct. The last two lines of the second verse felt particularly strange.


    For this question, I looked at primus, secundus, and tertius paeons. I googled 4-syllable words to help me think of four-syllable words. Here's what I came up with!
    I found it easier to find examples of primus and secundus paeons as opposed to tertius paeons.



    - renoVAtion

    #3 My short, two-line, iambic pentameter poem! :)

    The WAR / is END /ing WE / shall NOT / give WAY /
    unTIL / surREN / der ON / that BLES /sed DAY /

    This is the first set of exercises I've done. Great learning experience. Keep it up! Please let me know what you think! :)

    1. 1) I agree with you that this basically seems like anapestic dimeter, but with some weird complications. The fourth line's second foot I'd actually read as a molossus, emphasizing all three syllables. on the fifth and sixth lines... they look like amphibrachs, but for consistency's sake I'd probably think of them as anapestic but with a missing first syllable. It's pretty common for poets to add or remove accented syllables at the beginning or end of a line, and I think that's probably how I'd interpret this. the second half of Sally I'd roll into the next line, as in "I SAT there with SAL- / -ly we SAT there we TWO". That's how I'd read it, anyway, from surrounding context.

      2) Ooh, paeons! There's a couple I'd pronounce differently (Information, Preposition, and Intermittent I would call Tertius Paeons, and Malnutrition I see more as a Ditrochee) but it's a really impressive list!

      3) Nice! Good meter, good rhyme, nice imagery. Would be cool to see it expanded, but you've got the concept down!

    2. Awesome feedback 12tone! I'm curious about the molossus because by using that, it seems like one word misses the "accent train".

      All that cold, cold, wet day.

      To me it seems like the last four words should be accented, now considering the exception that we are making to this line. I just looked this up and it's called a dispondee. What do you think?

      Keep up the great work!

    3. Good point! I agree that the last four words are all accented. I was considering the first three words as a separate anapest, though: "all that COLD / COLD WET DAY." That way, we get the right accents but the feet are more consistent with the rest of the poem, which is largely built of anapests.