Basics of Meter in Structured Poetry

28 April, 2011 § Leave a comment

English: "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may...

This is an introduction to Meter as it relates to counting syllables as well as a chart you can use while attempting to write highly structured poetry. So enjoy, if something needs explaining please comment and I’ll try to expand on it in any following posts.






Metrical Categories

[Singular / Plural]

Iamb / Iambic                 =        x /
Trochee / Trochaic        =        / x                [Opposite of Iambic]

Anapest / Anapestic      =        x x /
Dactyl / Dactylic             =        / / x             [Opposite of Anapestic]

Unfortunately I’ve only found these useful for categorizing a strict syllable driven poem as you will see in my example. It may work well for Twas the Night Before Christmas,  but rather poorly on something like Herrick’s, To the Virgins to Make Much of Time.             

Metrical Feet

[Meter = Foot, thus, manometer = one foot. The Latin number always precedes how many feet are present.]

1Manometer  =       One Foot      Example:         1 x /

2Dimeter       =        Two Feet      Example:         1 x x /, 2 x /

3Trimeter      =        Three Feet    Example:         1 / x, 2 / x, 3 / x

4Tetrameter   =        Four Feet      Example:         1 / / x, 2 / x, 3 / / x, 4 x /

5Pentameter  =        Five Feet       Example:         1 x x /, 2 / / x, 3 x x /, 4 x /, 5 / / x

6Hexameter   =        Six Feet        Example:         1 x /, 2 x /, 3 x /, 4 / x, 5 / x, 6 / x

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

ax x/,        d/ / x,           ix /
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

t/ x,         t/ x,  ax x /
Old time is still a-flying :

t/ x,        t / x,            t/ x,       ix /
And this same flower that smiles to-day

ax x /,          ix /,  ix /
Tomorrow will be dying.

Twas the Night before Christmas [tetrameter]

d//x                  d//x            d//x               d//x
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

d//x          d//x              d//x            d//x
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

axx/               a xx/            axx/             t/x
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

axx/               axx/          axx/                 t/x
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.

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