Scansion: (This is advanced reading not really for the beginner)
Describing the rhythms of poetry by dividing the lines into feet, marking the locations of stressed and unstressed syllables, and counting the syllables.
Thus, when we describe the rhythm of a poem, we “scan” the poem and mark the stresses (/) and absences of stress (^) and count the number of feet.
In English, the major feet are:
^ / ^ / ^ / ^ / ^ / ^ / ^ /
The falling out of faithful friends, renewing is of love
/ ^ / ^ / ^ / ^
Double, double toil and trouble
^ ^ / ^ ^ / ^ ^ /
I am monarch of all I survey
/ ^ ^ / ^^
Take her up tenderly
Iambic and anapestic meters are called rising meters because their movement rises from unstressed syllable to stressed; trochaic and dactylic meters are called falling.
In the twentieth century, the bouncing meters–anapestic and dactylic–have been used more often for comic verse than for serious poetry.
Spondee and pyrrhic are called feet, even though they contain only one kind of stressed syllable.
They are never used as the sole meter of a poem; if they were, it would be like the steady impact of nails being hammered into a board–no pleasure to hear or dance to.
But inserted now and then, they can lend emphasis and variety to a meter, as Yeats well knew when he broke up the predominantly iambic rhythm of “Who Goes With Fergus?” with the line,
^ ^ / / ^ ^ / /
And the white breast of the dim sea,
A frequently heard metrical description is iambic pentameter: a line of five iambs.
This is a meter especially familiar because it occurs in all blank verse (such as Shakespeare’s plays), heroic couplets, and sonnets.
Pentameter is one name for the number of feet in a line.
The commonly used names for line lengths are:
monometer one foot pentameter five feet
dimeter two feet hexameter six feet
trimeter three feet heptameter seven feet
tetrameter four feet octameter eight feet
The scansion of this quatrain from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73 shows the following accents and divisions into feet (note the following words were split: behold, yellow, upon, against, ruin’d):
^ / ^ / ^ / ^ / ^ /
That time | of year | thou mayst | in me | be hold |
^ / ^ / ^ / ^ / ^ /
When yel | low leaves, | or none, | or few, | do hang |
^ / ^ / ^ / ^ / ^ /
Up on | those boughs | which shake | a gainst | the cold, |
^ / ^ / ^ / ^ / ^ /
Bare ru | in’d choirs | where late | the sweet birds sang |
From this, we see the rhythm of this quatrain is made up of one unaccented syllable followed by an accented syllable, called an iambic foot.
We also see there are five feet per line, making the meter of the line pentameter.
So, the rhythm and meter are iambic pentameter.
Yes, that’s all very lovely, but why do we study rhythm?
People have a basic need for rhythm, or for the effect produced by it, as laboratory experiments in psychology have demonstrated, and as you can see by watching a crew of workers digging or hammering, or by listening to chants and work songs.
Rhythm gives pleasure and a more emotional response to the listener or reader because it establishes a pattern of expectations, and rewards the listener or reader with the pleasure that comes from having those expectations fulfilled, or the noted change in a rhythm.
As in the Yeats example.
An argument might be raised against scanning: isn’t it too simple to expect that all language can be divided into neat stressed and unstressed syllables?
Of course it is.
There are infinite levels of stress, from the loudest scream to the faintest whisper.
But, the idea in scanning a poem is not to reproduce the sound of a human voice.
A tape recorder can do that.
To scan a poem is to make a diagram of the stresses and absence of stress we find in it.
Studying rhythms, “scanning,” is not just a way of pointing to syllables; it is also a matter of listening to a poem and making sense of it.
To scan a poem is one way to indicate how to read it aloud; in order to see where stresses fall, you have to see the places where the poet wishes to put emphasis. That is why when scanning a poem you may find yourself suddenly understanding it.
In everyday life, nobody speaks or writes in perfect iambic rhythm, except at moments:
“a HAM on RYE and HIT the MUStard HARD!”
Poets don’t even write in iambic very long, although when they do, they have chosen iambic because it is the rhythm that most closely resemble everyday speech.
And even after this lengthy discussion of rhythm, it must be stated that most poems do not employ the same rhythm throughout.
Variety in rhythm is not merely desirable, it is a necessity. If the beat of its words slips into a mechanical pattern, the poem marches robot-like right into its grave. Very few poets favour rhythms that go “a TROT a TROT a TROT a TROT” for very long.
Robert Frost told an audience one time that if when writing a poem he found its rhythm becoming monotonous, he knew that the poem was going wrong and that he himself didn’t believe what it was saying.
Holman, C. Hugh and William Harmon. A Handbook to Literature. Macmillan Publishing Company, 1986.
Kennedy, X.J. Literature. Scott, Foresman, and Company, 1987.
Can you scan these poem excerpts?
The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
Bats have webby wings that fold up;
Bats from ceilings hang down rolled up;
Bats when flying undismayed are;
Bats are careful; bats use radar;
–Frank Jacobs, “The Bat”
You know that it would be untrue,
You know that I would be a liar,
If I was to say to you
Girl, we couldn’t get much higher.
Come on, baby, light my fire.
Try to set the night on fire.
–Jim Morrison, “Light My Fire”
Submitted by scribbler
The screen’s fading glow
is like memories dissipating
as I rise and finally go
to my warm bed awaiting
Sapphic Ode (Pope Style)
Three line iambic tetrameter
fourth line iambic bi meter
three line 8 syllables
fourth line 4 syllables
Rhymed abab, as many stanzas as you like.
An example is “Ode on Solitude” by Alexander Pope.
As Opposed to: Sapphic Ode
The Sapphic Ode consists of quatrains, three 11-syllable lines, and a final 5-syllable line, un rhyming but with a strict meter.
–noun Prosody .
an ode consisting of several stanzas all of the same form.
Also called Lesbian ode, Sapphic ode.
Compare Pindaric ode.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia
The Sapphic stanza, named after Sappho, is an Aeolic verse form spanning four lines (more properly three, in the poetry of Sappho and Alcaeus, where there is no word-end before the final Adonean).
The form is two hendecasyllabic verses, and a third verse beginning the same way and continuing with five additional syllables (given as the stanza’s fourth verse in ancient and modern editions, and known as the Adonic or Adonean line).
Using “-” for a long syllable, “u” for a short and “x” for an “anceps” (or free syllable):
– u – x – u u – u – –
– u – x – u u – u – –
– u – x – u u – u – –
– u u – u
While Sappho used several metrical forms for her poetry, she is most famous for the Sapphic stanza.
Her poems in this meter (collected in Book I of the ancient edition) ran to 330 stanzas, a significant part of her complete works (and of her surviving poetry: fragments 1-42).
It is not clear if she created it or if it was already part of the Aeolic tradition; according to Marius Victorinus (Ars grammatica 6.161 Keil), it was invented by Alcaeus but then used more frequently by, and so more strongly associated with, Sappho.
The analysis of a poem’s meter. This is usually done by marking the stressed and unstressed syllables in each line and then, based on the pattern of the stresses, dividing the line into feet.
A short Japanese poem that is similar to a haiku in structure but treats human beings rather than nature, often in a humorous or satiric way.
A figure of speech in which two things are compared using the word “like” or “as” to draw attention to similarities about two things that are seemingly dissimilar
Slang refers to highly informal and sub-standard vocabulary which may exist for some time and then vanish.
Some slang remains in usage long enough to become permanent, but slang never becomes a part of formal diction.
English (or Shakespearean) sonnets are lyric poems that are 14 lines long falling into three coordinate quatrains and a concluding couplet. Italian (or Petrarchan) sonnets are divided into two quatrains and a six-line sextet.
Critics of the sonnet have recognized varying classifications, but to all essential purposes two types only need be discussed.
The student will understand that each of these two, in turn, has undergone various modifications by experimenters.
The two characteristic sonnet types are the Italian (Petrarchan) and the English (Shakespearean).
The first, the Italian form, is distinguished by its bipartite division into the octave and the sestet: the octave consisting of a first division of eight lines rhyming abbaabba
and the sestet, or second division, consisting of six lines rhyming
cdecde, cdccdc, or cdedce.
On this twofold division of the Italian sonnet Charles Gayley notes: “The octave bears the burden; a doubt, a problem, a reflection, a query, an historical statement, a cry of indignation or desire, a Vision of the ideal
The sestet eases the load, resolves the problem or doubt, answers the query, solaces the yearning, realizes the vision.”
Again it might be said that the octave presents the narrative, states the proposition or raises a question; the sestet drives home the narrative by making an abstract comment, applies the proposition, or solves the problem.
So much for the strict interpretation of the Italian form; as a matter of fact English poets have varied these items greatly.
The octave and sestet division is not always kept; the rhyme-scheme is often varied, but within limits–no Italian sonnet properly allowing more than five rhymes. Iambic pentameter is essentially the meter, but here again certain poets have experimented with hexameter and other meters.
The English (Shakespearean) sonnet, on the other hand, is so different from the Italian (though it grew from that form) as to permit of a separate classification. Instead of the octave and sestet divisions, this sonnet characteristically embodies four divisions: three quatrains (each with a rhyme-scheme of its own) and a rhymed couplet. Thus the typical rhyme-scheme for the English sonnet is
abab cdcd efef gg.
The couplet at the end is usually a commentary on the foregoing, an epigrammatic close.
The Spenserian sonnet combines the Italian and the Shakespearean forms, using three quatrains and a couplet but employing linking rhymes between the quatrains, thus
abab bcbc cdcd ee.
Certain qualities common to the sonnet as a form should be noted. Its definite restrictions make it a challenge to the artistry of the poet and call for all the technical skill at the poet’s command.
The more or less set rhyme patterns occurring regularly within the short space of fourteen lines afford a pleasant effect on the ear of the reader, and can Create truly musical effects.
The rigidity of the form precludes a too great economy or too great prodigality of words.
Emphasis is placed on exactness and perfection of expression.
The sonnet as a form developed in Italy probably in the thirteenth century.
.Spoken word Poetry
Spoken-Word – Performance Poetry Performance poetry is poetry that is specifically composed for or during performance before an audience.
During the 1980s, the term came into popular usage to describe poetry written or composed for performance rather than print distribution.
Check this link for Spoken word from Wikipedia spoken-word Dictionary: spo•ken-word (spō’kən-wûrd’) adj. Spoken aloud, especially in performance: spoken-word poetry.
Performing or involving a performance of the spoken word:
“Whenever the media covers the poetry world, you can bet you will find spoken-word and street poets railing against the prudishness of the ‘academic poets'” (Maureen McLane).
The noun has one meaning: Meaning #1: a word that is spoken aloud http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoken_word:
A metrical foot of two syllables, both of which are long (or stressed).
Two or more lines of poetry that together form one of the divisions of a poem.
The stanzas of a poem are usually of the same length and follow the same pattern of meter and rhyme.
Stress refers to the accent or emphasis, either strong or weak, given to each syllable in a piece of writing, as determined by conventional pronunciation.
Stressed and unstressed Words…
Suffixes and Stressed Syllables
Here is another group of words which cause many people to make mistakes. Once again, the problem is to decide whether or not to double the final consonant of the base word when adding a suffix. And, once again, there’s a pattern to help you out.
Read the following words aloud and try to decide where you place the stress or emphasis:
profit target enter order
begin equip regret commit
You should notice that in the top line you stressed the first syllable. And in the bottom line you stressed the second syllable. Like this:
profit target enter order
begin equip regret commit
Here is the pattern which is so helpful:
If the stress is on the first syllable the base word doesn’t change:
profit + able = profitable; and enter + ed = entered
If the stress is on the last syllable, double the final consonant before adding a vowel suffix:
begin + ing = beginning; and equip + ed = equipped
(No change if a consonant suffix is added so:
equip + ment = equipment )
This pattern is so valuable that it’s worth memorizing it.
Use the pattern to add suffixes to the following:
1st syllable stressed 2nd syllable stressed
garden + er
forget + able
limit + ed
begin + ing
order + ing
occur + ing
alter + ation
omit + ed
market + ing
regret + ful
In linguistics, stress is the relative emphasis that may be given to certain syllables in a word, or to certain words in a phrase or sentence.
The term is also used for similar patterns of phonetic prominence inside syllables.
The word accent is sometimes also used with this sense.
1 Phonetic realization
2 Placement, rhythm, and metrical feet
3 Stress and vowel reduction
4 Historical effects of stress
7 See also
9 External links
The ways stress manifests itself in the speech stream are highly language-dependent.
In some languages, stressed syllables have a higher or lower pitch than non-stressed syllables – so-called pitch accent (or musical accent).
In other languages, they may bear either higher or lower pitch than surrounding syllables (a pitch excursion), depending on the sentence type.
There are also dynamic accent (loudness), qualitative accent (Place or manner of articulation, e.g. reduction), and quantitative accent (length, known in music theory as agogic accent).
Stress may be characterized by more than one of these characteristics.
Further, stress may be realized to varying degrees on different words in a sentence; sometimes the difference between the acoustic signals of stressed and unstressed syllables may be minimal.
In English, stress is most dramatically realized on focussed or accented words.
For instance, consider the dialogue
“Is it brunch tomorrow?”
“No, it’s dinner tomorrow.”
In it, the stress-related acoustic differences between the syllables of “tomorrow” would be small compared to the differences between the syllables of “dinner”, the emphasized word.
In these emphasized words, stressed syllables such as “din” in “dinner” are louder and longer.
They may also have a different fundamental frequency, or other properties.
Unstressed syllables typically have a vowel which is closer to a neutral position (the schwa), while stressed vowels are more fully realized.
In contrast, stressed and unstressed vowels in Spanish share the same quality—unlike English, the language has no reduced vowels.
(Much literature emphasizes the importance of pitch changes and pitch motions on stressed syllables, but experimental support for this idea is weak. Nevertheless, most experiments do not directly address the pitch of speech, which is a subjective perceived quantity.
Experiments typically measure the speech fundamental frequency, which is objectively measurable, and strongly correlated with pitch, but not quite the same thing.)
Stress can also be put on any word in a sentence to make a possible several sentences:
I didn’t take the test yesterday. (Somebody else did.)
I didn’t take the test yesterday. (I did not take it.)
I didn’t take the test yesterday. (I did something else with it.)
I didn’t take the test yesterday. (I took a different one.)
I didn’t take the test yesterday. (I took something else.)
I didn’t take the test yesterday. (I took it some other day.)
The possibilities for stress in tone languages is an area of ongoing research, but stress-like patterns have been observed in Mandarin Chinese.
They are realized as alternations between syllables where the tones are carefully realised with a relatively large swing in fundamental frequency, and syllables where they are realized “sloppily” with typically a small swing.
Stressed syllables are often perceived as being more forceful than non-stressed syllables.
Research has shown, however, that although dynamic stress is accompanied by greater respiratory force, it does not mean a more forceful articulation in the vocal tract.
Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole.
Syntax refers to word order and sentence structure. Normal word order in English sentences is firmly fixed in subject-verb-object sequence or subject-verb-complement. In poetry, word order may be shifted around to meet emphasis, to heighten the connection between two words, or to pick up on specific implications or traditions.
“SYNTAX” This is it
Colourless green ideas sleep furiously.”
(Linguist Noam Chomsky created this sentence–which is grammatically correct but incomprehensible–to demonstrate that the rules governing syntax are distinct from the meanings words convey.)
• “It is a mistake to believe that some English speakers follow rules in their speech and others do not.
Instead, it now appears that all English speakers are successful language learners: they all follow unconscious rules derived from their early language development, and the small differences in the sentences that they prefer are best understood as coming from small differences in these rules. . . .
A type of poetry introduced by Geoffrey Chaucer consisting of stanzas of seven lines in iambic pentameter.