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Encyclopedia > Stressed syllable

Metre (American spelling: meter) is the rhythm or regular sound-pattern of poetry. Scansion is the analysis of poetry's metrical patterns; prosody is sometimes used to describe poetic meter, and sometimes indicates the analysis of similar aspects of language in linguistics. American English or U.S. English is the form of the English language used mostly in the United States of America. ... Rhythm (Greek ρυθμός = tempo) is the variation of the duration of sounds or other events over time. ... Bust of Homer, one of the earliest European poets, in the British Museum Listen to this article · (info) This audio file was created from the revision dated 2005-04-20, and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. ... Prosody may mean several things: Prosody consists of distinctive variations of stress, tone, and timing in spoken language. ... Broadly conceived, linguistics is the scientific study of human language, and a linguist is someone who engages in this study. ...


The precise units of poetic meter, like rhyme, vary from language to language and between poetic traditions. Often it involves precise arrangements of syllables into repeated patterns called feet within a line; in English verse the pattern of syllable stress differentiates feet, so English meter is founded on the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. In Latin verse, on the other hand, while the metrical units are similar, not syllable stresses but vowel lengths are the component parts of meter. Old English poetry used alliterative verse, a metrical pattern involving varied numbers of syllables but a fixed number of strong stresses in each line. A rhyme is the association of words with similar sounds, a technique most often used in poetry. ... In verse, a foot is the basic unit of meter used to describe rhythm. ... William Shakespeare is regarded as one of the greatest English poets ever. ... Old English poetry is based upon one system of verse construction which was used for all poems. ... The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written in alliterative verse. ...


Meters in English verse, and in the classical Western poetic tradition on which it is founded, are named by the characteristic foot and the number of feet per line. Thus, for example, blank verse is written in "iambic pentameter," a meter composed of five feet per line in which the kind of feet called iambs predominate. The origin of this tradition of metrics is ancient Greek poetry from Homer, Pindar, Hesiod, Sappho, and the great tragedians of Athens. Blank verse is a type of poetry, distinguished by having a regular meter, but no rhyme. ... Iambic pentameter is a meter in poetry, consisting of lines with five feet (hence pentameter) in which the iamb is the dominant foot (hence Iambic). Iambic rhythms are quite easy to write in English and iambic pentameter is among the most common metrical forms in English poetry. ... The Greek language (Greek Ελληνικά, IPA // – Hellenic) is an Indo-European language with a documented history of some 3,000 years. ... Bust of Homer in the British Museum For other uses, see Homer (disambiguation). ... Pindar (or Pindarus) (522 BC – 443 BC), the greatest lyric poet of ancient Greece, was born at Cynoscephalae, a village in Thebes. ... Hesiod (Hesiodos) was an early Greek poet and rhapsode, believed to have lived around the year 700 BC. From the 5th century BC literary historians have debated the priority of Hesiod or of Homer. ... Ancient Greek bust of Sappho the Eresian. ... The Acropolis in central Athens, one of the most important landmarks in world history. ...

Contents


Technical terms in poetic meter

  • caesura: A caesura (literally, a cut or cutting) refers to a particular kind of break within a poetic line. In Latin and Greek meter, caesura refers to a break within a foot caused by the end of a word. In English poetry, a caesura refers to a sense of a break within a line. Caesuras play a particularly important role in Old English poetry.
  • Inversion: When a foot of poetry is reversed with respect to the general meter of a poem, it is referred to as an inversion. This term is usually only used for the first foot in a line.
  • Headless: A headless meter is one where the first foot is missing its first syllable.
  • quantitative: see Quantitative#Use in prosody and poetry

A cæsura, in prosody, is an audible pause that breaks up a long line of verse. ... Latin is the language originally spoken in the region around Rome called Latium. ... Old English poetry is based upon one system of verse construction which was used for all poems. ... A quantitative property can be meaningfully measured using numbers; properties which arent quantitative are called qualitative. ...

Common feet

The most common characteristic feet of English verse are the iamb in two syllables and the anapest in three. (See Foot (prosody) for a complete list of the metrical feet and their names.) An iamb is a metrical foot used in formal poetry. ... An anapaest is a metrical foot used in formal poetry. ... In verse, a foot is the basic unit of meter used to describe rhythm. ...


Greek and Latin poetry

The metrical "feet" in the classical languages were based on the length of time taken to pronounce each syllable, which were categorized as either "long" syllables or "short" syllables. The foot is often compared to a musical measure and the long and short syllables to whole notes and half notes. In English poetry, feet are determined by emphasis rather than length, with stressed and unstressed syllables serving the same function as long and short syllables in classical meter.


The basic unit in Greek and Latin prosody is a mora, which is defined as a single short syllable. A long syllable is equivalent to two moras. A long syllable contains either a long vowel, a diphthong, or a short vowel followed by two or more consonants. Various rules of elision sometimes prevent a grammatical syllable from making a full syllable. Mora is a unit of sound used in phonology that determines stress in some languages. ... In phonetics, a diphthong (Greek δίφθογγος, diphthongos, literally with two sounds) is a vowel combination usually involving a quick but smooth movement from one vowel to another, often interpreted by listeners as a single vowel sound or phoneme. ... In music, see elision (music). ...


The most important Classical meter is the dactylic hexameter, the meter of Homer and Virgil. This form uses verses of six feet. The first four feet are dactyls, but can be spondees. The fifth foot is always a dactyl. The sixth foot is either a spondee or a trochee. The initial syllable of either foot is called the ictus, the basic "beat" of the verse. There is usually a caesura after the ictus of the third foot. The opening line of the Æneid is a typical line of dactylic hexameter: Dactylic hexameter is a form of meter in poetry or a rhythmic scheme. ... In poetry, a spondee is a metrical foot consisting of two long syllables. ... A trochee is a metrical foot used in formal poetry. ... The Aeneid is a Latin epic written by Virgil in the 1st century BC that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy where he became the ancestor of the Romans. ...

   
("I sing of arms and the man, who first from the shores of Troy. . . ")

The first and second feet are dactyls; their vowels are grammatically short, but long in poetry because both are followed by two consonants. The third and fourth feet are spondees, with two long vowels, one on either side of the caesura. The fifth foot is a dactyl, as it must be, with the ictus this time falling on a grammatically long vowel. The final foot is a spondee with two grammatically long vowels.


The dactylic hexameter was imitated in English by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem Evangeline: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an American poet who wrote many poems that are still famous today, including The Song of Hiawatha and Evangeline. ... Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie is a poem by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. ...

 This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, Stand like Druids of old, with voices sad and prophetic, Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms. 

Also important in Greek and Latin poetry is the dactylic pentameter. This was a line of verse, made up of two equal parts, each of which contains two dactyls followed by a long syllable. Spondees can take the place of the dactyls in the first half, but never in the second. The long syllable at the close of the first half of the verse always ends a word, giving rise to a caesura.


Dactylic pentameter is never used in isolation. Rather, a line of dactylic pentameter follows a line of dactylic hexameter in the elegiac distich or elegiac couplet, a form of verse that was used for the composition of elegies and other tragic and solemn verse in the Greek and Latin world. An example from Ovid's Tristia: Originally used for a type of poetic metre (Elegiac metre), the term elegy is also used for a poem of mourning, from the Greek elegos, a reflection on the death of someone or on a sorrow generally. ... A couplet is a pair of lines of verse that form a unit. ... Elegiac couplets consist of alternating lines of dactylic hexameter and pentameter: two dactyls followed by a long syllable, a caesura, then two more dactyls followed by a long syllable. ... Tragedy is a form of drama characterized by seriousness and dignity, usually involving a conflict between a character and some higher power, such as the law, the gods, fate, or society. ... Engraved frontispiece of George Sandyss 1632 London edition of Publius Ovidius Naso, (March 20, 43 BC – AD 17) Roman poet known to the English-speaking world as Ovid, wrote on topics of love, abandoned women, and mythological transformations. ... Tristia (Sorrows) is a work of poetry written by the Roman poet Ovid some time after 8AD, during his exile from Rome. ...

 / x x / x / x / x / x x / x Vergilium vîdî tantum, nec amâra Tibullô / x x / x x/ | / x x / x x / Tempus amîcitiae fâta dedêre meae. 
("I only saw Vergil, greedy Fate gave Tibullus no time for me.")

The Greeks and Romans also used a number of lyric meters, which were typically used for shorter poems than elegiacs or hexameter. One important line was called the hendecasyllabic, a line of eleven syllables. This meter was used most often in the Sapphic stanza, named after the Greek poet Sappho, who wrote many of her poems in the form. A hendecasyllabic is a line with a never-varying structure: two trochees, followed by a dactyl, then two more trochees. In the Sapphic stanza, three hendecasyllabics are followed by an "Adonic" line, made up of a dactyl and a trochee. This is the form of Catullus 51 (itself a translation of Sappho 31): Lyric can have a number of meanings. ... A quantitative metre used by Catullus. ... The Sapphic stanza is a poetic form spanning 4 lines. ... Ancient Greek bust of Sappho the Eresian. ... In poetry, a stanza is a unit within a larger poem. ... Gaius Valerius Catullus (c. ... Ancient Greek bust of Sappho the Eresian. ...

 / x / x / x x/ x / x Ille mi par esse deo videtur; / x / x / x x / x / x ille, si fas est, superare divos, / x / x / x x / x / x qui sedens adversus identidem te / x x / x spectat et audit. . . 
("He seems to me to be like a god; if it is permitted, he seems above the gods, he who sitting across from you gazes at you and listens to you.")

The Sapphic stanza was imitated in English by Swinburne in a poem he simply called Sapphics: The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Algernon Charles Swinburne (April 5, 1837 _ April 10, 1909) was a Victorian era English poet. ...

 Saw the white implacable Aphrodite, Saw the hair unbound and the feet unsandalled Shine as fire of sunset on western waters; Saw the reluctant. . . 

English poetry

Most English meter is classified according to the same system as Classical meter with an important difference: stressed and unstressed syllables take the place of long and short syllables. The most frequently encountered line of English verse is the iambic pentameter, in which the norm is five iambic feet per line, though many kinds of substitution are common. John Milton's Paradise Lost, most sonnets, and much else besides in English are written in iambic pentameter. Stanzas of unrhymed iambic pentameter are commonly known as blank verse. Blank verse in the English language is most famously represented in the plays of William Shakespeare, although it is also notable in the work of Tennyson (e.g. Ulysses, The Princess). Iambic pentameter is a meter in poetry, consisting of lines with five feet (hence pentameter) in which the iamb is the dominant foot (hence Iambic). Iambic rhythms are quite easy to write in English and iambic pentameter is among the most common metrical forms in English poetry. ... John Milton John Milton (December 9, 1608 – November 8, 1674) was an English poet, most famous for his blank verse epic Paradise Lost. ... Cover to the first edition Paradise Lost (1667) is an epic poem by the 17th century English poet John Milton. ... Francesco Petrarca or Petrarch, one of the best-known of the early Italian sonnet writers The term sonnet is derived from the Provençal word sonet and the Italian word sonetto, both meaning little song. ... Blank verse is a type of poetry, distinguished by having a regular meter, but no rhyme. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson (August 6, 1809 - October 6, 1892) is generally regarded as one of the greatest English poets. ... Ulysses is poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, written in 1833 but not published until 1842. ...


A rhymed pair of lines of iambic pentameter make a heroic couplet, a verse form which was used so often in the eighteenth century that it is now used mostly for humorous effect (although see Pale Fire for a non-trivial case). A heroic couplet is a traditional form for English poetry, particularly for epic and narrative poetry. ... (17th century - 18th century - 19th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 18th century refers to the century that lasted from 1701 through 1800. ... Pale Fire (1962) is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, his fourteenth in total and fifth in English. ...


Another important meter in English is the ballad meter, also called the "common meter", which is a four line stanza, with two pairs of a line of iambic tetrameter followed by a line of iambic trimeter; the rhymes usually fall on the lines of trimeter, although in many instances the tetrameter also rhymes. This is the meter of most of the Border and Scots or English ballads. It is called the "common meter" in hymnody (as it is the most common of the named hymn meters used to pair lyrics with melodies) and provides the meter for a great many hymns, such as Amazing Grace: A ballad is a story in song, usually a narrative song or poem. ... In poetry, a tetrameter is a line of four metrical feet: And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea (Anapaest tetrameter) (Byron, The Destruction of Sennacherib) You who are bent and bald and blind (Iambic tetrameter, except for the first foot which is a trochee) (W... In poetry, a trimeter is a metre of three metrical feet per line - example: When here the spring we see, Fresh green upon the tree. ... A rhyme is the association of words with similar sounds, a technique most often used in poetry. ... A hymn is a song specifically written as a song of praise, adoration or prayer, typically addressed to a god. ... Amazing Grace is one of the most well-known Protestant hymns. ...

 Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me; I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see. 

Another poet who put this form to use was Emily Dickinson: A young Emily Dickinson, sometime around 1846-1847, the only known photograph of her. ...

 Great streets of silence led away To neighborhoods of pause; Here was no notice — no dissent — No universe — no laws. 

Old English poetry has a different metrical system. In Old English poetry, each line must contain four fully stressed syllables, which often alliterate. The unstressed syllables are less important. Old English poetry is an example of the alliterative verse found in most of the older Germanic languages. Old English poetry is based upon one system of verse construction which was used for all poems. ... The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written in alliterative verse. ... Proto-Indo-European Indo-European studies The Germanic languages form one of the branches of the Indo-European (IE) language family, spoken by the Germanic peoples who settled in northern Europe along the borders of the Roman Empire. ...


French poetry

In French poetry, meter is determined solely by the number of syllables in a line. A silent 'e' counts as a syllable, except before a sounded vowel or at the end of a line. The most frequently encountered meter in French is a line of six feet called the alexandrine. Classical French poetry also had a complex set of rules for rhymes that goes beyond how words merely sound. These are usually taken into account when describing the meter of a poem. Alternate meaning: Alexandrine of Denmark An alexandrine is a metrical verse of iambic hexameter - a line of six feet or measures (iambs), each of which has two syllables with an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, or a short syllable followed by a long syllable, as in the word... A rhyme is the association of words with similar sounds, a technique most often used in poetry. ...


Spanish poetry

In Spanish poetry, meter is determined solely by the number of syllables in a line. Syllables in Spanish metrics are determined by consonant breaks, not word boundaries, so a single syllable may include multiple words. For example, the line De armas y hombres canto consists of 6 syllables: "De ar" "mas" "y hom" "bres" "can" "to."


Some common meters in Spanish verse are:

  • Septenary: A line consisting of seven syllables, the sixth being always stressed.
  • Octosyllable: A line consisting of eight syllables, the seventh always being stressed. This meter is commonly used in romances, narrative poems similar to English ballads.
  • Hendecasyllable: A line consisting of eleven syllables; the sixth and the tenth or the fourth, the eighth and the tenth always being stressed. This meter plays a similar role to pentameter in English verse. It is commonly used in sonnets, among other things.
  • Alexandrines: A line consisting of two heptasyllables.

Hendecasyllable verse (in Italian endecasillabo) is a kind of verse used mostly in Italian poetry, defined by its having the last stress on the tenth syllable. ... Alternate meaning: Alexandrine of Denmark An alexandrine is a metrical verse of iambic hexameter - a line of six feet or measures (iambs), each of which has two syllables with an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, or a short syllable followed by a long syllable, as in the word...

Italian poetry

In Italian poetry, meter is determined solely by the number of syllables in a line. When a word ends with a vowel and the next one starts with a vowel, they are considered to be in the same syllable: so Gli anni e i giorni consists of only four syllables ("Gli an" "ni e i" "gior" "ni"). Moreover, syllables are enumerated with respect to a verse which ends with a paroxytone: an heptasyllable may so contain eight syllables (Ei fu. Siccome immobile) or just six (la terra al nunzio sta).


Some common meters in Italian verse are:

  • Septenary: A line consisting of seven syllables, the sixth being always stressed.
  • Octosyllable: A line consisting of eight syllables, with the main stress on the seventh and secondary accents on the first, third and fifth syllable. This meters is commonly used in nursery rhymes.
  • Hendecasyllable: A line consisting of eleven syllables; there are various kinds of possible accentations, but the tenth syllable has always the main stress. It is used in sonnets, in ottava rima, and in many other works.

Hendecasyllable verse (in Italian endecasillabo) is a kind of verse used mostly in Italian poetry, defined by its having the last stress on the tenth syllable. ...

See also

Alexandrine, Dactylic hexameter, Elegiac couplet, Hendecasyllable, Heroic couplet, Iambic pentameter Alternate meaning: Alexandrine of Denmark An alexandrine is a metrical verse of iambic hexameter - a line of six feet or measures (iambs), each of which has two syllables with an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, or a short syllable followed by a long syllable, as in the word... Dactylic hexameter is a form of meter in poetry or a rhythmic scheme. ... Elegiac couplets consist of alternating lines of dactylic hexameter and pentameter: two dactyls followed by a long syllable, a caesura, then two more dactyls followed by a long syllable. ... Hendecasyllable verse (in Italian endecasillabo) is a kind of verse used mostly in Italian poetry, defined by its having the last stress on the tenth syllable. ... A heroic couplet is a traditional form for English poetry, particularly for epic and narrative poetry. ... Iambic pentameter is a meter in poetry, consisting of lines with five feet (hence pentameter) in which the iamb is the dominant foot (hence Iambic). Iambic rhythms are quite easy to write in English and iambic pentameter is among the most common metrical forms in English poetry. ...


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