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Encyclopedia > Syllabic verse

Syllabic verse is a poetic form having a fixed number of syllables per line or stanza regardless of the number of stresses that are present. It is common in languages that are syllable-timed such as Japanese or modern French or Spanish, as opposed to accentual verse, which is common in stress-timed languages such as English. Poetry (ancient Greek: poieo = create) is an art form in which human language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional and semantic content. ... A syllable (Ancient Greek: ) is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. ... The word line derives from the Latin lingui, meaning flax plant from which linen is produced; at one time, a stretched linen thread was the most reliable way to determine a straight line. ... In poetry, a stanza is a unit within a larger poem. ... In every language, speech emission is based on a sequence of elementary sound units; some of them play a specific part: through their isochronic recurrence, they produce the rhythm of the sentences. ... Accentual verse has a fixed number of stresses per line or stanza regardless of the number of syllables that are present. ... In linguistics, the timing in a language comprises the rhythmic qualities of speech, in particular how syllables are distributed across time. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...

Contents

Syllabic verse in English

The following stanza from "Especially When The October Wind" by Dylan Thomas is an example of syllabic verse in English. Each line is made up of 10 syllables.(Note how the line "And cast/ a sha/dow crab/ upon/ the land/" can be scanned as regular iambic pentameter even though it is considered syllabic in the context of the poem) Dylan Marlais Thomas, (October 27, 1914 – November 9, 1953) was a Welsh poet and writer. ... Iambic pentameter is a system of meter in poetry. ...

Especially when the October wind
With frosty fingers punishes my hair,
Caught by the crabbing sun I walk on fire
And cast a shadow crab upon the land,
By the sea's side, hearing the noise of birds,
Hearing the raven cough in winter sticks,
My busy heart who shudders as she talks
Sheds the syllabic blood and drains her words.

Syllabic poetry can also take a stanzaic form, as in Marianne Moore's poem "No Swan So Fine", in which the corresponding lines of each stanza have the same number of syllables. Marianne Moore photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1948 Marianne Moore (December 11, 1887 - February 5, 1972) was a Modernist American poet and writer. ...

No water so still as the
dead fountains of Versailles." No swan,
with swart blind look askance
and gondoliering legs, so fine
as the chintz china one with fawn-
brown eyes and toothed gold
collar on to show whose bird it was.
Lodged in the Louis Fifteenth
Candelabrum-tree of cockscomb-
tinted buttons, dahlias,
sea urchins, and everlastings,
it perches on the branching foam
of polished sculptured
flowers--at ease and tall. The king is dead.
My raptured song shall ever be,
God has been merciful to me.

When writing syllabic verse, there is some flexibility in how one counts syllables. For example, diphthongs may count as one or two syllables depending on the poet's preference. In phonetics, a diphthong (Greek δίφθογγος, diphthongos, literally with two sounds, or with two tones) is a vowel combination in a single syllable involving a quick but smooth movement from one vowel to another, often interpreted by listeners as a single vowel sound or phoneme. ...


A number of English-language poets in the Modernist tradition experimented with syllabic verse. These include Marianne Moore, Dylan Thomas, Louis Zukofsky, Cid Corman, and Leo Yankevich. Mountebanks ... Marianne Moore photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1948 Marianne Moore (December 11, 1887 - February 5, 1972) was a Modernist American poet and writer. ... Dylan Marlais Thomas, (October 27, 1914 – November 9, 1953) was a Welsh poet and writer. ... The cover of the 1978 edition of Zukofskys long poem A. Louis Zukofsky (January 23, 1904 - May 12, 1978) was one of the most important second-generation American modernist poets. ... Cid Corman (1924 - March 12, 2004) was an American poet, translator and editor who was a key figure in the history of American poetry in the second half of the 20th century. ... A controversial critic, editor, poet and translator associated with The New Formalist movement, Leo Yankevich was born into a family of Roman Catholic Irish-Polish immigrants on October 30, 1961. ...


Dissent

In languages like Spanish and Japanese all syllables are pronounced with nearly the same length and nearly the same stress, and syllabic verse is conventional. In English, unstressed syllables are much weaker and shorter than stressed syllables, and English speakers adjust the timing of unstressed syllables so that there is always the same amount of time between one stress and the next. This means that an English speaker tends not to notice the number of syllables within a line of verse unless a stilted manner of recitation is adopted. The conventional pattern of accentual and accentual-syllabic rhythmic English verse is appreciated as poetry. Robert Wallace compares counting the number of syllables in a line as the equivalent of counting letters. [1] Accentual verse has a fixed number of stresses per line or stanza regardless of the number of syllables that are present. ... Accentual-Syllabic Verse is an extension of Accentual verse which fixes both the number of stresses and syllables within a line or stanza. ...


Syllabic verse in French

See French poetry

The modern French language does not have a significant stress accent (like English) or long and short syllables (like Latin). This means that the French metric line is generally determined by the number of syllables. The most common metric lengths are the ten-syllable line ("décasyllabe"), the eight-syllable line ("octosyllabe") and the twelve-syllable line (the so-called "alexandrine"). French poetry is a category of French literature. ... A long syllable is one that is emphasized, or stressed. ... The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. ... An alexandrine is a line of poetic meter. ...


Special syllable counting rules apply to French poetry. A silent or mute 'e' counts as a syllable before a consonant, but not before a vowel (where "h aspiré" counts as a consonant). When it falls at the end of a line, the mute "e" is hypermetrical (outside the count of syllables).


Notes

  1.   Robert Wallace, Meter in English (essay) reprinted in Meter in English, A Critical Engagement, University of Arkansas Press, 1996. ISBN 1-55728-444-X.

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Syllabic verse - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (439 words)
Syllabic verse is a poetic form having a fixed number of syllables per line or stanza regardless of the number of stresses that are present.
It is common in languages that are syllable-timed such as Japanese or modern French or Spanish, as opposed to accentual verse, which is common in stress-timed languages such as English.
Syllabic poetry can also take a stanzaic form, as in Marianne Moore's poem "No Swan So Fine", in which the corresponding lines of each stanza have the same number of syllables.
Accentual verse - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (160 words)
Accentual verse has a fixed number of stresses per line or stanza regardless of the number of syllables that are present.
It is common in languages that are stress-timed such as English as opposed to syllabic verse, which is common in syllable-timed languages such as classical Latin.
Accentual-syllabic verse is an extension of accentual verse.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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