Saturday, 3 October 2015

Counting Rhythm And Meter In Poetry

How to Count Rhythm and Meter in Poetry
by Deborah Owen, CEO
Creative Writing Institute

Image result for poetry clipart free
Two things every poet needs to know are the rise and fall of meter and the rhythm that carries from one line to the next.

Meter is timing the words in the same order on each line. Rhythm is making the timing fall on the right beat at the right time. That can be a big trick. Example:

I saw a man who came from Mars and wore a pretty suit
Green was it, and something strange, he wore just one pink boot


Here is how you can check the syllables in poetry. Place the back of your hand under your chin and read your poem aloud, clearly, distinctly and slowly. You will notice that your chin naturally falls with each syllable.

In the first sentence, the first accent falls on the word "saw" – not on the word “I.” In the second line, the rhythm is wrong because the accent falls on the first syllable, which is "Green." Can you see that? Look at it again. You could force the rhythm to work, but the following would be better:

I saw a man who came from Mars and wore a pretty suit
The green did shine, but something strange, he wore just one pink boot


Do you see how the accent now falls on the second word in both sentences? That’s rhythm! Many poets think they have metered their poetry when they have actually thrown it off, (but poets have literary license to arrange the language to suit their needs).

If you wanted to change the rhythm from one verse to the next, you could do that. In the first verse, every accent could fall on the first word. In the second verse, it could fall on every second word. Just group them and you will be fine.

Now reread those two lines of poetry and count the rise and fall of the accents. You should count seven on each line. Got it? Yeah!  

Deborah Owen is the CEO of Creative Writing Institute  where I am also a writing tutor for the Writing For Children Course http://cwinst.com/classes_view.php?classid=4


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