[DigitalScholarship] DIGITAL SCHOLARSHIP : DIGITAL HUMANITIES : DIGITAL INITIATIVES : LITERATURE: POETRY: METER: For Better for Verse FROM The University of Virginia. Department of English

 

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DIGITAL SCHOLARSHIP :

DIGITAL HUMANITIES :

DIGITAL INITIATIVES :

LITERATURE: POETRY: METER:

For Better for Verse

FROM The University of Virginia. Department of English

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For Better for Verse

FROM The University of Virginia. Department of English

http://prosody.lib.virginia.edu/instructions/

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FROM Instructions

http://prosody.lib.virginia.edu/instructions/

Whats For Better for Verse for? Its an interactive on-line tutorial that can train you to scan traditionally metered English poetry. Here you can get practice and instant feedback in one important way of analyzing, and developing an ear and a feel for, accentual-syllabic verse. Thats the kind of verse that remained standard in English during the half millennium from Chaucers age until the time of Hardy, Yeats, and Frost about a century ago and it remains alive and well with some of the best poets active today. By choosing among texts that range metrically from the straightforward to the intricate, you can sharpen your skill at taking an x-ray of the architecture of verse. This inner structure arises from the interplay of meter (the bones of a poem) with rhythm (its flesh); of abstracted, regular pattern with the pulse of felt, voiced meaning.

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snip

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RULES OF THUMB

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How do you know where the slacks and stresses fall? Mainly, you listen. You say the verse out loud, more than once, paying attention to the pattern of emphases as you go and considering alternative patterns that occur to you. Stress is expressed vocally in a number of ways: accent, pitch, volume, duration, or a combination of these. And stress is relative, not absolute: whether a syllable is a slack or a stress depends on how you hear it in relation to neighboring syllables that take more or less stress than it does. Keep the best faith you can with what the verse says: the plain sense of statement or query or command. Listen too for what it implies about what it says: how it insists or coaxes, beseeches or mocks. Then test your provisional line reading against scansions basic rules, which you may consult at any time by clicking on the Rules of Thumb subtitle at the top of this page. (You should expect to do this often while getting started!) The rules:

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1. Locate any polysyllabic words and mark their stresses, as given in a dictionary.

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2. Mark the stressed monosyllables. These will be most (but not always all!) of the following: nouns, main verbs, adjectives and adverbs, interjections, interrogative pronouns; and rhymes.

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3. Mark the rest of the syllables slack. These will be unstressed syllables within polysyllabic words and most (but not always all!) of the following monosyllables: articles, prepositions, auxiliary verbs, conjunctions, relative pronouns.

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4. Perform the score you just wrote, by playing it back to yourself. That is, read your scansion out loud and check it by ear against your provisional reading, negotiating between the two as needed, and adjusting your scansion marks to reflect any changes of mind. This two-way double-check can be hard work at starting, and is likely to entail some frustrating practice: youre now on your own, in a zone just past the rules, where odd things can and will happen. But cheer up! The listening that this stage involves is the very skill 4B4V is designed to help you hone. Its what you came here to practice. Dont stress out, stress in.

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Topics Covered in Instructions

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THE TOOLS

WHAT IS SCANSION?

How is scansion done? Why does it count? Sophisticated consideration of these questions occurs in the list of books that is accessible through the Resources subtitle above. Several of these books lay out more thoroughly graduated systems of scansion than the one introduced here. In 4B4V we keep things simple: for us scansion means a two-stroke engine for marking the patterning of syllables on which traditional metrics in English is based. In the binary system we use here a syllable either is stressed or its slack, period. For our purposes a foot is iambic or its anapestic, trochaic or dactylic, spondaic or pyrrhic, and thats that. Moreover, its by preference either iambic or anapestic: 4B4V subscribes to the view that verse in English privileges rising feet, i.e, feet that move like the iamb and anapest from slack to stress. (This view has consequences for certain folk or comic rhythms that some prosodists treat as trochaic or dactylic instead. As issues like this arise in particular poems, look for lightbulb notes that outline whats at stake in choosing between two plausible scansions of a line.) We think that erring on the side of bluntness and rule fosters a confidence in basic and intermediate scansion that will let you join a fancier, subtler prosodic conversation once the work youve done here has prepared you for it.

RULES OF THUMB

WHY SCAN?

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Glossary

http://prosody.lib.virginia.edu/glossary/

Sample of Terms Defined

alexandrine

alliteration

ballad meter

blank verse

common measure

common measure

consonance

couplet

dissonance:

elision

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Rules of Thumb

http://prosody.lib.virginia.edu/rules-of-thumb/

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List of Poems

By Title
By Difficulty
By Type
By Author

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List of Poems by Title

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal
Adonais (Stanzas 54-55)
Ah Sun-flower
An Essay on Criticism (Excerpt 11. 362-73)
Anthem for Doomed Youth
Astrophil and Stella: 31
Bright Star
Chorus (from Henry the Fifth III.i.1-17)
Despayre in Praise of Suicide (Faerie Queene 1.9.39-40)
Dying Speech of an Old Philosopher
Echo
Enoch Arden
Epigram Engraved on the Collar of a Dog Which I Gave to his Royal
Highness
Even Such is Time
from In Memoriam; section 7
from The Prelude (I.326-39)
Gods Grandeur
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil
Holy Sonnet 1
Holy Sonnet 14
Hyperion I. 1-14
I Look Into My Glass
Idylls of the King (X.454-76)
In Neglect
Jabberwocky
Jordan
Juliets Soliloquy (from Romeo and Juliet III.ii.1-25)
Kubla Khan
La Belle Dame sans Merci
Lear on the Heath (from King Lear III.ii.1-9)
Life of Life (from Prometheus Unbound II.v.48-71)
Meeting at Night
Metrical Feet: Lesson for a Boy
Mont Blanc ll. 1-11
Mowing
My Sweetest Lesbia
On His Blindness
Ozymandias
Paradise Lost (IV. 222-44)
Prospero Explains (from The Tempest IV.i.148-63)
Renouncement
Rhyme for a Child Viewing a Naked Venus in a Painting of The Judgment
of Paris
She Dotes on What the Wild Birds Say
She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways
Since Theres No Help
Since Theres No Help
Slow, Slow, Fresh Fount
Song
Sonnet 18
Sonnet 29
Sonnet 73
Sudden Light
Thaw
The Balloon of the Mind
The Brain is Wider than the Sky
The Cold Heaven
The Eagle
The Good-Morrow
The Kraken
The Lowest Place
The Night is Freezing Fast
The Oxen
The Roundel
The Sick Rose
The Sonnet
The Span of Life
The Swifts
The Tyger
The Voice
The Windhover
The Witch
The Wood Pile
Though I am Young and Cannot Tell
To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing
Upon Julias Clothes
Westron Wynde
When a Man Hath No Freedom

Poets Included

ANONYMOUS

Westron Wynde

WILLIAM BLAKE

Ah Sun-flower
The Sick Rose
The Tyger

ROBERT BROWNING

Meeting at Night
Rhyme for a Child Viewing a Naked Venus in a Painting of The Judgment of Paris

THOMAS CAMPION

My Sweetest Lesbia

LEWIS CARROLL

Jabberwocky

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE

Kubla Khan
Metrical Feet: Lesson for a Boy

EMILY DICKINSON

The Brain is Wider than the Sky

JOHN DONNE

Holy Sonnet 1
Holy Sonnet 14
The Good-Morrow

MICHAEL DRAYTON

Since Theres No Help
Since Theres No Help

ROBERT FROST

In Neglect
Mowing
The Span of Life
The Wood Pile

GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS

Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil

THOMAS HARDY

I Look Into My Glass
The Oxen
The Voice

GEORGE HERBERT

Jordan

ROBERT HERRICK

Upon Julias Clothes

GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS

Gods Grandeur
The Windhover

A. E. HOUSMAN

The Night is Freezing Fast

BEN JONSON

Slow, Slow, Fresh Fount
Though I am Young and Cannot Tell

JOHN KEATS

Bright Star
Hyperion I. 1-14
La Belle Dame sans Merci

WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR

Dying Speech of an Old Philosopher

GEORGE GORDON LORD BYRON

When a Man Hath No Freedom

ALICE MEYNELL

Renouncement

JOHN MILTON

On His Blindness
Paradise Lost (IV. 222-44)

WILFRED OWEN

Anthem for Doomed Youth

ALEXANDER POPE

An Essay on Criticism (Excerpt 11. 362-73)
Epigram Engraved on the Collar of a Dog Which I Gave to his Royal Highness

WALTER RALEGH

Even Such is Time

CHRISTINA ROSSETTI

Echo
Sudden Light
The Lowest Place

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Chorus (from Henry the Fifth III.i.1-17)
Juliets Soliloquy (from Romeo and Juliet III.ii.1-25)
Lear on the Heath (from King Lear III.ii.1-9)
Prospero Explains (from The Tempest IV.i.148-63)
Sonnet 18
Sonnet 29
Sonnet 73

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

Adonais (Stanzas 54-55)
Life of Life (from Prometheus Unbound II.v.48-71)
Mont Blanc ll. 1-11
Ozymandias

SIR PHILIP SIDNEY

Astrophil and Stella: 31

EDMUND SPENSER

Despayre in Praise of Suicide (Faerie Queene 1.9.39-40)

ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE

The Roundel

ALFRED LORD TENNYSON

Enoch Arden
from In Memoriam; section 7
Idylls of the King (X.454-76)
The Eagle
The Kraken

EDWARD THOMAS

She Dotes on What the Wild Birds Say
Thaw
The Swifts

EDMUND WALLER

Song

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal
from The Prelude (I.326-39)
She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways
The Sonnet

W. B. YEATS

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
The Balloon of the Mind
The Cold Heaven
The Witch
To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing

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