• Welcome to the new Internet Infidels Discussion Board, formerly Talk Freethought.

Iambic pentameter thread (it's rooted in the Shakespeare thread, he said)

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
I looked up "ballad meter," which turns out to be the same as "common meter":

Traditional ballads are written in a meter called common meter, which consists of alternating lines of iambic tetrameter (eight syllables) with lines of iambic trimeter (six syllables). ... --google search

Meter in Ballads
Though the majority of ballads use iambs as their main foot, there is no specific meter required for a ballad. This means that while one ballad might use common meter (and many do), another ballad might use a different sort of meter. Generally speaking, ballads have a consistent meter throughout, so that a ballad in common meter will be common meter all the way through, while a ballad with another meter will use that meter all the way through. However, even poems with consistent meter tend to have some mild variations on that meter within them, meaning that a ballad in iambic pentameter will likely contain occasional lines of eleven or more syllables that break the "ten syllables per line" rule of iambic pentameter. [emphasis added] -- litcharts.com

The litcharts website looks interesting. I'll have to poke around there more.

I don't believe either of the above definitions. Meter is normally in feet these days, not syllables.

I guess we'd say Haiku is written in syllabic meter, but I can't think of anything else.

If Haiku has meter.

Let's look at the world's most famous limerick:

There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

Well, blow me down.
The truncated first feet are offset by extrametrical syllables, with the result that each line has exactly the number of syllables dictated by the definitions above.

There once was a man from Nantucket
de DUM de de DUM de de DUM (de)

But the actual rule with limericks, as with all poetry, is that you can get away with whatever you can get away with.

Let me see if I can remember one of mine:

There was a role model, Ulysses.
The suitors were after his missus.
He lied and he screwed;
he was violent and rude.
A morality tale is what thissis.

Line three has a truncated first foot (de DUM, rather than de de DUM) but no extrametrical syllable (unaccented syllable after the final stressed syllable). It has five syllables rather than six, and it's just fine.

Line five has the extrametrical syallable at the end, but it doesn't have truncated syllable at the beginning, so it winds up with ten syllables rather than nine. It's fine too.

I like to try to truncate the first foot of a line if the previous line has an extrametrical, but it's not worth much effort. And I've never heard of anyone else doing it.

OK Wippy, you're the chair. :joy:

To Swammerdami, you asked:
Is there a special name for alternating meters like this?

HooooooooWheee, yes. Squinters like to make special names for everything writers and poets do. Well, not everything.

If Shakespeare were to be resurrected and then come here right now in a time machine, I can hear him saying [Erkel voice], "Did I do that????
 

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
I stopped writing after one stanza because I wanted a ruling from the chair.

I've done one stanza of anapestic tetrameter
(de de DUM, de de DUM, de de DUM, de de DUM)
already, and plan (though "plan" may be too strong a word)
to do many different styles of poetry in my second draft.

But I'm not the OP, so I'd also be happy with a ruling from the chair.




  1. [*=1]It was the Sixth of January
    [*=1] . . When a country met its shame.
    [*=1]A band of traitors stormed the Capitol
    [*=1] . . And shat upon the walls of same.

This alternates pentameter with tetrameter. OK? :)
[emphasis added]

Line 1: strikes me as iambic tetrameter. (With an extrametrical syllable.)

Line 2: We could call this iambic tetrameter with a truncated first foot,
or we could call it iambic trimeter with an irregular (anapestic) first foot.
Since the first syllable is stressed, but stressed less than the third syllable,
it can be classified either way. We'll look at the rest of the poem to see which classification works for us.

Line 3: We could call it iambic pentameter, but none of the other lines are pentameter. So my instinct is to class it as iambic tetrameter, and call the last two syllables extrametrical.
de dUM, de DUM, de DUM, de DUM (de de)

Line 4: Iambic tetrameter.

Upshot:
Lines 1 and 4 are iambic tetrameter.
Line 2 can work as either trimeter or tetrameter.
Line 3 can be either tetrameter or pentameter.

Rather than have a single line of trimeter or pentameter, my inclination is just to call all four lines tetrameter:


  1. [*=1]It was the Sixth of January
    [*=1] . . When a country met its shame.
    [*=1]A band of traitors stormed the Capitol
    [*=1] . . And shat upon the walls of same.
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
I've done one stanza of anapestic tetrameter
(de de DUM, de de DUM, de de DUM, de de DUM)
already, and plan (though "plan" may be too strong a word)
to do many different styles of poetry in my second draft.

But I'm not the OP, so I'd also be happy with a ruling from the chair.





Line 1: strikes me as iambic tetrameter. (With an extrametrical syllable.)

Line 2: We could call this iambic tetrameter with a truncated first foot,
or we could call it iambic trimeter with an irregular (anapestic) first foot.
Since the first syllable is stressed, but stressed less than the third syllable,
it can be classified either way. We'll look at the rest of the poem to see which classification works for us.

Line 3: We could call it iambic pentameter, but none of the other lines are pentameter. So my instinct is to class it as iambic tetrameter, and call the last two syllables extrametrical.
de dUM, de DUM, de DUM, de DUM (de de)

Line 4: Iambic tetrameter.

Upshot:
Lines 1 and 4 are iambic tetrameter.
Line 2 can work as either trimeter or tetrameter.
Line 3 can be either tetrameter or pentameter.

Rather than have a single line of trimeter or pentameter, my inclination is just to call all four lines tetrameter:


  1. [*=1]It was the Sixth of January
    [*=1] . . When a country met its shame.
    [*=1]A band of traitors stormed the Capitol
    [*=1] . . And shat upon the walls of same.

er...I'm not good with any kind of leadership roles, so... if it's okay with everyone else, I hereby and forthwith and even fifthwith do most humbly and with great feelings of cowardice and renunciation and honesty do hereby and yeah I know I said that already and sooth and unto whom howsoever it behooveth do give up ye chair to anyone who wants to sit thereon. Or therein.

:joy: [and the peasants rejoiced] [emphasis mine]


ETA: Wiploc wrote:
I don't believe either of the above definitions. Meter is normally in feet these days, not syllables.

I believe you are correct, O ye moste mag - namininon - eh - miimnaninin...mimous...eh...mighty chair.

And I always assume that there is some poet somewhere doing something she is not supposed to. Doing it on purpose, and doing it with great glee. Perhaps even laughing whilst she goeth about it. I imagine Shakespeare laughing while (S)he wrote, at least when (S)he was in the zone.
 
Last edited:

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
I'm the chair!

The chair explicitly allows non-iambic and non-pentameter.

Ballad meter is allowed; haiku is allowed; native English meter is allowed; irregularities are allowed; blank verse is allowed; free verse is allowed; whale roads are allowed.

Myself, I figure to continue with the iambic pentameter for awhile. I'm still learning how to do it. I only just figured out that starting a line with a trochee what causes me to accidentally slip into anapestic meter.
 
  • Like
Reactions: WAB

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
I'm the chair!

The chair explicitly allows non-iambic and non-pentameter.

Ballad meter is allowed; haiku is allowed; native English meter is allowed; irregularities are allowed; blank verse is allowed; free verse is allowed; whale roads are allowed.

Myself, I figure to continue with the iambic pentameter for awhile. I'm still learning how to do it. I only just figured out that starting a line with a trochee what causes me to accidentally slip into anapestic meter.

:joy:
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
It might be helpful to invite Copernicus* to this thread. As a linguist, perhaps he can explain to us, and to me especially since I do not know Latin, how to go about understanding the syllable/meter question.

I would love to know how to hear, and SAY, this line, from Virgil correctly, which I love deep in my heart because not only can I hear that it's beautiful (at least, the way I hear it), but I I have a rough understanding of what each of the words mean.


Quadrupedente putrim sonitu quatit ungula campum
( from The Aeneid. )

*I have tried the @whosywhatsit option, but I couldn't get it to work.


@Copernicus
 

Swammerdami

Squadron Leader
Staff member
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
2,511
Location
Land of Smiles
Basic Beliefs
pseudo-deism
It was the Sixth of January
. . When a country met its shame.
A band of traitors stormed the Capitol
. . And shat upon the walls of same.

This alternates pentameter with tetrameter. OK? :)
I wrote it as I did for better grammar parsing, but intended it to scan as pure pentameters and tetrameters like this:
It was the Sixth of January when
. . A country met its shame.
A band of traitors stormed the Capitol
. . And shat upon the walls of same.
Should I have written it the second way? (Yes, best would be to rewrite it and avoid this issue.)

This alternation of pentameter and tetrameter seems very familiar: Are there famous poem(s) with this meter?
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
It was the Sixth of January
. . When a country met its shame.
A band of traitors stormed the Capitol
. . And shat upon the walls of same.

This alternates pentameter with tetrameter. OK? :)
I wrote it as I did for better grammar parsing, but intended it to scan as pure pentameters and tetrameters like this:
It was the Sixth of January when
. . A country met its shame.
A band of traitors stormed the Capitol
. . And shat upon the walls of same.
Should I have written it the second way? (Yes, best would be to rewrite it and avoid this issue.)

This alternation of pentameter and tetrameter seems very familiar: Are there famous poem(s) with this meter?

To my ear, the stanza (in the quote bubble, the second version) is a wee tad wobbly, Swammerdami. The two halves do not match (metrically) for me. There are a variety of ways to scan. One way (wrong way no doubt) :

It was the Sixth of January when
. . A country met its shame.
A band of traitors stormed the Capitol
. . And shat upon the walls of same.

would be rigid, and unnatural, making the lines

1 iambic pent
2 iambic trimeter
3 iambic pent
4 iambic tet

But there are many other ways it could be scanned, as you know. People hear poetry differently. Have you heard a reading by the poet reading their own work? Very often, it seems as if they are ruining the poem, at least for me.

On the other hand, some poets say their poetry the very way that I hear it. Derek Walcott is a great example.

I have always maintained that if you want to hear Shakespeare the right way, listen to a trained Shakespearian actor. Olivier, McKellen, Jacoby, Hopkins, Gielgud, someone of that caliber.
 

Swammerdami

Squadron Leader
Staff member
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
2,511
Location
Land of Smiles
Basic Beliefs
pseudo-deism
Several decades ago I bought a (1927) copy of Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Works at a small Sunday "flea market" in Berkeley, Calif. and — almost miraculously — still have this volume despite a few moves where I lost most possessions.

In Volume VIII (Essays) are "The Poetic Principle", "The Rationale of Verse" and "The Philosophy of Composition." I loved reading those fun essays and this thread inspires me to re-read them. Poe is quite assertive in these essays; I wonder what poetry scholars think of his opinions. (* - It's called "Volume VIII" in the table of contents, but all eleven "volumes" are in a single 1200-page book.)

"Philosophy of Composition" was especially fun to read: He strives to demonstrate that, faced with the task of writing a poem to appeal to both critics and the public, "The Raven" was almost the only possible result! Here's a brief excerpt to show what I mean
Edgar Allan Poe said:
... This led me at once to a single word as the best refrain.

The question now arose as to the character of the word. Having made up my mind to a refrain, the division of the poem into stanzas was, of course, a corollary: the refrain forming the close of each stanza. That such a close, to have force, must be sonorous and susceptible of protracted emphasis, admitted no doubt: and these considerations inevitably led me to the long o as the most sonorous vowel, in connection with r as the most producible consonant.

The sound of the refrain being thus determined, it became necessary to select a word embodying this sound, and at the same time in the fullest possible keeping with that melancholy which I had predetermined as the tone of the poem. In such a search it would have been absolutely impossible to overlook the word "Nevermore.'' In fact, it was the very first which presented itself.


ETA: I see that my "Okie"(?) pronunciation of JAN-u-AR-y is part of the metrical confusion in my poem above.

EETA: Whack! And I see that I can't even count up to three, claiming that "a country met its shame" was tetrameter!
 

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
Several decades ago I bought a (1927) copy of Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Works at a small Sunday "flea market" in Berkeley, Calif. and — almost miraculously — still have this volume despite a few moves where I lost most possessions.

In Volume VIII (Essays) are "The Poetic Principle",

https://www.eapoe.org/works/essays/poetprnb.htm



"The Rationale of Verse"

https://www.eapoe.org/works/essays/ratlvrsd.htm



and "The Philosophy of Composition."


[url]https://www.eapoe.org/works/essays/philcomp.htm




[/URL]I'm definitely going to read them. Thanks.
 

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
600s:
Some Sort of Disturbance in Arabia

Lombards convert; Arianism ends.
The Catholics may have thought their troubles over.

Muhammad wrote a book, though, started Islam.
And Islam proved to have explosive growth:
The Arabs quickly roll across Armenia,
and Syria and Palestine and Egypt,
and next consume North Africa and Persia.

Constantinople’s fleet controls the water,
so upstart Muslims sink it with their own,
and then besiege Byzantium’s main city.
Is this to be the end of Christianity?
Must all of Europe go down to defeat?

It surely seems a miracle: Greek fire
burns Arab ships and finally stems the tide.
 

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
600s:
Some Sort of Disturbance in Arabia

Lombards convert; Arianism ends.
The Catholics may have thought their troubles over.

"Catholics" is wrong? They'd have been Greek Orthodox by then, right?

Maybe I'll change it to "Christian," if I can make the meter work.
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
600s:
Some Sort of Disturbance in Arabia

Lombards convert; Arianism ends.
The Catholics may have thought their troubles over.

Muhammad wrote a book, though, started Islam.
And Islam proved to have explosive growth:
The Arabs quickly roll across Armenia,
and Syria and Palestine and Egypt,
and next consume North Africa and Persia.

Constantinople’s fleet controls the water,
so upstart Muslims sink it with their own,
and then besiege Byzantium’s main city.
Is this to be the end of Christianity?
Must all of Europe go down to defeat?

It surely seems a miracle: Greek fire
burns Arab ships and finally stems the tide.

Wiploc, if I may, a wee suggestion:

Might it not be better to keep the present tense throughout the pieces?

Great stuff, though.
 

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
Wiploc, if I may, a wee suggestion:

Might it not be better to keep the present tense throughout the pieces?

Great stuff, though.


Good catch! Thank you.

Let's try this:

Lombards convert; Arianism ends;
The Christian church may think its troubles over.

Muhammad writes a book, though, starting Islam.
And Islam proves to have explosive growth:
The Arabs quickly roll across Armenia,
and Syria and Palestine and Egypt,
and next consume North Africa and Persia.

Constantinople’s fleet controls the water,
so upstart Muslims sink it with their own,
and then besiege Byzantium’s main city.
Is this to be the end of Christianity?
Must all of Europe go down to defeat?

It surely seems a miracle: Greek fire
burns Arab ships and finally stems the tide.
 
  • Like
Reactions: WAB

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
Here's a Wikipedia quote from my notes on the 700s:

The 8th century is the period from 701 through 800 in accordance with the Julian Calendar. The coast of North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula quickly came under Islamic Arab domination. The westward expansion of the Umayyad Empire was famously halted at the Siege of Constantinople by the Byzantine Empire and the Battle of Tours by the Franks. The tide of Arab conquest came to an end in the middle of the 8th century.[1]

There was a siege of Constantinople involving Greek fire in the 600s, so that part is okay. But I may have the Muslim conquest of North Africa and Spain in the wrong century.

I'll let that slide for now, aside from leaving myself this note. I'll have lots of double-checking to do in the next draft.

ETA:

Also, Arianism isn't really ended yet. Maybe we only have tribes, as opposed to states that are officially Arian?
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
Whilst ye Chair is working on their project, I will intersperse some meaty beaty big and bouncy selections from epic and/or long poems written in English, from let us say Chaucer, who began a rudimentary five-footed line and was also a brilliant poet, all the way up through the present.

If that is alright with Wiploc, of course, since I have abdicated said chair unto him or her referred to in prior posts.

(Asked [grovelingly] Wiploc be the OP!)

While this may sound like a daunting task, I will keep my selections to a minimum of poets who wrote/write in traditional forms, since the original intent of the thread was to focus on metrical verse, and specifically iambic pentameter. I will confess that my real and very sneaky and tricksy reason for doing this was to see who may be gadding about TFT who appear to grasp the technicals of metrical poetry, in English especially; and more especially, to get an idea of which of these posters has an ear for the sound of it; and specifically, who is able to see and hear why Shakespeare (which we will collectively agree applies to the author(s) of the works attributed to that famous name) stands head and shoulders above any and all other authors and poets who have written in English.

I submit, it is my opinion (not a fact) that Shakespeare's unusual worldwide fame rests not necessarily in his skills as an author, a dramatist, and a person many believe to have had a preternatural understanding of human emotions, motives, and behavior; but rather, that it rests, primarily, on the nearly objective fact that he was the greatest and most skilled poet the English language has yet produced.

Said selections will begin in a subsequent post. Hopefully soon.
 

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
700s:
Big Chuck Rules

The Arabs sweep across North Africa.
Arabs and Berbers take Iberia.
Their run was great, but Visigoths are done.

A Muslim army charges into France,
but falls before the hammer: Charles Martel.

Here’s Beowulf—the poem, not the person.
At Lindisfarne begins the age of viking.
Constantinople stands another siege.
Iconoclasm now is all the rage.
Bede writes a venerated history book.

Now Carl der Gross is king of Franks and Lombards.
You likely think of him as Charlemagne.
Big Chuck keeps taking parts of central Europe.
He likes to make new Christians by the sword.

A revolution technological
or sartorial? Heavy mould-board plows
are pulled by horses wearing shoes and collars.
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
John Milton, ye 2nd Chaire in Englishe

From Paradise Lost, by John Milton (published in 1667)

[bear in mind, the poet was completely blind by the time of composition. The poem was dictated to his six daughters, revised and touched-up as he went along.] - WAB

Copied from Project Gutenberg (public domain) :

from Transcriber's Notes:

The original spelling, capitalisation and punctuation have been retained as far as possible. Characters not in the ANSI standard set have been replaced by their nearest equivalent. The AE & OE digraphs have been transcribed as two letters...No italics have been retained.




BOOK V.

THE ARGUMENT.

Morning approach't, Eve relates to Adam her troublesome dream: he likes it not, yet comforts her: They come forth to thir day labours: Their Morning Hymn at the Door of their Bower. God to render Man inexcusable sends Raphael to admonish him of his obedience, of his free estate, of his enemy near at hand; who he is, and why his enemy, and whatever else may avail Adam to know. Raphael comes down to Paradise; his appearance describ'd, his coming discern'd by Adam afar off sitting at the door of his Bower; he goes out to meet him, brings him to his lodge, entertains him with the choycest fruits of Paradise got together by Eve; their discourse at Table: Raphael performs his message, minds Adam of his state and of his enemy; relates at Adams request who that enemy is, and how he came to be so, beginning with his first revolt in Heaven and the occasion thereof; how he drew his Legions after him to the parts of the North, and there incited them to rebel with him, perswading all but only Abdiel a Seraph, who in Argument diswades and opposes him, then forsakes him.


Now Morn her rosie steps in th' Eastern Clime
Advancing, sow'd the Earth with Orient Pearle,
When Adam wak't, so customd, for his sleep
Was Aerie light, from pure digestion bred,
And temperat vapors bland, which th' only sound
Of leaves and fuming rills, Aurora's fan,
Lightly dispers'd, and the shrill Matin Song
Of Birds on every bough; so much the more
His wonder was to find unwak'nd Eve
With Tresses discompos'd, and glowing Cheek, 10
As through unquiet rest: he on his side
Leaning half-rais'd, with looks of cordial Love
Hung over her enamour'd, and beheld
Beautie, which whether waking or asleep,
Shot forth peculiar Graces; then with voice
Milde, as when Zephyrus on Flora breathes,
Her hand soft touching, whisperd thus. Awake
My fairest, my espous'd, my latest found,
Heav'ns last best gift, my ever new delight,
Awake, the morning shines, and the fresh field 20
Calls us, we lose the prime, to mark how spring
Our tended Plants, how blows the Citron Grove,
What drops the Myrrhe, & what the balmie Reed,
How Nature paints her colours, how the Bee
Sits on the Bloom extracting liquid sweet.
Such whispering wak'd her, but with startl'd eye
On Adam, whom imbracing, thus she spake.
O Sole in whom my thoughts find all repose,
My Glorie, my Perfection, glad I see
Thy face, and Morn return'd, for I this Night, 30
Such night till this I never pass'd, have dream'd,
If dream'd, not as I oft am wont, of thee,
Works of day pass't, or morrows next designe,
But of offence and trouble, which my mind
Knew never till this irksom night; methought
Close at mine ear one call'd me forth to walk
With gentle voice, I thought it thine; it said,
Why sleepst thou Eve? now is the pleasant time,
The cool, the silent, save where silence yields
To the night-warbling Bird, that now awake 40
Tunes sweetest his love-labor'd song; now reignes
Full Orb'd the Moon, and with more pleasing light
Shadowie sets off the face of things; in vain,
If none regard; Heav'n wakes with all his eyes,
Whom to behold but thee, Natures desire,
In whose sight all things joy, with ravishment
Attracted by thy beauty still to gaze.
I rose as at thy call, but found thee not;
To find thee I directed then my walk;
And on, methought, alone I pass'd through ways 50
That brought me on a sudden to the Tree
Of interdicted Knowledge: fair it seem'd,
Much fairer to my Fancie then by day:
And as I wondring lookt, beside it stood
One shap'd and wing'd like one of those from Heav'n
By us oft seen; his dewie locks distill'd
Ambrosia; on that Tree he also gaz'd;
And O fair Plant, said he, with fruit surcharg'd,
Deigns none to ease thy load and taste thy sweet,
Nor God, nor Man; is Knowledge so despis'd? 60
Or envie, or what reserve forbids to taste?
Forbid who will, none shall from me withhold
Longer thy offerd good, why else set here?
This said he paus'd not, but with ventrous Arme
He pluckt, he tasted; mee damp horror chil'd
At such bold words voucht with a deed so bold:
But he thus overjoy'd, O Fruit Divine,
Sweet of thy self, but much more sweet thus cropt,
Forbidd'n here, it seems, as onely fit
For Gods, yet able to make Gods of Men: 70
And why not Gods of Men, since good, the more
Communicated, more abundant growes,
The Author not impair'd, but honourd more?
Here, happie Creature, fair Angelic Eve,
Partake thou also; happie though thou art,
Happier thou mayst be, worthier canst not be:
Taste this, and be henceforth among the Gods
Thy self a Goddess, not to Earth confind,
But somtimes in the Air, as wee, somtimes
Ascend to Heav'n, by merit thine, and see 80
What life the Gods live there, and such live thou.



https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1745/1745-h/1745-h.htm#link2H_4_0011
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
John Keats, ye 3rd Chairre in Englishe (in my opinion)

from Hyperion (a fragment, composed 1818-1819 ; published 1820)

Keats was 25 at his death from tuberculosis. Many, including Byron and Shelley, consider the two Hyperion fragments (the other was titled, The Fall of Hyperion), as the finest extant examples of blank verse by any poet in English of the same years. I agree with that. Keats is my 'favorite' poet. I love him and his work more than any other poet's. - WAB



Although he is now seen as part of the British Romantic literary tradition, in his own lifetime Keats would not have been associated with other major Romantic poets, and he himself was often uneasy among them. Outside his friend Leigh Hunt‘s circle of liberal intellectuals, the generally conservative reviewers of the day attacked his work as mawkish and bad-mannered, as the work of an upstart “vulgar Cockney poetaster” (John Gibson Lockhart), and as consisting of “the most incongruous ideas in the most uncouth language” (John Wilson Croker). Although Keats had a liberal education in the boy’s academy at Enfield and trained at Guy’s Hospital to become a surgeon, he had no formal literary education. - [from The Poetry Foundation website]



***
As when, upon a tranced summer-night,
Those green-rob'd senators of mighty woods,
Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars,
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir,
Save from one gradual solitary gust
Which comes upon the silence, and dies off,
As if the ebbing air had but one wave;
So came these words and went; the while in tears
She touch'd her fair large forehead to the ground,
Just where her falling hair might be outspread
A soft and silken mat for Saturn's feet.
One moon, with alteration slow, had shed
Her silver seasons four upon the night,
And still these two were postured motionless,
Like natural sculpture in cathedral cavern;
The frozen God still couchant on the earth,
And the sad Goddess weeping at his feet:
Until at length old Saturn lifted up
His faded eyes, and saw his kingdom gone,
And all the gloom and sorrow of the place,
And that fair kneeling Goddess; and then spake,
As with a palsied tongue, and while his beard
Shook horrid with such aspen-malady:
"O tender spouse of gold Hyperion,
Thea, I feel thee ere I see thy face;
Look up, and let me see our doom in it;
Look up, and tell me if this feeble shape
Is Saturn's; tell me, if thou hear'st the voice
Of Saturn; tell me, if this wrinkling brow,
Naked and bare of its great diadem,
Peers like the front of Saturn. Who had power
To make me desolate? whence came the strength?
How was it nurtur'd to such bursting forth,
While Fate seem'd strangled in my nervous grasp?
But it is so, and I am smother'd up,
And buried from all godlike exercise
Of influence benign on planets pale,
Of admonitions to the winds and seas,
Of peaceful sway above man's harvesting,
And all those acts which Deity supreme
Doth ease its heart of love in.—I am gone
Away from my own bosom: I have left
My strong identity, my real self,
Somewhere between the throne, and where I sit
Here on this spot of earth. Search, Thea, search!
Open thine eyes eterne, and sphere them round
Upon all space: space starr'd, and lorn of light;
Space region'd with life-air; and barren void;
Spaces of fire, and all the yawn of hell.—
Search, Thea, search! and tell me, if thou seest
A certain shape or shadow, making way
With wings or chariot fierce to repossess
A heaven he lost erewhile: it must—it must
Be of ripe progress—Saturn must be King.
Yes, there must be a golden victory;
There must be Gods thrown down, and trumpets blown
Of triumph calm, and hymns of festival
Upon the gold clouds metropolitan,
Voices of soft proclaim, and silver stir
Of strings in hollow shells; and there shall be
Beautiful things made new, for the surprise
Of the sky-children; I will give command:
Thea! Thea! Thea! where is Saturn?"

This passion lifted him upon his feet,
And made his hands to struggle in the air,
His Druid locks to shake and ooze with sweat,
His eyes to fever out, his voice to cease.
He stood, and heard not Thea's sobbing deep;
A little time, and then again he snatch'd
Utterance thus.—"But cannot I create?
Cannot I form? Cannot I fashion forth
Another world, another universe,
To overbear and crumble this to nought?
Where is another chaos? Where?"—



https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/john-keats


Keats' work should constitute a reminder to people that genius does not care about class (which doesn't really exist anyway save as a convenient term), or education. Also as proof that one does not have to experience something in order to write about it powerfully. The potential and power of the imagination is not fully comprehended by science, yet; or so I believe. - WAB
 
Last edited:

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
Gotta problem in the 800s. Throwing it open for ideas.

Al-Khwarizmi invents the algebra.
and there was much rejoicing. Yaaay.

The second line has only four feet.

I don't know how to preserve the Python allusion/quotation and still add another foot.
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
Gotta problem in the 800s. Throwing it open for ideas.

Al-Khwarizmi invents the algebra.
and there was much rejoicing. Yaaay.

The second line has only four feet.

I don't know how to preserve the Python allusion/quotation and still add another foot.

How about:

Al-Khwarizmi invents the algebra.
Cut to: and there was much rejoicing. Yaaay.



Gives you a lengthier pause after 'algebra', since the following line begins with a stress; also gives you a sizable pause after the colon in the 2nd line. Plus it's more informative, telling the reader who might not be familiar with Python (Kiiiilllll the heretic!!!) that it's an allusion.

AND, it's still funny, in my opinion.
 

Copernicus

Industrial Grade Linguist
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
3,592
Location
Bellevue, WA
Basic Beliefs
Atheist humanist
Although I did take four years of Latin in high school, that was over half a century ago. So I haven't had to scan Latin verse for a very long time, but I did a lot of that in high school. And I didn't really understand why back then, but it was easy, and I got high marks. Nobody really knows how Classical Latin was pronounced, but all languages are rhythmic. Poetry takes advantage of this to create rhythmic patterns, i.e. poetic meter. The basic unit of rhythm in a language is called a prosodic "foot".

The English language is called a stress-timed language, because speakers take the same amount of time to pronounce the syllables between stress peaks. That is, one, two, or three syllables all take the same amount of time to pronounce, if there is only one stress peak. (Stress itself is perceived as loudness, but the actual phonetics is complicated.) French and many other Romance languages tend to be syllable-timed. That means that every syllable is pronounced with equal length no matter whether it is stressed or not. When I studied the Breton language, which is spoken in a section of northwest France, I learned that it, like English, was stress-timed. So one could tell the difference between Breton-dominant and French-dominant speakers of Breton from the rhythm of their pronunciation.

Now Latin is a bit more complicated, because Classical Latin appears to have been mora-timed, like Sanskrit and some other older Indo-European languages. The "mora" is a somewhat abstract concept in that it refers to a difference between a long syllable and a short syllable. A short syllable is one mora in length, and a long syllable is two moras (aka morae) in length. So, one long syllable takes the same amount of time as two short syllables to pronounce. The core of a syllable is a vowel, and Latin made a strong distinction between long and short vowels. But the mora "weight" of a syllable was complicated by the adjacency of consonants, so you can't just go by vowel length. You have to look at syllables and pay attention to syllable boundaries in order to scan a line of Latin poetry. I am not sure how Vernacular Latin was spoken during the time of Cicero, but it may no longer have used mora-timing. So there was allegedly quite a difference between the pronunciation of Latin spoken by orators and that spoken by people on the street. Romance languages lost distinctive vowel length as they evolved gradually into syllable-timed languages.
 

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
How about:

Al-Khwarizmi invents the algebra.
Cut to: and there was much rejoicing. Yaaay.



Gives you a lengthier pause after 'algebra', since the following line begins with a stress; also gives you a sizable pause after the colon in the 2nd line. Plus it's more informative, telling the reader who might not be familiar with Python (Kiiiilllll the heretic!!!) that it's an allusion.

AND, it's still funny, in my opinion.

I like it. Thank you.

I definitely need the colon, or some other pause. The way I read it, "and there was much rejoicing," starts with a stress. (DUM de de DUM, as opposed to de DUM de DUM, which is only legal (or at least only "regular") after a caesura (pause).)
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
Thanks a great deal, Copernicus, for visiting the thread. Your comments are appreciated!

Chair,

Yes, I hear 'and' as stressed also.
 

Tharmas

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2001
Messages
1,487
Location
Texas
Basic Beliefs
Pantheist
Although I did take four years of Latin in high school, that was over half a century ago. So I haven't had to scan Latin verse for a very long time, but I did a lot of that in high school. And I didn't really understand why back then, but it was easy, and I got high marks. Nobody really knows how Classical Latin was pronounced, but all languages are rhythmic. Poetry takes advantage of this to create rhythmic patterns, i.e. poetic meter. The basic unit of rhythm in a language is called a prosodic "foot".

The English language is called a stress-timed language, because speakers take the same amount of time to pronounce the syllables between stress peaks. That is, one, two, or three syllables all take the same amount of time to pronounce, if there is only one stress peak. (Stress itself is perceived as loudness, but the actual phonetics is complicated.) French and many other Romance languages tend to be syllable-timed. That means that every syllable is pronounced with equal length no matter whether it is stressed or not. When I studied the Breton language, which is spoken in a section of northwest France, I learned that it, like English, was stress-timed. So one could tell the difference between Breton-dominant and French-dominant speakers of Breton from the rhythm of their pronunciation.

Now Latin is a bit more complicated, because Classical Latin appears to have been mora-timed, like Sanskrit and some other older Indo-European languages. The "mora" is a somewhat abstract concept in that it refers to a difference between a long syllable and a short syllable. A short syllable is one mora in length, and a long syllable is two moras (aka morae) in length. So, one long syllable takes the same amount of time as two short syllables to pronounce. The core of a syllable is a vowel, and Latin made a strong distinction between long and short vowels. But the mora "weight" of a syllable was complicated by the adjacency of consonants, so you can't just go by vowel length. You have to look at syllables and pay attention to syllable boundaries in order to scan a line of Latin poetry. I am not sure how Vernacular Latin was spoken during the time of Cicero, but it may no longer have used mora-timing. So there was allegedly quite a difference between the pronunciation of Latin spoken by orators and that spoken by people on the street. Romance languages lost distinctive vowel length as they evolved gradually into syllable-timed languages.

Great explanation, Copernicus. You've explained a lot to me that I didn't understand. My understanding is that in English versification, Latin-like "timed" verse is called "quantitative." A few poets, notably Sir Philip Sidney and 350 years later, Ezra Pound, have experimented with quantitative verse in English, but without great success. Here is Pound's Canto I, which I believe is supposed to be quantitative, but which reads to me as your basic English accented meter. But here is an interesting essay on the subject, for those who are really interested (I'm looking at you, WAB).
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
Will read it toot sweet and post haste, Tharmas.

Oh, and thanks for the Pound. I was going to post a sonnet of his called, A Virginal, as an example of IP as well as an example of just how beautiful English can be, in the right hands.

Will get to it after I get some Tennyson and Browning up, later on today.
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
The 4th Chair in English, Alfred Lord Tennyson

Written 1833 (the poet was 23 or 24 yrs old); published 1842


Ulysses

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
A Virginal

No, no! Go from me. I have left her lately.
I will not spoil my sheath with lesser brightness,
For my surrounding air hath a new lightness;
Slight are her arms, yet they have bound me straitly
And left me cloaked as with a gauze of æther;
As with sweet leaves; as with subtle clearness.
Oh, I have picked up magic in her nearness
To sheathe me half in half the things that sheathe her.
No, no! Go from me. I have still the flavour,
Soft as spring wind that’s come from birchen bowers.
Green come the shoots, aye April in the branches,
As winter’s wound with her sleight hand she staunches,
Hath of the trees a likeness of the savour:
As white their bark, so white this lady’s hours.


***


A snippet from Portrait d'une Femme


Trophies fished up; some curious suggestion;
Fact that leads nowhere; and a tale for two,
Pregnant with mandrakes, or with something else
That might prove useful and yet never proves,
That never fits a corner or shows use,
Or finds its hour upon the loom of days:
The tarnished, gaudy, wonderful old work;
Idols and ambergris and rare inlays,
These are your riches, your great store; and yet
For all this sea-hoard of deciduous things,
Strange woods half sodden, and new brighter stuff:
In the slow float of differing light and deep,
No! there is nothing! In the whole and all,
Nothing that's quite your own.
Yet this is you.
 

Tharmas

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2001
Messages
1,487
Location
Texas
Basic Beliefs
Pantheist
Will read it toot sweet and post haste, Tharmas.

Oh, and thanks for the Pound. I was going to post a sonnet of his called, A Virginal, as an example of IP as well as an example of just how beautiful English can be, in the right hands.

Will get to it after I get some Tennyson and Browning up, later on today.

No hurry on the essay. It's a little bit quirky - one poet's encounter with other poets and how he tries to learn what they're doing and how they do it. He develops his own system of scansion. I liked the essay because he mentions poets who were very instrumental to me when I was learning poetry: Pound, Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, and Allen Ginsberg, among others. I also learned a lot from D.H. Lawrence, but his prose, not his poetry, which I find indifferent. I believe it was The Rainbow that I started reading and had to stop, after the first two paragraphs, and re-read them over several times. I wanted to know how he was doing what he was doing.

As to Pound, I find a lot of his earlier (pre Cantos) poetry to be among the most beautifully crafted objects in the English language.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: WAB

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
People are asking about meter, and, while looking for something else, I ran across this.

I got permission from the Smudged Ink people to post here at FRDB (Freethough and Religion Discussion Board), which I still think of as the Internet Infidels Discussion Board, but which calls itself Talk Freethought these days. And I got permission from the locals to post their stuff at Smudged Ink. So this was a discussion held at two different web sites. (Well, one of them was a listserve.)

Anyway, there's discussion of meter which some of you may find interesting or helpful.

And if any of you want to do the assignments in this post, well, my understanding is that the chair of this thread is perfectly tolerant of digression.

==

On Poetry
Lecture #1: Meter

by Charlie Clack [AKA wiploc]

No decent poetry class can start without a discussion of this very basic question: What is a poem? I wish I had an answer for you.

One of my teachers ordered, “Cure yourselves of the idea that poems rhyme!” Another one said, “It’s possible to write poems with meter, but it’s so very dangerous!” I see no justification for either position. If we love metrical rhyming poems, if we want to make more poems of that type, we are perfectly free to do so. I expect to extend these lessons beyond the subjects of meter and rhyme, but meter and rhyme is where we start.

Because I used to couldn’t do it, that’s why. I tried to write a mere limerick, and discovered that I didn’t have the least Idea. I could recite limericks, but I didn’t know what they were. I had to read a book and ask for help … to write a limerick.

The Fifteen Hundreds
by Charlie Clack

King Henry divorces the Bishop of Rome.
Montezuma could wish that Cortez had stayed home.
The armada, she sinks,
Tobacco weed stinks.
And the fountain of youth still evades De Leon

I learned surprising things about rhyme too. Surprising because we are fluent in language without understanding it. So, often, rather than teaching you things you don’t know, I’ll be teaching you that you already know things you didn’t know you knew.

One day, having decided that “The Gettysburg Address” was a poem, I was trying to figure out whether this was also:

Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night, and all the nights to come.

--George R R Martin

I mentioned to a literature professor that I was trying to figure out what poems were, and she said, “If you figure it out, let the rest of us know.”

So I was kidding, above, when I said that no decent poetry course can start without discussing what poems are. I don’t know what a poem is, and … I’m in excellent company.

But I do know something about meter, so we’re going to discuss that. Here’s a limerick, no title or author:

'Tis a favorite project of mine,
A new value of pi to assign.
I would fix it at 3,
For it's simpler, you see,
Than 3 point 1 4 1 5 9.

Here it is again with the stressed syllables underlined:

'tis a favorite project of mine,
a new value of pi to assign.
i would fix it at 3,
for it's simpler, you see,
than 3 point 1 4 1 5 9.

We’ll call the first, second, and fifth lines anapestic trimeter, meaning they go

de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM.

Lines three and four are anapestic dimeter:

de de DUM de de DUM.

Okay, line five is slightly irregular: it starts with an iamb:

de DUM

instead of an anapest. With limericks, that’s okay; pretty much anything you get away with is okay.

Assignment One: Scansion

Okay, here’s your first assignment: Scan my “Fifteen Hundreds” limerick the way I just scanned the pi limerick. You already know it’s a limerick, so that gives you a head start. You scan by finding the repeating patterns of stresses. You can underline the stressed syllables, highlight them, color them, or whatever you want. Print it out if that helps.

Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem to work out; there’s a lot about scansion that you don’t know yet. Just move to a different line and start again.

Don’t clutter up Smudged Ink by turning in this scansion assignment separately from your regular assignment. If you want to turn it in at all, do so in the same post as assignment two. And don’t turn either one in for at least four days. People need the chance to do this for themselves before they see your answer.

Assignment Two: Iambic Pentameter

Write five lines of iambic pentameter.

de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM
de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM
de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM
de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM
de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM

That’s all there is to it. Okay, first kill your internal critic. You’re learning a new skill, here, so the last thing you need is to think that your product should be great art. Decide in advance that it’s going to be stupid.

You don’t want it to rhyme. You don’t want it to be a poem (whatever that is) you just want fifty syllables with alternating stresses, starting with unstressed.

If you want to strive for something, strive to make it sound natural. Don’t say, “ere,” meaning “before.” Don’t “puff,” by putting in things that look like they’re just there to make the meter work out. In, “And a one and a two,” the second and fifth syllables are obvious puffery.

Or do puff if you want. And use strange contractions to make things work out. If this is your first attempt to write meter, you really can’t hold yourself to a high standard. Determine that you’re going to write something really bad, and then jump in.

And, if you get confused, remember that it’s okay: You don’t know much about meter yet.

I’m going to do these assignments with you, and I’m starting mine now:
Do I abate my quest for evermore?
Or must I, once astride this steed,
Continue spurring…

Whoa, where did that come from? I wonder what it’s going to be about. It won’t be about anything, really---because I’m going to quit after twenty-five more syllables---and I’ll never look back. This is just a practice exercise, nothing more.

Of course, some of you may surprise yourselves and produce great art running hundreds of lines. That’s okay too. You never know what’s going to come out of the end of your pen.

Extra Credit

Practice scansion. What’s your favorite metered poem? Print out a copy and underline the stressed syllables. Here, I'll do some myself:

From Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall”

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

How about that: iambic pentameter. Frost makes it look natural.

Notice that his first line starts with a trochee (DUM de). It’s alright to start an iambic line with a trochee. Because it works; that’s the whole reason. And you see that it does work. It works so well, and happens so often, that we still call it iambic. We might not call it “strictly iambic,” but we wouldn’t bother to hedge by calling it “loosely iambic” either. It’s iambic.

Tips

Enjambment: You don’t have to end a sentence where you end a line.

From “Gentle Alice Brown,” by W.S. Gilbert

There was a robber’s daughter,
and her name was Alice Brown.
Her father was the terror
of a small Italian town.

Note that lines three and four are a single sentence. If Gilbert put a comma after, “terror,” it was because it was conventional to end lines of poetry that way, not because he wanted a pause there. (Of course there are people who will tell you to pause at the end of every line. Maybe they like children’s poetry, which is supposed to be sing-songy. Or maybe they are great artists with far more authority than me. What’s clear is that they ain’t me. And there are doubtless great and authoritative artists on my side of this issue too.) Anyway, feel free to enjamb: you don’t have to end sentences, phrases, or clauses at the end of lines.

Half syllables: Say what? Yes, you use them all the time, even if you’re not conscious of it. How many syllables in, say, “fiery”? It depends on where you use it. You’ll pronounce it with two syllables or three, depending on what makes the meter work. Read this line aloud:

Now watch the fiery dragon flee

You said it with two syllables. Even if you weren’t aware of the meter, you conformed to it. Now read this one aloud:

Fiery death pursues, you see.

Three syllables this time, right? And it sounded good both times. Pretty cool, huh? So don’t let dictionary pronunciations push you around too much when you’re writing poetry. You’re after five lines of iambic pentameter---any way you can get ‘em.

Deadlines

Those of you who need deadlines: Post your five lines of iambic pentameter within seven days. But don’t post your scansion in the first four days, and don’t post your scansion except with your iambic pentameter. That way everybody has a chance to practice scansion before they see other people’s scansion. After seven days, or most people have posted, or I get the itch, I’ll post lesson two. If this doesn’t seem very regular, then that’s, you know, weird enough, right? Maybe we’ll have a more fixed schedule later.

Formatting Note:

I wrote this in Word. The original is pretty. I don’t know how it will look when it’s posted online.



One could certainly argue that that last line of Frost contains a spondee (DUM DUM):

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.​



I've been asked, elsewhere, how to identify the stressed syllables. I'm going to share my answer here.

---

First, just read it aloud. Listen. It may take some practice.

Second, try overstressing the syllables you think might be stressed. You can do that without sounding too bad. But if you overstress the wrong syllables, say ...

'tis A favOrite proJECT of mine,

... it sounds terrible bad.

Third, once you get the feel for the anapestic rhythm (a stress every third syllable) you come to expect stresses at that distance. That'll help you to anticipate them.

Here's another limerick to practice on:

There once was a man from Nantucket.
He kept all his cash in a bucket.
His daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man,
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

That may be the most famous limerick ever.

Note that several lines (1, 2, 3, 5) start with iambs (de DUM).

And note the "extrametrical" syllable hanging off the ends of lines 1, 2 and 5.

Oh, well, now I notice that if you wrapped the extrametrical syllables around to the beginnings of the next lines, then lines 2 and 3 would not start with iambs. Thus:

There once was a man from Nantuck-
et. He kept all his cash in a buck-
et. His daughter, named Nan,
ran away with a man

Interesting. If you write it that way, then the poem is perfectly anapestic except for lines 1 and 5.

But I suggest that you not think of that as the solution to a problem. There was no problem to be solved. Extrametrical syllables are common and legitimate. You don't need to start line two with an iamb to justify an extrametrical syllable on line one.

Lots of limericks start lines with iambs, and lots of them end lines with extrametrical syllables. It's probably a coincidence that the line up the way they do here.

---




One time, this guy told me that Chaucer was good!

Was funny! I'm not so gullible that I believed him,

but that he could make such a claim with a straight

face—that amazed me!



But then I went to college for, I dunno, the forth time,

and I arranged things so badly that I wound up reading

parts of The Canterbury Tales again. Stupid! Only

this time they made me translate into modern English,

line by line.



Chaucer's a hoot!



What I just finished here is not my line-by-line translation.

No, now I'm recovering the meter and rhyme-and, to

do that, I'm translating very loosely indeed.

Nonetheless, I believe this captures the spirit.


This is from the introduction to the tale of the Wife of Bath.


And I may have run a bit longer than the assigned five lines.


The Wife of Bath Describes Her Youthful Self

By Charles Clack and Geoffrey Chaucer



A reveler was husband number four.
He even kept a sweetheart on the side.
And I, this burst of lively, randy, wild
determined concupiscence, was his bride.

At first we had accord of inclination:
so much did we love wine and dance and song,
and sex of course-flirtation's consummation-
we'd drink and love and sing and love 'til dawn.

This perfect mate adored my concupiscence.
He loved to feed me wine and lay me down.
We had it good until he changed, the bastard,
He then regarded pleasure with a frown.

This book he read said women are temptation,
by Satan sent, men's sacred souls to gore.
And thus he learned disdain for lively pleasures,
and said that I should never drink wine more.

This worst of husbands cut me off from wine.
In recompense, then, I cut off his tail.
He implored that I should do my wifely duty,
but sober wives are begged without avail.

He sooner without pig would make his bacon,
Than ever without wine would make this wench.
You boys all know enough to let the wine flow,
when ere you hope your sausage to entrench.

My life, once dry of wine, was dry of pleasure.
The cost of manly virtue was too high.
And so I vowed he'd never love me sober.
He'd made my bed, so there he could not lie.




A student’s response to assignment two: Iambic Pentameter
Write five lines of iambic pentameter with an enjambment.

*******************
Freeze Out

© 2009 Richard Kirby

********************

The fist of autumn strikes a deadly blow
To pumpkins scattered naked under dry
And blackened tents, once factories of life
Forever closed. The pumpkins stare aghast,
Ice-crested in the mocking autumn sun.



I know that some of the formatting just won't show up here.
It will look better and make more sense here at FRDB.

On Poetry
Lecture #2: Feet and Meters
by Charlie Clack

You'd think it would be Feet and Yards, but no. It turns out that meters have feet too.

Thanks to everybody who participated in lesson one (and you can still submit your homework for lesson #1 if you haven't. Some people will discover this thread later than others. Feel free start whenever you're ready.)

I expected to enjoy teaching, but I hadn't anticipated that one of the joys would be just liking the students' work. Yay! for everybody who participated.

This is a workshop class: feel free to comment on each other's work. Here's an excerpt from my poetry workshop "crib sheet" (the page I carry into my slam poetry class to help jumpstart my thoughts. My secret terror is finding myself without anything to say about someone's poem. Not that that's ever happened.)

Workshop Seeds:
Appreciate, Articulate, Offer Ways to Improve.
Thoughts that may help some workshoppers get started:
Be supportive and encouraging.
Appreciate: Say what you liked, and why. "Just let me read this line aloud . I so love this aspect of it: ."
Appreciate diction, word choice, rhythm, meter, rhyme, image, tone, flavor . Were they appropriate to the subject, message, or effect wanted?
Appreciate the title. How does it work? What is its second meaning? Can it be improved?
Appreciate: "This stanza/character/move intrigued me because ..."
Articulate or translate; let the author/performer know what you think she did: "The meaning of this poem is ..." "The effect-wanted was ..." "Eve took the first bite because ..."
What could be advantageously cut or moved?
Where were you confused? Why?
What worked? Why?
What needs work? Why?
Where did your interest wane? Why?
Note clichés. (But, as a writer, don't hesitate to put clichés in a first draft. Clichés are place-holders; they tell you where to use fresh language later.)
How might the poem be adapted to better suit oral presentation?
Does the execution suit the subject or effect wanted?

And here's another excerpt, from a hypothetical handout I could distribute in a hypothetical meatworld poetry class:

Workshop Tools and Protocols
The primary goal of workshop is to let the author know what we think she has written. Hearing her poem restated, paraphrased, explained, is of immense value. This is where she learns what she has and has not communicated.

The hard part: For that to work, the author has to remain silent. We can't workshop a text that the author has explained. Even tiny author comments like, "That was his real name," or, "No, I don't have children," will change our perception of the poem, will cause us to workshop something other than what was presented.

Author comments: The author should be given opportunity, at the end of the session, to make comments or ask questions. If asked a non-rhetorical question before that, she should deflect it by saying, "I don't get to answer that yet."
-- above three paragraphs by Susan Rogers, reproduced by permission

Terminate debate: If someone else offers a wrong opinion contradicting your previously-offered gloriously correct opinion, that's a good thing: the performer has gotten to hear both sides. There is no call to restate your opinion. We are not here to debate or persuade; we are here to offer a selection of insights for the author to choose from. It may not be possible to catch yourself before you offer glorious truth a second time. But, if you say it a third time, know that you are in the wrong.

And one more:

The Writer's Role in Workshop:

Listen but don't obey. Don't try to follow all the advice. You aren't being force fed; rather, the reactions you hear in workshop are a smorgasbord, from which you may select morsels that appeal. "As a writer, your job is to listen for the rare voice that is helpful to you."

Feet and Meters:

Yes, we're back to that. The foot is the unit of meter, the thing that gets repeated. In iambic pentameter, the foot is the iamb, and it gets repeated five times per line.

When we're doing scansion, we should mark the feet, not just the stressed syllables as we have been doing. Let's try it. Richard Kirby submitted this in response to Lesson one, at Smudged Ink, where I am also teaching this course.

[Autumn]
Richard Kirby

The fist of autumn strikes a deadly blow
To pumpkins scattered naked under dry
And blackened tents, once factories of life
Forever closed. The pumpkins stare aghast,
Ice-crested in the mocking autumn sun.

--reproduced by permission

Notice first how natural it sounds. I need a counter-example. Here's from Lord Byron's, "The Destruction of Sennacherib:

And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

"morrow," "hath," and, "blue wave rolls nightly" are obvious artifacts of cramming the words into meter. Byron's poem is greatness, so it's saying something when I point out that at least the first half of Kirby's poem sounds more natural than Byron's.

Kirby's poem is also delightfully densely figurative, which I'd love to go on about, but I'm going to talk about meter. We separate the feet with vertical lines, thusly:

The fist | of aut|umn strikes | a dead|ly blow
To pump|kins scatt|ered nak|ed und|er dry
And black|ened tents, | once fact|ories | of life
Forev|er closed. | The pump|kins stare | aghast,
Ice-crest|ed in | the mock|ing au|tumn sun.

Note that the last line begins with a spondee (DUM DUM). And further note that Kirby got away with it. (You didn't think, "Wait, something's wrong here," when you got to the last line, did you?)

Vocabulary:

Iamb: de DUM
Trochee (pronouced tro-key): DUM de
Spondee: DUM DUM
Pyrrhic: de de
Anapest: de de DUM (limerick meter)

There are other kinds of feet, but that'll get you by.

Now it's time to note that the de and the DUM are only relative to a particular foot. (That didn't make any sense at all, did it? Don't worry, I'll keep trying.) Okay, suppose we break stresses down into four levels rather than just two (1, 2, 3, and 4, rather than just de and DUM). I read, "The fist of autumn strikes a deadly blow," as 3, 4, 2, 3, 1, 4, 2, 4, 3, 2, 4. I'll try that again combining capitalization and bolding: THE FIST | of AUT|umn STRIKES | a DEAD|ly BLOW. (Other people will have read this with different stresses. That's cool.)

Note that, in my reading, the "THE" of the first foot has as much stress as the "AUT" of the second foot. One's a "de," and the other is a "DUM," but they have the same stress. That's okay, because they aren't being compared to each other; they are only compared to the other syllables of the same foot. "THE" is a de because it has less stress than "FIST". And "AUT" is a DUM because it has more stress than "of."

Question: Which meter is used in Byron's "Sennacherib"? (To answer that, you need to know both the kind of foot used and the number of feet per line.)

Assignment: This week we're doing limericks. I'll go first:


Ulysses
By Charles Clack

There was a role model, Ulysses,
The suitors were after his misses.
He lied and he screwed;
He was violent and rude.
A morality tale is what thissis.

Extra Credit: Scan another poem. Mark the feet, and the most heavily metered syllable in each foot. Make sure it's metered this time (a lot of poems don't have meter). By way of example, here's an unmetered poem of mine:
Feline Geometry (An odd thought that wanted to be recorded before I slept)

-

Cats curled, nestled like apostrophes.
A yin-yang of contentment in the winter sun.


-

You wouldn't learn anything by trying to scan that.

You're practicing scansion for your own benefit, so don't bother to post the results unless you run into problems and want to consult.

Scansion Tips:

a.. First, find a regular line, one that has the same kind of feet all the way thru. (You wouldn't want to start on the last line when scanning Kirby's poem.) Often, this will mean that you are not starting on line one.
b.. Don't be a slave to the meter. Notice when the poet (as Kirby does in the first foot of the last line) deviates.
c.. Remember that you're ignorant. I can't teach you everything first, so it's okay to be confused. This is to say that there are poems that won't yield to the tools I've given you so far.

Oh, and here's my homework for Lesson #1. I ran more than five lines:


The Wife of Bath Describes Her Youthful Self
By Charles Clack

A reveler was husband number four.
He even kept a sweetheart on the side.
And I, this burst of eager, randy, wild
determined concupiscence, was his bride.

At first we had accord of inclination:
So much did we love wine and dance and song,
and sex of course-flirtation's consummation-
we'd drink and love and sing and love 'til dawn.

This best of husbands cherished concupiscence:
He loved to feed me wine and lay me down.
We had it good until he changed, the bastard,
He then regarded pleasure with a frown.

This book he read said women are temptation,
by Satan sent, men's sacred souls to gore.
So then he learned disdain for lively pleasures,
and said that I should never taste wine more.

This worst of husbands cut me off from wine.
In recompense, then, I cut off his tail.
He implored that I should do my wifely duty,
but sober wives are begged without avail.

He sooner without pig would make his bacon,
Than ever without wine would make this wench.
You boys all know enough to let wine flow,
when ere you hope your sausage to entrench.

My life, once dry of wine, was dry of pleasure.
The cost of manly virtue was too high.
And so I vowed he'd never love me sober.
He'd made my bed, so there he could not lie.

If you scan this one, and point out deviations, that will help me improve it.

I already know that, "He implored that I should do my wifely duty," starts with an anapest. I just don't know what to do about it. When I say it aloud, it sounds like, "He'mplored that I should do my wifely duty."



A student submission from Ern Wiley:


Charlie --
Hope there's no meter maid around,
I'd surely get a ticket for this hound

---------.


"The Weight Watcher"

Ah, YES, I am REA-dy and QUITE resigned
To EX-ercise BOLD-LY and NOT be kind
To FORE-arms and THIGHS;
Re-MEM-b'ring the PRIZE:
A WAIST is a TERR-rible THING to mind.


A student submission from Jennifer Dumford:


i USED to HATE iAMbic POeTRY;
the MEter NEVer MADE a BIT of SENSE
and THEN charLIE exPLAIN'D it ALL clearLY
but I still SAY i THINK it IS a PLOT
aGAINST me TRYing HARD to DO me IN

so i ONCE tried to WRITE me a LIMerick
and i THOUGHT there could NOT be a TRICK to it
exCEPT i was WRONG
and it TOOK me so LONG
that i MISSED the due DATE that we HAD for it

bleh. i suck at poetry and i don't even know if i got the limerick meter
right. hmph. perhaps i ought to stick to short stories and novel plots...

jenn (and the i-am-no-poet-and-yes-i-do-know-it SV)




More from Jenn:

i am so dense about poetry. i think i understand iambic pentameter (de DUM
de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM, rinse and repeat). I can't seem to read it
rhythmically (thus my deep dislike for reading Shakespeare) but I at least
understand the pattern.
apparently, though. i don't get limericks. do all limericks go like this?


de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM
de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM
de de DUM de de DUM
de de DUM de de DUM
de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM

jenn (and the why-can't-i-get-the-hang-of-this-meter-stuff SV)




More from Ern:


A CHAR-ming young LA-dy, Dum-FORD,
She TRIED for a LIM'rick and SCORED!
It DOES MAKE me WON-wonder
As I PEN a BLUN-der
If JENN has an-OTHER one STORED.

Delightful, Ern. Many limericks start lines with iambs,
so you're cool there.

Your scansion has the LY in BOLDLY stressed, but
that seems to me incorrect. The foot is "ly and not."
If you read the line naturally, I think you'll find that the
"NOT" is stressed significantly more than the "ly."
That is to say, you have a de de DUM.

You have two extrametrical syllables at the end of lines
one, two, and five, and that's just crackerjack. Not
embarrassing, but rather praiseworthy.

The meter maid has nothing on you!

crc

From: Ern Wiley
Sent: Saturday, October 17, 2009 10:54 AM
To: Smudged Ink
Subject: [SmudgedInk] Limerick near miss?


Charlie --
Hope there's no meter maid around,
I'd surely get a ticket for this hound
> From: Jenn Dumford

> i USED to HATE iAMbic POeTRY;
> the MEter NEVer MADE a BIT of SENSE
> and THEN charLIE exPLAIN'D it ALL clearLY
> but I still SAY i THINK it IS a PLOT
> aGAINST me TRYing HARD to DO me IN

Flattery will get you anywhere. :)

But we can polish this a bit. The first two lines are
perfect, but, in the third line, my name takes stress
on the first syllable. And so does "clearly."

So we can start by adding a syllable after "Then, or
by takeing one out in front of it. Something like,

but THEN this CHARlie MADE it CHRYstal CLEAR

or

Then CHARlie HE did MAKE it CLEAR to ME

I don't happen to like either of those---even if I overlook the
self-adulation---
but they're examples of how we can toy with word order to conform to
meter.

In line four, I recommend reversing the second and third words:

but I still SAY i THINK it IS a PLOT

becomes

But STILL i SAY i THINK it IS a PLOT

So we're closing in on it here:


I used to hate iambic poetry;
the meter never made a bit of sense.
Then explanation made it crystal clear---
but still I say I think there is a plot
against me trying hard to do me in.

I didn't mean to write myself out of the
third line, but nothing I tried with my name in it
worked metrically.

Oops, let me tweak line four:


I used to hate iambic poetry;
the meter never made a bit of sense.
Then explanation made it crystal clear---
but still I say I think that there's a plot
against me trying hard to do me in.

Sorry, once I get started playing this game,
it's hard to stop. The meter's right now, but,
"I say I think" is puffing, using extra syllables
to fill up an unused foot. So, how about:


I used to hate iambic poetry;
the meter never made a bit of sense.
Then explanation made it crystal clear.
But also clear is this: the iambs plot
against me, trying hard to do me in.

I like it!


> so i ONCE tried to WRITE me a LIMerick
> and i THOUGHT there could NOT be a TRICK to it
> exCEPT i was WRONG
> and it TOOK me so LONG
> that i MISSED the due DATE that we HAD for it

Delightful! And you did get the meter right.

> bleh. i suck at poetry and i don't even know if i got the limerick meter
> right. hmph. perhaps i ought to stick to short stories and novel plots...

You nailed the meter. You're doing fine. Perfect form while
being witty, all while learning a new art form---what more could
you ask for?

crc



> From: Jenn Dumford
>
> i am so dense about poetry. i think i understand iambic pentameter (de DUM
> de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM, rinse and repeat).

Bingo.

> I can't seem to read it
> rhythmically (thus my deep dislike for reading Shakespeare) but I at least
> understand the pattern.

It's not your job to read it rhythmically. Meter is something the poem
does to you, not something you do to it.
I've never tried to scan
Shakespeare, but sometimes I think it is poetry and sometimes prose.

But let's posit, just for fun, that his work is all in pentameter. And let us
further acknowledge that Shakespeare is an astonishing genius. What
follows from that? What follows is not that we're too dumb to notice
the pentameter, nor that he was too dumb to make the pentameter obvious.
What follows is that he controls when we feel the meter and when we don't.
If he writes in meter without us knowing it, then he's doing it on purpose.

> apparently, though. i don't get limericks. do all limericks go like this?


> de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM
> de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM
> de de DUM de de DUM
> de de DUM de de DUM
> de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM

None of them do, actually. The long lines are just three anapests long:
de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM.

But you're in good company. Remember
my 1500s "limerick"?



King Henry divorces the Bishop of Rome.
Montezuma could wish that Cortez had stayed home
tobacco weed stinks,
The armada she sinks,
and the fountain of youth still evades de Leon.

I thought that was a limerick until it was pointed out here or at
FRDB that lines 1, 2, and 5 are four anapests long, like you
wrote above.

de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM

So I made the same mistake you did.

Also, there is considerable variation in the limerick form.

A lot of lines start with iambs instead of anapests

de DUM de de DUM de de DUM

and a lot of lines have extrametrical syllables

de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM de

or

de de DUM de de DUM de de DUM de de

Look at what's probably the most famous limerick line in the world:

"There once was a man from Nantucket"

It goes like this:

de DUM de de DUM de de DUM de

Starts with an iamb, and ends with an extrametrical syllable.

But neither of those is a problem. The limerick form allows
those variations.

Don't be discouraged. Remember that I had to read a whole book
and ask for help in order to write my first limerick---which now turns
out not to have been a limerick after all.



> Originally Posted by spikepipsqueak View Post
> > Originally Posted by wiploc View Post
> > Question: Which meter is used in Byron's "Sennacherib"?
> Those are anapests, yes? and four of them, but I don't know what you would
> call the combination.

Anapestic tetrameter. I've read that it, I dunno, shows the rhythm of the
galloping horses or something.

> > Assignment: This week we're doing limericks.

> wiploc, is it cheating to use something you wrote before?
> I am all limericked out, ATM, but I posted this a while back
> in another forum's "Make limericks of poems" thread. How
> slimy is it to recycle? Should we be producing new work
> for "class"?

I certainly recycled mine. Though I intend to do a new one also. All
participation is welcome.


> Societies oft crush their best
> When conformity's put to the test.
> Socrates' lost,
> Galileo, storm toss'd
> And much of one gender suppressed.

Nice.

And it's perfect example for this point about scansion:

Since we know from the rest of the poem that these are anapests, how would
we scan this line:

Socrates' lost,

And the answer is? It's two anapests, (de de DUM de de DUM) with the first
two de des suppressed. They are silent, like the "k" in "English Knight,"
like the "e" in "pole," like the subject in the sentence, "Git!"

On the one hand, you don't hardly need to know this. On the other hand, I'm
recommending scanning a lot of poetry if you want to get good at poetry, so
you need to know what kind of tricks people use to handle difficult poems.

Take this line:


DUM de DUM de DUM

If every line in a poem went like that, what would you call it? Answer: Some
people would call it iambic (with a truncated iamb at the start of each
line), some would call it trochaic (with a truncated trochee at the end of
each line) and some would look up or make up some more obscure kind of foot.

Upshot: Scanning poems is good, but we don't have to feel like we're the
ones at fault if a poem doesn't cooperate with our attempts at scansion.

Factoid: I read somewhere that Shakespeare and those guys didn't even have
meters and feet. No iambs. No iambic pentameter. Those are modern notions.
We use these new terms so that we can discuss what Shakespeare did,
but---while he clearly knew what he was doing---he did it without these
modern concepts. I have trouble with that, but I did read it somewhere.

Notes
-- spikepipsqueak's work reproduced by permission.



Submission from Richard Kirby:

Assignment #2 – Write a Limerick

Anapestic meter: de-de-DUM

Lines 1,2 and 5 – nine syllables

Lines 3 and 4 – five syllables


“Beefcake Follies”

A governor named Schwarzenegger,

An actor turned fiscal bootlegger,

He first flexed an arm

Then mortgaged the farm

And ended his term a poor begger.

Scansion:


a GOV-er-nor NAMED schwarz-en EG-ger,

an ACT-or turned FIS-cal boot-LEG-ger.

he FIRST flexed an ARM

then MORT-gaged the FARM

and END-ed his TERM a poor BEG-ger.

(Note deliberately truncated anapests in lines 3 and 4.)

Richard Kirby

P.S. - My apologies to our beloved governator and all his devoted admirers here in Cal-EE-for-NEE-a. Arnold, we love you!)



Submission by Ern Wiley:

Good work, Richard!


I don't pretend to know
How anapestic meter should go
But this I will say
In an anapest way
Your poem is most apropos.

Ern



The Next DeMille
By Charlie Clack

The new casting director, he broods.
He expected unveiled pulchritudes.
But he jumped from enthused
to just so disabused,
when he found there’d be no ingénudes.



From Richard Kirby:

Charlies,

Your Limerick is wonderful. "Ingénudes", indeed! I guess in the world of Limerickalia, anything goes, inter alia .

If I were asked to crit your Limerick -- (and I wasn't) -- I'd point out just one thing: the "so" in line 4 seems out of place. It tends to grab emphasis. I would suggest, "To merely disabused". -or-- "To just disabused" (better rhythm).

Just my opinion, use or lose.

But over all, the Limerick is clever and funny, and lines 1,2, and 5 are all 9 syllables long, while lines 3 and 4 are five or six syllable, as the "rules" of the form call for.

Altogether, delightful.
Richard



The new casting director, he broods.
He expected unveiled pulchritudes.
But he jumped from enthused
to just so disabused,
when he found there'd be no ingénudes.




Thanks for making me laugh, Ern.

I embedded a link to FRDB, of course, and Smudged
Ink stripped it out, also of course. Here's the url:

http://www.freeratio.org/showthread.php?t=276341

From: Ern Wiley
Sent: Monday, November 02, 2009 9:48 AM
To: Smudged Ink
Subject: [SmudgedInk] For Charlie -- An Ode to Mighty FRDB

Your coded message read, "Lecture three is easier to read here at
FRDB." It sounds like a marvelous solution to everything, Charlie.
Being as to how it's a discussion forum for atheist / freethought /
secular / metaphysical naturalism, (per Google), *FRDB* (Fame Remote
Database) probably wouldn't let us nudists in, though. What fun is that?



Oh, where do I find a Frdb?
And what do I do with it then?
I think I'm in need of a Frdb
'Cause my muse's actin' up ag'in.
I've searched in my sock drawer robustly
And found only mis-mated pairs;
There should be a his and a her-db
A shocking bad state of affairs.

If only I had commutation,
Of this sentence to look for the thing,
There must be a Frdb here somewhere
It has such a heavenly ring.



From the Flagrant Vagrant:

> Charlie ...
>
> I think one of my feet stepped in xaxa with this.
> Is there an exterminator firm for anapests?

That's twice in one night you've made me laugh out loud;



> Such is the quest of the balladeer,
> In his hope for fame and glory --
> To pen a poem meaningful,
> And not like cacciatore.

> DUM de de DUM de de DUM DUM

Balladeer is DUM de DUM, not DUM DUM, so you're good there.
And if you pluralize "balladeer," you won't need the article:

of balladeers is de DUM de DUM. So now we only need the anti-anapest man
for the initial DUM de de DUM---but no, that's already kosher. You get to
start iambic lines with trochees.
DUM de de DUM de DUM de DUM.
Such is the quest of balladeers.
That's perfect.

Then all we need to do is strike the word, "his," in the second line, and
the whole thing is flawless, _and_ funny.

Okay, I'm changing "for" to "of" for some reason I can't articulate, but
even if you don't do that, you're golden:


Such is the quest of balladeers,
In hope of fame and glory --
To pen a poem meaningful,
And not like cacciatore.


From Richard Kirby:

Okay, Charles, here's my de-DUM in ballad meter. It is not Sir Patrick Spence:


The king sits in Dunfermline town

Drinking the blood red wine,

"Oh where will I get a bonny crew

To sail this ship of mine?"

No, I'm farther back in history than that. Much farther. In fact, I'm pre-historic. (My nephews have suspected this for years!)

I opted for rhyming lines 2 and 4, rather than the more demanding 1 and 3 AND 2 and 4.


de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM
de DUM de DUM de Story
de DUM de DUM de DUM de DUM
de DUM de Pergatory

I'll just say this about ballad meter: I don't think I'll willingly write another one. Limericks, lovingly. Haikus, happily. Double-dactyls, doubtlessly. Sonnets, certainly. But ballads, well, there's something I don't like about the sing-song cadence. Anyway, here's my effort.



*********************​
"Spirit Fire"

© 2009 - Richard Kirby

*********************

When proto-man looked at the sky

And pondered, what is God,

Did he abide upon the trees

An ape-like anthropod?

Or hid in swamps, or free upon

The wide savannah’s stance,

Spear in hand, did he discern

A lucky circumstance?

The hunters, did they silent creep

In fearful chill to cower

Still-breathless at the snorting sight

Of aurochs’ horrid power?

How could a man, so weak, so slow,

Ensnare the beast and own

His noble soul and bring him low

For meat and hide and bone?

A simple prayer, “Come torch the earth,

(The flame you'll hardly miss.)

Send fire to drive the panicked prey

Beyond the precipice."

But swift the hunter heard a voice

Like thunder to his band:

“Go capture fire and make it yours;

So live and rule the land.”




From Ern Wiley:

Wow, Richard!

Once you get going, you're like that Energizer^® Bunny! "Spirit Fire"
reads as smooth as mead, a work that required an awesome amount of time
and energy.

The image you conveyed of stone-agers driving the fierce oxen ("ox"
derives from "aurOCHs" my sources tell me) over a cliff, is skillfully
done, given the restraints of the medium, and I'm sure that, right now,
there is a musician lurking in Gollywood, composing a melody for making
this ballad singable.

I'm pleased that Charlie proposes short-line ballads (i.e. Celine Dion)
rather than hair-raisers such as Rudyard Kipling. But, come to think of
it, I reckon Gilbert & Sullivan would have gloried in line extenders for
Spirit Fire.

Oh, lordy, I hope I don't get bitten with the ballad bug today; it's
Thursday and I'm supposed to rearrange the canned goods in the pantry.

Good work, Richard. This is a classic.

Ern

---

"Foot"-note:
bal·lad (noun)
1. a romantic or sentimental song with the same melody for each
stanza (Yup)
2. a song or poem that tells a story in short stanzas and simple
words, with repetition, refrain, etc.: (Yeah)
3. a slow, sentimental popular song, esp. a love song (Well, maybe
if the Neaders were hungry enuff)
(Etymology: ME balad < OFr ballade, dancing song < OProv ballada, (poem
for a) dance < balar, to dance < LL ballare)

(Can we look forward to R. Kirby doing a dance now?)

(Nah. Oh, where is Sinatra when we need him?)




From Ern Wiley:


Okay, you got my juices stirred
With all this ballad stuff;
Now I can't think of nothin' else;
I just can't get enough.

And, in regard to Richard Kirby's excellent multi-quatrains,
these words seem to fit the "Mary had a little lamb" style:
_


RICH_ard _WRITES_ his _BAL_lads _WELL_
dots _T's_ and _CROS_ses _i's_
And _THIS_ you_'_ll like a_BOUT_ his work:
they _END_ with a sur_PRISE

_Which leads to a musical scansion:


_ab / ab / aba
ba / ba / bb
babb / babb
ba / bb / ba!

_(Aren't scansions those tiny fishes that swarm onshore in August?)
(Escaping poem writers, obviously)




From Richard Kirby:

Ernesto,


Crossed i's and dotted t's, indeed!
You'd be the first to know;
Just stay the course, that's all I plead
And rhyme your lines just so.

And thank you for your glowing praise--
You turn a feller's head;
I think you've mastered ballad ways
From A to trailing Zed.

-- Author unknown


I thought them August fish was grunions
Amassed upon the beach,
A cure for yaws and gout and bunions :
Oh, hell, it's outa reach!

Balladier to Co-Pilot
Over and Out




From Richard Kirby, but including a poem by Ern Wiley:
Ern,

Poor Marie, victim of fate,
She loved la belle vie,
She fled Versailles but went quite gray
Jailed in the Conciergerie.

As Madame Lafarge knitted away
Head after head fell free;
What is the use of being queen
Without one's liberty?

If that doesn't admit me to the House of Doggerel, nothing will.

Truth is, I like your ballad better. Except that I think the Tuileries was a palace -- at least until the royal family was imprisoned there. In that sense it was a prison. Your footnotes are an interesting addition to the poem. Nicely done.

-- Richard

Subject: [SmudgedInk] 11/6 Prompt: MARIE ANTOINETTE

Prompt for 11/6/2009:*(alms for the poor) *
----------------------------------

000 Words
© MMIX by Ern Wiley
----------------------------------


They filled the streets, protesters did,
And fanned a revolution.
But more, their unforgiving shouts
Brought on an execution.

With brandished fists and hot demands
They cried for bread, not cake;
They stormed Tuileries prison then
With everything at stake.

France now records the infamy,
So dire the Guillotine,
But she was proud right to the end:
"I'm sorry," said the queen.

----------------------------------

Note:
I intended to post this on October 16th but there
was no appropriate prompt at that time..

It's said that the words of the queen which infuriated
the peasants, who were starving because they had no
bread, were, "Let them eat cake."

Marie Antoinette was beheaded on 16 October 1793.
According to legend, her last words were an apology
to the executioner after accidentally stepping on his foot.



From Richard Kirby, but including a poem by Ern Wiley:

Ern,

Better later than never. I just found this wonderful Limerick of yours hiding behind a overfed spondee in my laborythine inbox. Sorry I didn't come upon it when it was young and fresh. It's a hoot. Love it. AND ... most importantly ... the meter is PERFECTO! -- not to mention it's witty and elegant. A poet you are. I take back all the dark thoughts I've harbored about forced rhymes and contorted rhythm. You're a jewel. A diamond, sometimes in the rough, but bright and shining beyond all imangining.


If I were a poet, full of rhymes
I'd scan my meters many times;
I'd polish each anapest
And fake out all the rest
Even if my meter leads a bit to the realm of unspeakable crimes.

R.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ern Wiley" <ernwiley@verizon.net>
To: "Smudged Ink" <SmudgedInk@yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Saturday, October 31, 2009 8:58:10 AM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: [SmudgedInk] 'Appy 'Alloween.

Richard explained how a limerick works in his
seminal critique, "Syllableology." Nine Sibyls on
lines 1, 2 and 5 ... and five Sibbles on lines 3 and 4.
So easy a caveman can do it.



A poet I am, so I thought
I'm trying to do what I'm taught
On Halloween night
My rhymes are a fright;
I'm keeping my plot lines like, taut.





On Poetry
Lecture #3
Native English Meter

Class Sections:
There are two sections of this class. One is here at FRDB
http://www.freeratio.org/showthread.php?p=6180065#post6180065. (Don’t follow that link from FRDB, it will just bring you back to this very post.) And one is at Smudged Ink http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SmudgedInk/summary. FRDB allows formatting, so lectures are much easier to read and understand. There’s more participation at Smudged Ink. Take your pick, or go both ways. (If you post in both places, you be making a larger writers’ community, and I won’t have to ask permission to reproduce the posts that I comment on.)



My Homework From Last Time:

The assignment, at least two stanzas ballad meter:
Here’s grass too tall to see across,
but brown in August heat.
On Mars are rivers dry as these—
yet Kansas grows the wheat.

Vacationers on Trail Ridge Road
in air as thin as shadow.
There’s wind and snow and beauty here,
the peaks of Colorado


(If we did that forty-eight more times, we’d have a children’s book. We could start a separate thread for it. Anybody want to illustrate? We could publish free online, to help kids learn the states. If we did a hardcopy version, we could donate the profits to an educational charity.)


Retraction: 100,000 lines is crazy talk.

I’ve long wanted to try writing some native English meter. This week I realized that if I make you guys do it, I’ll have to do it too! Yay! Which, of course, raises this question: What is native English meter? It’s what Beowulf is written in, and it has something about caesuras, right? I hadda look it up.

Which, for me, meant finding a copy of Judson Jerome’s Poet’s Handbook. In which, I note that Jerome has scanned “several thousand” lines of poetry, not the previously-stated 100,000 lines.

More on native English meter below. Because, you know, you’re going to write some.


Why Scansion:

We’ve had a question on why we study scansion. I tried to answer that myself, but it turns out Jerome has an answer too:

Only I’m having trouble finding it, and I have low blood sugar at the moment, so I can’t do an organized search, and I keep running across things I want to report anyway, so we’ll come back to Jerome’s answer to that question if we do.

Meanwhile, he reports four variations account for 90% of the variations you’ll encounter in iambic poetry. Here they are:

1. Dum de de DUM de DUM
2. de de DUM DUM de DUM
3. de DUM de de DUM de DUM
4. de DUM de DUM de DUM de


The first one starts the line with a trochee rather than an iamb. All good. And in fact you can do that after a caesura, a pause, like this …
de DUM, DUM de de DUM
That comma makes it okay to follow with a trochee (DUM de). A period would work too. And since we’re going to talk native English meter later, allow me mention that my tin ear can’t even hear a lot of caesuras. If they don’t have some punctuation mark that indicates the pause, there can still be a pause, even if I don’t know it’s there, that allows the trochee (DUM de). (And, of course, there’s the possibility that some people get away with trochees that neither begin a line or follow a caesura. You can get away with whatever you can get away with.)

Where were we? Oh, yes:
2. de de DUM DUM de DUM
3. de DUM de de DUM de DUM
4. de DUM de DUM de DUM de


Line two starts with a Pyrrhic (de de) followed by a Spondee (DUM DUM). To my surprise, Jerome acts like those aren’t separate variations, but come as a set. The stress (DUM) from the first foot changes places with the slack (de) from the second foot.

Line three substitutes an anapest (de de DUM) for the middle iamb (de DUM).

Line four adds a hypermetrical slack (de) to the end of the line.

Do they all work? Does this still sound like poetry? Here are the four lines again, plus Jerome’s haunting example of a poem using just this pattern:
1. Dum de de DUM de DUM
2. de de DUM DUM de DUM
3. de DUM de de DUM de DUM
4. de DUM de DUM de DUM de



1. Whispering Branches scrape
2. on the cold panes of thought.
3. I dream of escape, but I
4. am caught by inner whispers.


I am moved.


Pope’s Essay on Criticism:

Okay, here’s Pope on meter. This is “excerpted his “Essay on Criticism.” It’s also in Jerome’s book.



True ease in writing comes from art, not chance.
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.
Tis not enough no harshness gives offense,
The sound must seem an Echo to the sense:
Soft is the strain when the Zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shoar,
The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar:
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labours, and the words move slow.
Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er th' unbending corn, and skims along the main


Astonishing. He slows lines down by increasing the number of stresses. He speeds lines up with anapests (de de DUM). It seems that he can violate whatever rule he wants, and it only makes things better.

Does this mean that the rules don’t count for anything? Jerome offers this from an attempt at a limerick:


There once was a stupendous poet
Who was good but did not know it.

That’s messed up. But how could we fix it without knowing scansion?

That’s why we study scansion: Some people have enough native talent to shoot wamp rats without training, but a little time spent studying under Yoda on Dagobah can allow you write reliably good poetry on purpose, rather than relying on your wild talents and happy accidents. (I can’t find Judson Jerome’s justification for studying scansion, so this is my really really really grossly inaccurate paraphrase. Best I can do at the moment. Sorry, Jerome.)

So, you might choose to scan the excerpt from Pope. Dwell on it, if you choose. Also, Poe said that nothing remotely similar to “The Raven” had ever been attempted in the history of the world. We should scan that to see what he was talking about.


Sonnet and Limerick:

Sonnet and Limerick
The sonnet with her Mona Lisa smile
broods on the world with otherworldly stare.
Priestess of melancholy, darkly fair,
Serene above our fury, guilt, and guile,
She in her deeps, has learned to reconcile
Life's contradictions. Really, I declare,
I'd gladly trust a sonnet anywhere,
That pure seraphic sedentary. While

The limerick's furtive and mean;
You must keep her in close quarantine,
Or she sneaks to the slums
and promptly becomes
Disorderly, drunk, and obscene.

--Morris Bishop

You didn’t just notice the change in meter; it slammed you upside the head. Obviously, then, different meters have different effects; so meter is important.

Joseph Malof’s A Manual of English Meters addresses the why-study-scansion question too. Meter is part of what’s going on in the poem. It contributes to the effect. We consider the meter for the same reason we consider the diction, the ideas, the symbols, the metaphors, and the other parts of a poem. Rhythm matters in poetry for the same reason it matters in music.


Your Homework Assignment: Write a poem in native English meter.

Which is what, you ask? I’m not sure, but I’ll try to give us enough information that we can fake it. Which means that the real assignment is to write a poem in something approximating native English meter.

There are syllable-counting meters, like haiku. A haiku has five syllables in the first line, seven in the second line, and five in the third (and final) line. That’s the whole thing, as far as meter is concerned.

Then there are stress-counting meters. Native English meter is one of these. You get four stresses in each line, and pretty much however many slacks you want wherever you want them. Weird.

Up to this point, we’ve been studying the compromise meters that combine stress counting with syllable counting. But now we move to something completely different.

So,


  • four stresses per line
  • Alliteration: The first three stresses start with the same sound
    • All vowels count as one sound
  • Not more than three slacks in a row
  • Vary the placement of slacks so you don’t accidentally produce feet. One line that could be, say, iambic tetrameter, is fine, but the next line should be different.
  • Put a caesura between the second and third stresses.
  • Work a kenning in there somewhere.
  • While you are only required to alliterate the three stressed syllables, it’s cool to echo lots of other sounds within a line.


Here’s an example, a stanza from Jerome’s poem about Beowulf:


Older than English: how evil emerges
on a moor in the moonlight, emotionless, faceless,
stiff-kneed, arms rigid, and stalks through the fog field
until finally its fist falls, forcing the oaken door
of whatever Heorot harbors the gentlefolk.

Makes my hair stand up.

“Heorot” has two syllables. It was a huge fine home, like Monticello.

The last line doesn’t have a visible caesura, nor one that I can find in any other way. So, myself, I’m liable to ignore the caesura requirement.

And the third line has more than four stresses, right? I can’t see how to make that conform to the meter. But presumably four of them are strongest, at least if you read it that way. (So, you can see, you get to give yourself some play in this respect.) I don’t see the three alliterated stresses in this line either. I don’t know what to say about that. Maybe two (“stiff” and “stalks”) is good enough sometimes.

I have to work to read the last line with the strong stresses on the H sounds. But I can do it; it works. Note that “whatever” does start with an H sound. The word is pronounced hwatever. In English, I believe, all leading wh’s are pronounced backwards.

“Older than English,” alliterates (we’d normally call this “assonance” rather than “alliteration,” since it involves vowels rather than consonants, but we don’t bother to make this distinction when dealing with native English meter) because---in native English meter---all vowels are counted as the same sound.

“Emotionless” starts with an E rather than an M, but we’re only worried about the stressed syllable, “mo,” which does start with an M.

Now, as to the requirement that the first three stresses alliterate. I love this, from Malof’s book. (He doesn’t credit this, so maybe it’s his. It feels modern, unlike his other examples. So, for copyright reasons, I’ll reproduce only three lines:


An axe angles from my neighbor’s ashcan;
It is hell’s handiwork, the wood not hickory,
The flow of the grain not faithfully followed.

(I added a comma, since I couldn't reproduce Malof's spacing.)

He seems to alliterate whichever three stresses he finds handy, and I still love the result. So, feel free.

The kenning, now. How to explain that? We start with a famous example: The sea is called “the whale road.” Set up an equivalence in your mind, something like:
The sea is to whales as a road is to overland travelers.


Which we’ll represent this way:

A is to B as X is to Y.

So, we call A the BX (leaving Y implied).

So, can I use that formula to make more kennings? Let’s try.
Eggs are to breakfast as tacos are to dinner.

Thus, an egg becomes a “breakfast taco.”

There you go! You’re all ready to write your first poem in native English meter. Enjoy. I’m really looking forward to seeing what you submit—as well as seeing what I come up with myself.




From Richard Kirby:

Here’s my attempt at mock heroic replete with alliteration, caesurae (!), and a half-fast attempt at kennings, some shamefull, none cunning. All this in the high tradition of “Beowulf” – or maybe the Big-Bad Wolf. Ahem!
***********************

The Hare and the Tortoise

(A Mock-Turtle Epic)

© 2009 by Richard Kirby

***********************

Behold the Bard, verse-voiced born

And Meter-Maidens, tapping time,

They tell the tale of Hare and Tortoise,

How they strove, field-fellows both,

To take the trophy, first to finish,

Of all God’s creatures, laureate-gold.

“O run for the gold, you hapless Hare,

You dare to dither, yon or hither,

Then see who wields the winner-wave!”

“It’s just absurd, so crouched a creeper,

Yon tardy tortoise, doff my dust --

I’ll beat you there before you budge!”

The leaper-launcher starts them off:

Furlong fast the Hare has hopped

Wind-rushing rodent, far ahead:

Path-pounder rabbit is half-way there!

But tortoise tip toes, shy in his shell,

Taking his time foot by inch.

“What a farce!” hoots hopalong fuzz-tail,

“Not a contest! Not a chance! No way

At all can Tortoise win! Oh, yawn, I’m

Bushed. I need a nap, just five or so,

Waken and then, bullet-beast, easy win.”

And so he dozed and Tortoise toiled.

Ballad-Bards and Meter-Maidens

Tell the tale of shut-eyed Hareling,

Snoring like a shoe-in winner,

A Hero-Hare who dreamt of laurels ….

But past him, alas! Tortoise clambered.

(I’m sure you readers will divine the rest.)

Richard
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MODERATOR: I failed to give attribution to Ezra Pound in post number #79. Is it possible that someone can edit that post and put an attribution at the bottom, after the snippet from La Portrait D'un Femme?

Like this:

- Ezra Pound

Thanks in advance!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
800s:
Algebra: brought to you by the letter X.

Beowulf again? This time in writing.

Al-Khwarizmi invents the algebra.
And, uh … and there was much rejoicing. Yaaay.

The Pope slips up behind King Charlemagne
and crowns him emperor. A trickster Pope!

The Carolingian empire’s at its peak,
and in that empire there’s a renaissance.
But Vikings conquer much of England, Scotland too,
encouraging the Pictish Kingdoms’ end.




Note:
In the second draft, when I’m trying to turn this stuff into poetry of different forms,
the French lack of primogenitor may lend itself to a sestina.

Note:
Where did all the armies come from?
“Second sons and men of desperate fortune”
This quote from wherever won’t need much spiffing to make it iambic:
 

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
900s:
“the nadir of the human intellect.”[1]

The dim nine hundreds, darkest of ages dark.[2]

Charles the Simple yields to Rolf the Ganger,
but Rolf declines to kiss the foot of Charles.
These Norsemen’s land is known as Normandy;
and soon these Norse will have the name of Normans.

The Carolingian dynasty is ended;
the elected king of France is Hugh Capet.

The Byzantines are at their empire’s peak.
Eric the Red is colonizing Greenland.
In Medieval Warmth, it’s really green.

In nine twenty-seven, England’s a unified state.


[1] Helen Waddel (Wikipedia: tenth century) is quoted saying this century was “the nadir of the human intellect.”


[2] Altered for meter. Lynn White (Wikipedia: tenth century) is quoted thus: “it is very nearly the darkest of the Dark Ages"
 

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
1000s:
“A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou”

The western priests go bearded like barbarians,
and eastern priests go beardless like castrati,
so each offends the other’s sense of rightness.
They split, the east becoming Orthodox, and
the west becoming Roman Catholic.
No doubt there are some other reasons too.

The Normans dominate so much of Europe,
and William conquers England (1066).
The Domesday Book comes out to mixed reviews.

Leif Ericson’s in Vinland for a while.

Macbeth stands watching Birnam Wood’s approach.

The North Sea Empire, forged by Canute
the Great, compasses England, Denmark, Norway.
But even Canute shan’t stem history’s tide;
upon his death the countries break apart.

Al-Hakim disappears; the Shia wait.

The moving finger writes, but when it's gone,
Omar Khayyam’s great Rubaiyat remains.

Pope Urban II proclaims the first Crusade.

El Cid the hero warrior takes Valencia.

If Ethelred’s unready, still he’s king.

The Song of Roland tells of Roncevaux.
 

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
Updating the 1100s:

1100s:
Planta Genêt; Angevins

The white ship sinks, and anarchy ensues.

Abelard and Heloise are lovers.

I know naught of the Concordat of Worms,
and yet I never will forget the name.

The first magnetic compass points to north.
Furnaces blast, so iron can be cast.
The very air makes mill wheels go around.
In architecture, buttresses take flight.
New universities now foster knowledge.

This century is blessed with two crusades.
Happy young knights in their Saladin days.

A German empire captures Italy,
so Barbarossa beards a Pope in den,
and wins thereby title Holy Roman.

Eleanor’s fond of courtly love, and so
she marries twice. Her dowry’s Aquitaine.

Even in death, Becket discomfits his king.
The king grows old, then comes The Lion in Winter.

When Richard Lionheart goes on Crusade,
the merry men of Sherwood rule the forest.
The Templar knights protect the passing pilgrims.

Temüjin has to wear an ugly collar.
 

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
King Edward’s army wanders France exhausted,
starving, sick, and lacking victories.
They try to reach Calais. The French won’t fight,
so Edward’s only hope is to escape.

The French are out! At Crécy, they will fight.
It stung their pride to hide behind stone walls.
What is the price of pride? A generation
of nobles lying cold in bloody mud.

For British yeoman’s bows wreak deadly harvest.
These British bows are good, but such a price.
They cost the Brits a hundred years of war.
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
Thanatopsis


To him who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;—
Go forth, under the open sky, and list
To Nature’s teachings, while from all around—
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air—
Comes a still voice—
Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix for ever with the elements,
To be a brother to the insensible rock
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.
Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world—with kings,
The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,—the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods—rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all,
Old Ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,—
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.—Take the wings
Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound,
Save his own dashings—yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep—the dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest, and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glide away, the sons of men,
The youth in life’s green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man—
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those, who in their turn shall follow them.
So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

- William Cullen Bryant
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
The Great Lover

I have been so great a lover: filled my days
So proudly with the splendour of Love's praise,
The pain, the calm, and the astonishment,
Desire illimitable, and still content,
And all dear names men use, to cheat despair,
For the perplexed and viewless streams that bear
Our hearts at random down the dark of life.
Now, ere the unthinking silence on that strife
Steals down, I would cheat drowsy Death so far,
My night shall be remembered for a star
That outshone all the suns of all men's days.
Shall I not crown them with immortal praise
Whom I have loved, who have given me, dared with me
High secrets, and in darkness knelt to see
The inenarrable godhead of delight?
Love is a flame; -- we have beaconed the world's night.
A city: -- and we have built it, these and I.
An emperor: -- we have taught the world to die.
So, for their sakes I loved, ere I go hence,
And the high cause of Love's magnificence,
And to keep loyalties young, I'll write those names
Golden for ever, eagles, crying flames,
And set them as a banner, that men may know,
To dare the generations, burn, and blow
Out on the wind of Time, shining and streaming. . . .
These I have loved: White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,
Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust;
Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light; the strong crust
Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;
Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood;
And radiant raindrops couching in cool flowers;
And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours,
Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon;
Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon
Smooth away trouble; and the rough male kiss
Of blankets; grainy wood; live hair that is
Shining and free; blue-massing clouds; the keen
Unpassioned beauty of a great machine;
The benison of hot water; furs to touch;
The good smell of old clothes; and other such --
The comfortable smell of friendly fingers,
Hair's fragrance, and the musty reek that lingers
About dead leaves and last year's ferns. . . .Dear names,
And thousand other throng to me! Royal flames;
Sweet water's dimpling laugh from tap or spring;
Holes in the ground; and voices that do sing;
Voices in laughter, too; and body's pain,
Soon turned to peace; and the deep-panting train;
Firm sands; the little dulling edge of foam
That browns and dwindles as the wave goes home;
And washen stones, gay for an hour; the cold
Graveness of iron; moist black earthen mould;
Sleep; and high places; footprints in the dew;
And oaks; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy-new;
And new-peeled sticks; and shining pools on grass; --
All these have been my loves. And these shall pass,
Whatever passes not, in the great hour,
Nor all my passion, all my prayers, have power
To hold them with me through the gate of Death.
They'll play deserter, turn with the traitor breath,
Break the high bond we made, and sell Love's trust
And sacramented covenant to the dust.
---- Oh, never a doubt but, somewhere, I shall wake,
And give what's left of love again, and make
New friends, now strangers. . . .But the best I've known,
Stays here, and changes, breaks, grows old, is blown
About the winds of the world, and fades from brains
Of living men, and dies. Nothing remains.

O dear my loves, O faithless, once again
This one last gift I give: that after men
Shall know, and later lovers, far-removed,
Praise you, "All these were lovely"; say, "He loved."

- Rupert Brooke
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
From Essay on Man

Cease then, nor order imperfection name:
Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.
Know thy own point: This kind, this due degree
Of blindness, weakness, Heav'n bestows on thee.
Submit.—In this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear:
Safe in the hand of one disposing pow'r,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony, not understood;
All partial evil, universal good:
And, spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,
One truth is clear, Whatever is, is right.

- A!exander Pope
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors".

- Robert Frost
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
Strange Meeting

It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,—
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

With a thousand fears that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.

“I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now. . . .

- Wilfred Owen
 

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
Iambic pentameter? I only suspect this is iambic pentameter; I haven't really scanned it yet.

But I love the playful rhymes, the tune, and the feeling that if I just understood the words then they would mean something.

Here's a link to the song on youtube: The River Where She Sleeps.

I'll come back and try to figure out where the line breaks go, and who Alan Watts was, and so on.

All I really know is that it delights me.


The River Where She Sleeps
By Dave Carter

She's a walkin' talkin' breathin' New Age wonder, old time heathens
Don't know what to make of Mary Jane
'Cause she ain't tryin to be no swami, she ain't mad at dad and mommy
She don't curse the storm clouds when it rains
When the sun refuse to shine she don't mind, she make everything look fine
She got moon in her eyes, crescent windows on the skies
And the rain comes down in sheets on the people in the streets
And it carries all the secrets that they keep to the river where she sleeps

She comes to me when I'm dejected, leaves her soul out unprotected
Tells me that the truth can make me free
And she don't need what she ain't got, she reads me books by Alan Watts
Speakin' words o' wisdom: let it be
When the sun refuse to shine she don't mind, she take thunder for a sign
She got stars in her head, supernovas in her bed
And it rains most every day, but I like it fine that way
'Cause the waters run so marvelous and deep in the river where she sleeps

Now Mary ain't inclined to drinkin', still she stumbles without thinkin'
Anywhere she gets the urge to stray
And everybody knows about her, they don't want to change or doubt her
They just grin when she comes out to play
When the sun refuse to shine she don't mind, she be movin' down the line
She got bells on her toes, generations in her clothes
And she sings without a sound as the evenin' rolls around
And she dances as the twilight shadows creep down the river where she sleeps

Professor come to burst my bubble, says that girl is bound for trouble
Serves me solace in a paper cup
But it looks a bit like agent orange and when he leaves he slams the door and
Just about that time she phones me up
When the sun refuse to shine she don't mind, she just ain't the worryin' kind
She got dogs, she got cats, she keeps rabbits in her hats
And the people that she sees, they're all Buddha's or police
And the banks rise high and perilous and steep by the river where she sleeps

Now one dismayed December dawn I wake to find my Mary's gone
And no one knows when she'll come back again
And all the silent temple bells from Styx to Glenn to Hazel Dell
Are mournin' all the nights that might have been
When the sun refuse to shine she don't mind, she just leave this world behind
She got wheels in her smile, she can coast along for miles
Me I'm walkin' all alone, feelin' soulful to the bone
Till I stop and I hang my head and weep by the river where she sleeps
 

Swammerdami

Squadron Leader
Staff member
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
2,511
Location
Land of Smiles
Basic Beliefs
pseudo-deism
Poetry varies stongly by language.

Do poetic forms vary greatly by language? If this is an interesting topic to discuss, it should have its own thread. But I lack BOTH the knowledge of linguistics AND the knowledge of poetry to post more than a few remarks. (We'll split off to a new thread if there's interest.)

I think English has a a distinction between stressed and unstressed syllables much more emphatic than some other languages. French seems almost monotone by comparison. Thai, instead of a stressed/unstressed distinction, distinguishes five tones, and also has a short/long distinction. Despite the tones I think Asian tonal languages sound more like French monotone than English which abounds with natural iambs, trochees and anapests.

I first became aware of this issue reading Poe. Latin poetry apparently abounds with spondees and caesuras.
Edgar Allan Poe said:
But the Greek and Latin metres abound in the spondee and pyrrhic — the former consisting of two long syllables; the latter of two short; and there are innumerable instances of the immediate succession of many spondees and many pyrrhics.

Here is a passage from Silius Italicus:
Fallit te mensas inter quod credis inermem
Tot bellis quæsita viro, tot cædibus armat
Majestas æterna ducem: si admoveris ora,
Cannas et Trebium ante oculos Trasymenaque busta,
Et Pauli stare ingentem miraberis umbram.​

Making the elisions demanded by the classic Prosodies, we should scan these Hexameters thus:
Fāllīs | tē mēn | sās īn | tēr qūod | crēdĭs ĭn | ērmēm |
Tōt bēl | līs qūæ | sītă vĭ | rō tōt | cædĭbŭs | ārmāt |
Mājēs | tās ē | tērnă dŭ | cēm s’ād | mōvĕrĭs | ōrā |
Cānnās | ēt Trĕbī | ānt’ ŏcŭ | lōs Trăsў | mēnăquĕ | būstā [[|]]
ēt Pāu | lī stā | r’īngēn | tēm mī | rābĕrĭs | ūmbrām |​

It will be seen that, in the first and last of these lines, we have only two short syllables in thirteen, with an uninterrupted succession of no less than nine long syllables....

In my library I have two essays on Thai poetry. They're too complicated to summarize, but I'll mention a few points:
  • There are several "traditional templates for Thai poetry", for example
    . . . x x x x1 A2 / x x1 x x A2 / x x x x1 B2 / x x1 x x B2 / x1 x 2 x x (x x)
    Here 'AA', 'BB' are rhymes, and the '1' and '2' refer to specific tones. (Thai tones are complicated: they've evolved since these templates were created, and vary among dialects today.)
  • Many Thai phrases or compound words already rhyme or alliterate. (Compare with English words like hurdy-gurdy.)
  • "The metrical foot is right-headed and is built as a leftword-spreading unbounded foot."
This third point mystifies me! I think "right-headed" is the "head-initial" described at  Head-directionality parameter. "English [like Thai] is considered to be strongly head-initial, while Japanese is an example of a language that is consistently head-final." I'll guess this has a huge effect on poem construction.

I'll close this post by asking how to scan the first few lines of a famous French poem:
A la fin tu es las de ce monde ancien

Bergère ô tour Eiffel le troupeau des ponts bêle ce matin

Tu en as assez de vivre dans l'antiquité grecque et romaine

Ici même les automobiles ont l'air d'être anciennes
La religion seule est restée toute neuve la religion
Est restée simple comme les hangars de Port-Aviation​

I ask because the poem, like much French, seems almost monotone to me ... with the exception of the very first line which is four very clear-cut anapests. Apollinaire crafted a special first line.

Brief rant against Google:

I have much of this poem memorized but still wanted to copy/paste from the 'Net rather than rendering accent marks. So I Googled "Zone by Apollinaire."

Essentially all the hits were to English translations! At first this was amusing; I figured after 4 or 5 tries I'd get the actual poem. No! I clicked on Google's "original text" suggestion. Google STILL showed me only translations! I tried google.fr instead of google.com. Outwitted! — Google knows I'm an English speaker.

Finally I did what I should have done all along: I typed in the poem's first line. Only then would Google show me the actual poem, whose copyright expired almost a century ago.

Straw that broke the camel's back: I'm switching Search engines!

 

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
Churchill couldn't learn Latin at all.
He was so hopeless that they just kept him in English classes.
He took years of English while his friends were learning Latin and Greek.
His friends tried to tell him what he was missing. "In Latin, I can write the most beautiful poetry."

But, Churchill concluded, I can write English.

This story is probably from Young Churchill, A.K.A. My Early Life.

My understanding (assuming I do understand) of why it's easier to rhyme in Latin has to do with the many forms of words.

[h=1]
Alumna, alumnae, alumni, alumnus
[/h]A word's ending tells you its job in the sentence, so you can put the words in any order; order doesn't determine meaning.
So it's easy to rhyme partly because you can reshuffle order to get the rhyming word at the end.

And partly because the word forms (cases?) have similar endings for similar jobs. Maybe all adjectives rhyme, for instance.

I've told more than I know.
 

WAB

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Messages
4,050
Location
Hyperboria
Basic Beliefs
n/a
Iambic pentameter? I only suspect this is iambic pentameter; I haven't really scanned it yet.

But I love the playful rhymes, the tune, and the feeling that if I just understood the words then they would mean something.

Here's a link to the song on youtube: The River Where She Sleeps.

I'll come back and try to figure out where the line breaks go, and who Alan Watts was, and so on.

All I really know is that it delights me.


The River Where She Sleeps
By Dave Carter

She's a walkin' talkin' breathin' New Age wonder, old time heathens
Don't know what to make of Mary Jane** - headless
'Cause she ain't tryin to be no swami, she ain't mad at dad and mommy
She don't curse the storm clouds when it rains** - headless (or not...could be scanned differently)
When the sun refuse to shine she don't mind, she make everything look fine
She got moon in her eyes, crescent windows on the skies
And the rain comes down in sheets on the people in the streets
And it carries all the secrets that they keep to the river where she sleeps

She comes to me when I'm dejected, leaves her soul out unprotected
Tells me that the truth can make me free** - headless
And she don't need what she ain't got, she reads me books by Alan Watts
Speakin' words o' wisdom: let it be** - headless
When the sun refuse to shine she don't mind, she take thunder for a sign
She got stars in her head, supernovas in her bed
And it rains most every day, but I like it fine that way
'Cause the waters run so marvelous and deep in the river where she sleeps

Now Mary ain't inclined to drinkin', still she stumbles without thinkin'
Anywhere she gets the urge to stray** - headless
And everybody knows about her, they don't want to change or doubt her
They just grin when she comes out to play** - headless (or not, could be scanned differently)
When the sun refuse to shine she don't mind, she be movin' down the line
She got bells on her toes, generations in her clothes
And she sings without a sound as the evenin' rolls around
And she dances as the twilight shadows creep down the river where she sleeps

Professor come to burst my bubble, says that girl is bound for trouble
Serves me solace in a paper cup** - headless
But it looks a bit like agent orange and when he leaves he slams the door and
Just about that time she phones me up** - headless (or not, could be scanned differently)
When the sun refuse to shine she don't mind, she just ain't the worryin' kind
She got dogs, she got cats, she keeps rabbits in her hats
And the people that she sees, they're all Buddha's or police
And the banks rise high and perilous and steep by the river where she sleeps

Now one dismayed December dawn I wake to find my Mary's gone
And no one knows when she'll come back again - regular IP
And all the silent temple bells from Styx to Glenn to Hazel Dell
Are mournin' all the nights that might have been - regular IP
When the sun refuse to shine she don't mind, she just leave this world behind
She got wheels in her smile, she can coast along for miles
Me I'm walkin' all alone, feelin' soulful to the bone
Till I stop and I hang my head and weep by the river where she sleeps

Wippy, I can't tell if you are in earnest or are perhaps being tricksy?

Sure, there are lines which could pass for iambic pentameter. I have bolded those lines. Some begin with a headless iamb (omitting the unstressed syllable in the initial foot), a few could be scanned different ways, and there seem to be two regular IP lines.

And yeah, a lot of the other lines are iambic in parts, or altogether, but those lines are not iambic pentameter - since they have more than five feet.

Right?
 

Wiploc

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2002
Messages
3,407
Location
Denver
Basic Beliefs
Strong Atheist
Wippy, I can't tell if you are in earnest or are perhaps being tricksy?

I looked at three lines -- I don't remember which -- and they looked iambic pentameter to me.

As for the ones that don't have five feet, I thought I'd grabbed this from a web page that had messed up the line breaks.

I see now that many, perhaps most of the lines four feet (or eight feet, depending where you put the line breaks.

And, while there are a number of lines that can pass for iambic (de DUM) ...

She comes to me when I'm dejected, leaves her soul out unprotected

... those aren't in the majority.

Many lines are trochaic. And many are irregular. Or they have patterns that I haven't nailed down yet.

But iambic pentameter? No, I no longer think there is any of that.
 
Top Bottom