Friday, February 26, 2010

A Crib on Rhythm, Metre and Rhyme - I

An EASY way to click a few marks to be able to talk about the poem’s Rhythm, Metre and Rhyme.
You will need to be able to say what the Rhythm, Metre and Rhyme are.
And you will need to say what the effect is on the poem’s register (how it sounds).
DO NOT EVEN TRY to remember the effects of the different approaches on the register of the poem – it is too difficult, and it changes from poem to poem anyway.
All you need to do is to think what the register of the poem is (steady, worried, military, plodding, thoughtful etc.) … and then you say that the poet has selected the rhythm, metre and rhyme to achieve that effect (you can be sure they have).

There are four main rhythms you can learn to recognise:

The most well-known rhythm is iambic.
This goes ‘di-dum’ (or ‘i-am’) where the second syllable is stressed:
e.g. The boy / stood on / the burn- / ing deck
e.g. I wish / I were / a fur- / ry worm
Here the poets have selected the iambic rhythm to make the poems sound jolly and funny.

Or here, in Seamus Heaney’s Follower:
e.g. An ex- / pert. He / would set / the wing
where Heaney has used the iambic rhythm to make the poem plod along like a ploughman.

The opposite of iambic is trochaic.
This goes ‘dum-di’ (or ‘troch-ee’) where the first syllable is stressed:
e.g. If I / were a / but-ter / fly, I…
e.g. All things / bright and / beau-ti- / ful, all / crea-tures / great and / small

(One poem by the famous poet Samuel Coleridge Taylor runs:
Trochee trips from long to short…
Iambics march from short to long. )

Another famous rhythm is dactylic.
This goes ‘dum-di-di’, where the first syllable of the three is stressed.
e.g. oom pah pah / oom pah pah / that's how it / goes
and the most famous example of all, The Charge of the Light Brigade:
"For-ward, the / Light Brig-ade!"
Was there a / man dis-may'd?
Not tho' the / sold-ier knew
Some-one had / blun-der'd:

The opposite of the dactylic the anapest
This goes ‘di-di-dum’ (or ‘a-na-pest’).
e.g. ‘Twas the night / before Christ- / mas and all / round the house
e.g. 'Tis the voice / of the lob- / ster I heard / him de-clare

e.g. Like the leaves / of the for- / est when sum- / mer is green

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