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Hello everyone! For this week, we are going to look at METER. When we talk about “meter” in poetry we are talking about rhythm – the way the words in a poem flow. Meter uses patterns of stressed sounds versus unstressed sounds. For example, when you say the word “umbrella” out loud, you say “umBRELLa”. You put extra force on “brell”. That is what we mean when we talk about a “stressed” sound. (The “um” is an unstressed sound.)
While it’s not strictly true, William Shakespeare is sometimes said to have written in iambic meter. His words would flow something like this: “A HORSE! A HORSE! My KINGdom FOR a HORSE!” This type of meter “skips forward”.
For this week, however, I want you to look at something called Trochaic Meter. Trochaic meter has a more solemn feel; a feel that makes the reader slow down a bit while they are reading.
Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” employs trochaic meter in places: “ONCE uPON a MIDnight DREARy, WHILE i PONdered WEAK and WEARy”.
In trochaic meter you have one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed syllable. For instance, take this passage from Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha”:
BY the SHORES of GITche GUMee,
BY the SHINing BIG-Sea-WAter,
STOOD the WIGwam OF NoKOmis,
DAUGHter OF the MOON, NoKOmis.
DARK beHIND it ROSE the FORest,
ROSE the BLACK and GLOOMy PINE-trees,
ROSE the FIRS with CONES upON them;
BRIGHT beFORE it BEAT the WAter,
BEAT the CLEAR and SUNny WAter,
BEAT the SHINing BIG-Sea-WAter.
In this video you can hear the meter in action. The passage above is from 3:03 to 3:32.
THIS WEEK’S CHALLENGE
Use the “Dark Forest” image for your inspiration and either:
A. Write in trochaic meter! You don’t need to follow these guidelines to the letter, but this will give you some structure from which to work:
1. Write 8 lines in trochaic meter;
2. Each line should have 8 syllables (DA da DA da DA da DA da);
3. If you like, you may break your 8 lines into two groups of four (a group of four lines in poetry is called a quatrain);
4. You don’t need to use rhyme unless you want to.
B. Write a Shadorma
1. A shadorma is a non-rhyming six-line poem with a syllable count of 3/5/3/3/7/5
C. Write verse in trochaic meter, and then add a shadorma to cap it off!
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