BJ’s Shadorma & Beyond – Common Measure – January 10, 2015

Here we are again wondering what to do with ourselves now all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is over, right?

I thought we’d look into meter again.

This week let’s look into alternating iambic tetrameter – trimester (that is 8 syllable beats (unstressed/stressed which is an iamb) with 6 syllable beats unstressed/stressed) often called”common measure” .

Here’s the pattern:



Here’s a poem by Emily Dickinson who might be considered the queen of this scheme as she used this measure, it’s also often used in ballads.

Before we begin, remember that Ms Dickinson often mixed her measures and used unusual rhymes alternated iambic with trochee and did all sorts of “strange” things. But on the other hand like most of us she was writing spontaneously not keeping in mind the scholars of some distant future for whom she had no intention have read her poetry.  In fact in her life only a very few of her poems reached the public eye.  She was a recluse and wrote her poetry for herself sharing it rarely with special friends or family members.  What we have today of her poetry is the gift to the world by her surviving younger sister, Lavinia .

Here’s an example of the “common measure” that she often used found in her poem 632 (she rarely put titles to her poems):

    The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside.

     The brain is deeper than the sea,
For, hold them, blue to blue,
The one the other will absorb,
As sponges, buckets do.

     The brain is just the weight of God,
For, lift them, pound for pound,
And they will differ, if they do,
As syllable from sound.

Try reading it out loud to feel the rhyme and the beat or look at the video below.

We’re not here to learn all there is about Emily Dickinson, though reading about her is very interesting and what’s more interesting is reading all those scholars and admirers who analyze her poetry and every pen stroke that may have been left on one of her manuscripts!  Just try to imagine if a hundred years or so from now,  someone finds a cache of your papers and goes into academic gaga … fun no?  Anyway, for those who want to know more about this unusual poet and her poetry just Google, like I did, “Emily Dickinson poems in common meter” and see what comes up.

Here’s a gentleman who reads our poem for us (wish it were Benedict Cumberbatch):

So today let’s try to write a few lines of “common meter” … here is our photo prompt:

The Lawn
The Lawn

In alternative you may wish to write a shadorma (sestet poem with 3/5/3/3/7/5 syllable count)  or you may wish to use a photograph of your own … the important thing is to have fun!

Once you’ve written your poem Tag it BJ’s Shadorma & Beyond and Mindlovesmisery’s Menagerie and ping back to this page using our above http address.  We’re having problems with Mr. Linky (so I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will work, superstitious witch that I am) but if he doesn’t appear we can still find you either through the tag or with your ping back.

Have a great week!


P.s. I just loaded on another frog … but he’s blue as Mr. Linky failed once again … and couldn’t reference our blog when trying to re-register. If there’s anyone out there that understands something bout these linking tracker apps … please feel free to comment below with a pointer or two 😉



    • i don’t know what the different image was, others don’t seem to have had the problem .. but I’m happy you linked in here Hank! Thanks, Bastet.


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