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SONNETS. Scansion. Scanning a line of verse to determine its meter. Meter. A regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables, its rythmic “beat”. Meter’s basic unit is the “foot”. Each foot consists of one stressed and one or more unstressed syllables iamb ( ˘ ′ ), as in relief

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  • Scanning a line of verse to determine its meter


  • A regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables, its rythmic “beat”

Meter s basic unit is the foot

Meter’s basic unit is the “foot”

  • Each foot consists of one stressed and one or more unstressed syllables

    • iamb ( ˘ ′ ), as in relief

    • trochee ( ′ ˘), as in apple

    • anapest ( ˘ ˘ ′ ), as in introduce

    • dactyl ( ′ ˘ ˘ ), as in broccoli


  • two additional metrical devices:

    • spondee ( ′′), or double stress, as in football, heartbreak, breakdown

    • pyrrhic( ˘ ˘ )Two unaccented short syllablesEx. “When the blood creeps and the nerves prick”


  • When you scan a poem, you…

    • Identify the type of feet used in each line

    • Count them



  • Each of the following ordinary phrases uses one type of metrical foot. Identify the metrical foot in each.

    1. Best of all, victory!

    2. I bought a car today.

    3. Look for hidden pitfalls.

    4. in the cool of the night

Iambic pentameter

Iambic pentameter

  • A line of verse with five feet, all iambs

  • Ex. Since in a net I seek to hold the wind



  • A group of lines in a poem

  • Somewhat like a paragraph in prose

    • Four lines – quatrain

    • Six lines – sestet

    • Eight lines – octave

Rhyme scheme

Rhyme Scheme

  • The pattern of rhymed lines in a poem

  • Give each new rhyme a new letter of the alphabet


What My Lips Have Kissed, And Where And Why

- Edna St. Vincent Millay

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,

I have forgotten, and what arms have lain

Under my head till morning; but the rain

Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh

Upon the glass and listen for reply;

And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain

For unremembered lads that not again

Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.

Thus in the winter stands a lonely tree,

Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,

Yet know its boughs more silent than before:

I cannot say what loves have come and gone;

I only know that summer sang in me

A little while, that in me sings no more.


Sonnet XIX

- John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent

Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,

And that one talent which is death to hide,

Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent

To serve my Maker, and present

My true account, lest he returning chide;

“Doth God exact day labor, light denied?”

I fondly ask: but Patience to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need

Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best

Bear his mild yoke, they serve his best. His state

Is kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed

And post o’er land and ocean without rest:

They also serve who also stand and wait.”



  • Fourteen line lyric poem with a single theme

    • Petrarchan sonnet-- Form by Francesco Petrarch-- One octave and one sestet-- abbaabbacdecde-- The octave raises a question, the sestet gives a response  called the Turn when it switches to the response



  • Spenserian sonnet-- Form by Edmund Spenser-- Often there is no break between the octave and sestet-- ababbcbccdcdee

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