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POETRY. Poetry and Prose . Sound Patterning. Prosody. Rhymes. Stanza Forms. Poetry and Verse. Poetry is one of the subcategories of literature along with drama and fiction . In this sense by poetry lyric poetry is meant. Metrical poetry , i.e. verse, differs from prose in

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Poetry and Prose. Sound Patterning. Prosody. Rhymes. Stanza Forms

Poetry and verse
Poetry and Verse

Poetry is one of the subcategories of literature along

with drama and fiction. In this sense by poetry lyric

poetry is meant.

Metrical poetry, i.e. verse, differs from prose in

that the former is rhythmically organized speech

down to the level of syllables, whereas the latter is

either orderless or follows ordering patterns other

than syllabic principles.


Prose rhythm may use repetitions, parallels of

words, syntactical units, grammar structures,

sentence length, semantic structures.

Prose rhythm does not follow any preset


Jane austen pride and prejudice 1813 from chapter 1
Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice(1813)from Chapter 1

IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in

possession of agood fortune must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may

beon his firstentering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well

fixedin the minds of thesurrounding families, that he is

considered asthe rightful property ofsome one or other of

their daughters.

``My dear Mr. Bennet,'' said his lady to him one day, ``have you

heard thatNetherfield Park is let at last?''

Austen cont
Austen cont.

Mr. Bennetreplied that he had not.

``But it is,'' returned she; ``for Mrs. Long has justbeen here,

andshe told meall about it.''

Mr. Bennet made no answer.

``Do not you want to know who has taken it?'‘cried his wife


``You want to tell me, and I have no objection tohearing it.''

This was invitation enough.

Austen cont1
Austen cont.

``Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that

Netherfieldis taken by ayoung man of large fortune fromthe

north ofEngland; that he came down onMonday in a chaise

and four tosee the place, and was so muchdelightedwith it

that he agreedwith Mr. Morris immediately; that he is totake

Possessionbefore Michaelmas,and some of his servants are to

be in thehouse by the end of next week.''

``What is his name?''


``Is he married or single?''

``Oh! single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune;

four or fivethousand a year. What a fine thingfor our girls!''

Genesis king james bible
GenesisKing James Bible

1: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

2:And the earthwas without form, and void; and darkness was

upon the face of thedeep. And the Spirit ofGod moved upon

the face of the waters.

3:And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

4:And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the

light from thedarkness.

5:And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called

Night. And the eveningand the morning were thefirst day.

Genesis cont
Genesis cont.

6:And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the

waters, and letit dividethe waters from thewaters.

7:And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which

were under thefirmament from the waterswhich were above

the firmament: and it wasso.

8:And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and

the morningwere the second day.

9:And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered

together untoone place, and let the dry landappear: and it


Genesis cont1
Genesis cont.

10:And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering

together of thewaters called he Seas: and God sawthat it was


11:And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb

yielding seed, andthe fruit tree yielding fruit after

his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

12:And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed

after his kind,and the tree yielding fruit, whoseseed was in

itself, after his kind: and Godsaw that it was good.

Verse rhythm
Verse Rhythm

Verse is a patterned succession of syllables:

some are strongly emphasized, some are not.

Rhythms of poetry, compared with prose

rhythms, are stylized and artificial, they fall into

patterns that are more repetitive and


Poetic rhythms call attention to themselves.

Poetic rhythm
Poetic Rhythm

Literature – coded text

Poetic rhythm – concentration and intensity

Primordial functions of poetry




Incantatory rhythms, verse spells, healing charms

(an incantation or enchantment is a charm or spell

created using words)

An old english medical verse spell against poison
An Old English medical verse-spellagainst poison

This herb is called Stime; it grew on a stone,

It resists poison, it fights pain.

It is called harsh, it fights against poison.

This is the herb that strove against the snake;

This has strength against poison, this has strength

against infection,

This has strength against the foe who fares through

the land.

(Anglo-Saxon Poetry.Sel. and trans. by R. K. Gordon, rev. ed., London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1954, 93)

Verse rhythm1
Verse Rhythm

Rhythm is based on orderly repetition.

Poetic rhythm is based on the regular

alternation of certain syllabic features of the


S yllable

A syllable commonly consists of a vocalic peak, which may be accompanied by a consonantal onset or coda. In some languages, every syllabic peak is indeed a vowel. But other sounds can also form the nucleus of a syllable. In English, this generally happens where a word ends in an unstressed syllable containing a nasal or lateral consonant.

CV / CVC / VC /CCV / CCVC / etc.

Diphtongs, triphtongs – vowel sequences in which two or three components can be heard but which none the less count as a single vowel


one syllable: hire, lyre, flour, cowered

two syllables: higher, liar, flower, coward

Prosody from wikipedia
Prosody(from Wikipedia)

In poetry, meter (metre in British English) is thebasic

rhythmic structure of a verse or lines inverse. Many

traditional verse forms prescribe aspecific verse meter, or

a certain set of metersalternating in a particular order.

The study of meters andforms of versification is known as

prosody. (Withinlinguistics, "prosody" is used in a more

general sense thatincludes not only poetical meter but also

the rhythmicaspects of prose, whether formal or informal,

which varyfrom language to language, and sometimes

between poetictraditions.)


Prosodic features of speech:


stress / beat /accent


Chief phonetic correlates:






is widely regarded in English as the most

salientdeterminantof prominence.

When a syllable ora word is perceived as

‘stressed’ or‘emphasized’, it is pitch height or a

change ofpitch, more thanlength or loudness,

that islikely to be mainly responsible.


The duration of syllables depends on both

segment type and the surrounding phonetic


Duration is also constrained bybiomechanical

factors:part of the reason whythe vowel in

English bat, forexample, tends tobe relatively

long is that the jaw hasto movefurther than in

words like bit or bet.

Stress beat accent
Stress / Beat / Accent

Stress commonly is a conventional label for the

overallprominence of certain syllables relative

to others within alinguistic system.

In this sense, stress does not correlate simply

with loudness,but represents the total effect

offactors such as pitch,loudness and duration.

Stress in english
Stress in English

English, sometimes described as a ‘stress

timed’language,makes a relatively large

difference between stressed and

unstressedsyllables, insuch a way that

stressed syllablesare generallymuch longer

than unstressed.


The term ACCENT is sometimes used loosely to

mean stress, referring to prominence in a

general way or more specifically to the

emphasis placed on certain syllables.

The term‘accent’ is also used to refer to

relativeprominence within longer utterances.

Stress accent
Stress / Accent

The terms STRESS and ACCENT in particular are

notoriously ambiguous, and it would be

misleading to suggest that there are standard



Beat denote stress with metrical relevance, i.e.

stressed syllables which count in metrical lines

are called beats.

English versification
English Versification

English poetic rhythm is based on the regular alternation of

stressed and unstressed syllables. (Duration and pitch are no

metre creating features.)

Stresses are that of words stresses and marked in dictionaries

by ‘ asin synecdoche /sɪ’nɛkdəkɪ/.

Scansion is the act of determining and graphically representing

the metrical character of a line of verse.

Stressed syllables are marked by the symbols / or –.

Unstressed syllables /slacks are marked by the symbol X.


When I consider how my light is spent

X / X / X / X / X /


Whose woods these are I think I know

X / X / X / X /


When my mother died I was very young

X X / X / X X / X /



Down by the salley gardensmy love and I did meet

X / X / X / X || X / X / X /


‘||’ is a division marker or bar between repeated units of a line broken into sections by a caesura

Rhythm and metre
Rhythm and Metre


The rhythmic structure of a poem is formed by repeating a

basicrhythmical unit of stressed and unstressed syllables


Metre grows out of the linguistic rhythms of the words, it is the

design formed by the rhythms, it is an abstract pattern.

The general metre and the actual rhythm of a specific line are

not always identical.

Metrical systems in english 1 accentual stressed metre
Metrical Systems in English1 Accentual/Stressed Metre

In accentual/stressed metre the number of

accents/stressed syllables is fixed in a line.

However the number of unstressed syllables

is variable. In order to define the actual form

you have to count the number of accents per


Metrical systems in english 1 accentual stressed metre1
Metrical Systems in English1 Accentual/Stressed Metre

Old English (Anglo-Saxon) Alliterative Versification

The basic metrical feature of the line is four strong stresses:

/ / / /

The spaces before and between the stress can be occupied by

zero, one, two or three syllables, e.g. :

X / X X / X X X / /, or X X / X / / X X / X, etc.

Each full line is divided into two half-lines (hemistichs) by a


X X / X X / || X X / X X /

Anglo saxon alliterative versification cont
Anglo-Saxon Alliterative Versification cont.

The distinctive feature of this metrical form is its alliteration.

Alliteration is a figure speech, meaning the repetition of

consonant or vowel sounds at the beginning of words or

stressed syllables.

It is a very old device which often help create onomatopoeic

effects, i.e. effects imitating sounds.

Alliteration is a key organizing principle in Anglo-Saxon verse.


Alliteration is the principal binding agent of Old

English poetry.

Two syllables alliterate whenthey begin with

the same sound; all vowelsalliterate together,

but the consonant clustersst-, sp- and sc- are

treated as separate sounds(so st- does not

alliterate with s- or sp-).

Anglo saxon alliterative versification cont1
Anglo-Saxon Alliterative Versification cont.

Formal requirements:

  • A long-line is divided into two half-lines. Half-lines are also known as verses or hemistichs

  • A heavy pause, or cæsura, separates the two half-lines.

  • Each half-line has two strongly stressed syllables.

  • The first lift in the second half-line (i.e. the third stress) is always alliterated with either or both stressed syllables in the first half-line.

  • The second stress in the second half-line, i.e. the fourth stress does not alliterate.

Anglo saxon alliterative versification cont2
Anglo-Saxon Alliterative Versification cont.

Thus there are the following variants:

(‘A’ marks an alliterating syllable, ‘X’ marks a non-alliterating


  • A A || A X

  • A X || A X

  • X A || A X

Beowulf manuscript
Beowulf Manuscript

Beowulf is the conventional title of an Old English

heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long


Its composition by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet is

dated between the 8th and the early 11th century.

The poem appears in what is today called the Beowulf

manuscript or Nowell Codex (British Library MS

CottonVitellius A.xv), along with other works.

The poem is known only from this single

Examples from beowulf translated by michael alexander
Examples from Beowulf(translated by Michael Alexander

1. It is a sorrow in spirit for me to say to any man

A A || A X

2. Then spoke Beowulf, son of Edgeheow

A X || A X

3. A boat with a ringed neck rode in the haven

X A || A X

Further examples
Further examples

Alliterative stress within polisyllabic word

It was not remarkedthen if a man looked

X A || A X

Vowel alliteration

To encompass evil,an enemy from hell

X A || A X

The ample eavesadorned with gold

A A || A X

Twentieth century example ezra pound canto i a free translation of the opening of odyssey 11
Twentieth century example - Ezra Pound: Canto I(A free translation of the opening of Odyssey 11)

We set up mast and sailon thatswart ship,

A A || A X

Bore sheep aboard her,and our bodies also

A A || A X

Heavy with weeping, so winds from sternward

X A || A X

Bore us out onward with bellying canvas,

A X || A X

Circe's this craft, the trim-coifed goddess.

A (?) A || A X

Ezra pound 1885 1972
Ezra Pound(1885-1972)

Significance of sound patterning
Significance of Sound Patterning

Cohesive and mnemonic function

Primordial and bardic poetry was transmitted

orally, repetitive formal components bound words

together and thus enhanced memorability.

The metrical frame creates a musical body for the

poem; it may also contribute to a level of sound

symbolism, onomatopoeia, onomatopoeic words.

Stress verse native metre folk metre
Stress-VerseNative Metre / Folk Metre

Sing a song of sixpence,

A pocket full of rye;

Four and twenty blackbirds

Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened,

They all began to sing.

Now, wasn't that a dainty dish

To set before the King?

Sixpence cont
Sixpence cont.

Sing a song of sixpence,

/ /

A pocket full of rye;

/ /

Four and twenty blackbirds

/ /

Baked in a pie.

/ /


Sixpence cont1
Sixpence cont.

Sing a song of sixpence,

/ / /

A pocket full of rye;

/ / (p)

Four and twenty blackbirds

/ / /

Baked in a pie.

/ / (p)

(p) = pause

Stress verse ballad metre
Stress-VerseBallad Metre

Ballad metreis a form of poetry that

alternates lines of four and three beats, often in

quatrains, rhymed abab.

The anonymous poemSirPatrick Spens

demonstrates thiswell.

The alternating sequence offour and three

stresses is calledcommon measurewhen used


Sir patrick spens
Sir Patrick Spens

The king sits in Dumfermline town.

/ / / /

Drinking the blude-red wine: O

/ / /

'O whare will I get a skeely skipper,

/ / / /

To sail this new ship of mine?'

/ / /

Dunfermline palace ruin dunfermline was scotland s capital in the 11th century
Dunfermline Palace RuinDunfermline was Scotland’s capital in the 11th century

Foot verse syllable stress verse accentual syllabic metre
Foot-VerseSyllable-Stress Verse / Accentual-Syllabic Metre

After the Norman Conquest, from the 12th century on

accentual-syllabic versification started to appear.

It went hand in hand with strophic construction and

rhyming line endings.

Out of stressed and unstressed syllables metrical feet

were created after the pattern of ancient Greek and

Latin poetry.

In accentual syllabic foot-verse both the number of

stressed and unstressed syllables are fixed, and also

their respectivepositions in the poetic line.

Foot verse stressed accentual syllabic metre
Foot VerseStressed / Accentual-Syllabic Metre

Ancient Greek and Latin prosody is quantitative, i.e.

theregular alternation of syllables is based on their

duration.Quantitative versification makes distinction

between longand short syllables.

A syllable is long if the vowel sound in it is long or if it

Isshort but followed by more two or more consonants.

A syllable is short if the vowel sound in it is short and

Isfollowed by zero or one consonant sound.

Accentual syllabic metre quantitative versification
Accentual-Syllabic Metre / Quantitative Versification

English accentual-syllabic foot-verse is sometimes

called quantitative.It is, however, is inaccurate.

But quantitative versification is based on the

‘quantity’, i.e. the duration of a syllable.

Apart from a few technical experiments, duration of

syllables is not a metre constitutive principle in English


Quantitative versification makes metrical feetusing

short and long syllables.

Quantitative versification metrical feet
Quantitative VersificationMetrical Feet

The foot is the basic metrical unit that generates a line

ofverse in quantitative versification.

The foot is a purely metrical unit; there is no inherent

relation to a word or phrase as a unit of meaning or


A foot is composed of syllables, the number of which


The feet are classified first by the number of syllables

in thefoot (disyllabic feet have two, trisyllabic three,

Andtetrasyllabic four syllables), and by the pattern of


Qualitative vs quantitative metre from the wikipedia entry on prosody
Qualitative vs. quantitative metre(from the Wikipedia entry on ‘Prosody’)

The meter of much poetry of the Western world and

elsewhere is based on particular patterns of syllables of

particular types. The familiar type of meter in English

language poetry is called qualitative meter, with stressed

syllables coming at regular intervals (e.g. in iambic

pentameter, typically every even-numbered syllable). Many

Romance languages use a scheme that is somewhat

similar but where the position of only one particular

stressed syllable (e.g. the last) needs to be fixed. The

meter of the old Germanic poetry of languages such as Old

Norse and Old English was radically different, but still was

based on stress patterns.

Qualitative vs quantitative metre from the wikipedia entry on prosody1
Qualitative vs. quantitative metre(from the Wikipedia entry on ‘Prosody’)

Many classical languages, however, use a different

scheme known as quantitative metre, where patterns are

based on syllable weight rather than stress. In dactylic

hexameter of Classical Latin and Classical Greek, for

example, each of the six feet making up the line was either

a dactyl (long-short-short) or spondee (long-long), where a

long syllable was literally one that took longer to pronounce

than a short syllable: specifically, a syllable consisting of a

long vowel or diphthong or followed by two consonants.

The stress pattern of the words made no difference to the

meter. Anumber of other ancient languages also used

quantitative meter, suchas Sanskrit and Classical Arabic

(but not Biblical Hebrew).

Quantitative versification most common feet
Quantitative VersificationMost common feet

(symbols: ¯ = long syllable, ˘ = short syllable)

iamb or iambic foot: ˘ ¯

trochee or trochaic foot: ¯ ˘

anapaest or anapaestic foot: ˘ ˘ ¯

dactyl of dactylic foot: ¯ ˘ ˘

spondee or spondaic foot: ¯ ¯

pyrrhic or pyrrhic foot: ˘ ˘

tribrach: ˘ ˘ ˘

molossus: ¯ ¯ ¯

minor ionic: ˘ ˘ ¯ ¯

choriamb: ¯ ˘˘ ¯

English accentual syllabic metre
English Accentual-Syllabic Metre

English prosody is based on the regular

alternation of stressed and unstressed


Consequently classical Greek and Latin

quantitative metrical feet are translated into

syllable stresses: 'long' becomes 'stressed' (or

'accented'), and 'short' becomes 'unstressed‘

(or 'unaccented').

English accentual syllabic metre1
English Accentual-Syllabic Metre

For example, an iamb, which is short-long in classical

meter, becomes unstressed-stressed, as in the English

word “today”; a trochee is constituted of a stressed

and unstressed syllable, as in “never”; a dactyl is

constituted of a stressed syllable followed by two

unstressed ones, as in “yesterday”; while an anapaest

is constituted of two unstressed syllables followed by

a stressed one, as in “interrupt”. A spondee is made of

two successive stressed syllables, as in “heartbreak”;

a pyrrhic is made of two successive unstressed

syllables and the phrase “of the”.

English metrical feet
English metrical feet

iamb or iambic foot: X /

trochee or trochaic foot: / X

anapaest or anapaestic foot: X X /

dactyl of dactylic foot: / X X

spondee or spondaic foot: / /

pyrrhic or pyrrhic foot: X X

tribrach: X X X

molossus: / / /

minor ionic: X X / /

choriamb: / X X /

English accentual syllabic metre2
English Accentual-Syllabic Metre

For the scansion of an English poem the standard

Symbols are used (the symbol ‘|’ marks foot boundary)

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet

X / | X / | X / | X ||X / | X / |X /

Whose woods these are I think I know.

X / | X / | X / |X /

English accentual syllabic metre3
English Accentual-Syllabic Metre

Metrical feet add up to poetic lines, which consequently are

defined in terms of the number and type of poetic feet they


Monometer: one foot

Dimeter: two feet

Trimeter: three feet

Tetrameter: four feet

Pentameter: five feet

Hexameter: six feet

English accentual syllabic metre4
English Accentual-Syllabic Metre

Thus we can discern

Iambic monometers (i.e. one-stress iambic lines)

Thus I

Pass by

And die

As one


An gone

(Robert Herrick: Upon His Departure Hence, 1648)

English accentual syllabic metre5
English Accentual-Syllabic Metre

Or anapaestic tetrameters (four-stress anapestic lines)

There's little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,X / X X / | X X / | X X /

That curled like a lamb's back, was shaved: so I said,

X / | X X / | X X / | X X /

"Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head's bare,

X / | X X / | X X / | X X /

You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.

X / | X X / | X X / | X X /

(William Blake: The ChimneySweeper)

English accentual syllabic metre6
English Accentual-Syllabic Metre

Or iambic pentameters (five-stress iambic lines)

THERE was a roaring in the wind all night;

X / |X / |X / | X / | X /


The rain came heavily and fell in floods;

But now the sun is rising calm and bright;

The birds are singing in the distant woods;

Over his own sweet voice the Stock-dove broods;

The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters;

And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.

(from William Wordsworth: Resolution and Independence)

William wordsworth 1770 1850 from the national portrait gallery
William Wordsworth(1770-1850)(from the National Portrait Gallery)

English accentual syllabic metre7
English Accentual-Syllabic Metre

Iambic pentameter has a distinguished role in the history of

English poetry.

If unrhymed, it is called blank verse (e.g. Shakespeare’s plays)

Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorious summer by this sun of York;

And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house

In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

(Shakespeare: Richard III)

English accentual syllabic metre8
English Accentual-Syllabic Metre

If pair-rhymed, it is called heroic couplet (e.g. Alexander Pope’s

Essay on Criticism)

Of all the Causes which conspire to blind

Man's erring Judgment, and misguide the Mind,

What the weak Head with strongest Byass rules,

Is Pride, the never-failing Vice of Fools.

(from Alexander Pope: Essay on Criticism)

English accentual syllabic metre9
English Accentual-Syllabic Metre

It is important to notice that the alternation of stressed and

unstressed syllable in accentual-syllabic metre is not entirely


In iambic forms, e.g. a poet may use substitute feet. The

two syllabic spondee and pyrrhic are proper substitute feet for


Sometimes poets add an extra unstressed syllable, thus

substituting an anapest for an iamb.


A sudden blow: the great wingsbeating still

X / | X / | X / | / / | X /

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

X / | X / | X X / | X / | X /

By thedark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

X X | / / | X / | / X| X /

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

X / | X / |X X | X / |X X /

And how can body, laid in that white rush,

But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

Substitution cont
Substitution cont.

A shudder in the loins engenders there

The broken wall, the burning roof and tower

And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,

So mastered by the brute blood of the air,

Did she put on his knowledge with his power

Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

(William Butler Yeats: Leda and the Swan)

Leda and the swan 16th century copy after lost painting by michelangelo
Leda and the Swan16th century copy after lost painting by Michelangelo

English accentual syllabic metre10
English Accentual-Syllabic Metre

A metrical line has three levels:

Oh, to vex me, contraryes meet in one(Donne)

(iambic pentameter)

1. Abstract metrical pattern

X / | X / | X / | X / | X /

2. Actual rhythm of the particular line

X X | / X | / X | X / | X /

3. Speech rhythm

X X / X / X X \ X \

(where ‘\’ marks secondary stress)

Rough and smooth rhythms
Rough and Smooth Rhythms

If the three levels fall apart, as in the above excerpt of Donne’s

poem, the rhythm is ‘rough’. If they tend to coalesce, as in this

line by Donne’s contemporary, Edmund Spenser, the rhythm is


One day I wrote her name upon the strand

(Edmund Spenser: Amoretti, Sonnet 75)

Edmund spenser john donne 1552 1599 1572 1631
Edmund Spenser John Donne(1552-1599) (1572-1631)

English accentual syllabic metre11
English Accentual-Syllabic Metre

English accentual-syllabic poems may rhyme. Rhyme is the

identity of sound between words. Rhyme is not necessarily

based on identity of spelling. Pronunciation is the essence.

great rhymes with mate


bough does not rhyme with though

great and meat look alike, but pronounced differently, they are called eyes-rhymes

Sound parallelism
Sound Parallelism

Rhyme is only one aspect of sound-parallelism. Based on the

concept of the linguistic formula of a syllable, i.e. a cluster of

up to three consonants followed by a vowel nucleus followed

by a cluster of up to four consonants (C⁰⁻³–V–C⁰⁻⁴), Geoffrey

Leech set up the following chart of sound patterns:

Sound parallelism1
Sound Parallelism

from Geoffrey N. Leech: A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry.

London: Longman, 1969, 89


Consonance is often called half-rhyme

I have net them at close of day

Coming with vivid faces

From counter or desk among grey

Eighteenth-century houses.

(from W. B. Yeats: Easter 1916)

Internal rhymes
Internal Rhymes

By rhymes generally terminal rhymes are meant. However,

poets use internal rhymes within a line, usually followed by a

break (caesura):

And through the drifts the snowy clifts

Did send a dismal sheen:

Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken –

The ice was all between.

(from S. T. Coleridge: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)

Poetic forms
Poetic Forms

The disposition of lines into groups falls into two categories:

Stichic poetry, in which verse line follows verse line, as in

Milton’s Paradise Lost. Stichic poetry is often segmented into

verse paragraphs, i.e. passages of irregular length divided by a


Strophic poetry, in which groups of lines (stanza) are formed,

as in Keats’s Ode on a Grecian Urn.

Rhyme schemes and poetic forms
Rhyme Schemes and Poetic Forms

Strophic or stanzaic forms are often bound together by rhymes.

Stanza forms are determined by numbers of lines:

Couplet – two-line stanza

Tercet – three line stanza

Quatrain – four-line stanza

Stanza italian station stopping place
Stanza (Italian ‘station, stopping place’)

A structural unit in verse composition, a sequence of lines

arranged in a definite pattern of meter and rhyme scheme

which is repeated throughout the whole work. Stanzas range

from such simple patterns as the couplet or the quatrain to

such complex stanza forms as the Spenserian or those used by

Keats in his odes.

(Alex Preminger, ed.: Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Enlarged edition.

London: Macmillan, 1975)

Stanzas may consist of metrically identical or different lines.

Rhyme scheme
Rhyme Scheme

Patterns of rhyme within larger units of poetry

marked by letters :

A or a: first line and every following line rhyming


B or b: next new rhyme and every following line

rhyming with it

Rhyme schemes couplets
Rhyme SchemesCouplets

Couplet: aa bb cc, etc.

Had we but world enough, and time,

This coyness, lady, were no crime.

We would sit down and think which way

To walk, and pass our long love's day.

(from Andrew Marvell: To his Coy Mistress)

Rhymes schemes alternate rhymes
Rhymes SchemesAlternate Rhymes

Alternating / alternate / cross rhymes: abab cdcd, etc.

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,

The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,

The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,

And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

(from Thomas Gray: Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard)

Rhyme schemes envelope rhymes
Rhyme SchemesEnvelope Rhymes

Envelope / enclosed: abba cddc, etc.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:

Little we see in nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

(William Wordsworth: The world is too much with us;

late and soon)

Rhyme schemes terza rima
Rhyme SchemesTerza Rima

Terca rima: aba bcb cdc, etc. (It is a type interlocking rhyme

patterns: word unrhymed in 1st stanza is linked with words

rhymed in 2nd stanza.)

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,

Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead

Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,

Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,

Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

Rhyme schemes terza rima cont
Rhyme SchemesTerza Rima cont.

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,

Each like a corpse within its grave, until

Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill

(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)

With living hues and odors plain and hill:

(from P. B. Shelley: Ode to the West Wind)

Percy bysshe shelley 1792 1822 by alfred clint 1807 1883
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)by Alfred Clint (1807–1883)

Rhyme schemes ottava rima
Rhyme SchemesOttava Rima

of Italian origin

rhyme scheme: ABABABCC

Three alternate rhymes plus a closing couplet

consists of iambic lines, usually pentameters

Byron’s Don Juan is a well known example

Ottava rima
Ottava Rima

That is no country for old men. The young

In one another's arms, birds in the trees

- Those dying generations - at their song,

The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,

Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long

Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.

Caught in that sensual music all neglect

Monuments of unageing intellect.

(from W. B.Yeats: Sailing to Byzantium)

Rhymes schemes rhyme royal
Rhymes SchemesRhyme Royal

rhyme scheme: ABABBCC

usually iambic pentameter

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde is a well-know example

Rhyme royal
Rhyme Royal

Here at right of the entrance this bronze head,

Human, superhuman, a bird's round eye,

Everything else withered and mummy-dead.

What great tomb-haunter sweeps the distant sky

(Something may linger there though all else die;)

And finds there nothing to make its tetror less

Hysterica passio of its own emptiness?

(from W. B. Yeats: A Bronze Head)

Rhyme schemes spenserian stanza
Rhyme SchemesSpenserian Stanza

Rhyme scheme: ABABBCBCC

The Spenserian stanza was invented by Edmund Spenser and

used it for his epic poem The Faerie Queene.

Each stanzacontains nine lines in total: eight lines in iambic

pentameterfollowed by an iambic hexameter (alexandrine).

Spenserian stanza
Spenserian Stanza

The wicked witch now seeing all this while

The doubtfull ballaunce equally to sway,

What not by right, she cast to win by guile,

And by her hellish science raisd streightway

A foggy mist, that overcast the day,

And a dull blast, that breathing on her face,

Dimmed her former beauties shining ray,

And with foule ugly forme did her disgrace:

Then was she faire alone, when none was faire in place.

(from Edmund Spenser: Faerie Queene)

Edmund spenser the faerie queene
Edmund SpenserThe Faerie Queene

The sonnet
The Sonnet

Consists of fourteen lines divided into stanzas.

Iambic pentameters (or iambic hexameters, also

called alexandrines, sometimes iambic tetrameters).

The rhyme schemes is fixed.

There are three main types.

The petrarchan italian sonnets john donne holy sonnet 19
The Petrarchan / Italian SonnetsJohn Donne: Holy Sonnet 19

Oh, to vex me, contraryes meet in one: A

Inconstancy unnaturally hath begott B

A constant habit; that when I would not B

I change in vowes, and in devotione. A

As humorous is my contritione A

As my prophane Love, and as soone forgott: B

As ridlingly distemper'd, cold and hott, B

As praying, as mute; as infinite, as none. A

I durst not view heaven yesterday; and to day C

In prayers, and flattering speaches I court God: D

To morrow I quake with true feare of his rod. D

So my devout fitts come and go away C

Like a fantistique Ague: save that here E

Those are my best dayes, when I shake with feare. E

According to the stanzaic pattern, you can print like thie (actually many sonnets are printed this way:

Oh, to vex me, contraryes meet in one: A 1st quatrain

Inconstancy unnaturally hath begott B

A constant habit; that when I would not B

I change in vowes, and in devotione. A

As humorous is my contritione A 2nd quatrain

As my prophane Love, and as soone forgott: B

As ridlingly distemper'd, cold and hott, B

As praying, as mute; as infinite, as none. A

I durst not view heaven yesterday; and to day C 1st tercet

In prayers, and flattering speaches I court God: D

To morrow I quake with true feare of his rod. D

So my devout fitts come and go away C 2nd tercet

Like a fantistique Ague: save that here E

Those are my best dayes, when I shake with feare. E

The petrarchan s onnet 4 4 3 3 8 6
The (actually many sonnets are printed this way:Petrarchan Sonnet4 + 4 + 3 + 3 = 8 + 6




A 1st quatrain

A octave



A 2nd quatrain




C 1st tercet

D sestet


D 2nd tercet

The english sonnet william shakespeare sonnet 75
The English Sonnet (actually many sonnets are printed this way:William Shakespeare:Sonnet 75

So are you to my thoughts as food to life, A

Or as sweet-seasoned showers are to the ground; B

And for the peace of you I hold such strifeA

As 'twixt a miser and his wealth is found. B

Now proud as an enjoyer, and anonC

Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure, D

Now counting best to be with you alone, C

Then bettered that the world may see my pleasure,D

Sometime all full with feasting on your sight, E

And by and by clean starved for a look, F

Possessing or pursuing no delightE

Save what is had, or must from you be took.F

Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day, G

Or gluttoning on all, or all away. G

The english sonnet 4 4 4 2 8 4 2 12 2
The English Sonnet (actually many sonnets are printed this way:4 + 4 + 4 + 2 = 8 + 4 + 2 = 12 + 2




B 1st quatrain




D 2nd quatrain





F 3rd quatrain


G closing couplet

The spenserian sonnet edmund spenser amoretti 75
The Spenserian Sonnet (actually many sonnets are printed this way:Edmund Spenser: Amoretti 75

One day I wrote her name upon the strand, A

But came the waves and washed it away: B

Again I wrote it with a second hand, A

But came the tide, and made my pains his prey. B

Vain man, said she, that doest in vain assay B

A mortal thing so to immortalize, C

For I myself shall like to this decay, B

And eek my name be wiped out likewise. C

Not so (quoth I), let baser things devise C

To die in dust, but you shall live by fame: D

My verse your virtues rare shall eternize, C

And in the heavens write your glorious name. D

Where whenas Death shall all the world subdue, E

Out love shall live, and later life renew. E

The sonnet petrarchan italian
The Sonnet (actually many sonnets are printed this way:Petrarchan / Italian

Rhyme scheme

a b b a | a b b a | | c d c | d c d

a b b a | c d d c | | e f g | e f g / e e f | g g f

quatrains - envelope rhymes repeated

turn after line 8 (turn markers: but, though, yet, etc.)


quatrains versus tercets

based on opposition, thesis – antithesis, static quality

The sonnet english shakespearean
The Sonnet (actually many sonnets are printed this way:English / Shakespearean

Rhyme scheme

a b a b | c d c d || e f e f || g g

alternate rhymes

two turns: the first one after line 8

the second one after line12

quatrains versus closing couplet (summary, conclusion)

dramatic quality, tripartite structure:

thesis – antithesis –synthesis

The sonnet spenserian
The Sonnet (actually many sonnets are printed this way:Spenserian

Rhyme scheme

a b a b | b c b c || c d c d || e e

A mixture of the two, the overlapping rhymes create a similar

acoustic effect to that of the Italian sonnet, yet displays two

turn, thus represents a more dramatic quality. However, the

overlapping rhymes blur the tripartite division.

Semi strict forms loosely metric a l poems
Semi-strict forms, loosely metric (actually many sonnets are printed this way:al poems

Poets often use loosely metrical patterns.

It either means the employment of metrical substitutions or

variations, as in S. T. Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner,

with subtle irregularities in the ballad measure, e.g.

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,

We could nor laugh nor wail;

Through utter drought all dumb we stood!

I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,

And cried, A sail! a sail!

Semi strict forms loosely metric a l poems1
Semi-strict forms, loosely metric (actually many sonnets are printed this way:al poems

or the use of metrical

lines of irregular length, as

T. S. Eliot’s Preludes,

Or it may take other, more

radical forms of only hinting

at the vague memory of strict

metrical patterns.

T s eliot 1888 1965 preludes i
T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) (actually many sonnets are printed this way:PreludesI

The winter evening settles down

With smell of steaks in passageways.

Six o'clock.

The burnt-out ends of smoky days.

And now a gusty shower wraps

The grimy scraps

Of withered leaves about your feet

And newspapers from vacant lots;

The showers beat

On broken blinds and chimneypots,

And at the corner of the street

A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.

And then the lighting of the lamps.

Preludes ii
Preludes (actually many sonnets are printed this way:II

The morning comes to consciousness

Of faint stale smells of beer

From the sawdust-trampled street

With all its muddy feet that press

To early coffee-stands.

With the other masquerades

That times resumes,

One thinks of all the hands

That are raising dingy shades

In a thousand furnished rooms.


Preludes iii
Preludes (actually many sonnets are printed this way:III

You tossed a blanket from the bed

You lay upon your back, and waited;

You dozed, and watched the night revealing

The thousand sordid images

Of which your soul was constituted;

They flickered against the ceiling.

And when all the world came back

And the light crept up between the shutters

And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,

You had such a vision of the street

As the street hardly understands;

Preludes iii cont
Preludes III cont (actually many sonnets are printed this way:.

Sitting along the bed's edge, where

You curled the papers from your hair,

Or clasped the yellow soles of feet

In the palms of both soiled hands.

Preludes iv
Preludes (actually many sonnets are printed this way:IV

His soul stretched tight across the skies

That fade behind a city block,

Or trampled by insistent feet

At four and five and six o'clock;

And short square fingers stuffing pipes,

And evening newspapers, and eyes

Assured of certain certainties,

The conscience of a blackened street

Impatient to assume the world.

Preludes iv cont
Preludes IV cont. (actually many sonnets are printed this way:

I am moved by fancies that are curled

Around these images, and cling:

The notion of some infinitely gentle

Infinitely suffering thing.

Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;

The worlds revolve like ancient women

Gathering fuel in vacant lots.

Bibliography (actually many sonnets are printed this way:

Attridge, Derek: Poetic Rhythm. An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge

University Press, 1995

Brooks, Cleanth and Warren, Robert Penn: Understanding Poetry. 4th

edition. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976

Fry, Stephen: The Ode Less Travelled. Unlocking the Poet Within. London:

Hutchinson, 2005

Hobsbaum, Philip: Metre, Rhythm and Verse Form. London: Routledge, 1996

Leech, Geoffrey N.: A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry. London: Longman,


Scannel, Vernon: How to Enjoy Poetry. London: Piatkus, 1983

Preminger, Alex, ed.: Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Enlarged

edition. London: Macmillan, 1975