Northern Drive to St Lucy

Northern Drive to St Lucy
Hurricane Season in Barbados. Are you ready for it? Click on Picture for Today's Weather Forecast.Have a super day come rain or shine.

Monday, November 16, 2009

English Poetry Versification Part III-B

The rhyme scheme sets the structure of the stanza in metered poetry. So it can be said that a stanza sits in a poem on a cluster of verses stitched together with a set pattern of meter and rhyme marked off by a space. It is clear to see in the example below that the poem has six stanzas. Do you agree?

Whimsical Echo
(In Open Form)

Of this you can be sure
For there is no need for you to ignore
And perhaps in time
When the clock does chime
And there is no more slime
Or slick on the roads out there
It will again be clean and clear.

An apple a day
Keeps the doctor at bay
Yea, not many bills to pay
So we joke and say
That frolic is an aspect of play
Causing laughter to burst in the air
Without a frown or a drop of a tear

Look how they did dance
And the way they did prance
They did not cry
Neither did they sigh
Too short is life for strife
So put away that knife
And forget about ending your life.

Such a handsome man was born in May
And his name was Ray
He walked the streets by day
With emotions that tossed
Twirled and kept him in a fray
As though like driftwood on some bay
The vagrant walked away.

Too many sad nights
When watching orchestrated fights
And without keeping the score
The boxer fell on the floor
His face with sweat and of gore
So the crowd rushes to the door
Not wanting to watch anymore.

As you should know
That the echo is like hello
On the rebound every time
The persistence of the chime
Or a sound is dropped
After its source has stopped
For replies
To which the echo supplies.


However, the rhyming pattern of verses does not create a rhyme scheme because of their varying nature in the various stanzas of the said poem. The poem is simply a rhyming poem.

Now, if we've got a poem with stanzas clearly showing an aa rhyme scheme then we have got couplet stanzas. While traditional couplets rhyme, not all do. A poem may use white space to mark out couplets if they do not rhyme. Couplets with a meter of iambic pentameter are called heroic couplets. The poetic epigram uses the couplet form. Couplets can also appear in more complex rhyme schemes, for example, the Shakespearean sonnets end with rhyming couplets. The rhyme scheme for couplets is the simplest of all other rhyme schemes in poetry. Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is written in rhyming couplets. Alexander Pope wrote in heroic couplets. See examples below:

Experience, though noon auctoritee
Where i this world, is right ynough for me

To speke of wo that is in marriage
For lordines, sith I twelf year was age--

(Chaucer's Canterbury Tales from The wife of Bath's Prologue)


I
But our Great Turks in wit must reign alone
And ill can bear a Brother on the Throne

II
Wit is like faith by such warm fools protest
Who is to be saved by one, must damn the rest

(Alexander Pope, Couplets on Wit)


Found not, in lands with all year scorching mix;
Olives reap by beating the trees with sticks.

The olives are crushed for their liquid gold;
Ancient Greek Homer called them so, I'm told.

(From the poem, The Olive Tree)


Pure water fosters health
Health builds blocks to real wealth

Adjectives stop its flow
Waterproof steals its glow

(From the poem, Speaking About Water)


Now let's look at some other traditional rhyme schemes and see how these have influenced the structure of stanzas respectively.

The abcb rhyme scheme has a stanza of four verses. Therefore it is a quatrain. This type of quatrain is popular with songs and nursery rhymes. The 'blackbirds in the pie' nursery rhyme and the 'White House Ballad have this type of rhyme scheme as shown below.

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye;
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie.

--------
On the land that Vespucci named
Founding Fathers on it
Built a pretty large White House, and
Those rooms are full of wit.

(From the poem, The White House Ballad)


The aabb rhyme scheme is credited to Edmund Clerihew Bentley and is called the Clerihew. The Clerihew is a pseudo-biographical quatrain with lines of uneven length more or less in the cadence of free verse or open form to be more precise. The Clerihew is characterized with humor that is whimsical rather than satiric. The name of the subject usually occupies the first line. However, way back Geoffrey Chaucer used the aabb rhyme scheme in his Canterbury Tales as shown in The Knight's Tale. The last example also shows the aabb being integrated into a tetrameter quatrain taken from Poetry nest.

Sir Humphey Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the Odium
Of having discovered sodium


The Knight's Tale - The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

859 Whilom, as olde stores tellen us,
860 Ther was a duc that highte Theseus:
861 Of Atthenes he was lord and governour,
862 And in his time such a conqueror


The Translation:

859 Once, as old histories tell us,
860 There was a duke who was called Theseus:
861 He was lord of Athens and governor
862 And in his time such a conqueror


From the poem,
Wedding Daze

At the church the rector was there
Dressed, in a robe that was quite dear,
When compared with the bridal veil
She bought, from store within the vale.

The abab rhyme scheme is the most common and is made up of only two rhymes as seen in these examples:

The commoner's streets are not paved with gold;
So the hair comes down in any spotlight.
Top of the line comes from a different mould;
So a faux pas is very impolite.

(From the poem,
The Faux Pas)

My favourite heroes are these in Bim
In this order I dare proclaim to you
Errol Barrow and Sobers full of vim
Adams and the rest I think of them too.

(From the poem,
The Barrow that Built a Nation)

The aaaa rhyme scheme has a monorhyme structure. An example of this rhyme scheme is shown below:

She shines out in the dusk, and lo! the day is here, And all the trees flower forth with blossoms
bright and clear,
The sun from out her brows arises, and the moon, When she unveils her face, cloth hide for shame
and fear.
All living things prostrate themselves before her feet, When she unshrouds and all her hidden charms
appear;
And when she flashes forth the lightnings of her glance, She maketh eyes to rain, like showers, with
many a tear.

(Taken from Sir Richard Francis Burton's The Book of the thousand Nights and One Night: Tale of Ox and Donkey)

The abba rhyme scheme with its enclosed rhyme is a favourite of Lord Tennyson. The sample below is taken from his In Memorian

Calm is the morn without a sound,
Calm as to suit a calmer grief,
And only thro’ the faded leaf
The chestnut pattering to the ground:

The abcc rhyme scheme is a quatrain ending with a rhyming couplet as shown in the example below:

The Lord, we shall always adore,
But this Knight, take him from the square;
Cart him to a maritime place,
From whence his sails did make swift pace.

(From the poem,
Nelson)

The abbc rhyme scheme blends well with Sapphic Poetry with Adonics. See examples below:

Summer outdoors bring to the fore a vision;
Mother earth gives life to the weak and hefty;
Stop and think, good grief the abuse aplenty;
Tainting forestscape.

(From the poem,
Pinus Attack Not Really)

The aaba rhyme scheme is known as the Rubaiyat quatrain translated by Edward Fitzgerald as shown below:

And much as Wine has played the Infidel
And robbed me of my robe of Honour, well ...
I often wonder what the vintners buy
One half so precious as the stuff they sell

Fitzgerald translated a selection of about one hundred poems originally written in the Persian language of which they are about one thousand attributed to Omar Khayyam, the Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer. Fitzgerald called his translation the Rubaiyat.

The aabc rhyme scheme starts with a rhyming couplet as shown below:

Oval fruits in red attire hang down
All over the country they bring renown
Just like the Christmas tree with pretty balls
That is why they call me their Christmas palm.

(From the poem,
The Christmas Palm)

The aba rhyme scheme creates a stanza of three verses known as the Tercet. When two verses enclose a blank verse it becomes an Enclosed Tercet. See examples below:

Flowers dancing at my window
Blow, fragrant kisses in showers;
Hours on end I watch stems grow.

(From the poem,
Rumination)

From somewhere, out there, in the galaxy
Fraught with megabytes of time, on our hands
We have come with immense expectancy.

(From the poem,
Dreaming)

The abb rhyme scheme also creates Tercet stanzas as shown in this nursery rhyme poem,
The Cry of the Birdies:

Ah fluffing, puffing and picking
Out, each other’s nose, eyes this year;
Two birdies fighting in mid-air.

The nursery rhyme is a traditional song or poem taught to young children originally in the nursery. It is written in rhyming verse spice up with a dash of folklore.

The country of my birth was British colony until it became a self-governing nation in 1966, thus becoming a member of the British Commonwealth. This orientation quite naturally accounted for why our nursery rhymes were of European origin and because of the island’s close position to North America the influence of Americanized nursery rhymes were present. Those nursery rhymes taught in primary school stayed with me. When I became a mother in the post colonial era I recalled singing nursery rhymes such as: “Sing a Song of Sixpence”, “Pop Goes the Weasel”, “Ba Ba Black Sheep”, “Jack and Jill”, “Ring a Ring O’ Roses”, “Little Mary had a lamb” and many others. Traditional nursery rhymes are no longer taught in post colonial schools. Kids only know about them, probably from their elders who would have experienced the indoctrination of the colonial era with its pluses and minuses. In the era of colonial rule, nursery rhymes in education were taught because rote learning played a significant role in classroom instruction. The educators at that time firmly believed that this poetic style helped, to a great extent, to develop vocabulary and rudimentary counting skills (e.g. “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”). In addition, specific actions, motion, or dances were often associated with particular nursery rhyme songs.

The aaaaa rhyme scheme creates a monorhyme Quintet. The Quintet is also known as the Quintain, a stanza consisting of five verses. See example below:

On this bough I'll hang around in this heat,
And take lots of pictures for you to greet,
As I savor the moments when we meet;
I can't stop this feeling of so upbeat;
In this dream, we go strolling down the street.

(From the poem,
I write so you know)

The aabbcc rhyme scheme shows a Sexain in couplets. A Sexain is a stanza of six verses. See examples below:

Big Mouth Women like this car;
Doors open wide from afar.
The best they take from the range;
Strange behavior on high wage.
Parked 'neath a woman's tongue tree,
That rattles querulously.

(From the poem,
BMW)

Yes, we all make choices
Amid hype and noises.
The point is only this
Crackers you will dismiss.
Smile! Smile on Kemp your host
When up he pops the toast.

(From the poem,
Choices)

The abcddee rhyme scheme in each stanza has shaped the Homostrophic Ode depicted in the poem,
Ode to a Swing Bridge Bulldozed . This poem has ten stanzas. See example below:

With tears in our eyes, they bulldozed you down;
Took some of your parts to Heritage Park;
Vintage now in maritime museum;
Never more will you swing your arms again;
But your glory and honour shall remain;
With new technology you lift your frame;
From dust you rise, thanks to a City Dame

The ababcdecde rhyme scheme is used in the poem,
Ode to the Hibiscus Bush in the stylistic shape of the Horatian Ode. See sample below

The tranquility of valley and hills,
Allows the mind to wander like the clouds,
Above the tree tops with their many thrills,
As nervous leaves rustle in mystic shrouds.
They shadow time each passing day anew,
And patiently wait for the rising sun,
To fill their chlorophyll sacs to the brim;
They thirst for summer rains and morning dew,
To spark their blooms before the day is done,
With Hawaiian pride that glows from each limb.

The abcbdedefgfghh rhyme scheme shaped the Shakespearean style Sonnet entitled,
Sadness. See excerpt below:

Today, I am feeling a little low;
I find it very hard to sleep and rest;
And penned this poem with beats that are slow;
Surely, it is not the amateur's best;
Poems you know do have a unique way,
Of freeing the mind from the enclosed box;
Such creativity is on display;
So one behaves like a crafty old fox.
What sadness do we see on faces here?
He is gone, so too is his shaven face;
Silver buckles no longer shine me dear;
From the earth too at his footsteps and pace;
He parades in the celestial sky;
So he had to say this final goodbye.

The aabbccdd rhyme scheme fits well into this Monody poem,
This Fort. An excerpt is shown below:

He taught me the rules of cricket;
And gave me a season ticket;
To view a field set specific;
His line and length were terrific;
Hopes held high for a Windies win;
I saw leg-before and off-spin;
Now clad indeed with widow's weeds;
My loving mate no longer breathes.

The ababcc rhyme scheme is featured in the poem,
Ode to the Buckeye Tree. This Homostrophic ode has eight stanzas consisting of six verses each, a total of forty-eight verses. See excerpt below:

Legends haunt the buckeye tree so we've got,
One nutty nut in the pocket brings luck;
Killing rheumatism right on the spot;
Where free leaves caught in ground-baked nuts were stuck;
And soapy buckeye tears cured cholera;
During the mid nineteenth Century era.

The abacbc rhyme scheme is featured in the Sexain poem,
Snow on the Mountain. As a matter of fact, the Sexain accommodates any rhyme scheme arrangement. See excerpt below:

Strolling in mum's garden on Christmas morn,
A beautiful sight caught her by surprise;
On her euphorbiaceae not a torn,
But a crown of wee white flowers appears
During a torrid Christmas caught her eyes;
Like snow on the mountain, that name it bears.

The ababcdcdefge rhyme scheme produces stanza of twelve verses. The significance of the punctuation marks can not be overlooked when notice is drawn to the period that marks the end of each quatrain. See excerpt below:

From coral sands this mansion they did make;
It stood in awe above their serfdom realm
To watch laborers burning at the stake;
While absentee landlords held fast the helm.
Their greed and bigotry smugly bestowed
On every highway, cart road and marl hole;
Their champagne bottles loudly did explode;
Folks prayed that better years for all would roll.
Yes, Divine changed your name to Erdiston;
So that blooms of knowledge would reign supreme;
Changing minds and dreams to reality;
On your sixty-foot frame, good deeds are done.

(From the poem,
Ode to Erdiston)

The ababcdecde rhyme scheme shapes this beautiful poem entitled,
Ode to the Magnolia Tree. See excerpt below:

Sweet Magnolia your inanimate eyes
See me, outside window daily watching
You, as you do your innate exercise
Amid the changing winds ever blowing;
You cast your verdant raiment without fear
To fall, like a ball in the opened hands
Of compost, cheered-on by the green posse;
He loathes your body's naked "wear and tear";
Your beauty sleep is all your head commands
When, heatless sun smiles with awesome mercy.

Then of course, we have what are known as specialized rhyme schemes associated with these poetic forms: the ghazal, jingle, limerick, pantoum, paradelle, sestina, triolet and the villanelle. So let’s explore them.

The aabbb aaBBB aaBBB aaBBB aaBBB rhyme scheme tells us much about the arrangement of the poem. First and foremost, the poem is a quintet with a string of repeated rhymes taken from the first stanza as shown in the capitalized letters and easily falls into the category of the jingle with trimeter verses as shown in the excerpt below:

Great chicks are in the nest
With heads, chest, legs and breast
Come in friends, says the wren
Click-cluck-click, sings the hen
Poesy quills fill the pen.

Fresh whole eggs pass the test
You select and are blessed
Come in friends, says the wren
Click-cluck-click, sings the hen
Poesy quills fill the pen.

(From the poem, The Nest)

Further analysis of this rhyme scheme shows that the repeated rhymes are couched in tercet verses which follow behind the couplet; effectively combining the couplet with the tercet into quintet stanzas.

The jingle is usually unbridled with pleasant sounding verses. Such verses flow with catch words and phrases with lots of rhymes and rhythm that, somehow stay in the mind for a very long time. The jingle has become a viable advertising tool. Its rhythm is captivating as a result of the alliterative nature of the sounds. Most people tend to label the jingle as nonsensical but it really does drive the commercial advertising in a sort of hypnotic way. Just think about the many jingles you hear, so there must be some profitable means involved for all. You would agree that there is a massive explosion of poetry in advertising.

The aA bA cA dA eA fA rhyme scheme is associated with the poetic form known as the ghazal. This rhyme scheme shows that the six stanzas are made from couplets. See excepts below:

I received a letter from Glee;
I think of things to bring me glee.

So sad that she has no home now;
They moved to the country with glee.

(From the poem,
Just Memories)

I hate it when her wit goes out;
From here, I must attempt to flee.

Pam took her bags from Texas ranch;
In heat, from him, Pam had to flee.

(From the poem, Alone Again)

The ghazal is a poem of five to fifteen couplets. It is made up of a short monorhyme. The first two lines rhyme with a repeated rhyme in the second of each succeeding couplet. The ghazal usually deals with themes of love in a melancholy mood.

According to Agha Shahid Ali, the ghazal expert who practised his poetic craft in USA universities before his death in 2001 proffered these basic points when crafting a ghazal:

Create no enjambments between couplets

Couplets are linked by a strict formal scheme

The entire ghazal employs the rhyme and refrain

The refrain may be a word or a phrase

Each line must be of the same length inclusive of the rhyme and refrain (metrical or syllabic – the key to maintain consistency in length)

The last couplet may be (usually is) a signature couplet in which the poet may evoke his/her name in the first, second or third person

The scheme of rhyme and refrain occurs in both lines of the first couplet (that is how one learns what the scheme is) and then in only the second line of every succeeding couplet (that is, the first line of every succeeding couplet has no restrictions other than to maintain the syllabic or metrical length

Check to see that there is an epigrammatic terseness in the ghazal, but with immense lyricism, evocation, sorrow, heartbreak, wit

What defines the ghazal is a constant longing

The aabba rhyme scheme is designed for the limerick. Now, who said that you have to be Irish and live in the town of Limerick or be inebriated in order to write good limericks? If you know how to pull a punch line, make a pun and create rhythm and rhyme then go for it. As you write your limerick make sure that you make it with a stanza of five anapaestic verses. Don’t worry too much if the verses are not exclusively anapaestic because the amphibrach has three syllables and is widely considered as an anapaest. Therefore, an amphibrach is accepted as an anapaestic foot. The anapaest has two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable. It is also referred to as the antidactylus. The dactyl has one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables at the end of words. Here are some examples:

Amphibrach
(condition ) con di tion u / u
(infected) in fec ted u / u

Anapaest
(when the heart) when the heart u u /
(annalist) an na list u u /

Dactyl
(daffodils) daf fo dils / u u
(poetry) po e try / u u

When creating the limerick, make sure you have the following:

One couplet and one triplet within a rhyme scheme aabba
Made the first, second and fifth verses 3 metrical feet
Made the third and fourth verses 2 metrical feet
A pun to create the punch line in the fifth verse to heighten the laughter

Now examine the limerick below and judge whether it has met the above criteria

A little young woman in the heat
She would hurriedly eat on the beat
With Nicole on a break
From a goad while that snake
Looping her there only two feet

(From the limerick poem, She Asks)

Limericks often contain hyperbole, onomatopoeia, idioms, and other figurative devices. Here is another example of a limerick shown below:

It is often than not in the mind
For he thinks it is often unkind
When the heart is jealous
And so very callous
He then thinks of the lover's behind

(From the limerick poem, Laugh it Off)

The a1b1a1b1 B2c2B2c C3d3C3d3 D4e4D4e4 E5f5E5f5 F6g6F6g6 G7h7G7h7 H8i8H8i8 I9A9I9A9 rhyme scheme is associated with the pantoum poem. It is not as complicated as it looks. The capital letters indicate the repeated verses and rhymes and the numbers signify the stanzas where they are located. So as you can see the rhyme scheme indicated a pantoum poem with nine stanzas made of quatrains respectively. So this we do know that:

The pantoum is a fixed form consisting of quatrains of varying verse length. The second and fourth verses of stanzas are repeated to form the first and third lines of the succeeding stanza. The first and third verses of the first stanza form the second and fourth of the last stanza, but in reverse order. The opening and closing verses of the poem are identical. However, there are no restrictions as to the number of stanzas for a pantoum poem. Below are some excerpts taken from the pantoum poems:

On account of these marauding bush tail rats;
The environment we must protect from this ragtag lot;
So very fat, they look like tabby cats;
They need to be dealt with on the spot.

The environment we must protect from this ragtag lot;
Because of their sticky underwear that really clings
They need to be dealt with on the spot;
We say, make their pelts into all sorts of things

Because of their sticky underwear that really clings;
On willows and polar outerwear;
We say, make their pelts into all sorts of things
That possums’ wear


(From the pantoum poem, That Possums' Wear)

This a1b1a1b1 B2c2B2c2 C3d3C3d3 D4e4D4e4 E5f5E5f5 F6g6F6g6 G7h7G7h7 H8A8H8A8 rhyme scheme indicates that the pantoum poem, has eight stanzas. An excerpt is shown below:

Tsunami is only nodding in a water-bed, this creep
After its Yuletide feast
This beast, fakes that it is asleep
In the deep ocean in the east;

After its Yuletide feast
Drunk with human gore
In the deep ocean in the east
And drenched in water and much more

(From the pantoum poem, The Asian Tsunami of 2004)

The pantoum form is credited to Victor-Marie Hugo, the French poet, novelist, playwright, essayist, visual artist, statesman and human rights campaigner. He was born on February 26, 1802 in Besancon, France. He died on May 22, 1885. His pantoum form depicted here is the western version of the original Malaysian form, “Pantun”.


Wait for the continuation

Monday, October 12, 2009

English Poetry Versification - Part III

5. Sound Effects in Poetry

Alliteration
Assonance
Cacophony
Consonance
dissonance
Euphony
Onomatopoeia
Rhymes
Rhythm
Sibilance

Have you ever found out that when you read a poem aloud you gain further insight into its meaning as compared to when the same poem was read silently? Also when you see a poem do these initial thoughts invade your mind like: How do I read this poem? How should it sound? Well, for me I do. Just think about it. These are valid questions because subconsciously acknowledging the fact that poetry is meant to be read aloud, in order to get the full meaning of what the poem has conveyed in its imagery.

Poetry is the conduit for all of our senses. We plug into it via its imagery. Imagery is often described as word pictures. In this regard poets use language in such a way as to create vivid pictures in the minds of the audience. Poets use imagery that calls upon the senses of smell, touch, and taste as well as the use of visual and aural imagery. Poets create sound pictures to make us hear something in our imagination; so let us talk more about aural imagery and how poets use auditory words or words that talk about sound and their effects. Whenever there is a discussion on aural sounds in poetry there are two words with which we must be familiar: meter and rhyme.

When there is a basic pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a poem we refer to the poem as having a certain meter. When you read the poem this rhythmic pattern is often different from rhythms you would have used in normal speech. This interplay between these two rhythm patterns helps to give the poem its unique quality. For example, if you were to read the Versification poem the metrical pattern is one which alternates between stressed (/) and unstressed (u) syllables, e.g.

Value and measure verses as you should
/ u u / u / / u u /
each word, or sound that has fallen from lips;
u / u / u u / u u /
run as you like under the old stave wood;
/ u u / / u u / / /
stressed and unstressed feet, this way the voice dips;
/ u u / / u / u / /

If you were to read the poem following this pattern strictly the result would be silly. It would sound like:

Value andmea surever sesas youshould eachword orsound thathas fallen fromlips

But it you read it ‘naturally’ this pattern influences how it comes out in the end.

The poem, Indian corn has another basic pattern in its meter. I goes:

He eats the cob the proper way
u / u / u / u /
By, holding ends real tight;
u / u / / /
Each corn from ear he bites and chews,
u / u / u / u /
Crisscrossing rows in sight;
/ / u / u /

It gives the poem a different kind of flow from the first and is more suitable to a ballad.

Most modern poems don’t follow a strict metrical pattern, but the principle is important. The patterns of meter and of rhythm all help to make a poem more powerful and beautiful.

Another powerful effect is achieved in the poem, The Cry of the Birdies using a simple u/ u/ rhythm that it sounds like a nursery rhyme. Here it goes:

A fluffing, puffing and singing
u / u / u / / u
Tweet-tweet, tweet-tweet where is my share;
/ / / / u / u /
For it is only fair and square.
u u / / u / u /

To get the feel of the general rhythm of a poem is more important than working out the meter. This is because the meter is only a tool to achieve the rhythm. If the poet wants to race along the poet will use a combination of meter, sentence structure, length of line and other ‘techniques’ to achieve this. So:

A fluffing, puffing and singing
Tweet-tweet, tweet-tweet where is my share;
For it is only fair and square.

Has a different rhythm from:

Charts, scrubs, gloves, pens and thermometer she used all
Those notes she wrote with loving care and compassion
Nightingale’s sweet sounds fade softly in night’s snowfall
Feelings bring on tears that speak of scary notion.

(From the poem, Beloved Sister)

She stands
Beside
The quiet stream
Holds lily pad
Within her hand
Hiding her face
From the glaring eyes
Of dawn

(From the poem, The Reverie)

Sound Effects in poetry come from the essential elements of repetition and variations. As students of poetry when you begin analyzing the basic elements of poetry you should reflect firstly on what poetry is all about. We may want to accept the view that poetry is literature in metrical form or as a composition forming rhythmic verses or cadence as in free verse poetry. Let’s say it differently, a poem is something that follows a particular flow of rhythm, meter or cadence when compared to prose, where there is no such restriction, and the content of the piece flows according to the story, a poem may or may not have a story, but definitely has a structured method of writing.

The use of sound effects in poetry such as alliteration, assonance, cacophony, consonance, dissonance, euphony, onomatopoeia, rhymes, rhythm, and sibilance create a pleasing effect when poetry is read aloud. Please bear in mind that these various sound effects are not all to be found in one poem. Poets more often than not, would pick what sound effects to incorporate in the poem; whether one, two, three or more. As we explore these sound effects with their definitions you will find examples of them taken from a variety of poems you may or may not have read. Links to these poems are provided to facilitate the rereading of them.

Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in nearby words, but the surrounding consonant sounds are different.

Him crossing glory’s open door (This Fort)
We heard about Hillary and Norgay (Tuakau Honey Jar First to Ever Rest)

Consonance is the repetition of the same consonant two or more times in short succession.

When I putt green grass and pulled the weeds (Mowing)
Of French, Spanish, and English origin, (Hurricane Preparedness Watch)
Toads paddle amid the foam (Musing in the Blooming Forest)

Alliteration
is the repetition of initial consonant sounds. The sound effects of alliteration may help to tie two or more lines together by repeating the beginning sound. Do believe me when I said that I did not set out from the outset to use this technique. It became apparent when I re-read the poems aloud. Here are two examples of alliteration found in poems I have written:

With wrinkles warping
wasting what was
wonderful wear
of roses...withered, warped
we wished winkles would

Please go away!

These vampires
Shrouded with great mystery
They try to dash the hopes
Of medicine men in search
For some miracle and a cure

When wrinkles walking

All over body parts

are no more

(From the poem, Wrinkles)

When I putt green grass and pulled the weeds

(From the poem, Mowing)

William Langland is known as the grand-master of the alliteration technique. In his poem, The Piers Plowman provides many examples of this technique.

In a summer season when the sun was mild
I clad myself in clothes as I’d become a sheep;
In the habit of a hermit unholy of works,
Walked wide in this world, watching for wonders.
And on a May morning on Malvern hills,
There befell me as by magic a marvellous thing:
I was weary of wandering and went to rest
At the bottom of a broad bank by a brook's side,
And as I lay lazily looking in the water
I slipped into a slumber, it sounded so pleasant.
There came to me reclining there a most curious dream
That I was in a wilderness, nowhere that I knew;
But as I looked into the east, up high toward the sun,
I saw a tower on a hill-top, trimly built;
A deep dale beneath, a dungeon tower in it,
With ditches deep and dark and dreadful to look at.
A fair field full of folk I found between them,
Of human beings of all sorts, the high and the low,
Working and wandering as the world requires.


Sibilance is a special case of consonance, the use of hissing sounds created by the sibilant sounds of (s) and (sh)

Adam’s tassel has curls on top
He grills, or pops or boils with thyme
Crisscrossing rows in sight

(Indian Corn)

On these precious, treacherous rocks for sure (Ode to the Ghost of Sam Lord)
Atlas! Pastures, hillsides, fields and gardens are green (Blissful Countryside)

I have never come across anybody who doesn’t like rhymes. Have you? When speaking of rhymes such things become the focus:

- Definition for rhyme
- Rhyme schemes
- Types of rhyme schemes
- Rhyme positions
- Rhyme genders
- Rhyme types

Rhyme is the combination of assonance and consonance as well as being the repetition of similar sounds in two or more words.

Slant rhyme is known by such names as half rhyme, sprung rhyme, near rhyme, oblique rhyme, off rhyme or imperfect rhyme. A slant rhyme is when either the vowels or the consonants of stressed syllables are identical. Many slant rhymes are also eye rhymes. W. B Yeats made slant rhymes very popular in his era. In his poetry he mixed slant rhymes with regular rhymes, assonance and para rhymes as shown below:

When have I last looked on
The round green eyes and the long wavering bodies
Of the dark leopards of the moon?
All the wild witches, those most noble ladies,
For all their broom-sticks and their tears,
Their angry tears, are gone.


(W. B Yeats, Lines Written in Dejection)

Here are some other examples of slant rhymes used by a lesser known poet as shown below:

The heavy ruin plays on most CDees
To cue the minds to graves with drab cor
As fingers scratched for life amid debris
They longed once more for blissful days of yore.

(From the poem, Humanity Rose)


This tendency to live the name
Can give a person shame or fame;
In Ashanti the name is blamed
For types of traits, deemed so disdained;
And so, Tonsillitis Jackson
Test, came up with same condition

(From the poem, That Name)


Para rhyme is a technique devised by Edmund Blunden to describe a near rhyme in which the consonants in two words are the same, but the vowels are different. This type of rhyme is sometimes referred to as double consonance. William Owen and Dylan Thomas shaped their poems with bounteous supplies of the para rhyme as evident from in exerts from their poems shown below:

Earth’s wheels run oiled with blood. Forget we that.
Let us lie down and dig ourselves in thought.
Beauty is your and you have mastery,
Wisdom is mine and I have mystery.
We two will stay behind and keep our troth.
Let us forego men’s minds that are brute’s natures,
Be we not swift with swiftness of the tigress.
Let us break ranks from those who trek from progress.
Miss we the march of this retreating world
Into old citadels that are not walled.
Let us lie out and hold the open truth.
Then when their blood hath clogged the chariot wheels
We will go p and wash them from deep wells.
What though we sink from men as pitchers falling
Many shall raise us up to be their filling
Even from wells we sunk too deep for war
Even as One who bled where no wounds were

(Strange Meeting by Wilfred Owen)

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead mean naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

(And Death Shall Have No Dominion by Dylan Thomas)

And as usual I like to cite some parts of my poems that do showcase the para rhyme technique as shown below:

With great haste I rolled on the grass;
Into some smelly pile of crap,
Cow down, in my hair, totally gross.
Reached for the shears to have hair crop;
Ball eagle lands on top my head,
And hitched me up with riding hood.

(From the poem, Shack Shack Tree Mishap)


Rhyme schemes are handy tools for rhyming in poetry. It facilitates in synchronizing and distributing the sound effects given off by the rhyming of words. It is consistent throughout the entire poem. Poems with unvarying patterns to rhyming words throughout the verses in every stanza of the poem can be said to have a rhyme scheme.

Rhyme schemes are labeled according to their rhyme sounds with letters of the alphabet to set them apart from others that may appear in the poem. See examples below:

One day to go, meanwhile I pat my cat; a
Sun hot as hell is driving me insane; b
This waiting is making me really fat; a
Chris, are you coming on that Boeing plane? b

I shall welcome him with an airport hug; a
High from the sky he comes before the spring; b
While I hope for hugs, I don’t want a shrug; a
Smile and dance I will, when 'Merry Men' sing. b

Could musing be causing my head to spin? a
Should I kiss his tangled hair in the breeze? b
Will I see smiles and no frowns near his chin? a
Still I think, I could get thrills from his tease. b

(From the poem, Tension)

The rhyme scheme sets the pattern for the number of verses for the poem. If the rhyme scheme has more than four lines then the alphabetical arrangement continues with the letters c, d, e, f, g, h and so on, but every time the rhyme sound is repeated the alphabetical letter remains the same as shown in the example below:

The tranquility of valley and hills, a
Allows the mind to wander like the clouds, b
Above the tree tops with their many thrills, a
As nervous leaves rustle in mystic shrouds. b
They shadow time each passing day anew, c (rhyme scheme ababcdecde)
And patiently wait for the rising sun, d
To fill their chlorophyll sacs to the brim; e
They thirst for summer rains and morning dew, c
To spark their blooms before the day is done, d
With Hawaiian pride that glows from each limb. e

There are gardens ablaze with rainbow hue; a
Around mansions tall and at cottage doors, b
Bringing hope to the soul with every view, a
These gems of nature, everyone adores b
The blooms of hibiscus, across the land, c (rhyme scheme ababcdecde)
Are apparels of celestial light! d
Heavenly bliss wrapped up in each flower; e
Displays the glory of God’ master plan; c
For we are never alone in His sight, d
And each flower that opens shows His power. e

(From the poem, Ode to the Hibiscus Bush)

Today I am feeling a little low a
I find it very hard to sleep and rest b
And penned this poem with beats that are slow; c
Surely, it is not the amateur’s best! b
Poems you know do have a unique way d
Of, freeing the mind from the enclosed box; e
Such creativity is on display; d (rhyme scheme abcbdedefgfghh)
So one behaves like a crafty old fox. e
What sadness do we see on faces here? f
He is gone, so too is his shaven face. g
Silver buckles no longer shine, my dear f
From the earth too are his footsteps and pace; g
He parades in the celestial sky; h
So he had to say this final goodbye. h

(From the sonnet, Sadness)

The poems above show examples of a regular rhyme scheme. Poems that have no regular rhyme schemes can be called rhyming poems as shown in the example below:

Water glycerin oil or gel, a
Which one is it you cannot spell? a
So rub the neck before the bell, a
‘Cause tap is slow, she give a yell; a
Who or what am I, can you tell? a (rhyming poem)

Lather me up as well as down; a
On my face to look like a clown; a
Then wash between those lines and curves, b
And don’t get on my edgy nerves; b
Now that you have eaten hors d’oeuvres! b

(From the poem, What is my Name)

Rhyme position identifies the precise location of the rhyme on the verse. When rhymes fall on the first words of verses they are called initial rhymes or beginning rhymes. When the rhyming occurs on the last words in the verses they are called end rhymes or terminal rhymes. When rhymes occur within the verses they are called internal rhymes. See examples below:

One day to go, meanwhile I pat my cat;
Sun hot as hell is driving me insane;
This waiting is making me really fat;
Chris, are you coming on that Boeing plane?
I shall welcome him with an airport hug;
High from the sky he comes before the spring; (initial rhymes)
While I hope for hugs, I don’t want a shrug;
Smile and dance I will, when 'Merry Men' sing.
Could musing be causing my head to spin?
Should I kiss his tangled hair in the breeze?
Will I see smiles and no frowns near his chin?
Still I think, I could get thrills from his tease.

One day to go, meanwhile I pat my cat;
Sun hot as hell is driving me insane;
This waiting is making me really fat;
Chris, are you coming on that Boeing plane?
I shall welcome him with an airport hug;
High from the sky he comes before the spring; (end rhymes)
While I hope for hugs, I don’t want a shrug;
Smile and dance I will, when 'Merry Men' sing.
Could musing be causing my head to spin?
Should I kiss his tangled hair in the breeze?
Will I see smiles and no frowns near his chin?
Still I think, I could get thrills from his tease.

One day to go, meanwhile I pat my cat;
Sun hot as hell is driving me insane;
This waiting is making me really fat;
Chris, are you coming on that Boeing plane?
I shall welcome him with an airport hug;
High from the sky he comes before the spring; (internal rhymes)
While I hope for hugs, I don’t want a shrug;
Smile and dance I will, when 'Merry Men' sing.
Could musing be causing my head to spin?
Should I kiss his tangled hair in the breeze?
Will I see smiles and no frowns near his chin?
Still I think, I could get thrills from his tease.

(From the poem, Tension)

If the rhyming words in the verses end with unstressed syllables that rhyme is called a feminine rhyme. If the rhyming words end with stressed syllables the rhyme is called a masculine rhyme. See examples below:

STAND still, and I will read to thee
A lecture, Love, in Love's philosophy.
These three hours that we have spent,
Walking here, two shadows went
Along with us, which we ourselves produced.
But, now the sun is just above our head,
We do those shadows tread,
And to brave clearness all things are reduced. (masculine rhymes)
So whilst our infant loves did grow,
Disguises did, and shadows, flow
From us and our cares ; but now 'tis not so.

That love hath not attain'd the highest degree,
Which is still diligent lest others see.

(John Donne, A Lecture upon a Shadow)

Oh, what a day this has been, very mean;
Began this day so friendly and so keen,
Until, some fiend stuck me hard with a pin; (masculine rhymes)
Such an assault can only be a sin.

Battered unjustly in cyber-valley
From claws, and left half-dead, the finale (feminine rhymes)
Think this some sort of a conspiracy
Ponder I must over the lunacy.

(From the Hendianne sonnet, Irritation)

A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women's fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth; (feminine rhymes)
A man in hue, all 'hues' in his controlling,
Much steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure.

(William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 20: A woman’s face with nature’s own hand)

See the continuation under English Poetry Versification Part III-B

Sunday, September 20, 2009

English Poetry Versification - Part II

4. Measurement: meter, scansion
















The English Poetry Versification - Part I dealt with such versifier tools as content, form and style. This current blog goes further in the discourse by paying attention to yet another versifier tool that has to do with measurement. No discourse on measurement can take place without addressing the matter of meter and scansion and that is where it is going.

Measurement is the process whereby the length of verses in poetry is determined. In English poetry, measurement places emphasis on stressed and unstressed syllables and this type of measurement is described as accentual-syllabic meter, in which every syllable counts to create the proper rhythm and flow of the meter. Geoffrey Chaucer and his contemporary of poets are credited for the fusion of the accentual of English and the syllabic of French into modern English accentual-syllabic forms. Meter means measurement of the verse length. Foot is the unit of such measurement; hence the measuring instrument is known as the metric foot. In ancient Greece during poetry chants, chanters danced to the rhythmic flow of the poetry verses with their feet so this tradition of using feet as the measurement tool in poetry came about. Metrical verses are named according to the constituent foot and for the number of feet in the verse. So what we have got is this listing where a:

Monometer is one-foot
Dimeter is two-foot
Trimeter is three-foot
Tetrameter is four-foot
Pentameter is five-foot
Hexameter is six-foot
Heptameter is seven-foot
Octameter is eight-foot
Nonameter is nine-foot
Decameter is ten-foot

It is the norm regardless of the metric number to use foot instead of feet.

Iamb is the most common metrical foot in English and other languages as well, and from it iambic is derived. It is made up of a short (u) or unstressed (unaccented) syllable followed by a long (/) or stressed (accented) syllable. Take these two examples: attack; the mind.

There are two syllables in attack. The first syllable (at-) is short and the second syllable (tack) is long. Hence attack measures one iambic foot or what is known precisely as an iambic monometer as we recall the rule that a metrical verse is named according to the constituent foot and for the number of feet in the verse. If the verse had measured five iambic feet then it would be called an iambic pentameter which is very common in English language poetry.

In the phrase, the mind there is one syllable in the word, the; one syllable in the word, mind. The first word in the phrase is short and the second word in the phrase is long therefore the phrase measurement is described as an iambic monometer.

A phrase is a group of words that does not have both a subject and a predicate and therefore cannot stand as a clause or sentence.

A sentence is a group of words that make complete sense, contains a main verb, and begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop; or the equivalent such as a question mark(?) or an exclamation mark(!)

In metered poetry a stanza is made up of verses. A stanza of four verses is called a quatrain. The quatrain is most popular in English poetry. In unmetered poetry, unit is used instead of stanza, and a unit is made up of lines not verses. A unit can have one line or more lines.

The iamb, anapest, trochee, dactyl and spondee are the most common poetic foot used in English verse. Their profiles look like this

Iamb: one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable
Anapest: two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable
Trochee: one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed syllable
Dactyl: one stressed syllable followed two unstressed syllables

Scansion in the broadest sense is to examine carefully; it is applied to animate and inanimate entities. However, when used in poetry it refers to the process of analysis of the rhythmic flow and metrical structure of poems.

When the scansion process is applied to poetry the stressed syllable is shown with a symbol that looks like this / and the unstressed syllable is shown with this symbol u, so the symbolic representation of the English poetic foot is listed as follows:

Iamb u /
Anapest u u /
Trochee / u
Dactyl / u u
Spondee / /
Pyrrhic u u

The iambic and anapestic meters are called ‘rising meters’ because their sound rises from light sound to heavy. Trochee and dactylic meters are called the ‘falling meters’ and this is so because their sound falls from heavy to light. The anapest and the dactyl are bouncing meters and in the twentieth century they were very popular in comic verses than for serious poetry.

The spondee still measures a foot even thought it has one sound that is heavy, and so is the pyrrhic with one sound that is light. They are never used as the sole meter of a poem. Wherever the spondee and the pyrrhic are found in the verse, they provide the complementary role of lending emphasis and variety to a meter especially the iambic rhythmic verses.

The application of the graphic scanning in poetry requires that the heavy sounding syllables and light sounding syllables, feet and rhythmic breaks be identified with their appropriate scanning symbols such as these shown below.

u (unstressed)
/ stressed syllable)
(counter)
││ (caesura)

The counter │ marks the location of where every foot ends in the verse. The first step in this graphic scanning is to mark off the stressed and unstressed syllables in the verses as shown in Versification poem in Exhibit 1. Bear in mind that English stress content words which are nouns, principal verbs, adjectives and adverbs; and then quickly glides over function words which are pronouns, articles, auxiliary verbs, prepositions, conjunctions are unstressed. These principles are applied as well in accentual-syllabic meter. This quality of quickly gliding over less important words is also known as connected speech. In my cursory analysis of English words with two syllables the stressed syllable seems to fall on the first syllable.

Exhibit 1

Value and measure verses as you would,
/ u u / u / u u u /each word or sound that has fallen from lips;
/ / u / u u / u u /
run as you like under the old stave wood;
/ u u / / u u / / /
stressed and unstressed feet, this way the voice dips;
/ u u / / u / u / /
in musing, rhyme as you please on the verse;
u / u / u u / u u /
for feet brake sharply, leaving strong road mark;
u / / / u / u / / /
in time, those pentameter lines will rhyme;
u / u / u / u / u /
catalectic scanning is not a crime;
u u / u / u / / u /
acatalectic gives foot a stretch mark;
/u u / u / / u / /
take time to sway with cadence every time;
/ / u / u / u / u /
inside rhymes and caesura solve conflicts;
/ / / u u / u / / /
omitted vowels make lines roll with terse;
u / u / u / / / u /
now, those omissions are metrical tricks.
/ u u / u / u / u /

Exhibit 2 shows the second step in poetic graphic scanning where each foot is marked with the counter (│)
.
Exhibit 2

Value│ and mea│sure ver│ses as│ you would,
/ u │u / │ u /│u u│ u / (5 feet)
each word or sound that has fallen from lips;
/ /│ u /│ u u│ / u│u / (5 feet)
run as│ you likeunder│ the oldstave wood;
/ u│u /│ / u│ u /│ / / (5 feet)
stressed and unstressed feet, this way the voice dips;
/ u│ u /│ / u│ / u│ / / (5 feet)
in mus│ing, rhyme│ as you│ please on│ the verse;
u /│ u /│ u u│ / u│u / (5 feet)
for feetbrake sharp│ly, leav│ing strongroad mark;
u /│ / /│ u /│ u / │ / / (5 feet)
in time,│ those pen│tame│ter lines│ will rhyme;
u / │ u /│ u /│u /│ u / (5 feet)
cata│lectic│ scanning│ is not│ a crime;
u u│/ u│ / u│/ /│u / (5 feet)
aca│talec│tic givesfoot a│ stretch mark;
/ u│u /│u /│ / u│ / / (5 feet)
take time│ to sway │with ca│dence ev│ery time;
/ /│ u /│ u /│ u /│u /
inside rhymes and│ caesu│ra solve conflicts;
/ / │ / u│ u /│u /│ / / (5 feet)
omit│ted vow│els makelines roll│ with terse;
u /│u /│u /│ / /│ u / (5 feet)
now, those│ omi│ssions are│ metri│cal tricks.
/ u│ u /│u /│ u /│u / (5 feet)

The “double-pipe”││in Exhibit 3 in Stanza 1, Verses 1-4 of the modern English poem, "Trapped" shows the location of the caesura in the verses. In modern English poetry the caesura is used more often than not for rhetorical effect. In meter, the caesura denotes an audible pause that occurs in the verse. It is often indicated by punctuation marks which cause a pause in speech. You see such punctuation marks: comma, semicolon, full stop, dash, exclamation, etc being used in poems. It is worth noting though that punctuation is not necessary for a caesura to occur. When a caesura follows a stressed syllable it is known as a masculine caesura; and when it follows an unstressed syllable it is a feminine caesura. The caesura’s position on the verse is worth noting too. When the caesura describes a break close to the beginning of a verse it is an initial caesura, in the center of a verse, it is a medial caesura, and at the end it is a terminal caesura. Caesurae are featured prominently in Greek and Latin versification, especially in heroic verse form, dactylic hexameter. However, in Exhibit 3 the stress meter is used instead of quantitative meter. Quantitative meter is extremely difficult to construct in English, but is common in Latin, Greek, Sanskirt, and Arabic poetry.

Exhibit 3

Gladly the│ girl took│ soft, white│ silk-based│ sheets from the│ big bed;
/ u u│/ / │ / /││ / / │ / u u │/ / (six feet)
(masculine caesura)

Gladly the │girl fixed│ old green│ trampoline;│bug in the│ tool case
/ u u│ / / │ / /│ / u u││ / u u│/ / (six feet)
(feminine caesura)

Falling from│ panel, a │spider on│ top of the│ clean new│ bedspread
/ u u│ / u u│/ u u│/ u u│ / / │ / / (six feet)
Moving, so │deadly with│ weird look;│ web pestmorphed in her│ sad face.
/ u u│/ u u│/ / ││ / /│ / u u│ / / (six feet)
(masculine caesura)


With respect to the Alexandrine which is a line of verse composed in iambic hexameter, the caesura is often placed after the third foot. See Exhibit 4 for examples taken from the Idyll poem, Blissful Countryside.

Exhibit 4

I hate the rapid life in suburbia;
u / │ u u│ / /││u /│u /│ u
masculine caesura
The strife in foreign lands including Serbia;
u / u / u /││ u / u / / u
caesuraI long to hear the sounds of animals and birds;
u / u / u / ││u u u / u /
caesura

The whispering of the wind, and the barking of curs.
u / / u u u ││/ u u / u u /
feminine caesura


What is there to conclude about the scansion process? Scansion provides a diagrammatic representation of the metrical effect of the poem, any poem when applied for that matter. Scanning in English poetry is not to reproduce sound of the persona’s voice. Its purpose is to make a diagram of the heavy sounds and the light sounds found in the poem. Scansion is a way to see where the stresses are the poet wishes to put the emphasis. When you scan a poem don’t be surprised to find that the exercise helps in understanding the poem. Scansion has the propensity to unlock those techniques poets use to create rhythmic effects, and can sometimes help readers to see layers of meaning in poems that only scansion can provide. Scansion is a way to indicate how to read a poem aloud.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

English Poetry Versification - Part I




















Versification is the poets’ backpack they trek with through the mountains, valleys, streams, plains and moor in a cognitive environment. These poetry chefs search for the right ingredients to clean and season the poetry they cook for us to consume. Ever mindful that their poetry must have the right taste and texture for folks still growing baby teeth, those with all their natural adult teeth and those who must wear dentures. Ever mindful of this, poets select the best spices and condiments to add flavor to their poetry dishes. In advance, they set the weight and measurement then blend them well into the stuffing that goes into the poetry. When completed the poetry is placed on the serving tray with the presentation pleasing to the eyes in a manner that complements the poetry being served.

How is that appetizer above I’ve whipped up for you? Now here is a sample from poetry dish in the form of an acrostic rhyming ababcdeedebcb in non-standard iambic pentameter.

Versification

Very well, measure verses as you should
each word, or sound that has fallen from lips;
run as you like under the old stave wood;
stressed and unstressed feet, this way the voice dips
in musing, rhyme as you please on the verse;
for feet brake sharply, for a strong road mark;
in time, those pentameter lines will rhyme
catalectic scanning is not a crime;
acatalectic gives foot a stretch mark;
take time to sway with cadence every time;
inside rhymes and caesura solve conflicts;
omitted vowels make lines roll with terse;
now, those omissions are metrical tricks.

The purpose of it was to lead you on to the main thread, that persons who prepare poetry for consumption are called poets. What poets bring to the table to feed our senses are their thoughts they weave through the process of Versification.

In order to versify, poets use versifier tools which perform specific task but working together in unison to produce the end product known as poems. These six versifier tools are listed below and with comments on each of them.

1. Content
Words = facts, ideas, impressions

2. Form
Content Structure

3. Style
Poetic diction

4. Measurement
scansion
meter

5. Sound Effects
Alliteration
Assonance
Cacophony
Consonance
dissonance
Euphony
Onomatopoeia
Rhymes
Rhythm
Sibilance

6. Elements of poetry
literal meaning
imagery
figurative language
symbolism
rhythm and rhyme
tone

Content for poems is made up of facts, ideas and impressions which poets creatively weave together. The arrangement of content is dictated by the particular form and genre which poets use. In order to present this content to the audience or readers the poet provides a voice. In other words, the poet assigns someone who will speak the words written in the poem. The person who elucidates the content of the poem is called the voice. Voice can also mean the aura. The aura that is created from the element in the artistic production that induces a perception by the audience or reader of the moral qualities of the speaker or character, Aristotle called this the ethos. In narrative poetry, the persona is the “I” or the implied speaker as in the case of lyrical poems. Sometimes the poet would identify a created character as the speaker. However, in the absence of such a specific attribution, the term persona is applied. What good does this do? It allows for no automatic assumption that the creative work done is the expressed experiences or views of the poet. The identification of a character or characters by poets prevents any potential ambiguity. It also enables poets to give expression to things they would prefer not to have attributed to themselves.

Form is the arrangement of the meter, rhythm, lines, verses, stanzas in poems. When predetermined meter, rhymes and stanzas become the structural blocks for poems we have what is known as fixed form (sometimes referred to as closed form, classical form, traditional form). The poetry styles that fit into this mold are the epic, ode, sonnet, ballad, limerick, pantoum, sestina, triolet, villanelle, rondeau, ghazal, elegy, tanka, cinquain, haiku, senryu, octtava rima, terza rima, paradelle. When the structural blocks in traditional poetry are ignored as often done by modernist and postmodernist poets, we refer to such a structure as a non-compliant form also known as unstructured poetry or open form poetry. Non-compliant poetry styles are free verse, reportage, pose poems, language poetry, performance poetry, computer-generated poetry, egoless poetry, beat poetry, blank form, open form.

Style has a way of tagging traditionalist, modernist and post-modernist poets . Style is synonymous with poetic diction which is all about the choice of words, phrases, sentence structure and figurative language in literary work; the manner or mode of verbal expression, particularly with regard to clarity and accuracy. We know that poetry is one of the genres of literature. So the aforementioned holds true. Poets weave their style into content for the expressed desire to captivate the audience or readers. Hence, style has to do with the manner, in which individual poets say, do, express or perform their poetic works. In the western world, Aristotle remains the originating plank for thinking about the use of language in poetry and prose; so according to the English translation by Ingram Bywater (1920) of Aristotle’s Poetics, Aristotle asserted that the perfect style for writing poetry was one that is clear and without meanness. He defined meanness of style as the deliberate avoidance of unusual words, but warned against over-reliance on strange words as seen in this extract from Poetics.

“The perfection of Diction is for it to be at once clear and not mean. The clearest indeed is that made up of the ordinary words for things, but it is mean… A certain admixture, accordingly, of unfamiliar terms is necessary. These, the strange word, the metaphor, the ornamental equivalent, etc., will save the language from seeming mean and prosaic, while the ordinary words in it will secure the requisite clearness. What helps most, however, to render the Diction at once clear and non-prosaic is the use of the lengthened, curtailed, and altered forms of words.”

I greatly admire the style William Wordsworth used in his lyrical poems. In his poetic style, he replaced the lofty and eloquent style used by poets of his era. His style reflects his use of clear and simple language of the people as he bonded intensely with nature.

(to be continued in Part II of this blog)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Forms of Poetry: Blank Form

William Shakespeare wrote most of his poems in Blank Verse also known as Blank Form. This structure allows poems to be unrhymed with the rhythmic power of the meter. In order to write top quality blank form, one must pay close attention to syllables and word count. The meter most commonly used with blank form is the iambic pentameter with end stops. Opinion would have it that the Earl of Surrey, Henry Howard was the first to use blank form having been inspired by classical Latin verse and others of similar orientation that did not use rhyme. Of the romantic poets, the true believers of this poetic form rested on the shoulders of William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelly, and John Keats; also, Alfred Lord Tennyson whose long narrative poems are crafted with the blank form structure.

When free verse was hitting the top of the charts, as it were; Hart Crane and William Wallace Stevens, poets of immense respectability, held on to blank form. My opinion is that some poets of the old school found it hard to part familiar ways; but sought to solve the dilemma by lounging with meter, hugging the arms and legs of iambic pentameter and at the same time romping with free verse; some sort of a hoodwink comes to mind. Samuel Johnson voiced his concern that John Milton wrote bad blank form. On that I have no opinion, but I do accept what the records have said that Milton’s blank form became very popular so much so that it was referred to as the Miltonic blank Verse. It became the standard for those attempting to write English epics for centuries following Milton’s publication of Paradise Lost and poems he wrote later in his life.

Blank form is often misunderstood as free verse. A good way to remember the difference is to think of the word “blank” as meaning no rhymes at the end of verses and “free” meaning the freedom from fixed patterns of traditional versification. There is an anomaly with respect to the use of the iambic pentameter verses in blank form structure. When the scansion process is applied to poems written in blank verse, we tend to see that the strict standard iambic pentameter advocated is jaded as a result of it being peppered at times by the trochee, anapest, spondee and dactyl. The landing of these invaders in iambic pentameter verses gives off a delightful soothing effect; they break up the monotonous rhythm that dogs standard iambic pentameter verses. This is not a problem per se if we remember rightly that the definition for blank form has allowed for any other type of unrhymed metered verse but must be five feet exactly. This is where the “inversion technique” is used. This technique allows iambic pentameter verses to retain their dominance in spite of being invaded by other foot types. The “inversion technique” imposes strict compliance in that there must be no compromising on the five feet and the second foot must always be an iamb. The first foot of the verse measuring five iambic feet is the one most likely to change; most inversions tend to fall on the trochee.

Wherever the inversion technique occurs in iambic pentameter verses it changes the standard iambic pentameter verses into non-standard iambic pentameter verses; but it is okay to drop the prefix and simply call such verses iambic pentameter verses because majority holds the sway in any civilized environment or platform. The iamb, anapest, trochee, dactyl and spondee are the most common poetic foot used in English verse. Their profiles look like this

Iamb: one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable
Anapest: two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable
Trochee: one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed syllable
Dactyl: one stressed syllable followed two unstressed syllables
Spondee: two stressed syllables

When the scansion process is applied to poetry the stressed syllable is shown with a symbol that looks like this / and the unstressed syllable is shown with this symbol v, so the symbolic representation of the English poetic foot is listed as follows:

Iamb /v
Anapest vv/
Trochee /v
Dactyl /vv
Spondee //

Anglo Saxon (Old English) poems are written in accentual meter often referred to as the strong-stress meter; alliterative-stress meter or accentual verse. Anglo Saxon accentual verse is based on alliteration and stress. It was usually done with four-stressed lines with a caesura (a pause in the middle). The stressed lines always alliterate with the first stress, the second stress or both. Alliteration held lines of the poem together rather than the rhyme. All vowels were considered to alliterate with each other, but compound consonants would alliterate with themselves. The Anglo Saxons were more likely to use enjambment and not the end stop on their lines.

Most Modern English poems are written in accentual-syllabic meter. Accentual-syllabic meter counts both the stressed and unstressed syllables. It uses specific patterns, such as iambic pentameter or the classical hendecasyllable: a metrical line of eleven syllables. Every syllable counts to create the proper rhythm and flow of the meter. It is conceived as one of the tighter methods of measuring meter. Most of the verse forms that the English created based on French or Italian forms are Accentual-syllabic. Geoffrey Chaucer and his contemporary of poets are credited for the fusion of the accentual of English and the syllabic of French into modern English accentual-syllabic forms.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Forms of Poetry: The Ballad















The ballad form must not to be confused with the ballade.

The ballade typically consists of three eight-verse stanzas, each with a consistent meter, and a particular rhyme scheme. The last verse in the stanza is a refrain, and the stanzas are followed by a four-verse concluding envoi usually addressed to a prince. The rhyme scheme is usually ababbcbC ababbcbC ababbcbC, bcbC, the upper-case C is the refrain. The ballade is particularly associated with French poetry of the 14th and 15th Centuries.

The ballad is a narrative poem with a stanza of four verses. Of necessity it has a refrain, burden or chorus. The story line for the ballad can originate from a wide range of subject matter but frequently deals with folklore or popular legends. The ballads by the Barbadian group, The Merry Men incorporate folklore and legends. ‘Sam Lord’ is a popular Bajan legend being sung by the Merry Men. The earliest recognition of the ballad form in England goes back to the poem ‘Judas’ in the thirteenth Century. This ancient ballad explains the expulsion from the ‘Garden of Eden’ and the ‘crucifixion of Christ’ due to the dishonesty of women. Hmm! The sexist movement would probably have a field day on this and who could blame them. The plot is a dominant feature of the ballad, dealing with a single crucial episode, narrated impersonally with frequent repetition and that’s where the refrain verses come into the picture. The ballad is written in straight forward verse seldom with detail but always with graphic simplicity and force.

In this 21st Century there is much variation in the ballad form as seen in the various ballad styles with respect to length, number of verses and rhyming scheme. Most ballads are narrative with a self-contained story, often concise and relying on imagery. The classification of ballads falls into such categories as the Traditional ballad, Broadside ballad, Literary ballad or Lyrical ballad, Blues ballad, Bush ballad, Sentimental ballad, Jazz blues and traditional pop, Pop and Rock ballads.

Traditional (classical or popular) ballads: Robin Hood is a classic example Scholarly attempts have assorted traditional ballads into themes commonly identified as religious, supernatural, tragic, love ballads, historic, legendary and humorous. Their structure uses what is known as the Ballad meter and the Common meter.

The Common meter is a poetic meter consisting of four verses which alternate between iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter and uses a rhyme scheme abab. The Scottish folkloric legend Tam Lin is in Common meter as well as the hymn, Amazing Grace and the carol, O Little town of Bethlehem.

The variant of the Common meter is the Ballad meter. Like Common meter, it has stanzas of four iambic verses. The difference is that the Ballad meter is less regular and more conversational than Common meter and does not necessarily rhyme both sets of verses. Only the second and fourth verses must rhyme in Ballad meter in the pattern xbyb. It can be accentual-syllabic, as iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter, or it can be Podia with variable numbers of unaccented syllables. The rhyme scheme is often approximations, with assonance and consonance frequently appearing.

Iambic tetrameter consists of four metrical feet per verse, with each foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.

The iambic trimeter consists of three metrical feet per verse, with each foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.

In English poetry, the unit of meter is the foot. Metrical verses are named for the constituent foot and for the number of feet in the verse. So we have got a listing that looks like this:

Monometer is one foot
Dimeter is two feet
Trimeter is three feet
Tetrameter is four feet
Pentameter is five feet
Hexameter is six feet
Heptameter is seven feet
Octameter is eight feet
Nonameter is nine feet
Decameter is ten feet

Iambic comes from the word, Iamb and is the most common metrical foot in English and other languages as well. It is made up of a short or unstressed (unaccented) syllable followed by a long or stressed (accented) syllable. Take these two examples: attack; the mind.

There are two syllables in attack. The first syllable (at/) is short and the second syllable (tack) is long hence attack measures one iambic foot.

In the phrase, the mind there is one syllable in the word, the; one syllable in the word, mind. The first word in the phrase is short and the second word in the phrase is long therefore the phrase measures one iambic foot.

A phrase is a group of words that does not have both a subject and a predicate and therefore cannot stand as a clause or sentence.

A sentence is a group of words that makes complete sense, contains a main verb, and begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop; or the equivalent such as a question mark (?) or an exclamation mark (!)

In metered poetry a stanza is made up of verses. Four verses making a stanza is called a quatrain. The quatrain is most popular in English poetry. In unmetered poetry, unit is used instead of stanza, and a Unit is made up of lines not verses.

Broadside ballads are usually associated with chapbooks

Literary ballads or Lyrical ballads are easily associated with the Romantic Movement from the later eighteenth century. Poets like Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Rudyard Kipling and Oscar Wilde easily fit into this category.

Ballad Operas do include Gilbert and Sullivan light operas

Native American ballads are many but as an exemplar let’s stay with Jesse James

Blue ballads derived from fusing Anglo-American and Afro-American styles. Casey Jones is a good example.

Bush ballads from “in the land down under” are transplants from Britain and Ireland. Their ballads nowadays tend to focus on trucking stories more so than ballads about the wide open lands of Australia where class conflict between landless folks, squatters and outlaws were the norm.

Sentimental ballads were generally sentimental, narrative, strophic, songs as part of the opera. My favorite from this category is Danny Boy.

Jazz blues and traditional pop bring to my mind, Duke Ellington’s In a Sentimental Mood and Always by Irving Berlin.

Pop and Rock ballads are mostly associated with love songs. A popular one in this grouping from 1984 is I want to know what love is by the band Foreigner’s and 2008 hit Umbrella by Rihanna the Barbadian pop singer.

The ballad poems below show their poetical structure and style. To read them just double-click on the title.

Bajan Conkies
Poetic Form: Traditional Ballad
Style: Ballad Meter
Rhyme Scheme: abcb

Cou Cou
Poetic Form: Traditional Ballad
Style: Ballad Meter
Rhyme Scheme: abcb


Indian Corn
Poetic Form: Traditional Ballad
Style: Ballad Meter
Rhyme Scheme: abcb


Sea Eggs
Poetic Form: Traditional Ballad
Style: Ballad Meter
Rhyme Scheme: abcb


The Christmas Candle Tree
Poetic Form: Traditional Ballad
Style: Ballad Meter
Rhyme Scheme: abcb


The White House Ballad
Poetic Form: Traditional Ballad
Style: Ballad Meter
Rhyme Scheme: abcb

Is Barbados the Hurricane's sweetheart?

Click here to find out and draw your own conclusions


My Videos

Click on Videos to view

Bajan Voicing Latin Vowels
Bajan Voicing Classical Latin Alphabet
Bajan Voicing Short Vowels in Classical Latin
Bajan Voicing Long Vowel Sounds in Latin Words
Bajan Voicing Latin Diphthongs

Follow by Email

Haiti Under Rubble from 7.0 Earthquake

Natural disasters whenever and wherever they occur impact on all of our lives. The Good Book says we are our brothers and sisters keepers lead by the Holy Spirit. Hence, we must do our part when disaster shows its ugly face. Any assistance, great or small, given from generous and loving hearts has equal weight. I'm passing on this information I received that Barbadians can go to First Caribbean Bank to donate to the Disaster Relief Fund for Haiti. The banking information is shown below:

First Caribbean Bank Account--2645374-- Cheques can be written to: HELP #2645374

For more information click on this link

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti.

Reading Poetry