Northern Drive to St Lucy

Northern Drive to St Lucy
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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.

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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

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Reading Poetry