Northern Drive to St Lucy

Northern Drive to St Lucy
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Friday, October 1, 2010

Comments on "Mothers' Day"

This poem “Mothers’ Day” was composed at Cassia Drive in St. James South, Barbados in 2008. It is in the form of an Acrostic made up of a septet stanza and a tercet stanza. A septet is a stanza of seven verses. A tercet is a stanza of three verses. The poem contains end rhymes forming a rhyme scheme aabccbd aab. It has tetrameter verses. However, the analysis of the verses shows that no particular pattern of meter dominates the verses. So in the poem you'll see verses further described as Trochaic tetrameter and iambic tetrameter measuring 4 feet as shown in Exhibit #1.

Exhibit #1
Graphic Scansion of the poem, "Mothers' Day

Many<>pros and<>cons, tag<>parents;
Trochee..... Trochee .........Trochee .......... Trochee
... /u ............./u .........│ ...... /u ..........│...... /u ...│
............ 1 .................... 2 .................... 3 .............. 4 ..Trochaic Tetrameter


onus<>on moth<>ers to<>bear fruits
Trochee ....... Iamb ............... Pyrrhic ............. Spondee
../u ....... │...... u/ ................│...uu ..........│.......... // ......... │
.............. 1 ......................... 2 ................. 3 ........................ 4 ....Tetrameter


the Cre<>ator<>placed on<>us, his
.. Pyrrhic ..Trochee ... Trochee ........ Pyrrhic
.... uu ......│.... /u ......... /u ............. ... uu .....│
............... 1 ........... 2 ...................... 3 ............ 4 .....Tetrameter


heaven<>ly en<>dowed port<>manteau;
..Trochee .. Pyrrhic ..... Trochee ........... Trochee
.... u/ ......│... uu ...│........ /u ............│...... /u .......│
............... 1 .......... 2 ......................... 3 ................ 4 ....Trochaic Tetrameter


even<>Adam<>wore it<> to sow…
Trochee ..Trochee ... Trochee ...... Iambic
..... /u......... /u ... ..... /u .................u/ .............
........... 1 .............. 2 .............. 3 ........................... 4 ...... Trochaic Tetrameter


respect<>your mom<>,Benedict<>said it's
Trochee.......... Pyrrhic ....... Amphibrach .... Trochee
.... /u ...... │..... uu ............│........... u/u ... ......... /u ....│
............... 1 ...................... 2 .....................3 ................. 4 .... Tetrameter

Sacred<>,to cath<>olic<>decree;
Trochee ....... Pyrrhic ..Trochee ...Trochee
.... /u ......│...... u u .....│.. / u ........... / u │....
............... 1................. 2 ......... 3 ............ 4 .....Trochaic Tetrameter

Drawn to<>passions'<>bed we<>do wed
..Trochee .......... Trochee ... ... Trochee ....... Spondee
..... / u .........│....... / u ........│....... / u .....│..... / / ...... │
.................... 1 .................... 2 ................ 3 ................ 4 ..Trochaic Tetrameter

and Jor<>dan floods<>the Dead<>Sea bed
...Iambic........... Iambic ............ Iambic ......... Spondee
..... u / ..... │ ........ u / ......... │....... u / ........ │ .... / / .......│
................ 1......................... 2 .................... 3 ................ 4 ...Iambic Tetrameter

yearly<>since, Ma<>ry birth<>us Christ
Trochee ........ Iambic .......... Iambic ......... Iambic
... /u ......│ ...... u/ ......... │....... u/ ....... ...... u/ ......... │
..............1...................... 2 .................. 3 .................... 4 ....Iambic Tetrameter

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 poetry verses with their feet so this tradition of using feet as the measurement tool in poetry came about.

Let’s look at the words (attack), (beginner) and the phrase (her health) as examples.

The word (attack) has two like consonant letters (tt), the syllable before the double consonant is usually stressed. Hence, in the word (attack) the first syllable (at) is stressed and the second syllable (tack) is unstressed. The graphic scanning of the word (attack) looks like this:


at’tack
. /... u ... ... trochaic monometer


and therefore measures one foot and the symbolic representation of this particular pattern of the English foot is called a trochaic monometer. Exhibit #2 gives a listing of these various patterns in the English poetic foot.

Exhibit #2
English Metrication Symbols

u/ ........ Iamb
u/u ...... Amphibrach
uu/ ...... Anapest
/u ..........Trochee
/uu ....... Dactyl
// .......... Spondee
uu.......... Pyrrhic

These are the most common types found in English poems. I wished blogger was user friendly when it comes to tables and charts. Use is made of leader dots to prevent the scrambling of these symbols all over the blog.

A vertical line like this (│) in graphic scansion is called the counter. The counter marks the location where every foot ends on the lines of verse. The phrase (her health) has an unstressed word (syllable) and a stressed word (syllable). 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 a sentence. The graphic scansion of this phrase (her health) looks like this:

her health
. u ... / ..... ... iambic monometer


This graphic scansion of the phrase (her health) shows that the first word (syllable) is unstressed and the second word (syllable) is stressed and therefore measures one foot making this particular symbolic pattern an iambic monometer verse.

Why is it an iambic monometer verse?

When a metrical foot in English poetry is made up of one unstressed syllable (u) followed by one stressed (/) syllable it is called an iambic foot. The English derivative of the word iambic is iamb. Exhibit #3 shows the symbolic representation of the various English poetic feet.

Exhibit #3
English Metrication

Monometer is a line of verse measuring 1 foot

Dimeter is a line of verse measuring 2 feet

Trimeter is a line of verse measuring 3 feet

Tetrameter is a line of verse measuring 4 feet

Pentameter is a line of verse measuring 5 feet

Hexameter is a line of verse measuring 6 feet

Heptameter is a line of verse measuring 7 feet

Octameter is a line of verse measuring 8 feet

Nonameter is a line of verse measuring 9 feet

Decameter is a line of verse measuring 10 feet

Why does the graphic scansion of the phrase “her health” shows and unstressed symbol for “her”?

Let’s bear in mind that English stress content words. Nouns, principal verbs, adjectives and adverbs are considered content words. Pronouns, articles, auxiliary verbs, prepositions, conjunctions are considered Function words. Function words are quickly glided over in speech hence the reason why they carry the unstressed label. 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.

The word (beginner) has two like consonant letters (nn), the syllable before the double consonant is usually stressed. Hence, in the word (beginner) the first syllable (be) is unstressed, the second syllable (gin) is stressed and the last syllable (ner) is unstressed. The graphic scanning of the word (beginner) looks like this

be’gin’ner
..u . /.... u
Amphibrach u/u

It measures one foot in the pattern of the Amphibrach.

The iamb is the most common metrical foot in English and other languages as well. The iambic and anapestic meters are called rising meters because their sound rises from unstressed to stressed. Trochee and dactylic meters are called the falling meters and this is so because their sound falls from stressed to unstressed. 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 stressed, and so is the pyrrhic with one sound that is unstressed. 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.

Metrical verses are named according to the constituent foot and for the number of feet in the line of verse. So what we have got is this listing where a:

Monometer measuring 1 iambic foot is called an Iambic Monometer

Dimeter measuring 2 iambic feet is called an Iambic Dimeter

Trimeter measuring 3 iambic feet is called an Iambic Trimeter

Tetrameter measuring 4 iambic feet is called an Iambic Tetrameter

Pentameter measuring 5 iambic feet is called an Iambic Pentameter

Hexameter measuring 6 iambic feet is called an Iambic Hexameter

Heptameter measuring 7 iambic feet is called an Iambic Heptameter

Octameter measuring 8 iambic feet is called an Iambic Octameter

Nonameter measuring 9 iambic feet is called an Iambic Nonameter

Decameter measuring 10 iambic feet is called an Iambic Decameter

It is not a common occurrence in English Language poetry to read lines of verses in poems made up entirely of the anapest, trochee, dactyl, spondee, pyrrhic or any other type. These only provide variety and versatility in the rhythmic flow of poetic verses. What is most common occurrence in English Language poetry is to read lines of verses in poems made up entirely or mostly of the iamb. The iamb is the most popular foot in English Language Poetry. So, any description of the lines of verses in English Poetry necessitates inclusion the name of the constituent foot or dominant foot.

Here are examples of two poems (“Rose” and “Upon Leaving USA”) for you to study:

Rose

Your roots .................... (monometer verse)
Are everywhere
In gardens near and far
With petals of sunshine beauty
Blooming ...................... (monometer verse)

Graphic Scansion of the poem “Rose”

Your roots
.... Iamb
...... u / ........
.................... 1 .... iambic monometer verse

Are ev<>erywhere
Spondee ....... Iamb
... //............. u/.......
............. 1 ................. 2 ... dimeter verse

In gar<>dens near<>and far
.. Iamb ....... Iamb .......... Iamb
... u/...... ....... u/ ......... .. uu ....

............. 1 .................... 2 ............ 3 ... iambic trimeter
With pet<>als of sun<>shine beauty
.. Iamb ...... .. Anapest .... .. Amphibrach .....
.. u/ ................. uuu ................... //u

.................. 1 .................... 2 ........................... 3 ... trimeter
Blooming<>
.. Iamb
... /u ...........
................... 1 ... iambic monometer

Some poems are written exclusively in monometer verse.
Here is such an example taken from the poem “Upon Leaving USA” and the graphic scansion on it as proof.

Upon Leaving USA

The stress
And worry
Were more
Than she
Could bear;

Graphic Scansion of the poem “Upon Leaving USA”

The stress<>

... Iamb
.... u/

..................
.................. 1 foot ... iambic monometer
And worry<>

Amphibrach
.... u/u
..................

.................. 1 foot ... amphibrachaic monometer
Were more <>
.. Spondee

..... //
.....................
..................... 1 foot ... spondaic monometer
Than she <>

Pyrrhic
... uu

...............
............... 1 foot ... pyrrhaic monometer

Could bear; <>

.. Spondee
...... //
......................

...................... 1 foot ... spondaic monometer

In this particular poem (Upon Leaving USA) even though each line of verse measures one foot (monometer) the foot pattern varies throughout the lines of verse, and the iambic foot is not the dominant pattern throughout the poem because other foot patterns have emerged but still not able to claim dominance in every line of verse either, so the poem can only be described as having monometer verses. If the iambic pattern had been able to claim dominance in all the lines of verse in the poem, then we could say that "Upon Leaving USA" is an iambic monometer poem. However, based on the graphic scansion the poem is simply a monometer poem. To read all the verses to the poem go to “Upon Leaving the USA".

What is there to learn about the graphic scansion process?

Scansion in the broadest sense is to examine carefully animate and inanimate entities using any range of symbols. This process of examining and analyzing symbols and symbolic expressions in the end products of poetry, for the purpose to make informed decisions as to what the poet is saying or might be implying is called Graphic Scansion. This process examines in detail the rhythmic flow and the metrical structure of poems in order to understand the poems better and to draw conclusions from them.



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