Northern Drive to St Lucy

Northern Drive to St Lucy
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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Diacritical Marks for Trisyllables

Now there are quite a number of diacritical marks associated with Trisyllables and their corresponding foot types.  These are summarized in the Table below:
































Just click on each of the following diacritical marks to review the blog entry on it, if you so desire.

Amphibrach                      ᵕ   ̵   ᵕ
Anapest or Antidactylus    ᵕ   ᵕ   ̷
Antibacchius                      ̵    ̵   ᵕ
Baccius                             ᵕ   ̵    ̵
Cretic or Amphimacer        ̵   ᵕ   ̵
Dactyl                               ̷   ᵕ   ᵕ
Molossus                          ̵    ̵    ̵̵̵̵̵
Tribrach                           ᵕ   ᵕ   ᵕ

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pyrrhic the Mirror Image of Dibrach

The Pyrrhic Foot

In the Table below notice how two short vowels” of the Quantitative Meter equate with two unstressed syllables of Accentual-Syllabic forms in Qualitative meter. These iconic symbols represent the Pyrrhic foot.












These two short vowel symbols (ᵕ ᵕ) are known as the dibrach in quantitative meter of the Greek and Roman poetry. In English poetry where qualitative meter is used, these two short syllable symbols ( ᵕ ᵕ) are known as a pyrrhic. The pyrrhic is not used to construct an entire poem due to its monotonous sound effect.

In Verses 1, 2, 3 and 4 of stanza 50 of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam”, measuring four iambic tetrameter verses rhyming abba, in the sequence of lyrics make in memoriam an “envelope stanza” to his friend Arthur Henry Hallam in 1849 shows the use of the pyrrhic. In this excerpt one cannot but notice that he used the pyrrhic foot only two times in the stanza used here as an exemplar. Take a look:

























Envelope Stanza is a quatrain with the rhyme scheme abba, such that verses 2 and 3 are enclosed between the rhymes of verses 1 and 4.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Foot to Spondee and crossing over to Trochee

The Spondee

In Table below notice how the “long vowels” of the Quantitative Meter equate with the “stressed syllables of Accentual-Syllabic forms in Qualitative meter with respect to the Spondee. The Spondee still measures a foot even though it has one sound that is stressed.



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In Verses 1, 2, and 3 of stanza 50 taken from the poem “In Memoriam”, by Alfred Lord Tennyson are examples of the use of the Spondee as shown below:





















The Trochee

In the Table below notice how the “long and short vowels” of the Quantitative Meter equate with the “stressed and unstressed syllables of Accentual-Syllabic forms in Qualitative meter with respect to the Trochee.













Trochee is called a falling meter because its sound falls from stressed to unstressed. In Verses 1, 2, 3 and 4 of stanza 50 of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” show how the trochee is used or not used with other metrical foot types. Take a look:

























Have you noticed that in quatrain 50 Verse 2 of “In Memoriam” only has a trochee and is not used anywhere else in the quatrain rhyming abba. As you read the verses aloud do you not feel that this verse has dramatically shifted the tempo away from the tempo established in the other three verses in the quatrain? Well that is what happens when the poet decides not to use verses made up entirely of iambs but pepper the iambs with other foot types. Also, Verse 2 is a Tetrameter Verse while the other three verses are Iambic Tetrameters. There are no iambs in Verse 2 but still measures four feet; hence the reason why it is simply called a Tetrameter Verse.

A quatrain is a stanza, or a complete poem, consisting of four verses with a defined rhyme scheme. The significance of the quatrain lies in the fact that it can easily be memorized because it contains only four verses.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Foot of Iamb













In Table above notice how the symbols for “long and short vowels” in disyllable of the Quantitative Meter equate with the “stressed and unstressed disyllable of Accentual-Syllabic forms in Qualitative meter with respect to the Iamb, the most common metrical foot in English and other languages as well.

The Iamb is called a rising meter because its sound rises from unstressed sound to a stressed sound. The four verses in Stanza 50 of Lord Tennyson’s poem "In Memoriam" provide examples of iambs used in English poetry.

In Memoriam
Stanza 50

1 Be near me when my light is low,
2 When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
3 And tingle; and the heart is sick,
4 And all the wheels of Being slow.

And show the results from the four verses scanned as follows:





















The scansion of these four verses has provided some basic clues as to the structure and form of the verses in the poem. Verses 1 and 3 of stanza 50 make use of the iamb and other foot types but still measures four feet each in Non-Standard Iambic Tetrameter verse. Verse 2 has no iambs but still measures four feet; without any iambs present it cannot be called an Iambic Tetrameter verse, but simply a Tetrameter Verse. Verse 4 is made up entirely of iambs and measures four iambic feet and is rightly called a Standard Iambic Tetrameter verse. The iamb is clearly recognized for its monotonous rhythmic tone (da-dum, da-dum, da-dum); probably the reason why Lord Tennyson mixed iambs with other foot types like the spondee, pyrrhic to shake up the rhythmic flow.

A Standard iambic verse regardless of the length of the foot is a verse containing all its feet made up of iambs.

A Non-standard iambic verse regardless of the length of the foot has the iambs mixed with other foot types for example the, trochee, spondee, dactyl, anapest and pyrrhic. This structure counteracts the metronomic effect by substituting for an iamb another type of foot whose stress is different. The first foot in the verse is the one most likely to change. The second foot is almost always an iamb. This is where the “inversion technique” is used. This technique allows iambic tetrameter verses (and other types of iambic feet, example iambic pentameter) 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 required length of feet; so an iambic tetrameter must measure four feet, the iambic pentameter must measure five feet, iambic hexameter must measure six feet and so on. Most inversions tend to fall on the trochee.

In the poetic world, no one goes around saying Non-standard and Standard Iambic Tetrameter as the case may be; so long as the verses measure four feet the qualifier is not needed, just simply Iambic Tetrameter, Iambic Pentameter, whatever the case may be is the acceptable term used in poetry analysis.

Attention must be drawn to the fact that in addition to having poems written in classical Hexameter, over centuries English poems have shifted from classical Hexameter to Iambic Hexameter. An example of this shifting is seen in poems written by Michael Drayton and other eminent poets through the ages. Drayton used iambic hexameter couplets way back in 1612 in his “Poly-Olbion”. Here is an example from his works:




















Classical English poets have experienced great difficulty in writing poems with Dactylic Hexameter verses. The position taken on this is that English leaves vowels and consonants out from words, thus becoming a problem because the Hexameter relies on phonetics, and sounds always have fixed positions. Several attempts were made in the 18th century to adapt Dactylic Hexameter into English Iambic Pentameter. An example of this is found “Couplets on Wit” by Alexander Pope where he used Heroic Couplets (a pair of rhyming verses written in iambic pentameter) an example is shown in Stanza VI taken from the poem where he use quite effectively iambs in the creation of Iambic Pentameter verses in heroic couplets; and disregarded the use of the Dactylic Hexameter. The Dactylic Hexameter has never been popularly used in English, where the standard meter is iambic pentameter. Take a look:

Couplets on Wit (Stanza VI)

Wou’d you your writings to some Palates fit
Purged all you verses from the sin of wit
For authors now are conceited grown
They praise no works but what are like their own




Have you noticed that in verse 3 of the exampler that the last foot is incomplete, that is, there is a syllable missing? In poetry this is exceptable. What the poet has done is to shift the feeling of the poem, a technique so often used to achieve a certain effect.  So in addition to this verse being an iambic pentameter, it is also a catalectic verse in iambic pentameter. A safe definition for this type of verse probably would go like this: A catalectic verse is a metrically incomplete verse, lacking a syllable at the end or ending with an incomplete foot.

Heroic Couplet

A pair of rhyming verses written in Iambic Pentameter is termed a Heroic couplet. It was so called for its use in the composition of epic poetry in the 17th and 18th centuries. The couplet is formed with the use of two successive verses of poetry with equal length and rhythmic correspondence with end words that rhyme.

Geoffrey Chaucer created the “heroic couplet” easily recognized in his “Canterbury Tales”. A couplet for special purposes, is the shortest stanza form, but is frequently joined with other couplets to form a poem with stanzas of four verses with each verse having ten-syllables. So it is easy to figure out why the “heroic couplet” bears such names as the decasyllabic quatrain also known as the “heroic stanza”, or “heroic quatrain”. Thus, the decasyllabic quatrain consists of four verses with a rhyme scheme of aabb or abab.

Note however, that “heroic couplets are also formed with no stanza divisions, as in Roberts Browning’s “My Last Duchess”. See excerpt of poem scanned below:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dactylic Hexameter

Dactyl is a foot in metered poetry having the first syllable long followed by two short syllables in quantitative meter shown by the following symbols  ̵  ᵕ ᵕ and in qualitative meter the dactyl has a pattern where the first syllable is stressed followed by two unstressed syllables shown by this pattern  ̷  ᵕ ᵕ so the word “poetry” ( p̅o ět řy ) is itself a dactyl and measures one foot.



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The dactyl is what defines the Hexameter. The Hexameter consists of six feet. It is also called the “Dactylic Hexameter” and the “Heroic Hexameter”. It has traditionally been associated with the Quantitative meter of classical epic poetry in both Greek and Latin. The poets of that era considered the Hexameter to be the grand style of classical poetry of which Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid are the premier examples. The dactyl ( ̷ ᵕ ᵕ ) a long syllable and two short syllables is what drives the Hexameter foot but it allows for the inclusion of two long syllables ( ̷ ̷ ) called a spondee. A short syllable ( ᵕ ) is a syllable with a short vowel and one consonant at the end (example: ăt but it is long in ātlas). A long syllable ( ̷ ) is a syllable that either has a long vowel, two or more consonants at the end; a long consonant or both (example: latch key). Space between words doesn’t matter.

The following chart below shows the variable patterns which are acceptable when writing classical Hexameter verses:



























Specifically though, the first four feet can be dactyls or spondees, more or less freely. The fifth foot must be a dactyl. The sixth foot is always a spondee, though it may be an anceps syllable. Homer’s hexameters contain a far higher proportion of dactyls than later hexameter poetry. Homer used dialectal form that is, altering the forms of words so that words fitted the hexameter.

Below is an excerpt from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Evangeline" Preface: A Tale of Acadie shows the classical Dactylic Hexameter foot patterns.





















This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines, and the hemlocks,
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers,-

The dactyl appears in the compulsory fifth foot and the spondee in the compulsory sixth foot, this final metron is represented by ( ̵ x ) but in any given Dactylic Hexameter verse it is not uncommon to find either a trochee ( ̵ ᵕ ) or a spondee ( ̵  ̵ ) but what happens when the Dactylic Hexameter has a trochee in the last foot when the rules of the Dactylic Hexameter insist that the anceps in the last foot must be a spondee; poetic license allows for the anceps x to be changed into a long syllable through the process known as poetic license, thus during the scansion of the poem the trochee becomes a spondee automatically. The anceps is a “free syllable” or “variable syllable” in a verse of poetry. The syllable may be either long or short or "irrational" depending on the meter being discussed. In Quantitative meter the symbol “x” is used when anceps occur.

In the following excerpt from the poem, “The Invader” Stanza I is written in Dactylic Hexameter using qualitative meter by a 21st century poet. Take a look at what its scansion revealed:





















The Invader

Stanza 1
Soon as the girl in her night gown closed door, climbed on the bedspread;
Clinging to window, a bug in a web cage; spider on soft lace;
Looking from skyline tall poles, stuck deep, lighting the homestead,
Hot air blowing in! Spider in bedroom, crawling in Jane's space.

The five verses from“Aeneid” by the Roman poet Virgil show a full scansion.














































Notice that in the scansion of the Dactylic Hexameter poem above, three vertical symbols (│ ⁞ ║) stand serving a very specific function in the scansion process. Scansion is the analysis of metrical patterns seen in verses of a poem written in closed form. Closed form or metered poetry is characterized by regular and consistency in such elements as rhyme, verse length, and metrical pattern.

This symbol │is called the Diaeresis. The diaeresis marks the boundary between the end of a foot and the beginning of the next foot. The diaeresis never occurs within a foot and does not mark any discernible pause in the sense of the poem.

This symbol║ the “double pipe” is called the Caesura. Typically the caesura is significant when it occurs near the middle of the verse and correlates with a break of sense in the verse, such as a punctuation mark. The caesura divides the verse and allows the poet to vary the basic metrical pattern being worked on. There are two types of caesura: masculine and feminine. A masculine caesura is a pause that follows a stress syllable; a feminine caesura follows an unstressed syllable.

Another characteristic of the caesura is the position it holds in the verse. A pause close to the beginning of a verse is called an initial caesura, at the middle of the verse it’s called a medial caesura, and near the end of the verse it's called a terminal caesura.

Caesurae are popular in Greek and Latin versification, especially in heroic verse form, the Dactylic Hexameter. Versification is the process of turning prose into verse using versifier tools such as content, form, poetic diction, measurement, sound effects and elements of poetry. In theory a caesura may occur in any of the six feet, and in fact most verses have two or more caesurae. The principal caesura marks the most obvious pause in the sense, and is usually in the third foot (although it often appears in the second and fourth feet as well).

This symbol ⁞ is called the Bucolic Diaeresis. The bucolic diaeresis is a common feature in the scansion of dactylic hexameter where it is placed between the fourth and fifth feet of a verse and must end with the rhythm of dum-di-di dum-dum. This word, “bucolic” comes from the Greek word boukolos, “herdsman” because dactylic poetry of the herdsmen was notorious for “shave and a haircut” verse ending.

The dactyl ( ̵ ᵕ ᵕ ) is the metrical foot of Greek elegiac poetry. This verse form became a common poetic vehicle for conveying any strong emotion. A typical verse structure of an elegiac couplet is shown in the chart below.




The Roman poet Ennius introduced the Elegiac Couplet to Latin poetry for themes less lofty than that of epic, for which dactylic hexameter was suited. An Elegiac Couplet is a pair of sequential verses in poetry in which the first verse is written in dactylic hexameter and the second verse in dactylic pentameter.

Ovid, the ancient Roman poet is considered the master of the elegiac couplet and in his “Amores” provides striking examples of this. The first two verses of his “Amores” shown below are scanned to show how he structured his elegiac couplets without end rhymes. End rhymes are never a common feature in Roman elegiac couplets.


"Elegy for Angela Barnes, RN” is an elegiac couplet. Stanza 5 of the poem is scanned using quantitative meter symbols as an example to show the verses structured along the pattern of the classical elegiac couplets. In quantitative meter the symbol for the short syllable is the ᵕ and this symbol ̵ is used for the long syllable. The symbols used when scanning verses in qualitative meter show unstressed syllable as this ᵕ and the  ̷  for stressed syllable. This is okay because the English unstressed syllable ᵕ is equivalent to the classical short syllable ᵕ and the English stressed syllable  ̷  is equivalent to ̵ the symbol used for the classical long syllable.






Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Foot in Cretic

Cretic is a metrical foot consisting of three syllables, the first long, the second short and the third long ( ̵ ᵕ ̵ ) also called amphimacer. It is most unusual to see verses in a poem made up exclusively with cretic verses. However, any verse mixing iambs and trochees could employ a cretic foot as a transition. In other words, a verse might have two iambs and two trochees, with a cretic foot between. These three verses taken from the homostrophic ode, “Midsummer’s Day Exquisiteness” and scanned in qualitative meter provide examples of the cretic foot.


The Homostrophic Ode consists of a number of stanzas alike in structure and rhyme scheme. The poet is free to choose in accordance with the demands of the contents:-

the form which the basic structure should take
the number of verses
verse length
rhyme scheme

An ode is typically a lyrical verse written in praise of, or dedicated to someone or something which captures the poet's interest or serves as an inspiration for the ode.

Every so often, in the scansion of a verse there appears at the end of the verse a foot that is missing, a syllable making the verse incomplete. This creates what is known as a catalectic ending. Catalectic is a metrically incomplete verse lacking a syllable at the end or ending with an incomplete foot.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why Grievous Valentine's Day is a Pseudo-elegiac couplet

The poem “Grievous Valentine’s Day” is described as a pseudo-elegiac couplet. Why is that? The last stanza of this poem is scanned in qualitative meter to find answers to the question as to why it is a fake elegiac couplet, and fake elegiac stanza even though it adheres to the concept of what an elegy should reflect.

What is an elegy? The elegy is a type of poem that shows lament, praise and consolation in a formal and sustained way over the death of a particular person. It should not be considered as a eulogy because a eulogy is prose written in praise of the character or achievements of a deceased person.


Here are some reasons why “Grievous Valentine’s Day” is a pseudo-elegiac couplet:

* The second verse of the poem is written in iambic pentameter instead of the compulsory iambic hexameter. This pattern prevails throughout the entire poem.

* The stanza is not made up of elegiac couplets. An elegiac couplet is a pair of sequential verses usually of equal length and rhythmic correspondence with end words that rhyme aabb. The first verse of the couplet is written in dactylic hexameter and second verse in iambic pentameter and the rhyme scheme abab.

* The stanza cannot be called an elegiac stanza. An elegiac stanza, in poetry, is made up of a quatrain in iambic pentameter with alternate verses rhyming. The stanzas in this poem do not conform to this specified format.

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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:

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