Talk:Metre (poetry)

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 Definition Basic rhythmic pattern of lines in a poem; basic structure of a poetic line in terms of its beat or rhythm. [d] [e]
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Getting Started

Although I've included a bit of an outline for the non-yet-written part of the article, it's only a reminder to myself, and a vague suggestion to anyone else who wants to work on this article. I of course claim no "ownership" of the article or its structure. Revise away, whoever will! Bruce M. Tindall (9 March 2009)

I suppose we might also want to say a bit about some of the not-so-generally-accepted metrical theories, like Sidney Lanier's music-oriented system, or W.C. Williams's "variable foot," or the systems that recognize more than two levels of stress. Bruce M. Tindall (9 March 2009)

British Spellings

The article on the unit of length "metre", and the disambig page, were already spelled (spelt?) the British way, so I guess we'll go with that. I checked the OED, though, and while "metre" is "-re", even in British English "pentameter" is "-er." Bruce M. Tindall (9 March 2009)


The -er/-re issue doesn't matter, I think -- but there should just be one article. I'll comment on this one.

Metre isn't only what's countable -- it can be a pattern of different things, including (as is to some degree indicated here) stress, length, initial sound or internal assonance, gaps (caesurae), and overall line length. What it means in English is usually a pattern of stressed syllables, but the terms we use, such as "iambic," mean something totally different to us than they mean to, say, the ancient Greeks, whose poetry was measured in length of syllable, not stress (i.e., our "weak/strong" iamb was their "short/long" one). So I'd say I prefer "measurable pattern" to "some countable attribute."

My preference would also be, after giving an overall definition, as inclusive as possible, and then proceeding historically.

If you can lay hands on it, the very best book ever written on this subject is Paul Fussell's Poetic Meter and Poetic Form -- looks as though it is still in print [1]. I'll dig up my copy, and let's see what we can do. We should of course not only use him as a source -- but it's a good start.

Thanks for asking me to comment on this entry/ Russell Potter 02:49, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

content from meter (poetry)

Meter in poetry is the basic structure of a poetic line in terms of its beat or rhythm. It depends on the sounds and stresses of the syllables of the spoken words, as opposed to the meaning of the words. It is often broken up into smaller elements called feet, and sometimes described as metrons, and the particular pattern of feet can be set to describe the meter of a line. It can be broken up with elements called caesurae. In an early epic system called dactylic hexameter by the bard Homer who wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey, there are various rules which govern the structure of a meter, and by playing the sounds of the words against the rhythms, a poet can achieve a variety of effects. The Roman poet Virgil worked within the metric system and wrote the masterpiece The Aeneid.