RHYTHM Rhythm refers to the pattern of sounds made by varying the stressed and unstressed syllables in a poem. Rhythm (or "measure") in writing is like the beat in music. In poetry, rhythm implies that certain words are produced more force- fully than others, and may be held for longer duration. The repetition of a pattern of such emphasis is what produces a "rhythmic effect." The word rhythm comes from the Greek, meaning "measured motion."
There are five basicrhythms in English poetry: Iambic (made up of units of : one stressed syllable and one unstressed syllable, or “x /”) Trochaic (made up of units of: one unstressed stressed and one stressed syllable, or “/ x”) Spondaic (made up of units of: two unstressed syllables, or “/ /”) Anapestic (made up of units of: two stressed syllables and one unstressed, or “x x /”) Dactylic (made up of units of: one unstressed syllable and two stressed syllables, or “/ / x”)
In poems, as in songs, a rhythmmay be obvious or muted. Apoem like Vachel Lindsays "TheCongo" consciously recreatesthe rhythms of a tribal dance:
Fat black bucks in a wine-barrel room Barrel-house kings, with feet unstable,Sagged and reeled and pounded on the table, Pounded on the table, Beat an empty barrel with the handle of a broom, Hard as they were able Boom,boom, BOOM, With a silk umbrella and the handle of a broom, Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM.
On the other hand, some "free verse" has underlying rhythmical patterns that, while variable and not "regular" like Vachel Lindsays, do nonetheless give a feeling of unity to the work. For example, read aloud the following lines a few times:
A chimney, breathing a little smoke. The sun, I cant see making a bit of pink I cant quite see in the blue. The pink of five tulips at five P.M. on the day before March first.
Why Would You Chose toUse Rhythm in Your Poem ?You are already using a rhythm in your writing, whether you know it or not. All sounds break down into some sort of pattern. Even daily conversation contains rhythm. The question is whether you will work to make your rhythms sounds better and flow more smoothly or not