IambicI do not like green eggs and ham,I do not like them, Sam-I-Am
More IambsFrom “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost:Whose woods these are I think I know.His house is in the village though;He will not see me stopping hereTo watch his woods fill up with snow.
Can you count the feet?In literary terms, the foot refers to two or more syllables that together make up the smallest unit of rhythm in a poem. For example, an Iamb is a foot that has two syllables, one unstressed followed by one stressed. An anapest has three syllables, two unstressed followed by one stressed.The numbers of metrical feet in a line are described as follows:• Monometer – one foot• Dimeter — two feet• Trimeter — three feet• Tetrameter — four feet• Pentameter — five feet• Hexameter — six feet• Heptameter — seven feet• Octameter — eight feet
So…how many feet are there in each line below?Whose woods these are I think I know.His house is in the village though;He will not see me stopping hereTo watch his woods fill up with snow.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy EveningBy Robert FrostWhose woods these are I think I know.His house is in the village though;He will not see me stopping hereTo watch his woods fill up with snow.My little horse must think it queerTo stop without a farmhouse nearBetween the woods and frozen lakeThe darkest evening of the year.He gives his harness bells a shakeTo ask if there is some mistake.The only other sound’s the sweepOf easy wind and downy flake.The woods are lovely, dark and deep.But I have promises to keep,And miles to go before I sleep,And miles to go before I sleep.
My Mistress Eyes Are Nothing like the Sun (Sonnet 130) by William ShakespeareMy mistress eyes are nothing like the sun;Coral is far more red than her lips red;If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.I have seen roses damasked, red and white,But no such roses see I in her cheeks;And in some perfumes is there more delightThan in the breath that from my mistress reeks.I love to hear her speak, yet well I knowThat music hath a far more pleasing sound;I grant I never saw a goddess go;My mistress when she walks treads on the ground. And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare.
Iambic Pentameter Each line has five feet (pentameter) The feet are all iambs (da DUM). Iambic pentameter is the most common meter in English, and Shakespeare’sfavorite for both his plays and his sonnets.
TrochaicFrom The Tyger, by William Blake:Tyger! Tyger! burning brightIn the forests of the night,What immortal hand or eyeCould frame thy fearful symmetry?
Once upon a midnight dreary….From The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe:And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sittingOn the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;And his eyes have all the seeming of a demons that is dreaming.And the lamplight oer him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floorShall be lifted---nevermore!
How many feet now?Tyger! Tyger! burning brightIn the forests of the night… = trochaic ________meterAnd the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sittingOn the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door = trochaic _________
How Many Feet?Tyger! Tyger! burning brightIn the forests of the night… = trochaic tetrameterAnd the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sittingOn the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door = trochaic heptameter
The word dactylos is Greek for "finger" (and for "toe" aswell, which picks up on the notion of feet). The dactyl istherefore a snippet of rhythm that resembles, at least tothe ear, a finger. It has a rhythmic shape consisting of onelong syllable which represents the long bone, or phalanx, ofthe finger, plus two short syllables, which represent the twoshort phalanges.
Dactylic (or…DUM diddy DUM diddy DUM diddy DUM diddy)From Evangeline, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:THIS is the FORest priMEval. The MURmuring PINES and the HEMlocksHow many feet?This is the| forest pri|meval. The| murmuring| pines and the| hemlocks Hey! It’s dactylic hexameter. Just like The Odyssey.
Are these dactyls? Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet Eating her curds and whey Along came a spider and sat down beside her and Frightened Miss Muffet away.
AnapesticTwas the night before Christmas, when all through the houseNot a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
How many feet?"And today the Great Yertle,That marvelous heIs King of the Mud.That is all he can see."
Other Types of FeetA spondee consists of two stressed syllables in a row:football mayday Key West black holedumbbell childhood bathrobe love songThe last foot in a line of epic poetry (i.e., Homer) is almost always a spondee.In an amphibrach, the middle of the three syllables in the foot is stressed, as in the name Patricia or the words organic and fantastic. And NOW comes| an act of| Enormous| Enormance! No former| performer’s| performed this| performance! from Dr. Seuss’s “If I Ran the Circus”:
Pyrrhic: Avoiding Sing-Song CadencesPoetry in which every stress appears in its place can take on a tedioussing-song quality, and poets avoid that problem by introducing smallvariations into the meter of individual lines. A particularly commonvariation is the replacement of an individual iamb or trochee with a pyrrhic, adisyllabic foot in which neither syllable is stressed (or, at least, in which neithersyllable is stressed very strongly). The following line from WilliamShakespeare’s Richard III is iambic, but with one pyrrhic substitution: A horse! | a horse! | my king|dom for | a horse!If you read this line naturally, as if it were prose, the preposition “for” wouldhave no (or almost no) stress. The line thus consists of five two-syllable feet, allof which are iambs except the fourth, which is a pyrrhic. The line overall is feltto be iambic because of the overwhelming general iambic cadence, but sporadic pyrrhicsubstitutions here and elsewhere save that cadence from a relentless thumping andclunking that would distract from the natural rhythm of the language.