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Poetry in performance 3 rhythm

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Draft slide show for lectures I do in English 218: Poetry in Performance at The College of Saint Rose.

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Poetry in performance 3 rhythm

  1. 1. Poetry in Performance: Rhythm Reading and performing poems in public. Daniel Nester, The College of Saint Rose, 2006-2015
  2. 2. No word is out of place in a poem. No sound is out of place, either. The same goes for sound, rhythm, accent, syllable, or place on the page. None of this is random or left to chance.
  3. 3. A poem involves time and rhythm, like music. Even in the freest of free verse, no sound, rhythm, accent, syllable, or place on the page is random or is not thought-out in a poem.
  4. 4. This is what is called prosody, or verse theory, which is the theory of organizing principles of the structure of poetry—its rhythm, sound patterns, meter, rhymes.
  5. 5. Prepare to be taken into the realm of prosody.
  6. 6. Prosody: the study of all the elements of language that contribute toward acoustic and rhythmic effects, chiefly in poetry but also in prose. The term derived from an ancient Greek word that originally meant a song accompanied by music or the particular tone or accent given to an individual syllable. Greek and Latin literary critics generally regarded prosody as part of grammar; it concerned itself with the rules determining the length or shortness of a syllable, with syllabic quantity, and with how the various combinations of short and long syllables formed the metres (i.e., the rhythmic patterns) of Greek and Latin poetry. Prosody was the study of meter and its uses in lyric, epic, and dramatic verse. In sophisticated modern criticism, however, the scope of prosodic study has been expanded until it now concerns itself with what the 20th-century poet Ezra Pound called “the articulation of the total sound of a poem.” —Encyclopedia Britannica
  7. 7. Iamb any two syllables, usually a single word but not always, whose accent is on the second syllable. Ta-TUM Example: upon, arise Trochee any two syllables, usually a single word but not always, word whose accent is on the first syllable. TUM-Ta Example: virtue, further
  8. 8. Anapest any three syllables, usually a single word but not always, word whose accent is on the third syllable. Ta-Ta-TUM Example: intervene Dactyl any three syllables, usually a single word but not always, word whose accent is on the first syllable. TUM-Ta-Ta Example: tenderly
  9. 9. Spondee any two syllables, sometimes a single word but not always, with strong accent on the first and second syllable. TUM-TUM Example (in this case no one word, but a series of words in this line): The long day wanes, the slow moon climbs. (The words “day wanes” form a spondee.) RAID KILLS BUGS DEAD (double spondee!) Hey you!
  10. 10. To name the kind of foot, use the adjective form of these words. A line of iambs = iambic A line of trochees = trochaic A line of anapests = anapestic A line of dactyls = dactylic A line of spondees = spondaic
  11. 11. To name the kind of foot, use the adjective form of these words. A line of iambs = iambic A line of trochees = trochaic A line of anapests = anapestic A line of dactyls = dactylic A line of spondees = spondaic
  12. 12. Iambic pentameter Five units of iambics Da DUM Da DUM Da DUM Da DUM Da DUM i AM i AM i AM i AM i AM
  13. 13. I AM a PI rate WITH a WOOD en LEG But soft: what light through yonder window breaks? So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
  14. 14. Iambic pentameter in everyday speech: A deep depression moving from the west. Diana dyes her hair I’m sure she does. Would anybody like a cup of tea?
  15. 15. The number of feet in a given line is combined with the suffix -meter. dimeter a 2-foot line trimeter a 3-foot line tetrameter a 4-foot line pentameter a 5-foot line hexameter a 6-foot line
  16. 16. Any group of lines forming a unit is a stanza. Stanza of 2 lines is a couplet Stanza of 3 lines is a tercet Stanza of 4 lines is a quatrain Stanza of 6 lines is a sestet Stanza of 7 lines is a septet Stanza of 8 lines is an octave
  17. 17. Any group of lines forming a unit is a stanza. Stanza of 2 lines is a couplet Stanza of 3 lines is a tercet Stanza of 4 lines is a quatrain Stanza of 6 lines is a sestet Stanza of 7 lines is a septet Stanza of 8 lines is an octave
  18. 18. No rhythm is random in a poem. Not even a random rhythm.
  19. 19. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  20. 20. the lost baby poem the time i dropped your almost body down down to meet the waters under the city and run one with the sewage into the sea what did i know about waters rushing back what did i know about drowning or being drowned you would have been born into winter in the year of the disconnected gas and no car we would have made the thin walk over genesee hill into the canada wind to watch you slip like ice into strangers’ hands you would have fallen naked as snow into winter if you were here i could tell you these and some other things if i am ever less than a mountain for your definite brothers and sisters let the rivers pour over my head let the sea take me for a spiller of seas let black men call me stranger always for your never named sake —Lucille Clifton
  21. 21. Here is Clifton’s poem, scanned and marked up for sounds by poet Sharon Olds.
  22. 22. A beautiful, sad poem, one that is not a received form (sonnet, terza rima, ballade, etc.). But there are several things working inside this poem that affect how one reads it silently, and how one might perform it: the line breaks, the white space between words, the use of all lower-cased letters. This sets us up quite nicely for our next set of slides on the page, or typographical level.

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