We Got Rhythm: The Beat of the Bard
Good poetry being a close kin to music not only depends on the sounds of words to make it musical, but it also needs to have a certain meter and rhythm to make it akin to a song. And what we have here are the patterns and the measures used in traditional poetry; it is the math inherent in poetry so get out your math thinking caps for this article, word-nerds.
Rhythm is the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a word such as in Duhduh in which the first syllable is stressed or duhDuh when the second syllable is stressed. These little units of stressed and unstressed in a word or group of words the are measures which are called feet, and meter depends on the number of feet which are strung together in a line, as in iambic pentameter which has five feet (five units of sound consisting of one unstressed syllable and a stressed syllable) as used by Shakespeare in his sonnets, “Shall I compare thee to a sum mer”s day” a definite duhDuh duhDuh duhDuh duhDuh duhDuh pattern. And this particular Shakespearean pattern is most common in traditional English poetry.
There are actually five common rhythms in poetry which consist of the following:
1.Anapest: duh-duh-Duh as in “but of course!”
2.Dactyl: Duh-duh-duh as in “honestly”
3.Lamb: duh-Duh as in “collapse”
4.Trochee: Duh-duh as in”pizza”.
And the number repetitions of these feet in a line are named as follows: one foot in a line is called a monometer, two feet is a dimeter, three feet is a trimeter, four feet a tetameter, five feet a pentameter and six feet are a hexameter.
Now I hope your eyes are not too glazed over by now, but fortunately in today’s modern poetry, with poetic poetic license that we enjoy today the hard and fast rule books have been tossed away. But even this free-verse poetry that we write today should have a certain flow which possesses the natural rhythms of contemporary speech today along with room for individual differences in our thought patterns. I have heard it said that traditional iambic pentameter was the natural rhythm of speech in Shakespeare’s day,