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Old 04-08-2002, 06:20 AM
roses are read roses are read is offline
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hey hey-
i'm a newbie to the poetry world, outside of my journal, that is, and i was wondering, what is metrical poetry? i'm heard the term metered, etc., but don't understand it. i was also wondering what the pattern is for a sonnet. thanks!

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Old 04-08-2002, 09:40 AM
Michael Juster Michael Juster is offline
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Portia: People write books on these questions, so I will try to be brief but helpful. I think of metrical poetry as poetry arranged in a pattern of alternating stressed and unstressed syllables. In the word "Juster" the first syllable is stressed and the second is not. A "foot" is a group of two or three syllables linked by sound. "Juster" is a foot called a "trochee" ("tro-kee"), for instance. "Disneyland" is a three syllable foot with the stress on the first syllable called a "dactyl". This stuff gets tricky, but can become almost as natural as riding a bike. I'm away from my library and have a horrible memory, but I would check out Tim Steele's Missing Measures and All The Fun's In How You Say A Thing, although there are also good books by John Hollander (Rhyme's Reason) and Paul Fussell (darned if I remember the title, but someone will help me).
A sonnet is a rhymed fourteen line poem almsot always written in a particular meter called iambic pentameter--a ten or eleven syllable line in which the even-numbered syllables are stressed (although some variations to avoid monotony are not only OK but desirable). There are some set rhyme schemes that are famous and some people make up their own "nonce" sonnets. There's a terrific site called "Sonnet Central" that has some splendid "Introduction to the Sonnet" material that you should check out if you want more info.
If you're thinking about writing a sonnet (one of the joys of my life), I would hold off a little until you're comfortable writing unrhymed iambic pentameter. Trying to write in rhyme AND meter when you haven't done either is generally too hard to start with.
Good luck!
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Old 04-08-2002, 01:52 PM
graywyvern graywyvern is offline
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: dallas
Posts: 718

--just an addendum:

the RADIO is FULL of metrical poetry! just take
away the music. mostly it's either iambic tetrameter,
or the ballad meter of iambic tetrameter plus trimeter
in alternating lines. i would not go so far as to say
that all of it is terrible as POETRY, but you would
probably be wiser to listen to the rhythms than the
words if you would like to be a good metric poet. their
liberties with exact meter are in no way different from
the liberties of past poets, except there are more of them.

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Old 04-08-2002, 06:06 PM
Robt_Ward Robt_Ward is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Cape Cod, MA, USA
Posts: 4,588

The Fussell book is "Poetic Meter & Poetic Form", and it's very good, as is Tim Steele's "All the Fun's...."

To answer your question very, very basically, if it is rhythmic and has a repeating pattern it is metrical. Other things may be metrical, but anything that meets those criteria definitely is.

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Old 04-08-2002, 06:42 PM
roses are read roses are read is offline
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thanks so much for your answers! i think i'll check out some of those books, but my interests fall more into freeform for now. maybe when i have more time to devote to poetry, i'll try something more traditional. again, thanks!

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