rhyme scheme and metre for dummies. Help a poor german understand how to analyze...

Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2010 01:05 pm
The small wax candles melt to light,
Flicker in marble, reflect bright
Asterisks on brass candlesticks:
At the Virgin`s altar on the right,
Blue flames are jerking on wicks.

Old dough-faced women with black shawls
Drawn down tight kneel in the stalls.
Cold yellow candle-tongues, blue flame
Mince and caper as whispered calls
Take wing up to the Holy Name.

Thus each day in the sacred place
They kneel. Golden shrines, altar lace,
Marble columns and cool shadows
Still them. In the gloom you cannot trace
A wrinkle on their beeswax brows.

I know that the rhyme scheme is aabab, but does this form have an extra name?
And Im really desperate with the metre. Does it even have a metre? And if not how to express it?
The structure of this poem kills me.

Please please help me because I couldnt find anything on the internet.

Thank you! =)
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Reply Mon 22 Nov, 2010 04:56 pm
I'll try to put this as simply as I can for you.

Rhyme schemes typically do not have names other than those similar to the one you provided [aabab]. Some poem types always have the same rhyme scheme like a Shakespearean sonnet is 'ababcdcdefefgg.' If you found a poem with that rhyme scheme, you could simply call it a Shakespearean sonnet instead of labeling it by its long rhyme scheme.

Meters are determined by the type and number of 'feet' in each line. A foot is described by the sequence of stressed and unstress syllables. The types of feet are:

Iamb [Unstressed syllable followed by stressed syllable like 'begin']
Troche [Stressed syllable followed by unstressed syllable like 'farmer']
Anapest [Two unstressed syllables followed by stressed syllable like 'in the back']
Dactyl [A stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables like 'butterfly']
Spondee [Two stressed syllables like 'great dane']

Once you find out whether a line is one type of the above based on the sequence of stressed and unstressed syllables, you can determine the number of each meter.

For example, look at the line 'That time of year thou mayst in me behold' by Shakespeare. It is iambic because it begins with an unstressed syllable [that], followed by a stressed syllable [time], etc. To determine the number, count how many times the iamb foot repeats [an iamb is only two syllables, and there are ten syllables here], meaning there are five feet.

The amount of feet in a line are read as:

Two - Dimeter (usually as a variation)
Three - Trimeter (usually as a variation)
Four - Tetrameter (very common)
Five - Pentameter (very common)
Six - Hexameter (rare)
Seven - Heptameter (very rare)
Eight - Octameter (extremely rare)

Because Shakespeare's line was iambic and had five feet, it is an iambic pentameter [pentameter is the name of five feet].

I won't give you your answer for you because that's hardly learning, but try determining the stressed and unstressed syllables and work from there. For future reference, basically every poem has a meter. Some poems will not 100% keep the same meter, but the meter it maintains the most is the meter it is considered to be. Much luck!
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