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Write a compare and contrast paper on two poems of your choosing.
Try to use the terms and concepts we have learned as the things you are examining. This is not a paper about YOU or YOUR tastes or what YOU like, but rather an academic paper about two poems, what they share and how they differ.
Concept #3 Meter & Beat
Rhyme is important in poetry but so is rhythm. Just as rhyme helps us remember things, meter does. The two combine (with other sound elements) to create the overall sound texture of a poem. In traditional poetry rhyme and meter were standard and today many poets use these as well. in fact rap and hip hop depend highly on strong and highly complex metrical strategies. This is what helps these artists remember and stay on track when reciting /rapping their work. A powerful meter can give a poem a very distinct feeling, or sensibility.
When poets talk about meter they are speaking about the number of stressed ( / ) and unstressed (– ) beats per line. These are measured in accent marks and dashes and we refer to the groups of these accented and unaccented (stressed and unstressed) beats as poetic feet. The other element we refer to when discussing poetic meter is line length. This refers to the number of poetic feet per line. There are names for both the different kinds of poetic feet and the kinds of poetic lines. WHen we read a poem to determind the meter, we call it scansion.
Here is a rudimentary description of how to scan a poem: http://www.wikihow.com/Scan-a-Poem
The primary Poetic Feet are referred to using these terms (an example word from Fussell’s examples is given next to them):
Iambic: destroy (unaccented/accented)
Anapestic: intervene (unaccented/unaccented/accented)
Trochaic: topsy (accented/unaccented)
Dactylic: merrily (accented/unaccented/unaccented)
The substitutive feet (feet not used as primary, instead used to supplement and vary a primary foot) are referred to using these terms:
Spondaic: hum drum (accented/accented) Star Wars
The poetic foot then shows the placement of accented and unaccented syllables. But the second part of the term, pentameter, shows the number of feet per line. In the case of pentameter, there are basically five feet per line.
The types of line lengths are as follows:
One foot: Monometer
Two feet: Dimeter
Three feet: Trimeter
Four feet: Tetrameter
Five feet: Pentameter
Six feet: Hexameter
Seven feet: Heptameter
Eight feet: Octameter
When you combine feet and lines together you get a description of the poetic meter. Hence, a poem with five iambs per line is called a poem in iambic pentameter. (Which happens to be the most comming poetic meter in traditional poetry.) A poem with four iambs per line would be in iambic tetrameter.
Check this for fun: Iambic pentameter rap:
Concept #2 poet stategies
Poets use rhyme and meter but also a lot of other poetic strategies as well! Familiarize yourself with these (in fact memorize them) so we can speak intelligently in here about poetry…
apostrophe: a direct address of an inanimate object, abstract qualities, or a person not living or present.
Example: “Beware, O Asparagus, you’ve stalked my last meal.”
enjambment : the continuation of the logical sense — and therefore the grammatical construction — beyond the end of a line of poetry. This is sometimes done with the title, which in effect becomes the first line of the poem
hyperbole: exaggeration for emphasis (the opposite of understatement)
Example: “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”
metaphor: comparison between essentially unlike things without using words OR application of a name or description to something to which it is not literally applicable
Example: “[Love] is an ever fixed mark, / that looks on tempests and is never shaken.”
metonymy: a closely related term substituted for an object or idea
Example: “We have always remained loyal to the crown.”
oxymoron: a combination of two words that appear to contradict each other
paradox: a situation or phrase that appears to be contradictory but which contains a truth worth considering
Example: “In order to preserve peace, we must prepare for war.”
personification: the endowment of inanimate objects or abstract concepts with animate or living qualities
Example: “Time let me play / and be golden in the mercy of his means”
repetition: The repeated use of the same words or phrases in poetry.
Example: see video above- the Black Eyed Peas song. Or Poe’s The Raven.
simile: comparison between two essentially unlike things using words such as “like,” as,” or “as though”
Example: “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”
synecdoche: a part substituted for the whole
Example: “Friends, Romans, countrymen: lend me your ears”
imagery: word or sequence of words representing a sensory experience (visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, and gustatory)
Example: “bells knelling classes to a close” (auditory)
synesthesia: an attempt to fuse different senses by describing one in terms of another
Example: the sound of her voice was sweet
symbol: an object or action that stands for something beyond itself
Example: white = innocence, purity, hope
alliteration: the repetition of consonant sounds, particularly at the beginning of words
Example: “. . . like a wanderer white”
assonance: the repetition of similar vowel sounds
Example: “I rose and told him of my woe”
consonance: the repetition of consonants in the middle of words
onomatopoeia: the use of words to imitate the sounds they describe
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Example: “crack” or “whir”
allusion: a reference to the person, event, or work outside the poem or literary piece
Example: “Shining, it was Adam and maiden”
Spoken Word: Poetry that lives off the page, in a slam or performance arena
Example: See the YOUTUBE video here:
Rhyming of the final words of lines in a poem. The following, for example, is from Seamus Heaney’s “Digging” :
Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground
When end rhyming words have ONE syllable, like ground and round it is called MASCULINE rhyme. When there are two or more syllables, it is called FEMININE rhyme.
Rhyming of two words within the same line of poetry. The following, for example, is from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” :
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
Slant Rhymes (sometimes called imperfect, partial, near, oblique, off etc.)
Rhyme in which two words share just a vowel sound (assonance – e.g. “heart” and “star”) or in which they share just a consonant sound (consonance – e.g. “milk” and “walk”). Slant rhyme is a technique perhaps more in tune with the uncertainties of the modern age than strong rhyme. The following example is also from Seamus Heaney’s “Digging” :
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun
Rhyme using two different words that happen to sound the same (i.e. homonyms) – for example “raise” and “raze”. The following example – a triple rich rhyme – is from Thomas Hood’s” A First Attempt in Rhyme” :
Partake the fire divine that burns,
In Milton, Pope, and Scottish Burns,
Who sang his native braes and burns.
Rhyme on words that look the same but which are actually pronounced differently – for example “bough” and “rough”. The opening four lines of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, for example, go :
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Here, “temperate” and “date” look as though they rhyme, but few readers would pronounce “temperate” so that they did. Beware that pronunciations can drift over time and that rhymes can end up as eye rhymes when they were originally full (and vice versa).
Simply using the same word twice. An example is in (some versions of) Emily Dickinson’s “Because I Could not Stop for Death” :
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground—
The Roof was scarcely visible—
The Cornice—in the Ground—
It’s clear there is often a certain amount of overlap between rhyme and other poetical devices such as assonance – subjects to be covered in future lessons.
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