Today I want us to focus on rhythm, cadence, measure, pitch, stress (something touched on earlier this week) and duration.
"No aspect of a poem is more singular, more unique, than its rhythm." (The Sounds of Poetry, p. 51)
"rhythm: As natural as breathing, the pulse of the blood, the ebb and flow of the tides, it is immediately experienced and recognized with pleasure, but it eludes definition. Rhythm is perceived in a sequence of evens when they recur so regularly that the time intervals they occupy are felt to be either nearly equal to one another or symmetrical. The experience is tinged with emotion and often affords a sense of balance. [...] In speech, be it good prose or verse, rhythm functions overtly and with particular cogency. In verse, each time interval in a sequence is occupied by syllables and pauses, and is usually marked with a beat." (Poetry Handbook, p. 146)
"Since the syllables that compose English words vary in pitch as do tones in music, and also in length and accent, these elements affect, to hamper or to help, the rhythm of our verse." (Poetry Handbook, p. 147)
"[T]he stress on a syllable in English is not inherent in the sound, but relative." (The Sounds of Poetry, p. 12)
"[A] stressed syllable within one foot may be less stressed than the unstressed syllable in another." (The Sounds of Poetry, p. 14)
"Long-and-short, a matter of duration, is not the same as accent. That fact is demonstrated by such words as 'popcorn': the first syllable is stressed. But saying the word aloud a few times, and listening carefully, will indicate clearly that the second syllable is longer--the sound lasts slighly but distinctly longer. In the word 'ocean,' in contrast, the first syllable is both stressed and longer. Thus, sometimes duration reinforces accent, and sometimes it contrasts with accent." (The Sounds of Poetry, p. 15)
"Longer words tend to move faster than one-syllable words[.]" (The Sounds of Poetry, p. 37)
"Just as the varying relation of pitch and duration, in their changing degrees, can be expressive, and just as the varying relation of line and syntax can be expressive, the varying kinds and degrees of likeness of sound can be expressive." (The Sounds of Poetry, p.81)
"The play between pitch and duration, between syntax and line, betwen like and unlike sounds, becomes a means of art." (The Sounds of Poetry, p. 97)
"From the volume, pitch, relative stress, pacing, and rhythmic pattern of the speech--even if the actual words are indistinct--we reconstruct the emotional content." (The Flexible Lyric, p. 78)
"metre: The abstract pattern that obtains when rhythm is formally organized. It imposes on verse a regular recurrence of durations, stresses, or syllables that is intended to parcel a line into equal divisions of time. Each of the temporal periods into which the line is divided is called a foot. The notion that speech can be fitted to strictly equal periods is now recognized as untenable. Nevertheless, metrical schemes do have a marked regularity. The satisfactions, the happy surprises, of formal versification lie in the relationship between such an abstract temporal scheme and the rhythms of natural speech." (Poetry Handbook, p. 90)
"Punctuation is biological." (The Life of Poetry, p. 117)
The Flexible Lyric, Ellen Bryant Voigt.
The Life of Poetry, Muriel Rukeyser.
Poetry Handbook, Fourth Edition, Babette Deutsch.
The Sounds of Poetry, Robert Pinsky.
I will direct you to these resources: Rhythm and Sound in Poetry
Meter in Free Verse
Rhyme, Meter, Stanza, and Pattern
Today's assignment: Remember when you read your piece aloud four times? Think about what you noticed. Consider how any standard poetic devices (such as metrical feet) might alter particular phrases or lines.