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A few words about meter

By October 4, 2021September 16th, 2022No Comments

When I first started writing, I thought of meter as constructed by selecting words that accentually fit the rhythmic pattern. Eventually, I began to feel or sense the meter, rather than construct it, which was liberating. For the blank verse poems in Part A, I use the standard iambic pentameter line with the option of an eleventh unstressed syllable:

– / – / – / – / – / (-)

A trochee (/ – ) can be substituted for any foot except the fifth. The substitution of a trochee in the first foot, which is where I tend to place it, scans like this:

/ – – / – / – / – / (-)

With these elements, the ending and beginning of the blank verse lines are active spots for rhythmic variation. Words do not have inherent stress but build or diminish stress in relation to the words beside them. The same monosyllabic word, for example, may be stressed in one line, unstressed in the next. I also sometimes use syneresis where English vowels do not, to my ear, result in full syllables, as, for example, with the words ‘flower’ or ‘quiet’ or ‘being,’ which I may treat as one syllable rather than two. Thus, I scan the opening of A.21 as the second scanned line-pattern above:

“Bless oh my being my Being, all source, all life…”

The intended effect here is of words bursting from their acceptable scansion in transcendent exuberance. Dieresis, the opposite effect, I sometimes use to stretch out a word to syllables fuller than, to my ear, are present. “Radiate” or “radiance,” for example, may sometimes count as three full syllables, sometimes two.

It is a game with no sure footing.