Syllable&Accent - Liberty Union High School District

Stress or Accent (Beat)
A stressed or accented
syllable is uttered in a
higher pitch or with
greater emphasis than the
other syllables around it.
Accentual Verse or Accentual Meter
The rhythmical pattern is determined by the number
of stressed/accented syllables (beats) in each line.
The total number of syllables per line varies.
The accents or stresses are measured.
"Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man,"
By Mother Goose
Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man,
Bake me a cake, as fast as you can;
Pat it, prick it, and mark it with B,
Put it in the oven for baby and me.
Source: The Dorling Kindersley Book of Nursery Rhymes (2000)
Another Example of Accentual Verse
/ . . . /. . . . / . . ./
Star light, Star bright,
(4 syllables)
. / . . . /. . . . . / . . ./
First star I see tonight
(6 syllables)
.. . / . . . /. . .. . . . / . . . ./
I wish I may, I wish I might
(8 syllables)
. . / . . . . . /. . . . . . / .. .. ./
Have the wish I wish tonight
(7 syllables)
Syllabic Meter or Syllabic Verse
In this line of poetry, the number of
syllables is measured, but the
number of stresses varies.
*Dylan Thomas “Poem in October”
*Thomas Nashe “In Time of Plague
(Adieu, farewell, earth’s bliss)”
Accentual-Syllabic Verse or Meter
Determined by the number and alternation of stressed &
unstressed syllables which are organized into feet. The total
number of syllables in a line is fixed or set.
Syllables and Stresses are both measured.
from William Wordsworth's “Daffodils”
For oft, / when on/ my couch / I lie
In va/cant or/ in pen/sive mood,
They flash / upon / that in/ward eye
Which is/ the bliss / of sol/itude;
And then / my heart / with plea/sure fills,
And dan/ces with / the daf/fodils.
This is iambic (da DUM) tetrameter (line of 4 feet). Also, each
line has eight syllables.
Types of Feet
iamb: 2 syllables; first unstressed, second stressed
da DUM
trochee: 2 syllables; first stressed, second unstressed
DUM da
(trochaic) garden
spondee: 2 syllables; both stressed
DUM DUM (spondaic) hog-wild
(a bit rare)
dactyl: 3 syllables; first stressed, second & third unstressed
DUM da da (dactylic) poetry
anapest: 3 syllables; first & second unstressed, third stressed
da da DUM (anapestic) underfoot overcome
IAMB – da DUM – two syllables, first unstressed,
second stressed
Example of iamb from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18:
So LONG / as MEN / can BREATHE / or EYES / can SEE,
So LONG / lives THIS / and THIS / gives LIFE / to THEE.
TROCHEE – DUM da – two syllables, first
stressed, second unstressed
Example of trochee from William
Shakespeare’s Macbeth:
DOU-ble, / DOU-ble / TOIL and / TROU-ble;
FI-re / BURN, and / CAL-dron / BUB-ble.
DACTYL – DUM da da – three syllables, first stressed, last two
Example of dactyl (and spondee) from Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow’s “Evangeline”
DIS-tant, se-CLUD-ed, still, THE lit-tle VIL-lage of GRAND-PRE
WEST and south, THERE were fields, OF flax and OR-chards
(four dactyls and one spondee)
ANAPEST – da da DUM – three syllables, first two unstressed,
last one stressed
Example of anapest from Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee”
For the MOON/ never BEAMS,/ without BRING/ing me DREAMS/
Of the BEAU/tiful ANN/abel LEE;/
And the STARS/ never RISE,/ but I FEEL/ the bright EYES/
Of the BEAU/tiful ANN/abel LEE;/
Two more types of feet:
cretic: DUM da DUM – three syllables; 1. stressed, 2.
unstressed, 3. stressed
pyrrhic: da da – two syllables, both unstressed
Types of Meter
monometer: 1 foot in the line of poetry
dimeter: 2 feet in the line of poetry
trimeter: 3 feet
an iambic hexameter is called “ALEXANDRINE”
da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM
tetrameter: 4 feet
pentameter: 5 feet
hexameter: 6 feet (most often dactylic feet)
heptameter: 7 feet
octameter: 8 feet
Monometer (one beat per line)
Had ‘em.
Dimeter (two beats)
“The Bridge of Sighs”
Thomas Hood
Take her up tenderly,
Lift her with care,
Fashioned so slenderly,
Young and so fair.
Trimeter (three beats)
“The Tower”
W.B. Yeats
It is time that I wrote my will;
I choose upstanding men
That climb the streams until
The fountain leap, and at dawn
Drop their cast at the side
Of dripping stone; I declare
They shall inherit my pride.
Tetrameter (four beats)
“Stopping by Woods”
Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know
His house is in the village though,
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
Pentameter (five beats)
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,
The vapours weep their burthens to the ground,
Man comes and tills the soil and lies beneath,
And after many a summer dies the swan.
Hexameter (six beats)
“The Lake Isle of Innisfree”
W.B. Yeats
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made.
by Muriel Rukeyser
Some go local
Some go express
Some can't wait
To answer yes.
Some complain
Of strain and stress
Their answer may be
No for Yes.
Some like failure
Some like success
Some like Yes Yes
Yes Yes Yes
Open your eyes,
Dream but don't guess.
Your biggest surprise
Comes after Yes.

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