Saturday, 28 January 2012

Iamb, stressed or unstressed, that is the question!

I seem to have been doing a lot of writing and putting documents together but none of it poetry!  I had things to
prepare for an AGM of Mothers' Union branch which I am leader of, as well as preparing items for a display to do with National Marriage Week which starts on 7th February.

I haven't been in the mood for writing poetry.  However, poetry class was interesting on Thursday.  We looked at  meter - all those stressed and unstressed syllables and by the end we were all stressed!  Even our tutor who spent months studying this stuff finds it hard!  I feel a lot better about my lack of understanding of it myself now. We all attempted a two line iambic pentameter and looked at Sonnet 18, Shakespeare's famous Shall I compare thee to a summer's day and we had a copy of part of Milton's Paradise Lost (thankfully we didn't have to read it!).  Basically, iambic pentameter is five iambic feet (five beats or stresses per line (foot) - it's the dum-di-dum-di-dum-di-dum sort of rhythm. There are variations of stress which all have names like trochee, anapest, dactyl and spondee and there are different feet length.  Because I am by no means an expert I'll refer you to other places if you would like to get to grips with this.  Firstly, a book by Stephen Fry called The Ode Less Travelled, well worth a read.  Try this website but there are many more.  The sign used over a stressed syllable is a dash - or a slash / and unstressed syllables have a u above them.  Here is another website which may be helpful using Sonnet 18 as an example.  Good luck!  At class we will be looking at Sonnets in a couple of weeks, so revisiting this nightmare, ha, ha.  Meantime, next week we are to take in a poem to workshop.

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