Blasts from the Past
With one exception, the boards I sometimes visit to get and give advice on fledgling poems are not not helpful with meter. In fact, it’s hard to get advice on meter anywhere, since it’s so badly taught — when it’s taught at all — even at the graduate level.
The most common confusion, between speech stress, metrical stress, and rhythm, leads too many to believe that “correctly” handled meter is metronomic (thank you so much uncle Ezra!) and that “free verse” is free from that boring tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock …
It’s a dreadful, pernicious error, and one I’ve from time to time tried to address here at the Sonnetarium. October of 2003 was one of those times, and, in particular, I made an arbitrary mini-collection of the opening 2 lines of the first 12 iambic pentameter poems by 12 different poets in the New Formalist anthology Rebel Angels. The point was to demonstrate, using poets widely misunderstood to be rhythmically unadventurous, just how wildly the rhythm of clearly pentametric lines can vary through exploiting ordinary speech syntax and a few fairly standard metrical substitutions. That post is here; the whole month is here.
Note: The first 6 years of this blog were not done in WordPress and were not originally hosted at this domain, but it’s all been moved. It looks a lot different, but I think all the internal links are good. One day I really am going to get that long blogroll moved here.
Another Note: Ezra Pound, whatever else he may have done or known, seriously misunderstood both meter and the musical line.
Update: The old radio blog linked above will soon be down for about half an hour, but should be back up by 22:30 EDT at the latest.
Update: It’s back!