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How does one scan Wilfred Owen's poem "Mental Cases"?How to scan Wilfred Owen's poem...

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moonpig123 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 6, 2012 at 6:22 AM via web

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How does one scan Wilfred Owen's poem "Mental Cases"?

How to scan Wilfred Owen's poem Mental cases


Hi, I am really struggling to scan 'Mental Cases'by Wilfred Owen I know all about Iambic Pentameter, but can't seem to do can anyone help?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 6, 2012 at 7:48 AM (Answer #1)

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In scanning a poem, the most important thing is to avoid preconceptions about the abstract metrical scheme of a poem before looking at the actual rhythm of the words. After you have marked the actual rhythm of several lines, you may find a metrical pattern emerging, but if you start by deciding upon a meter before looking at the rhythm of the lines, you will have difficulties. In this case, the reason that you are struggling to fit the poem into the scheme of iambic pentameter is that the dominant foot is not iambic but trochaic. For example, "Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish," is a perfectly regular line of trochaic pentameter (Drooping tongues from …=  / _  / _ …).

Although there are some rhythmical variations (trochaic meters are hard to pull off in English and poems written in them often are marked by lots of participles and feminine rhymes), the dominant meter is trochaic pentameter.


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