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How do these lines from "Sailing to Byzantium" scan in terms of meter and rhyme...

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manaljaber | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted March 27, 2011 at 6:16 AM via web

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How do these lines from "Sailing to Byzantium" scan in terms of meter and rhyme scheme?

Consume my heart away; sick with desire

And fastened to a dying animal

It knows not what it is; and gather me

Into the artifice


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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 28, 2011 at 4:44 PM (Answer #1)

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Since rhyme scheme is developed primarily through end rhyme, there is no obvious pattern of rhyme in these lines as they are taken out of context from the poem. The end words (desire, animal, me, and artifice) do not rhyme to the ear perfectly or approximately, and they do not create strong sight rhymes, words that look as if they rhyme. Me and artifice might be considered a weak sight rhyme, since me and ending syllable -ce look as if they rhyme. If so, then the rhyme scheme would be ABCC, with the last two words rhyming by sight.

The meter, pattern of rhythm in the lines, is not perfect, but it is very regular. The first three lines are iambic pentameter, featuring the weak/strong rhythm with 5 iambic feet per line. (An iambic foot is a measure in the line consisting of two syllables arranged in the weak/strong pattern.) The last line is iambic trimeter, featuring 3 iambic feet in the line.

Here is how the lines scan. The strong beats are underlined, and the lines are divided into feet:

Consume / my heart / away; / sick with / desire

And fast /ened to / a dy / ing an / imal

It knows / not what / it is; / and gath / er me

Into / the ar / tifice

The iambic pattern is very regular. Only the fourth foot in the first line is not the iambic. The strong/weak pattern in this one foot is an example of the trochaic pattern of rhythm.

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epicq | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted December 6, 2011 at 3:05 AM (Answer #2)

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Just a quick note:

The last verse ends like this-

"Into the artifice of eternity."


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quddoos | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted October 8, 2013 at 1:56 AM (Answer #3)

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x / x / x / / x x / 
Consume my heart away; sick with desire 
x / x (x) x / x / x x 
And fasten to a dying animal 
x / x x / x / x / 
It knows not what is; and gather me 
/ x x / x (/) x x / x x 
Into the artifice or eternity 

Difficult one, but I'd say the first line is definitely iambic pentameter, but the last three are iambic tetrameter. It's quite subjective though, because you may pronounce the words differently to me. For example, I have marked 'Into' as stressed in the first syllable, but you may stress the second syllable of the word. Syllables with brackets are interchangeable but don't affect the meter. 

As for rhyme scheme, I don't really see any rhyme in the first two lines, but the second to definitely do. I'd stretch it to AABB.


Check out Stephen Fry's "The Ode Less Travelled." It's a great book for understanding meter.

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