Analyze and mark the meter in lines 31-33 of The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser that begin: "Eftsoones that dreadfull Dragon they epside/  Where stretcht he lay upon the sunny side..."

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This excerpt comes from Canto XI, which reads, "Eftsoones that dreadful Dragon they espide, /Where stretcht he lay upon the sunny side,/Of a great hill, himselfe like a great hill." Spencer's verse is written in stanzas; the first eight lines of each stanza are in iambic pentameter, which is composed of five "feet" or iambs. Each foot is made up of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. "Iambic pentameters" have five of these feet. The last line of each stanza is written in iambic hexameter, having six feet (also known as an Alexandrine).

That means that in lines 31-33 of this canto, there is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, each composing a foot. There are five of these feet in each line. When marking lines, you should draw a diagonal stress mark (an acute accent) over each stressed syllable and a breve accent (which looks like a "u") over each unstressed syllable. Draw a vertical line between each foot. I will show the stressed syllables below using uppercase letters. This is how you would mark the meter:

"eftSOONES/that DREAD/ful DRAG/on THEY/esPIDE./

where STRETCHT/he LAY/upON/the SUN/ny SIDE/

of GREAT/hill, HIM/self EE/like A/great HILL."

Note: The "e" at the end of "himself" is pronounced.