How might one "scan" the meter of Richard Wilbur's poem titled "Junk"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Richard Wilbur’s poem titled “Junk” is written in deliberate imitation of an Old English or Anglo-Saxon poem.  The poetry of the Anglo-Saxons was far less concerned with regular, predictable patterns of rhythm than was the poetry of later eras.  Thus, instead of sticking to a fairly regular “iambic” beat, in which the odd syllables are unaccented and the even syllables are accented, Anglo-Saxon verse was much freer and less rigid in the placing of accented syllables.  In addition, Old English poetry also emphasized a break between two halves (or “distichs”) of a poetic line (a break clearly signaled in the shape of Wilbur’s own poem). Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Old English poetry relied heavily on the repetition of the same sounds on either side of the break. Usually the sounds repeated were consonants, although, as the opening lines of Wilbur’s poem indicate through imitation, vowels could also be stressed in this way:

An axe angles

(The entire section contains 485 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team