Explain the irregular rhythm of the poem "God's Grandeur." What is the rhythm of the eighth line, "Is bare now (unstressed followed by two stressed), nor can (stressed followed by unstressed) foot feel (unstressed followed by stressed), being (stressed followed by unstressed) shod (stressed)"?

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The eighth line of this poem is particularly tricky, I think, because there is only one word in the whole line that has more than one syllable: being . So, we are on our own for all of the monosyllabic words that precede it in the line. It helps to...

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The eighth line of this poem is particularly tricky, I think, because there is only one word in the whole line that has more than one syllable: being. So, we are on our own for all of the monosyllabic words that precede it in the line. It helps to consider where we might place rhetorical emphasis if we were reading this line aloud. I feel we'd be mostly like to say "the soil / Is bare now," stressing the word bare rather than the word is or now because of the ideas that go before this line. Try reading it aloud and emphasizing the word is; it just doesn't sound right, does it?

Moving on, it makes more sense to me that we would stress the word nor rather than can, because now is not stressed in the metrical foot before and there is a comma just before it. At this point, the line has established an iambic rhythm—one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed—so I would try out the rest of the line to see if this fits, especially with our one polysyllabic clue in the two-syllable word, being (where we emphasize the first syllable, be-, and not the last syllable, -ing). Looking at the entire line, then, I will bold the stressed syllables below and separate one metrical foot from the next with a "|":

Is bare | now nor | can foot |feel be | ing shod

It makes sense that these syllables would be stressed in part because of the content of the line, because of their relative importance in the line, and because our one polysyllabic clue—the word being—is represented the way we would normally speak it. Thus, this line is an example of iambic pentameter.

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