I need to get to meter for the peom "Waltz" by Eleanor Brown. HELP!The poem: Final enbraces that tast even ultimate, fierce as the night was seized, urgent, and intricate; hot with...

I need to get to meter for the peom "Waltz" by Eleanor Brown. HELP!

The poem:

Final enbraces that tast even ultimate,

fierce as the night was seized, urgent, and intricate;

hot with consciousness, 'we have been intimate'-

skirting the issue, how nonchalant, delicate,

 

laughingly, reelingly, visit me, do visit,

thinking it haltingly, slowly in triplicate,

this is goodbye is it, this is goodbye, is it,

this is goodbye, is it?

Asked on by piper628

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dhenningfeld | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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The meter of a poem is determined by identifying a repeating pattern of accented and unaccented syllables in each line.  For example, here's a famous line from Shakespeare with the accented syllables in capital letters, and the unaccented letters in lower case:

but SOFT what LIGHT through YOUder WINdow BREAKS.

On closer inspection, you'll see that you have an unaccented syllable followed by an accented one.  This is a meter called "iambic."

The combination of accented and unaccented syllables are called "feet."  In the example above, you'll see that you have five repetitions of an unaccented syllable followed by an accented one.  Thus, the line from Shakespeare is written in iambic pentameter.

Now let's look at "Waltz," by Eleanor Brown.

A clue to the meter of this poem is in its title.  A waltz is a dance that has three beats to the measure, with an accent on the first beat.  It sounds like this: DUH duh duh DUH duh duh.

So let's scan the first line:

FI nal em BRAC es that TASTE ev en UL ti mate

Do you see what she's doing here?  She's patterned her whole poem on the rhythm of a waltz!

A pattern of an accented syllable followed by two unaccented syllables is called "dactyllic."  Now count the number of feet in the line, indicated by the number of accented syllables: there are four.  A four beat line in English is called tetrameter.

So, "Waltz" is a poem written in dactylic tetrameter.  This is a case where the meter contributes not only to the sound of the poem but also to the meaning of the poem: the "dance" two people go through as they part.

In addition, Brown's choice of using words with three syllables (including the word "triplicate"!) underscores the three-beat dactylic rhythm of the poem, truly a waltz in words.

Hope this helps!

 

 

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