Scan the following poem and name the meter of the poem.I thought they loved me, did me grace To please themselves;' twas all their deed; God makes, or fair, or foul, our face; If showing mine so...

Scan the following poem and name the meter of the poem.

I thought they loved me, did me grace

To please themselves;' twas all their deed;

God makes, or fair, or foul, our face;

If showing mine so caused to bleed

My cousins' hearts, they should have dropped

A word, and straight the play had stopped.

Asked on by manaljaber

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lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

In order to determine the meter of a poem, you must first read the lines and pay attention to which words or syllables are stressed, or ACCENTED.  In order to do this, read aloud and listen to where the natural stresses fall; identify the stress of multiple syllable words by using a dictionary to identify stress, or accent.  I have bolded the stressed (accented) syllables in the lines below:

I thought they loved me, did me grace

To please themselves; 'twas all their deed;

God makes, or fair, or foul, our face;

If showing mine so caused to bleed

My cousins' hearts, they should have dropped

A word, and straight the play had stopped.

Once you have the stressed, or accented, syllables marked, then you need to look for the pattern established.  In this case, you can see the da DUM da DUM pattern.  This pattern helps you to identify the metrical rhythm. This rhythm is called an iamb, which is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.  Next you count how many repetitions of the pattern appear in each line of the poem.

In this case, there are 4 repetitions of iambs per line, which means that this poem is a tetrameter: four repetitions of a patterns.  The meter of the poem is a  two-part name created by the identification of the predominant rhythm, which is iambs, and the number of repeated feet per line. That means this poem is in iambic tetrameter. You can learn more about the various metrical feet by reviewing the links below.

quddoos's profile pic

quddoos | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

I read the first line as a four stress iambic meter. And the rest follow suit. 'I thought' the stress falls on thought. 'they loved' again the stress falls on 'loved'. Conventionally, English meter is divided up into feet. Mostly these are based on classical meters. In ordinary English few appear that often, especially with feet of four syllables. The problem with these terms is that a line can be described in different ways. For example: Mary had a little lamb, can be scanned as ‘Mary’, a trochee, and ‘had a’, as another trochee, with the stress falling respectively on the first syllables. ‘little lamb’ could be seen as a cretic, with stresses falling on the first syllable in little and then on lamb. However, words are like people and they change their character according to the company they keep. At work we are either in boss mode or employee serf attitude. At home we change back into ourselves when we are with family and friends. 

The rhyme scheme is ABABCC 
If we say, ‘Mary had a little lamb chop.’ The beginning of the sentence remains the same regarding where the stress falls. When we come to ‘little’ this word changes to a pyrrhic that waits for the stress to fall on chop – ‘lamb chop’ now becoming an iamb. Another poet might well read both these sentences in different ways. 
Some authorities scan feet like ‘leaves stuck’ as spondees, which consist of two metrically accented syllables, and feet like ‘er by’ as pyrrhics, which consist of two metrically unaccented syllables. This is worse than useless as syllables rarely have equal degrees of accent. The easiest way is to treat any foot where the second syllable is heavier than the first as an iamb. 
Frost thought that the aim of good verse was to ‘break the doggerel, that is to stop the monotony of the regularity of the metrical norm. Rhythm gives metre life and energy, meter gives the rhythm shape and focus.

quddoos's profile pic

quddoos | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

say it out loud and try to hear the syllables being stressed going up or down. You can look for obvious meter lines, like in this one, "or fair, or foul, our face" is iambic. Also "If showing mine so caused to bleed" is obvious iambic, and then after that all the lines are iambic. So you could conclude that the rest of the poem is in iambic. The syllables are 8 per line, which is 4 feet called "tetrameter," so the poem it in iambic tetrameter.

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