What are the prosodic features of Thomas Hoods' "Bridge of Sighs"?    

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thomas Hoods' "Bridge of Sighs" actually refers to the Waterloo Bridge in London rather than the better-known one in Venice. The poem addresses the problem of suicide or attempted suicide by drowning of poor women. It specifically addresses the attempt of seamstress Mary Furley to kill herself and her children after she had been robbed.

The poem consists of eighteen stanzas, varying in length from four to nine lines. There is no regular pattern of stanza length, but instead the length of each stanza seems chosen to suit its specific theme rather than for metrical reasons. 

The most interesting aspect of the poem, from a prosodic point of view, is its use of falling rhythms. The lines all contain two stresses and the feet within the lines are either dactyls or trochees. The following lines (and in fact all the lines in the stanza) consist of two dactyls each:

Touch her not scornfully;

Think of her mournfully

Other lines consist of a dactyl followed by a trochee, such as:

Look at her garments

Clinging like cerements;

Because of the use of falling rhythm, the poem uses exclusively feminine rhymes. The fourth stanza of the poem (beginning with "Touch her not scornfully") rhymes AABCCB, but rhyme patterns vary from stanza to stanza.

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