“Ars Poetica” by Archibald MacLeish has twenty-four lines coupled into two line pairs that comprise twelve stanzas. These stanzas are separated into three different sections of four stanzas each. Many of the paired lines rhyme with perfect rhyme or slant rhyme, but others resist rhyming at all.
While the poem seems to start out in fixed form, with the first line being metrically measured in iambic pentameter, it quickly strays into free verse form, which defies the outdated poetic tradition of consistently using a single metrical pattern.
Below, all caps is used to denote stressed syllables in the first line, and lines separate the feet that group iambs:
a PO-|em SHOULD| be PAL|-pa-BLE |and MUTE
By the second line, the metrical rhythm of iambic pentameter is already broken, and it does not reappear until line six:
of CASE-|ment LEDG-|es WHERE| the MOSS |has GROWN
These iambic pentameter lines create a steady heartbeat rhythm, which abruptly halts with the shortened, unmetered lines that...
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