For Better for Verse: An interactive learning tool that can help you understand what makes metered poetry in English tick.

Link to U.Va. English Department

The Balloon of the Mind(1919)

W. B. Yeats

Hands, do what you’re bid:
MeterHands, do what you’re bid:

Note on line 1:The scansion of this line, the hardest in the poem, makes sense after you have worked on the lines that follow. All four lines have three distinct stresses, so we must be in trimeter, albeit trimeter that’s differently realized in each line’s pattern of feet. So, while line 1 may at first look like a spondee plus an anapest, that combination yields just two feet. In order to make three feet, we have to posit an acephalic first foot. The resulting pattern tips in favor of an iambic meter what admittedly might be pronounced an anapestic meter instead.

Bring the balloon of the mind,
MeterBring the balloon of the mind,
That bellies and drags in the wind,
MeterThat bellies and drags in the wind,
Into its narrow shed.
MeterInto its narrow shed.

Note on line 4:Note how the ballooning anapests of line 3 shed their afflatus and yield in line 4 to narrow iambic rectitude.

Show Stress    Foot division    Caesura    Syncopation