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

An Essay on Criticism (excerpt: ll. 362-73)(1711)

Alexander Pope

True Ease in Writing comes from Art, not Chance,
MeterTrue Ease in Writing comes from Art, not Chance,
As those move easiest who have learn’d to dance.
MeterAs those move easiest who have learn’d to dance.
‘Tis not enough no Harshness gives Offence,
Meter‘Tis not enough no Harshness gives Offence,
The Sound must seem an Echo to the Sense.
MeterThe Sound must seem an Echo to the Sense.
Soft is the Strain when Zephyr gently blows,
MeterSoft is the Strain when Zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth Stream in smoother Numbers flows;
MeterAnd the smooth Stream in smoother Numbers flows;
But when loud Surges lash the sounding Shore,
MeterBut when loud Surges lash the sounding Shore,
The hoarse, rough Verse shou’d like the Torrent roar.
MeterThe hoarse, rough Verse shou’d like the Torrent roar.
When Ajax strives some Rock’s vast Weight to throw,
MeterWhen Ajax strives some Rock’s vast Weight to throw,
The Line too labours, and the Words move slow;
MeterThe Line too labours, and the Words move slow;
Not so, when swift Camilla scours the Plain,
MeterNot so, when swift Camilla scours the Plain,
Flies o’er th’unbending Corn, and skims along the Main.
MeterFlies o’er th’unbending Corn, and skims along the Main.

Note on line 373: By now you have seen for yourself what pains Pope took, in this passage about prosody, to make his own versification practice what he was preaching. The spondees in line 9 speak for themselves. Did you notice, though, the nice wiggle in line 2, or the way the initial trochee in this last line impels swift Camilla across the alexandrine?


Rhyme
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