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

Astrophil and Stella: 31(1591)

Sir Philip Sidney

With how sad steps, O Moone, thou climb’st the skies,
MeterWith how sad steps, O Moone, thou climb’st the skies,

Note on line 1: It’s hard to stop putting heavy stresses on the syllables of this slow-paced line about slow paces. 4B4V leaves it up to you whether to ease up at “O” or to go all the way and, leaning into it, deal out a straight flush of five consecutive stresses. When “O Moone” recurs in line 9, though, it’s probably better to back off: by that point Astrophel is no longer hailing the moon from afar but speaking quite confidentially.

How silently, and with how wanne a face,
MeterHow silently, and with how wanne a face,
What, may it be that even in heavenly place
MeterWhat, may it be that even in heavenly place
That busie archer his sharpe arrowes tries?
MeterThat busie archer his sharpe arrowes tries?
Sure, if that long with Love acquainted eyes
MeterSure, if that long with Love acquainted eyes
Can judge of Love, thou feel’st a Lover’s case;
MeterCan judge of Love, thou feel’st a Lover’s case;

Note on line 6: There’s nothing wrong with a completely regular scansion of this line. 4B4V prefers, nevertheless, the dramatic accost that comes with stressing “thou”: Other people might not get it, but surely YOU, O Moon, YOU know what I’m talking about.

I reade it in thy lookes, thy languisht grace,
MeterI reade it in thy lookes, thy languisht grace,
To me that feele the like, thy state descries.
MeterTo me that feele the like, thy state descries.
Then ev’n of fellowship, O Moone, tell me
MeterThen ev’n of fellowship, O Moone, tell me
Is constant Love deem’d there but want of wit?
MeterIs constant Love deem’d there but want of wit?
Are Beauties there as proud as here they be?
MeterAre Beauties there as proud as here they be?
Do they above love to be lov’d, and yet
MeterDo they above love to be lov’d, and yet
Those Lovers scorne whom that Love doth Possesse?
MeterThose Lovers scorne whom that Love doth Possesse?
Do they call Vertue there ungratefulnesse?
MeterDo they call Vertue there ungratefulnesse?

Rhyme
Show Stress    Foot division    Caesura    Syncopation