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

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven(1899)

W.B. Yeats

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
MeterHad I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
MeterEnwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
MeterThe blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Note on line 3: Yes, “cloths” rhymes with itself from line 1, setting up a rare pattern of identical rhyming that the poem maintains throughout, for reasons best known to Yeats. Perhaps it has something to do with this superb, spare lyric’s atmosphere of entranced sobriety.

Of night and light and the half-light,
MeterOf night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
MeterI would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
MeterBut I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
MeterI have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
MeterTread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Note on line 8: This beautiful closing line, with its metapoetic pun on what is “under your feet,” may also be scanned more trippingly than our conservative official answer allows. Try it this way: spondee, pyrrhic, anapest, anapest. That gives, remarkably, a run of four consecutive slacks, as if the texture of the poet’s dreams must be skimmed if it is not to break. One good reason to retain the terminology of “feet” is that great lines dance.


Rhyme
Show Stress    Foot division    Syncopation