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

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Renouncement(1893)

Alice Meynell

I must not think of thee; and, tired yet strong,
MeterI must not think of thee; and, tired yet strong,
I shun the love that lurks in all delight–
MeterI shun the love that lurks in all delight–
The love of thee–and in the blue heaven’s height,
MeterThe love of thee–and in the blue heaven’s height,

Note on line 3: 4B4V hard-wires “heaven’s” as a monosyllable here for the simple reason that scansion goes haywire if the word is read as a disyllable. An only slightly elder poet like Tennyson, and certainly Keats, would have acknowledged this by printing “heav’n’s.” By the end of the 19th century, though, such graphically explicit poeticism seemed old-fashioned.

And in the dearest passage of a song.
MeterAnd in the dearest passage of a song.
Oh, just beyond the sweetest thoughts that throng
MeterOh, just beyond the sweetest thoughts that throng
This breast, the thought of thee waits, hidden yet bright;
MeterThis breast, the thought of thee waits, hidden yet bright;
But it must never, never come in sight;
MeterBut it must never, never come in sight;
I must stop short of thee the whole day long.
MeterI must stop short of thee the whole day long.
But when sleep comes to close each difficult day,
MeterBut when sleep comes to close each difficult day,

Note on line 9: Prosody makes life’s hardship into poetry’s opportunity: here, the opportunity to write a line that earns its keep by tough going: four different kinds of foot in one pentameter line about difficulty. The line just above this one, incidentally, is nearly as impressive for the way it makes the first spondee a stumbling block, the second a load on the heart.

When night gives pause to the long watch I keep,
MeterWhen night gives pause to the long watch I keep,
And all my bonds I needs must loose apart,
MeterAnd all my bonds I needs must loose apart,
Must doff my will as raiment laid away–
MeterMust doff my will as raiment laid away–
With the first dream that comes with the first sleep
MeterWith the first dream that comes with the first sleep
I run, I run, I am gathered to thy heart.
MeterI run, I run, I am gathered to thy heart.

Rhyme
Show Stress    Foot division    Syncopation