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

Slow, Slow, Fresh Fount(1601)

Ben Jonson

Slow, slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears;
MeterSlow, slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears;
Yet slower, yet, O faintly, gentle springs!
MeterYet slower, yet, O faintly, gentle springs!
List to the heavy part the music bears,
MeterList to the heavy part the music bears,
Woe weeps out her division when she sings.
MeterWoe weeps out her division when she sings.
Droop herbs and flowers;
MeterDroop herbs and flowers;
Fall grief in showers;
MeterFall grief in showers;
Our beauties are not ours. O, I could still,
MeterOur beauties are not ours. O, I could still,

Note on line 7: Once the stresses and slacks are in place for this admittedly stubborn line, it seems an open question how to divide them into feet. Two anapests, two trochees, and a closing iamb would do it. But 4B4V prefers rising feet where they are available, and they are available here to form a pattern of anapest, pyrrhic, spondee, iamb, anapest. This pattern has the further advantage of bringing out the pathos with which at mid-line “not ours” concedes an existential defeat: You don’t know what you have until you lose it.

Like melting snow upon some craggy hill,
MeterLike melting snow upon some craggy hill,
Drop, drop, drop, drop,
MeterDrop, drop, drop, drop,

Note on line 9: This line has no place in the rhyme scheme, so we mark it “x.” In fact it rhymes only, and obsessively, with itself. The line’s refusal to chime interactively with others seems an emblem of the perfect involution — and perverse self-delight? — of sheer grief.

Since nature’s pride is now a withered daffodil.
MeterSince nature’s pride is now a withered daffodil.

Rhyme
Show Stress    Foot division    Syncopation