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

Thaw(1916)

Edward Thomas

Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed
MeterOver the land freckled with snow half-thawed
The speculating rooks at their nests cawed
MeterThe speculating rooks at their nests cawed
And saw from elm-tops, delicate as flower of grass,
MeterAnd saw from elm-tops, delicate as flower of grass,

Note on line 3:Yes, this line obliges us to reach for the fourth paeon (- – – /), a foot so unusual that it goes unnoted in the 4B4V Instructions, though you may find it in our Glossary. Think of it as the next step up, among rising feet, in the shift from iamb to anapest: this exceptional substitution, like that quite ordinary one, crowds more syllables into roughly the same recitation space and so boosts frequency (speed of utterance). We see how badly Thomas wanted it when we consider how easily he could have achieved iambic regularity by using “light” instead of “delicate.” And we begin to see why he wanted it when we note the resemblance in consonance between the word he did use and its phonemic heralds “freckled” and “speculating” in lines 1 and 2. We see more still when we measure out the iambic regularity that does occur by contrast in line 4, and appreciate the power of delay in making imaginatively perceptible a seasonal change that remains humanly invisible, whatever those rooks see on spec.

What we below could not see, Winter pass.
MeterWhat we below could not see, Winter pass.

Rhyme
Show Stress    Foot division    Syncopation