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

Westron Wynde(1500?)

Anonymous

Westron wynde when wyll thow blow
MeterWestron wynde when wyll thow blow
The smalle rayne downe can rayne
MeterThe smalle rayne downe can rayne
Chryst yf my love wer in my armes
MeterChryst yf my love wer in my armes

Note on line 3: Don’t worry that lines 1 and 3 don’t rhyme the way lines 2 and 4 do. It’s an accepted pattern in balladic poetry like this, and you’ll encounter it again here and there in 4B4V. The conventional way of marking such a rhyme scheme is abxb. This acknowledges, with its a, the expectation that there will be an answering a rhyme; and, with its x, the disappointment of that expectation.

And I yn my bed agayne
MeterAnd I yn my bed agayne

Note on line 4: Hauntingly suggestive, yet self-sufficient too, this pensive little complaint takes amplitude from the changes it rings on the ballad stanza. No two lines scan the same; nor is any line straight iambic. On so miniature a scale the spondee in line 2 lets the “small rain” seem to have seeped into everything, while the way slack pairs (u u) migrate to a different position in each of the other lines helps instill into the whole lyric – now half a millennium after it was written down – a surprising conviction of attentiveness.


Rhyme
Show Stress    Foot division    Syncopation