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

When a Man Hath No Freedom(1820)

George Gordon, Lord Byron

When a man hath no freedom to fight for at home,
MeterWhen a man hath no freedom to fight for at home,
Let him combat for that of his neighbours;
MeterLet him combat for that of his neighbours;

Note on line 2:Even if you didn’t know that until recently the verb “combat” took stress on the first syllable (like the noun), the place it finds in Byron’s anapests would tell you so. Triple rhythms, as you get into the imperious swing of them, prove much bossier than double ones. Thus you don’t stress “Let” at the head of this line; and by line 8 you should find yourself conceding a slack on “shot” without a fight, as in an iambic poem you never would. This poem also shows, by the way, that triple meter welcomes feminine endings: u u / u may looks ungainly in the final foot, but it’s quite acceptable and not uncommon.

Let him think of the glories of Greece and of Rome,
MeterLet him think of the glories of Greece and of Rome,
And get knocked on the head for his labours,
MeterAnd get knocked on the head for his labours,

To do good to mankind is the chivalrous plan,
MeterTo do good to mankind is the chivalrous plan,
And is always as nobly requited;
MeterAnd is always as nobly requited;
Then battle for freedom wherever you can,
MeterThen battle for freedom wherever you can,
And if not shot or hanged you’ll get knighted.
MeterAnd if not shot or hanged you’ll get knighted.

Rhyme
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