Ug! I’m posting what I should have posted on Wednesday and Thursday all together today. And double Ug! I’m going and doing what I promised not to do, I’m going through these old and boring forms of poetry and defining them. Last post I went to extraordinary measures to define a Villanelle. (If you didn’t read the last post and want really want to know, I suggest you do so right now… well go on.)
Next thing you know I’ll be going through and defining the sonnet, the limerick, the clerihew (oh, and there’s a difference between the English or Shakespearean sonnet and the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet) and this will lead straight into the academic quagmire that is meter zzzzZZZzzzZZZ… Oops, I just fell asleep talking about it.
Next thing you know I’ll be talking about Iambic Pentameter; the anapest, the trochee, the dactyl, monometer, dimeter, hexameter up to octameter (and there’s probably even longer measures than that.. that I don’t want to get into). You want to know what those things are? iamb, anapest, trochee, dactyl are the foot (where the stresses are within one measure of a meter) and the others that end in the word “meter” are a measure of how many feet are in the line. You remember your teacher reading out the line and clapping to show you the stresses? Ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bum.
Not helpful? No, of course not. It would take a lot of writing and explanation to really clearly show what all of this stuff is, but let’s face it, you wouldn’t read it (or your brain would fade it out in the middle). Instead, I’m going to present to you this epigram (a two line poem meant to make a pointed statement, the textbook gives the OED’s definition “A short poem ending in a witty or ingenious turn of thought, to which the rest of the composition is intended to lead up”). See, I can’t help myself!
If you get the joke that the poem presents, then you don’t need me to define Iambic Pentameter. If you don’t, look it up and you’ll understand what the poem is really saying. See, I’m helping already! Now, get reading.
My Iambic Pentameter Lines
by Robert Crawford
Three drunks, a leg on one quite gone, bereft
Of sense, and traveling on five feet, all left.