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  1. #11
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: meter in "Sir Thaddeus"

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Could you please explain why it's iambic pentameter there? I can't read it in that drum-like way...
    O Li/thuan/ia/, my coun/try, thou
    Art like/ good health/; I ne/ver knew/ till now
    How pre/cious, till/ I lost/ thee.[missing* syllables: 'strong/ weak-strong']

    *Of course, it might be intentional. The reader/listener's expectation of more syllables accentuates the loss: the reader/listener thinks 'there's something wrong... something's missing', and that's what the poet feels - about his country rather than the metre.

    b

  2. #12
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: meter in "Sir Thaddeus"

    Thanks! I'd never have guessed that Lithuania has five syllables in it!

    PS Seeing this anew I think the translator did a tremendous job translating it! What you say about the last line is a great example. The Polish original also has that feeling of something missing in that place, on grammatical (rather then metrical) grounds though.

    PPS OK, it's my turn to provide some trivia. These lines are an absolute must in Polish schools. Every child must learn them by heart at some stage. It might seem strange that every single Pole must at least once in their life say that their fatherland is Lithuania, but we don't choose our national epics as they say!
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 22-Jul-2010 at 14:56.

  3. #13
    IHIVG's Avatar
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    Default Re: meter in "Sir Thaddeus"

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    O Li/thuan/ia/, my coun/try, thou
    Art like/ good health/; I ne/ver knew/ till now
    How pre/cious, till/ I lost/ thee.[missing* syllables: 'strong/ weak-strong']
    Sorry Bob, but I can't understand how you broke up 'Lithuania' into 3 stressed syllables at all. Especially the 3d 'a'.
    Is this how you would pronounce it in life - 'LITH-uh-WAY-niA'? 'I've only heard people stressing the first 'a' - 'LithuAnia.' 'O Lithuania my country thou' --that's how I read this line.
    Art like/ good health/? Sorry, I don't understand this either. It seems so obvious to me that the stress should fall on 'Art' and 'good'.

  4. #14
    IHIVG's Avatar
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    Default Re: meter in "Sir Thaddeus"

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    You can break up individual bits of lines to describe them more precisely, but it's traditional in literary criticism to describe the overall structure - iambic pentameter in this case. Lines 1 and 2 are pentameters; the third is presumably incomplete.
    I beg to differ -- I can't see how the lines 1 and 2 are iambic pentameters. The 2nd is half iambus, half trochee for me.
    I agree that we usually can identify the overall structure in a verse but
    I think that it's hard to do in this case. The verse is too short and the beat is irregular. Maybe if we had the whole piece, it would be clearer.

  5. #15
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: meter in "Sir Thaddeus"

    Quote Originally Posted by IHIVG View Post
    Sorry Bob, but I can't understand how you broke up 'Lithuania' into 3 stressed syllables at all. Especially the 3d 'a'.
    Is this how you would pronounce it in life - 'LITH-uh-WAY-niA'? 'I've only heard people stressing the first 'a' - 'LithuAnia.' 'O Lithuania my country thou' --that's how I read this line.
    Art like/ good health/? Sorry, I don't understand this either. It seems so obvious to me that the stress should fall on 'Art' and 'good'.
    I'm not talking about how I (or anyone else) might say it, I'm saying how the poetical metre works. I have studied English literature for many years, and it's not rocket science. Just believe it.

    Re your second post: I agree that the sample is small. But we know it's an excerpt from an epic, and I know that epic poetry in English is often in iambic pentameter. (Even if the original Polish may not follow this metre the English does. Breaking it up into little bits with different specific descriptions may give you intellectual satisfaction, but remember the words of Wordsworth:
    ...Our meddling intellect
    Misshapes the beauteous forms of things -
    We murder to dissect.
    )

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 23-Jul-2010 at 10:52. Reason: Added quote

  6. #16
    IHIVG's Avatar
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    Default Re: meter in "Sir Thaddeus"

    Thank you very much for your reply Bob!
    Now I have a question for you:

    Poetical meters (the way we identify them by breaking up lines into stressed/unstressed syllables) work in accordance with how we would say these words in speech. Otherwise the poem would sound awkward and unnatural. This is the case with Russian poetry. I suspected that it might be the same with English -- that’s why I asked you how you would pronounce ‘Lithuania’.
    Is it different in English? I mean, is it common to pronounce words/expressions in English poetry not the same way you would do them in life?

  7. #17
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: meter in "Sir Thaddeus"

    Quote Originally Posted by IHIVG View Post
    Thank you very much for your reply Bob!
    Now I have a question for you:

    Poetical meters (the way we identify them by breaking up lines into stressed/unstressed syllables) work in accordance with how we would say these words in speech. Otherwise the poem would sound awkward and unnatural. This is the case with Russian poetry. I suspected that it might be the same with English -- that’s why I asked you how you would pronounce ‘Lithuania’.
    Is it different in English? I mean, is it common to pronounce words/expressions in English poetry not the same way you would do them in life?
    No, it's not. But there was a simple question and a simple answer; I didn't think it was helpful to say "Well, it's complicated. There's a trochee here and a dactyl there and either a spondee or a sesquipes, it's hard to say...' when the answer was 'Like most English epic poetry, it's in iambic pentameter with occasional flexibility of metre.' (I do pronounce 'Lithuania' with five syllables, but with a single stress. The poetical metre is a structure, and the words don't have to fit it precisely for the overall structure to be discernible.)

    As Iambic pentameter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia says,
    Iambic rhythms come relatively naturally in English. Iambic pentameter is the most common meter in English poetry; it is used in many of the major English poetic forms...
    b

  8. #18
    IHIVG's Avatar
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    Default Re: meter in "Sir Thaddeus"

    Thanks again for the reply!
    But I'm really confused now.
    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    No, it's not.
    I take this to mean that if we pronounce the word as X, than that’s the way it should be said in a poem. ‘Lithuania’ has a single stress. Then how come it’s Li/thuan/ia/ in an epic? The same with Art like/ good health/. (?)
    The problem that I have now is that I don’t understand how you see it as iambic pentameter, because if it’s ‘LithuAnia’ (by your own admission) and ‘Art like good health’ (you didn’t confirm this I know, but you didn’t correct me either), then the diagram for line 1 and 2 would make it trochee and half trochee half iambus respectively.

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    As Iambic pentameter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia says,
    Iambic rhythms come relatively naturally in English. Iambic pentameter is the most common meter in English poetry; it is used in many of the major English poetic forms...
    Thanks for the reference.
    Am I correct in inferring that you say that this epic is in iambic pentameter because that’s the most common meter in English poetry? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    (I don’t mean to make things complicated, but I hope you can see where my confusion comes from.)

  9. #19
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: meter in "Sir Thaddeus"

    Quote Originally Posted by IHIVG View Post
    Art like good health’
    I think it isn't so obvious, as I first read it yet otherwise,
    Art like good health.

    But now, after BobK's explanation I read it as he said and it sounds good to me. I understand your question though, and I'm also waiting for the response.

  10. #20
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: meter in "Sir Thaddeus"

    Quote Originally Posted by IHIVG View Post
    Thanks again for the reply!
    But I'm really confused now.

    I take this to mean that if we pronounce the word as X, than that’s the way it should be said in a poem. ‘Lithuania’ has a single stress. Then how come it’s Li/thuan/ia/ in an epic? The same with Art like/ good health/. (?)
    The problem that I have now is that I don’t understand how you see it as iambic pentameter, because if it’s ‘LithuAnia’ (by your own admission) and ‘Art like good health’ (you didn’t confirm this I know, but you didn’t correct me either), then the diagram for line 1 and 2 would make it trochee and half trochee half iambus respectively.


    Thanks for the reference.
    Am I correct in inferring that you say that this epic is in iambic pentameter because that’s the most common meter in English poetry? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    (I don’t mean to make things complicated, but I hope you can see where my confusion comes from.)
    Sorry, I didn't mean to confuse you. I should have corrected what you said about 'Art like good health'. If you stress it as you suggest it implies that 'art' is a noun and that 'good' has contrastive stress: 'Art, like good health, is hard to come by. Bad health, however, is easily acquired, and if you have that then you have no need for art.' (This would make a kind of sense if you substituted 'eye-sight' for 'health'

    But 'art' here is a verb - 'thou art'. The stress of 'Art like good health' is iambic, with the stresses on 'like' and 'health'.

    Returning to 'Lithuania', it has one stress in speech; but in the first foot of that poem 'In Li-' it is relatively more stressed than 'In'.

    b

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