Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 38
  1. #1
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    1,151
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    This may be just a little premature, but I am going to have my students undertake to write a long, narrative poem in verse.

    I suspect that metered poetry is as effective now as it ever was, so WHY there has been such a move away from it over the last 150 years -- say, since Tennyson?

    Incidentally, I do not consider "free verse" to be verse at all.

  2. #2
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    1,151
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    I am really hoping for some discussion about this, so let me see if I can further "prime the pump".
    It has occurred to me that a development in language which might be the inverse of the decline of meter in "poetry" is the rise of literacy and of the printing industry. Novels are not really meant to be read aloud, and the skill involved in reading and understanding them is quite different from that involved in hearing and understanding oral recitation of verse.
    I am a slow reader; and, therefore, what I read HAS to be rich to be pleasurable. When I think about the populations that I know of where verse is still prized, I find that they tend to be either the illiterate or the non-academic e.g. rappers and farm folk.
    Shakespeare's audience was largely illiterate. The people in it may well have had a MUCH more acute ear for the beauty of verse.

  3. #3
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    2,585
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    As a preliminary, it might be necessary to establish the meaning of "metre", in the proposed discussion.

    For example, English verse between 1500 and 1900 is predominantly accentual, i.e. its various metres imply certain patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables.

    On the other hand, Virgil and Euripides might well have found accentual verse slightly crude, as they were accustomed to verse measured by quantity, i.e. by the length of syllables. (Then too, while English verse has made much use of rhyme, rhyme was generally avoided in Greek and Latin poetry.)

    Again, in the prosody of the Romance languages, e.g. the French alexandrine, metre is defined in terms of the number of syllables, and its effects are likely to be lost on an audience accustomed to English accentual iambics.

    Best wishes,

    MrP
    ·
    Not a professional ESL teacher.
    ·

  4. #4
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    1,151
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    Thank you so much for responding.

    I am referring to metre as the use of stressed and unstressed syllables, as in iambic pentameter, anapestic tetrameter, etc.

    One of the things that really got me thinking about this was the effect it had upon one of my unruly classes when I read aloud the first 44 stanzas of the poem that my students have written so far. I did this while they could see it projected on a screen. I read instead of them because I knew that they would stumble and not keep the beat. In any case, it blew them away. Some of them said that they were going to show that to their parents because it was so good (It is on line.) I am not so sure that it is that good, but they were captivated. I can't imagine that prose would have done that -- not to THEM.

    If you would like to see it, it is at <somd.webs.com>.

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    I am not sure if this is relevant, but one of my favourite poems as a child was Longfellow's 'Song of Hiawatha'.

    I still remember the opening lines of the (shortened) version that my mother used to read to me. I realised, years later, that I understood very little of it. What I enjoyed was the heavy TUM-ti TUM-ti stresses that my mother gave to her reading.

    By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
    By
    the shining Big-Sea-Water,
    Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
    Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
    Last edited by 5jj; 27-Jan-2011 at 12:44. Reason: repeated sentence cut.

  6. #6
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,739
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    I'll make a tentative contribution, without asserting that this is the reason.

    The tumult of the Great War 1914-1918, and associated social crises, had a huge effect on the arts in Europe.
    Formalism and naturalism gave way to more abstract forms. This was already occurring in the visual arts, with impressionism breaking from realism, then leading to expressionism, and totally abstract art. A new aesthetic was necessary in an age that was socially disordered, where formal structures could no longer be trusted.
    The formality of Victorian/Edwardian literature gave way to modernism. Poets such as Esra Pound and T.S.Eliot wrote bizarre (for the time) verses. In prose, Woolf and others wrote 'stream of consciousness' literature, that sought to portray the anarchic subconscious, rather than the superficial, ordered facade of reality.
    This led into the Jazz Age of the 20s, where music and morals became syncopated away from the reliance on strict metrical standards, and freedom has become dominant over order in Western art as a value pretty much ever since. You could call that decadence, or decay, or something else.

    At least, that's my opinion this evening.

  7. #7
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    1,151
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    Thank you (you'uns) SO much for your responses. They have already been very useful to me.

    In order, let me think. My definition of verse is "language that can be spoken to a beat" (not necessarily sung). (With singing other factors enter in -- like melismas, almost completely absent from the kind of English folk songs that Cecil Sharpe collected). The fact that some languages use length of syllable rather than stress should not change the verse's being able to be spoken to a beat. I think that 1500 is way too late to say that verse began to very present in English. What about Chaucer's iambic pentameter, troubador songs, the ballads of Robin Hood, or the alliterative verse of "Beowulf". (Rhyme, of course, is a different subject).

    The explanation of the developments in the visual arts and music may well be very pertinent. I had thought about that, but hesitated to include it at first in this discussion.

    Thanks for reminding me of Longfellow's "Hiawatha" (I might have forgotten to include it or an allusion to it and some use of the the trochaic tetrameter therein in my students' narrative poem) . (Had I mentioned that I already intended to use some of the dactylic hexameter of Lonffellow's "Evangeline"?) And THAT reminded me of the vast popularity of Kipling's verse and of the fact that Tolkien included a lot of verse within his works.

    I GREATLY appreciate your (you'unses) input!!

    Frank

  8. #8
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    5,099
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?


  9. #9
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    5,099
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic View Post
    Again, in the prosody of the Romance languages, e.g. the French alexandrine, metre is defined in terms of the number of syllables, and its effects are likely to be lost on an audience accustomed to English accentual iambics.
    Older Polish poetry is largely syllabic (our national epic, Sir Thaddeus, is a rhymed tridecasyllable), where the rhythm is given by the use of caesuras. Iambic pentameter does not exist in Polish which makes my reading of English poetry difficult---it does not seem rhytmical to me.

  10. #10
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    1,151
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    Dear Birdeen's Call,

    I looked at those links that you sent. I cannot say that I read them closely, but I found that there was very little there that I would include within the category of wonderful verse. Maybe I should limit the description of my interest to NARRATIVE verse.

    More "lyrical" poetry could probably do without the steady beat of verse -- and, judging from some of those examples, might do well to do so.

    I am glad to know about your national epic. I had never heard of it, and now I may try to find a way to allude to it in my students' work. Does a good translation exist in English?

    Oh, also, I was lucky enough to find out about a film the script of which was written in iambic pentameter. The film is called "Yes". I found it far from wonderful and have a few reasons to explain why that was the case.

    Frank

Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 4 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. meter in "Sir Thaddeus"
    By birdeen's call in forum Literature
    Replies: 26
    Last Post: 20-Mar-2011, 14:10
  2. "Decay" in aspects of English grammar
    By Frank Antonson in forum Linguistics
    Replies: 53
    Last Post: 26-Jan-2011, 22:35
  3. [Essay] Poetry Device Essay - W.H Auden's "The Unknown Citizen"
    By btraill in forum Editing & Writing Topics
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 20-Nov-2009, 16:54
  4. meaning of "move beyond her loss"
    By masterding in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 08-Jul-2009, 17:13
  5. confusing words "expressed" or "express" and "named" or"names"
    By Dawood Usmani in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 26-Oct-2007, 19:33

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •