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  1. #11
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Antonson View Post
    WHY there has been such a move away from it over the last 150 years
    I wouldn't agree that metre only relates to accent: that would be to misrepresent Greek, Latin, and French prosody, for instance. An alexandrine of Baudelaire's is not to be read with a beefy British beat; and Clough's hexameters are fairly remote from Homer's tonal arrangements. (While among the English poets, for instance, Milton's rhythms seldom coincide with the underlying iambic pentameter.)

    That said, it seems to me that accentual verse has maintained itself quite robustly in the last 100 years. Here is a possible breakdown of the more significant British and American poets for that period:

    1. Mostly accentual
    Hardy, E. Thomas, Yeats, J.C. Ransom, W. Stevens, Larkin, Graves, Housman, Kipling, Frost, Empson

    2. Sometimes accentual, sometimes not
    T.S. Eliot, Lowell, Auden, Tate, H. Crane, G. Hill, Heaney

    3. Mostly non-accentual
    Pound, W.C. Williams, Berryman, M. Moore, Cummings, Lawrence, Roethke, Ginsberg

    That doesn't look like a rout to me.

    Best wishes,

    MrP
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  2. #12
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Antonson View Post
    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".
    It isn't entirely clear that Chaucer's (or even Wyatt's) pentameters were regularly accentual; while the older ballads and alliterative poems were irregular in their patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables.

    By the middle of the 16th century, on the other hand, with the pentameters of Sackville, Norton, Howard, etc., and then the earlier Elizabethan lyricists, we find attention both to accent itself and to patterns of stress - to the extent that Sidney can say, in his Apologie, that English poets "observe the accent very precisely; which other languages, eyther cannot doe, or will not doe so absolutely".

    On the other hand, he also said that "it is not riming and versing that maketh a Poet, no more then a long gowne maketh an Advocate".

    All the best,

    MrP
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  3. #13
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    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    Well, I am outclassed in this discussion -- which is quite a comfortable position to be in since I am learning so much.

    Some thoughts, though.... I hesitate to even float this one, but I did not realize that Thomas Hardy, a favorite novelist of mine, wrote any verse at all.

    A second thought... From memory, I come up with:

    "When Robin Hood was twenty years old,
    He happened to meet little John,
    A jolly brisk blade,
    Right fit for the trade,
    For he was a lusty young man."

    Has my version been adapted??? How is it not accentual?

  4. #14
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    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    Another example of verse which I intend to allude to (or even use) in my students' poem is the -/---/---/---/-- of Gilbert and Sullivan's "And so in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral/ I am the very model of a modern major general"

  5. #15
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Antonson View Post
    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?
    There's more than one translation but I have read none of them. They're not in tridecasyllable anyway. (The poem will be a difficult read for a non-Pole. Without knowing some basics of Polish history and culture, they will find it incomprehensible and, as a result, boring.)

    But you have a poem in your own tradition in which metre is less important than other devices, namely Beowulf.

  6. #16
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    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    Well, "Beowulf" I consider to be extremely metric. The beat is not established by stressed and unstressed syllable, but rather by alliterated syllables. Nonetheless, the beat is there -- four beats per line.

  7. #17
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    I see that there is a film version of "Sir Thaddeus" I think I will check it out.

  8. #18
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Antonson View Post
    Well, "Beowulf" I consider to be extremely metric. The beat is not established by stressed and unstressed syllable, but rather by alliterated syllables. Nonetheless, the beat is there -- four beats per line.
    That just proves how little I know about prosody--I had no idea that was also metre!

  9. #19
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    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    Well, maybe I use the word "metre" wrongly. I mean by it the presence of a beat (which I define for my students as "a regular division of time").

  10. #20
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Is loss of meter in poetry "decay"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Antonson View Post
    A second thought... From memory, I come up with:

    "When Robin Hood was twenty years old,
    He happened to meet little John,
    A jolly brisk blade,
    Right fit for the trade,
    For he was a lusty young man."

    Has my version been adapted??? How is it not accentual?
    Yes, it's accentual (and an 18th century adaptation). But in the older ballads and alliterative poems, though stress is significant, there is no regularity in the number of stressed and unstressed syllables.

    Hence my earlier comment about the period 1500 to 1900, where stress and syllabic regularity predominate in English verse.

    My main point though was that metre has not been "lost": as listed in my earlier post, there is plenty of 20th century material to occupy readers who prefer regular forms.

    Best wishes,

    MrP
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