Poetic meter

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Poetic meter is the method by which a poet connects sound to style in poetry. Words alone are an essay; words with a distinctive sound scheme, which independently convey a theme all their own, comprise poetry, and poetic meter is the device by which the poet achieves this distinction.


There are various kinds of meter, and meter has two different "characteristics." First, meter is defined by the number of "feet" - or, syllable groups - per line. Meter is demarcated along this dimension as:

  • Trimeter.
  • Tetrameter.
  • Pentameter
  • etc, etc.

Poetic Feet

The way that syllables are grouped is also important. Syllables are stressed and unstressed to convey a different idea or cadence of speech, to create an impression of casualness, or hurry, perhaps.

Second, the meter is defined by the predominant style of the poetic feet in the line. Tetrameter formed largely with iambs is "iambic tetrameter." Some types of poetic feet are:

Other poetic devices include the bifurcation of the line with a caesura: a distinct stop in the middle of the line, separating the thoughts in the line into distinct groups. The caesura was used often in "middle English" poetry, like in Beowulf.[1][2]

See also


  1. http://www.editoreric.com/greatlit/translations/Beowulf.html
  2. http://spider.georgetowncollege.edu/english/allen/beoterms.htm