I hope that you will forgive me for rerunning information from last year, but in my opinion this is key material, especially because we will be discussing several poetry forms over the course of the month. I think that it is important to have access to some of the basic terms when it comes to meter.
Poetic Meter: Word structures that create a pattern of sounds, stresses, word lengths, syllables, or beats that are repeated to create a pattern within a poem. In English the primary focus is on stresses and beats, but all of these elements make for possible meters. Other languages often focus on different types of patterns.
Beat: The smallest reducible part of a meter, such as a syllable, a letter or a breath.
Foot: A repeated unit of meter, often consisting of two or more beats.
Stressed Syllable: The syllable a speaker emphasizes when speaking. Shown here in capital letters: CARpet, HABbit, oPEN, PATsy. Stressed syllables are often called long syllables.
Unstressed Syllable: The syllable a speaker demphasizes when speaking. Shown here in lowercase letters: CARpet, HABbit, oPEN, PATsy. Unstressed syllables are often called short syllables.
Amphibrach: A foot composed of a stressed syllable between two unstressed syllables. This meter is most commonly seen in limericks. There ONCE was a HAPpy young PASTor.
Anapest: A foot composed of two unstressed syllables followed by a long syllable such as Double UP double DOWN.
Choriamb: A foot composed of four syllables: stressed,-unstressed,-unstressed,-stressed such as FIGHT for your RIGHTS.
Dactyl: A foot composed of a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables. HAPpily
Dimeter: A meter composed of two feet.
Elegiac Meter: A meter composed of two lines (a couplet) the first in dactylic hexameter and the second in dactylic pentameter.
Heptameter: A meter composed of seven feet
Hexameter: A meter composed of six feet
Iamb: A foot composed of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable such as TYrant. This is the most commonly used foot in English poetic meter.
Iambic Pentameter: A meter composed of five feet of iambs. This is the meter common to sonnets, epics and Shakespearian plays.
Molossus: A foot composed of three stressed syllables such as SHORT SHARP SHOCK.
Octameter: A meter composed of eight feet
Pentameter: A meter composed of five feet
Tetrameter: A meter composed of four feet
Trimeter: A meter composed of three feet
Trochee: A foot composed of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable such as PLAYpen.
You might also want to read the article Rhythm and Stress by Gwyneth Box. It provides a more elegant discussion of this material.
Today’s Poetry Prompt
Write a poem that uses some sort of meter. If you want a challenge, attempt a meter you haven’t worked with before. For an extra added challenge, try to work in the word belly.