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Write a poem using a specific meter

I’m no expert on meter, but it makes for a nice diversion from concepts such as voice and social relevance. Here’s a list of terms related to meter. Learn these and you can show off to your friends!

Terms You Should Know

The Space Age Restaurant in Gila Bend

The Space Age Restaurant in Gila Bend

Poetic Meter: Word choices that create a pattern of sounds, stresses, word lengths, syllables, or beats that are repeated to create a line of poetry. In English the focus is generally on stresses and beats, but all patterns make for possible meters and other languages often focus on different types of patterns.

Beat: The smallest reducible part of a meter, such as a syllable.

Foot: A repeated unit of meter — usually two, three or four beats.

Stressed Syllable: The syllable a speaker emphasizes in speech. Shown here in Capital letters: CARpet, RABbit, oPEN, PATsy. Stressed syllables are also called long syllables.

Unstressed Syllable: The syllable a speaker demphasizes in speech. Shown here in lowercase letters: CARpet, RABbit, oPEN, PATsy. Unstressed syllables are also called short syllables.

Additional Terms

Amphibrach: A foot that consists 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 that consists of two unstressed syllables followed by a long syllable such as Double UP double DOWN.

Caesura: A notable pause or break within a line of poetry as opposed to at the end of a line of poetry.

Choriamb: A foot that consists of four syllables: stressed,-unstressed,-unstressed,-stressed such as FIGHT for your RIGHTS.

Consonance: The repetition of two or more consonants using different vowels. For example: fast tryst.

Dactyl: A foot that consists of a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables. HAPpily

Dimeter: A meter that consists of two feet.

Elegiac Meter: A meter that consists of two lines (a couplet) the first in dactylic hexameter and the second in dactylic pentameter.

Heptameter: A meter that consists of seven feet

Hexameter: A meter that consists of six feet

Iamb: A foot comprising 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 that consists of five feet of iambs. This is the meter common to sonnets, epics and Shakespearian plays.

Internal Rhyme: Words within a line of poetry (rather than at the end or beginning of a line) that rhyme with words within other lines of the same poem.

Molossus: A foot that consists of three stressed syllables such as SHORT SHARP SHOCK.

Octameter: A meter that consists of eight feet

Pentameter: A meter that consists of five feet

Refrain: A phrase, line or group of lines that gets repeated within a poem.

Tetrameter: A meter that consists of four feet

Trimeter: A meter that consists of three feet

Trochee: A foot that consists of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable such as PLAYpen.

Today’s Assignment

Write a poem using a specific meter. The meter can be of your own choosing or even your own making, as long as you put a pattern into place. As always, feel free to post your poem in the comment section of this post.

Today’s Recommended Poet

Diane Lockward is a poet, teacher and an active blogger. Her poetry is feminine and feminist. She is smart and funny. Here poetry probes the politics of family, motherhood and food with affection and a bit of exasperation.

Temptation by Water 2010

What Feeds Us 2006

Eve’s Red Dress 2003

You might want to read her blog entries about voice vs. tone here and here. She also has a poetry tutorial: The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop