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The Craft of Poetry ~ Sound


Langston Hughes

To study the sound of poems, we can use the information in The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature.
Your reading assignment: 662 - 672; 687-692

Page 667
Onomatopoeia--the use of words that sound like what they denote. (see "Player Piano" by John Updike--p. 664)

Alliteration--the repetition of consonant sounds (…/ Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon / Leap, plashless as they swim. - Dickenson, p.666)

Assonance--the repetition of the same vowel sound in nearby words (time and tide)

Euphony--lines that are musically pleasant to the ear; smooth and flowing

Cacophony--lines that are discordant and difficult to pronounce (see "Player Piano" by John Updike--p. 664)

Page 668
Rhyme--needs no explanation, but Meyer offers an explanation of why rhyme is so effective. It offers a sense of closure; creates emphasis; provides structure; draws attention to the relationship between words.
Eye Rhyme--words that look like they rhyme, but don't really rhyme! (cough and bough)

Page 671
End Rhyme--lines that rhyme at the end of the line

Internal Rhyme--rhymes within lines

EXACT RHYMES
Masculine Rhyme--rhyming single syllable words (shade/blade) or words that rhyme in the last syllable of a multi-syllable word (defend/contend)

Feminine Rhyme--rhymed stressed syllables followed by one or more rhymed unstressed syllables (gratitude/attitude)…words are longer and more syllables rhyme

NEAR RHYMES

Off rhyme/Slant Rhyme/Near Rhyme/Approximate Rhyme--the sounds are almost but not exactly alike.

Consonance--an identical consonant sound preceded by a different vowel sound: home, same; worth, breath; trophy, daffy.

Different consonant sounds and same vowel sounds also produce near rhyme: sound, sand; kind, conned; fellow, fallow.

Page 687-690
Rhythm / meter / prosody--the recurrence of stressed and unstressed sounds. Some writers get rhythm going by using tricks like repetition, as in "With No Immediate Cause." More typically, the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables creates the rhythm. Poets can create meaning and emphasis by the way they set up their patterns of stressed syllables.
When rhythmic patterns of stresses recur in patterns, prescribed or unprescribed, the result is the poem's "meter." All metrical elements taken together are known as "prosody."

Foot--the metrical unit of syllables, including (usually) one stressed and one or two unstressed. Five kinds of feet are described in the textbook: the iamb, trochee, anapest, dactyl, and spondee. They are differentiated by the number of syllables and by where the stressed and unstressed syllables fall. A "stress" is an accented syllable, and an "unstressed" syllable is an unaccented syllable.

Iambic and anapestic are known as "rising meters" and trochaic and dactylic are known as "falling meters." Poets often vary their meters to vary the sound, or to call attention to a particular word. A completely steady rhythm using the same kind of metrical foot over and over again would probably become monotonous or sing-songy, like a children's nursery rhyme.

Line--a measure of the number and type of feet. Counting the number of feet with the kind of stress, you can get a pretty exact description of a poem's predominant meter.

Caesura--a pause. Working in closed forms and exact meters, poets play with lines in various ways. One way is to vary the sound by using pauses and stops in the middle and at the ends of lines to vary the rhythm, create emphasis, or call attention to something.

End Stopped--when a line pauses at the end, either caesura or full stop

Enjambment--when a line or stanza does not pause at its end

Page 706-733
A simple way of thinking about a poem's "structure" is to see it as "open" or "closed." Open form poems are sometimes called "free form" or "free verse" and closed form poems are sometimes called "fixed form."

Fixed Form Poetry--follows a prescribed meter or "form" (ballads, sonnets, haikus, etc.)

Stanzas--groups of lines

Rhyme Scheme--regular patterns of rhyme, usually measured by stanza

Couplets--two line stanzas

Tercets--three line stanzas

Quatrains--four line stanzas

Villanelle--a type of fixed form poetry consisting of nineteen lines of any length divided into six stanzas: five tercets and a concluding quatrain. The first and third lines of the initial tercet rhyme; these rhymes are repeated in each subsequent tercet (aba) and in the final two lines of the quatrain (abaa). Line 1 appears in its entirety as lines 6, 12, and 18, while line 3 reappears as lines 9, 15, and 19. Yikes! Read "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" (P. 715) and you'll see how powerful such a fixed form can be.

Open Form Poetry--doesn't conform to established patterns of meter, rhyme, and stanza. Such poetry derives its rhythmic qualities from the repetition of words, phrases, or grammatical structures, the arrangement of words on the printed page, or by some other means. The poet E.E. Cummings wrote open form poetry; his poems do not have measurable meters, but they do have rhythm.

Lyric--a type of brief poem that expresses the personal emotions and thoughts of a single speaker. Just about all of modern poetry is lyric poetry! It is important to realize, however, that although the lyric is uttered in the first person, the speaker is not necessarily the poet. There are many kinds of lyric poetry, including the dramatic monologue ("Hazel Tells Laverne," (p. 578) "My Last Duchess," (p. 657) "Theme for English B." (p. 830).

 

 

 

     

 


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