Friday, April 22, 2005

Quest for the Biggest and Badest Poetry Toolbox: Part 3-Quantitative Meter

quantitative meter: used in "classical poetry". "Quantity refers to the length of a syllable, how long it takes to pronounce it. A line of ancient Greek or Latin poetry was measured by its number of feet."

foot: "a unit of one or several syllables in a set pattern."

dactyl: "in quantitative meter is a unit consisting of a long syllable followed by two short syllables."

This exercise shows my attempts at quantitative meter, specifically dactylic trimeter (three feet), in English:

Fragmentary Lines

Must I go bright as day round the sky?
Ought I go smooth as acrylic in bolts
Beautiful thoughts in the moon lit night
Thoughts of us fruitful and lounging in
spoon after spoon of impossible
sweetness and dreams without coarse reality
Hopes go beyond every womb, every tomb

Keith Badowski

Note to myself: While they did take time to sound out and think up, constructing fragmentary lines in this pattern was not extremely difficult. It would have been very time consuming to develop enough lines in this patter to piece together a unified poem. I suspect that with practice it would get easier. I can see, however, how in English poetry stress would impose itself as the lines are read. I'd like to experiment more with this pattern to the point of writing a entire short poem.

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