About workshops

Workshops on Neopoet are groups that meet for a certain period of time to focus on a certain aspect of poetry. Each workshop participant is asked to critique all the other poems submitted into a workshop. A workshop leader helps coordinate -- they set the agenda, give participants feedback on whether their submissions and critique are at they level expected of them, and after the workshop is over, give feedback to participants. 

To join a workshop, first find one that is of interest to you. Once you have found the right workshop (and verified that it is open -- you can find this out in the description below), you can apply to join the workshop.

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Rhythm and Meter in Poetry

Program description/goal: 

Description: To explore rhythm and meter in Free Verse and Classical Forms and to explore and write poetry that fulfils the criteria of the discussion topics.
Leader: samary
Moderator: weirdelf

Objectives:To explore Rhythm and Metre in Poetry
Consider syllables language and word stress
To revisit the theory around word stress
Briefly consider Meter types
To explore Syllabic Meter and look at poems in syllabic meter..
To  write a poem in syllabic meter
To explore Accentual Syllabic meter starting with the iamb and look at poems written in iambs
To write an iambic poem

Level of expertise: Open to all

Subject matter:

Very Important! Poems are not posted on this page. Post your workshop poem as normal to the Stream except under the Workshop drop-down select 'Open to new participants - Rhythm and Metre in Poetry'. Include (Rhythm and Metre in Poetry workshop) after the title.

30 days
Number of participants (limit): 
20 people
Skill level: 
Monday, February 10, 2020 to Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Since I write mostly in rhyme I reckon this would;d help me in my meter. Please count me in

Great for you to join I wasn't expecting to start yet but I can start as and when. I intend to do a little on Free Verse rhythm too as well as classical meter.

author comment

am not rushing you but whenever you decide to hold it just holler and I'll be aboard

I don't have time/energy to dedicate myself to participate in this one, but I'm commenting so I can follow the discussion when I have time. Rhythm and meter are the areas I've never felt like I could succeed at.


Critique, don't comment.

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Follow and ask questions if you need Meter is something that suddenly falls into place. I am going back to language and sounds so there will be some theory which might help.

author comment

This would explain your difficulty with meter. The Southern accent uses French long/short vowels instead of stressed/unstressed. In this workshop with will explain stressed meter and help you overcome your Rebel speech impediment [grins].

I know you to be an exceptionally fine poet and can't believe you have no sense of rhythm/cadence at least. So I'm going to do readings of some of your works and parse them. I have added you to the workshop so if you have the time and inclination you will be able to enter them in the workshop.

Alliteration, consonance and assonance for a n important aspect of cadence, repetition for an important aspect of rhythm and formal meter is a learned disciple but once mastered becomes second nature. You will hear stumblings in my readings when any of the aspects fail (or because I screw up) [grins]

Here is the first one.

A new workshop on the most important element of poetry-
'Rhythm and Meter in Poetry'

when I speak in public (it was ingrained in me since elementary school that it doesn't sound intelligent to speak that way, ugh), but it comes out when I'm speaking slowly, such as when I'm trying to hear a meter!


Critique, don't comment.

Community guidelines: https://www.neopoet.com/community-guidelines

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

WE speak correctly, everybody else has an accent


Poet(ess) to the Stars

I would love to enroll into this. I don't know much of rhythm and meter. But I'll learn it here through our discussion. Please, include me.


yes Umbeh Collins enrolled.

author comment

Thanks, ma'am.


i'm in sam. expecting your usual excellence in teaching

Have you thought about how poems have repetitions in a way that prose doesn't? That the aural, visual aspects are gathered in patterns. How they affect the structure of poetry?
In this workshop we want to concentrate on rhythm, with and without meter.

The word rhythm is derived from rhythmos (Greek) which means, “measured motion.” 

All languages make use of rhythm, and poetry exploits these rhythms to create additional meaning.

Rhythm generally is “a series of alternations of build-up and release, movement and counter-movement, tending toward regularity but complicated by constant variations and local inflections.” (Attridge 1995: )

While poetic metre and metrical deviations contribute to the rhythm of a poem, rhythm itself is a more general phenomenon, relating mainly to the variations of speed in which a poem is likely to be read. This speed is influenced particularly by
• pauses 
• elisions and expansions
• vowel length 
• consonant clusters
• modulation

Rhythm in writing acts as beat does in music. The use of rhythm in poetry arises from the need to express some words more strongly than others. In speech, rhythm is used unconsciously to create identifiable patterns.
Recurrence and predictability are the basis of pattern. This is what are brains look for in every aspect of our lives, patterns and order.

Aural patterns in a poem are concerned largely with the rhythm, sound and tone of the letters and words. How they sound when read in time.
Repetition of a sound, syllable, word, phrase, line, stanza, or metrical pattern is a basic unifying device.

Each verse form has its place and its own set of skills. The form choosen should normally follow the poetic idea but in this workshop we will be making the form the focus as aspects of learning. Because sound is so important you should read all the examples and exercises aloud.

Repetition plays a big part in poetry words, phrases, sounds. We probably pick up repetitions by reading the words on the page but if poetry is read aloud the sounds of patterns can be very clear.
Repetition is about returning to a theme, a word or a musical sounding phrase. If you are using repetition in your poetry, it is important that you are using it consciously and for a reason. You should use it intentionally to make a point, build a rhythm or create a feeling.
You can repeat individual words to create emphasis on that word, or whole phrases or refrains.

Lets start off by considering the function of rhythm in poetry
The major functions of rhythm in
1. The poem in general
(a) Heightened language
(b) Consistency and unity
(c) Forward movement and final closure
(d) Memorability
(e) Mimetic suggestiveness
(f) Emotional suggestiveness
(g) Literary associations
2. Within the poem
(a) Emphasis
(b) Articulation
(c) Mimetic effects
(d) Emotional effects
(e) Meaning in process
(f) Connection and contrast

author comment

so far so good! keep it coming. what is memombility

Sorry typo Memorability.

author comment

it is okay. i now it is the first mistake you have ever made

my sincere apologies. I will shut up until I get some pain relief tomorroq.

A new workshop on the most important element of poetry-
'Rhythm and Meter in Poetry'

oh jess you're full of shit. we have hardly talked that much, you have seen only a few of the comments i make all over. do you think my comment here was anything but made in fun? an affectionate joke to a friend? is fun, joking, laughter not allowed here? you have no way of knowing whether i say what i mean. i did not get on here and say i tell lies. i am no people pleaser. but many people please me. i am a happy, contented, pleased with myself person. i am sorry if you are not. please think about the sterilzation and lobotomy. a joke. do i have to explain to you? sam is not and does not think she is my "messiah". that is absurd to the point of insult. she is a good friend. i am just not of a personality to always be upset, pissed off, putting someone or something down, to make myself feel better or fix poor self esteem. i apologize for not living the exciting life of drama and turmoil that might entertain you more

I will shut up until I can talk non malicious sense.

A new workshop on the most important element of poetry-
'Rhythm and Meter in Poetry'

Syntax and syllables
The rhythm of a language is not just the sound of its words, equally crucial are their meanings and the way they relate to each other in sentences the grammar- syntax. Luckily we don't have to know too much about it to be able to talk about syntax and sense in poetic rhythm. It is good to feel how syntax joins and separates words in longer and shorter units with different degrees of strength. It is in this way that syntax contributes to the movement of language. Luckily syntax is innate we learn it as we learn language and we automatically divide language into cohesive units. Syntax therefore has a unifying and a separating function.
We sometimes pause or add a silence in a strong syntactical break in speech ... pause means slowing down often by extending the last syllable before the line or sentence break.

Punctuation helps with the syntactical breaks but white space between words also affects the reading of a poem.


The success of a piece of poetry depends on the choice of words their integration into phrases and the intonation, stress and rhythm of the piece.

Prosodic features are features that appear when we put sounds together in connected speec. They are INTONATION, STRESS AND RHYTHM.

A syllable is a unit of pronunciation forming a word, or part of a word, and containing one vowel sound and often attached consonants.

A syllable is the part of a word containing a vowel sound such as a, e, i, o, u or y which we use as both vowel and consonant.
(cone) CONE is one syllable one vowel sound.
( credit) CRED / IT has two syllables because it has two vowel sounds.
(National) NAT/ ION/AL has three syllables three vowel sounds.

Syllable sounds are made through pulses of energy produced by our vocal cords, the organs of the mouth and our utilisation of air. English speech is a stream of syllables that moves language along.
Its easy to see how syllables create rhythm.
I want you to say the following sentence aloud these are all words of one syllable and I want you to speak each with the same amount of emphasis try tapping the beat as you say the words.
Now try it with polysyllabic words
This shows you how syllables are the primary rhythm carriers of language. Each sound you make is a component of a syllable and each syllable is a rhythmic pulse which moves language on.If you try to articulate every sound in a word individually it expends alot of energy and is uncomfortable so we package them together for ease.

One way to work out how many syllables a word has is to count the number of times you hear the vowels in a sentence. This is different to counting the vowels. The word ‘eat’ for example has two vowels, but you only hear one. Thus eat has one syllable - as does cheese, even though cheese contains three vowels. ‘Eating’, however, has two syllables: ‘Eat-ting’.

In English we have words spelled with vowels that we don't articulate when we speak. This is the 'schwa' sound and it happens with most of the vowels at sometime or another and is frequent with the e as in cheese the final e is silent. This is an issue when finding syllables especially for poets with English as a second language. /ə/ is the symbol for vowels we don't articulate and you can idenify the schwa in the phonetic examples in dictionaries. We also tend to combine two adjacent syllables into one sound hence the 5 + y vowels but the 20 sounds that then form the components of syllables.

The word syllable, contains three syllables – ‘Syl- la-bles’. (The y in this instance counts as a vowel sound).

Try putting your hand flat just underneath your chin and counting the amount of times your chin hits your hand when you say the word ‘syllable’ slowly. Three right? This is a good way to identify the amount of vowel sounds in a word.

The key is how the word is spoken but you can double check in an on line rescource such as how many syllables.com.

Counting Syllables

You know what a syllable is so lets get counting.
Remember you can find how many syllables there are in words by holding your hand under your chin as you say the word, for every vowel sound your chin moves downwards.
Say COMPUTER and you should feel your chin move three times, three syllables.

You can look at the word and try to work it out.
You can look in a dictionary all have the PHONETIC pronounciation and syllable division.

We can divide lines into syllables by putting a / between them.
Try/ to / find/ in/ner/ peace
Love /and/ care /nev/er/ cease.
Samantha Beardon.
Here we have 6 syllables per line

Divide the following lines into syllables

Do you wonder the why of life
If dizzy dwellers of ecstatic delight
Are striking sorties in suffered dreams
Dicing truth to fit our schemes

Samantha Beardon.

author comment


I feel you picked a bad example of a 3-syllable word, mainly because many would argue it has FOUR syllables:
NASH - I - ON - AL, although the 2nd syllable is very brief. I accept some people pronounce it more sloppily as NASH-ON-AL or even NASH-ER-NAL.

Poet(ess) to the Stars

Or at least in True English as spoken in the southeastern U.S.

I believe many people pronounce the word "NASHNULL" (2 syllables) so that makes it an even worse choice for a trisyllabic word!

In True Deep South English i believe it's "NESHNILL".

Poet(ess) to the Stars

Nash on all.........but you are correct that it is mispronounced a lot of ways lol

Edna has made a really good point people view the syllable count of words differently and some words can be seen as having two, three or four syllables and technically that is not incorrect wandering is normally seen as three syllables but it can be elided and seen as two syllables with the e a schwa ... silent vowel. We will look at this more when we move on to metre as metre is an inexact science. What we do is set the rhythm and the expectation for our brains and our brains will automatically the read a piece keeping the rhythm going. Different syllable counts can be advantageous to the poet. I see the i in national as one of the silent vowel sounds too.
Other examples are comfortable, extraordinary.
I personally whilst saying the word and listening will also check a dictionary if I am in doubt and writing in metre.
There are all sorts of issues around metre and our pesky language but once we understand the principles of syllables, rhythm and metre we as poets can exploit that.

author comment

...in so far as the English language is a bit unpredictable as far as pronunciation, accent, emphasis etc etc is concerned. Take the word "research" for example: in Britain at least, it's pronounced Re-SEARCH by the educated but RE-search by the less so. In North America I believe it's RE-search. God knows how it's pronounced in Oceania. Re-SAIRTCH or RE-sairtch maybe... Thus metre could get a good buggering up depending where you live!

Poet(ess) to the Stars

It's not really syllable count which matters what matter is feet

We are building up tò feet in order to understand feet people need to understand what a syllable is which is what we are achieving then understand stress and how we stress syllables.
Then move on to metre.
Syllables and stress are things we deal with innately so if you are new to metre its really good to understand them then metre makes sense. Stan you obviously understand metre but if its new then people get befuddled by the terms and dont get the process. If we all start with the same knowledge then it helps.
As we are looking at rhythm and metre we need to explore all the issues.

author comment

Hello, I would love to try and take part. I am a little nervous this could be out of my depth of comprehension. But I would like to try. I am new and not sure how all this goes. So sorry if I make mistakes.

Thank you for any help


and fear not, you are very welcome and Samantha (Samary) is very very good at explaining thing.
Do not be afraid to ask questions.Read this thread so far to catch up and the ask any questions you have.

I believe meter/rhythm/cadence are the most important aspects of poetry. Far more important than rhyme.


A new workshop on the most important element of poetry-
'Rhythm and Meter in Poetry'

I am going to go through this bit by bit and read the information. I am not telling you anything you dont do with speech and sound you might just never have thought about it. Its actually fascinating looking at how we use sound as well as meaning in our poetry. As Jess says dont be afraid to ask if you dont understand no question is too daft and you might well help somebody else.

author comment

welcome. do not worry. i am often out of my league in different places, don't always get it. samary is a great teacher. if you have questions just ask hr or soneome

You explain things so well. I loved the connection to music that you gave. This helped me massively to picture what you meant. I think I have grasped it. So things like syllables are the notes that will control the sound and rhythm of a poem? I was told to always read aloud my work, as it helps me understand when to put punctuation in (though I don't always get it right) To notice my breathing when I read something has greatly improved my understanding of things like commas and full stops. Sorry if what I am saying is basic, but I struggle with english language. But reading your explanation just started to make sense. I hope am getting it lol

I always doubt my brain so please put me right if I am wrong

Many thanks

If you close your eyes and concentrate on the sound of people speaking more than the meaning you can hear how words rise and fall as we talk, how there is a pattern to speech , which as poets we use to enhance our poetry. Yes punctuation makes pauses, breathing and thinking spaces, you use those pauses to help regulate both sound and meaning. Poetry is a combination of meaning, emotion and sound because its often written now we are less aware of the importance of rhythm, but your brain loves it.

author comment

Do you wonder the why of life
If dizzy dwellers of ecstatic delight
Are striking sorties in suffered dreams
Dicing truth to fit our schemes

Samantha Beardon.

Do /you/ won/der /the/why/ of/ life
If /diz/zy/ dwell/ers /of /ec/stat/ic/ de/light
Are/ strik/ing /sort/ies/ in /suff/ered/ dreams
Dic/ing/ truth/ to/ fit/ our/ schemes

author comment

Thanks for the answers, they match my own. I am thrilled my brain is getting this. Most enjoyable Samary, thanks so much

Word Stress

When I asked you to read
emphasising each syllable the same amount it enabled you to feel the rhythmic quality of syllables but it suppressed another important aspect of rhythm that is the different amount of emphasis we put on syllables as we speak..
When we speak in English, we don’t just say syllables in a monotone voice, unless we are trying to do a bad impersonation of a robot.
Instead, we vary the pitch, volume, and strength of our pronunciation, or stress, of the syllables; sometimes our meaning may be completely different, depending on where we place that emphasis as we talk.

Volume and strength of pronounciation is always on a syllable in a word....this is called a stressed syllable and the syllables we say more quietly are called unstressed syllables.

When trying to identify stressed and unstressed syllables in a poem we do something called a scansion and mark emphasised (stressed syllables) with a / and the syllables with less emphasis with an x.

I find it easier to see the words or parts of words if I use upper case for the syllables that are emphasised(stressed) and lower case for those syllables spoken with less emphasise(unstressed)....
Here is the same sentence again read it out loud stressing the syllables in upper case.


In order to be able to understand metre you need to be able to FIND STRESSED SYLLABLES hear them in lines and COUNT SYLLABLES in lines.
That's it!! Oh and there are a few annoying labels to get to grips with but once you get the principles the labels are a doddle!

In speech there is only one major stress in a word but in multisyllable words there is likely to be a secondary stress. In poetry we might utilise that stress in our syllable count so it's good to be able to identify them too.

When we stress syllables in words, we use a combination of different features. Experiment now with the word 'computer'. Say it out loud. Listen to yourself. The second syllable of the three is stressed.

Com PU ter
What are you doing so that the listener can hear that stress?
• A stressed syllable combines five features:
• It is l-o-n-g-e-r - com p-u-ter
• It is LOUDER - comPUter
• It has a change in pitch from the syllables coming before and afterwards. The pitch of a stressed syllable is usually higher.
• It is said more clearly -The vowel sound is purer. Compare the first and last vowel sounds with the stressed sound.
• It uses larger facial movements - Look in the mirror when you say the word. Look at your jaw and lips in particular.

Let's look at this sentence
From TIME to TIME and for as LONG as it TAKES.
I have written the words that we stress in capitals. We glide over the particles (‘from’,‘to’,‘and’,‘for’, ‘as’,‘it’) and give a little push to the important words (‘time’,‘long’, ‘takes’).
Also, we tend to accent the operative part of monosyllabic words when they are extended, only lightly tripping over the -ing and -ly, of such words as HOPing and QUICKly.

You are using stressed and unstressed syllables in communication, speaking and listening. All you have to do is become aware of what you are doing automatically. We actually hear and speak a complex hierarchy of stresses but for the benefit of learning metre we only have to concentrate on two types of syllable stresses.

Whilst you can learn metre by listening to sounds and analysing them I personally prefer to understand the what wheres and whys of things as well hence this theoretical start to the workshop.

We use stresses in words to give our listeners the important information in a sentence to give them clues as to what is important.
So words we would expect to be stressed would be the content words, words that convey meaning by themselves.
Nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs.
Whilst function words are mostly unstressed these are words that depend on other words for their meaning they include prepositions, articles, demonstratives,conjunctions, pronouns and auxillaries.

So those facts give you some good clues as to the words we might stress and those we might stress less.

Exercise Finding Stresses
Here is the same piece that we identified the syllables with can you identify the stressed syllables?

Do /you/ won/der /the/why/ of/ life
If /diz/zy/ dwell/ers /of /ec/stat/ic/ de/light
Are/ strik/ing /sort/ies/ in /suff/ered/ dreams
Dic/ing/ truth/ to/ fit/ our/ schemes

Don't forget to read the piece sliwly aloud and try to hear and feel the syllables you emphasise more. If you are not sure think about the type if word the noun, adjective, verb or adverb is likely to be stressed. Still not sure then look in a dictionary or a syllable counting dictionary.

Then try to do the same with this piece just two stanzas if a poem. Mad Girl's Love Song by Sylvia Plath.

"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

What are your thoughts on syllables and stress?
Observations and Questions.
Next I want to quickly visit the rhythms of speech then we can do a summary and then move towards thinking about metre.

author comment

DO /you/ WON/der /the/WHY/ of/ LIFE
If /DIZ/ZY/ DWELL/ers /of /ec/STAT/ic/ DE/LIGHT
Are/ STRIK/ing /SORT/IES/ in /SUFF/ered/ DREAMS
DIC/ing/ truth/ to/ FIT/ our/ SCHEMES

I have been saying it outloud, and find parts of words have syllables that are stressed whilst the others in that word don't feel to be. But I guess it would depend on the person reading it out? I also guess an accent might cause someone to sound as though they stress a certain syllable differently?

You can tell me if I am talking rubbish and have it all wrong lol

Many thanks for your ongoing support

DO you WONder the WHY of LIFE
if DIZzy DWELLers of ECstatic deLIGHT
are STRIKing SORTies in SUFFered DREAMS

regarding plath's - it is iambic pentameter and has the accent on every second syllable

Do /you/ WON/der /the/WHY/ of/ LIFE
If /DIZ/zy/ DWELL/ers /of / ec/STAT/ic/ de/LIGHT
Are/ STRIK/ing/
SORT/ies/ in /SUFF/ered/ DREAMS
DIC/ing/ TRUTH/ to/ FIT/ our/ SCHEMES

. Mad Girl's Love Song by Sylvia Plath.


when you read these aloud what strikes you about the rhythm of each piece? Does one have more rhythm than the other do you think?

author comment

Regarding the difference in rhythm I would say the first one is slower and more subtle than the second one, which has more pace and is more dramatic when spoken out loud

I think?

i put the emphasis where i did on ecstatic because i figured in england it would be pronounced differently. i did look this up in about five places and in some the accent was on the first syllable

Interesting Cathy I have just done a trawl but can't find anything but that mid stress and that would fall in line with the principles of stress.
When a word ends in “ic,” “sion” or “tion,” the stress is usually on the second-to-last syllable. You count syllables backwards and put a stress on the second one from the end. Of course there are always exceptions!

author comment

Stress the first syllable of:
● Most two-syllable nouns
● Most two-syllable adjectives

Stress the last syllable of:
● Most two-syllable verbs

Stress the second-to-last syllable of:
● Words that end in -ic
● Words ending in -sion and -tion

Stress the third-from-last syllable of:
● Words that end in -cy, -ty, -phy and -gy
● Words that end in -al

author comment

In yr first 2 categories you say "most..." But the exceptions are so numerous that the "rule" is almost pointless!

A few of the hundreds (thousands?) of everyday 2-syllable nouns with stress on 2nd syllable; research, reply, supply, express, champagne, romance, expense, effect, support, abuse, delight, concern, escape, decay, delay, dismay... etc etc etc
And quite a few have equal stress or even no stress.

I can see that there is some merit in laying out such "rules" or guidelines for those learning English as a foreign language, but surely most mother tongue English speakers know instinctively where the emphasis goes in standard vocabulary? One grows up knowing that it's INsight but deLIGHT', that the verb refuse is pronounced reeFUZE but the noun is REFFuse and so on. Lots of other words change their stress and even pronunciation depending on whether they are nouns, verbs or adjectives: eg. contract, compound, abuse, incline, decline, recline. I could go on forever thinking of examples, but I won't.

One of the major ways in which one tells how good a non mother tongue person's English is the way in which they put the emphasis on words when speaking.

Poet(ess) to the Stars

The rules are out there as fact I didnt make them up. Yes there are many exceptions and stuff like, phrasing, emphasis and many other things will effect stress and run a coach and horses through the 'rules'. But this is about giving people an initial hook to hang metre on to try to get people to see how our speech works outside of our rote learning. I believe that giving people a chance to see the skeleton of the process you think people should know how to stress words and yes they do but if its a new concept then its good to see how it is laid out . Also we have several people with English as a second language. If we all are basically understanding similar processes as we move through we can discuss why and how things work or don't. Well thats my basis for starting where I am.

author comment

This is where I usually get in trouble. Even when reading my scratchings aloud I have a subconscious tendency to put stresses where I Want them instead of where they naturally occur.

I have those stress rules and the different metres on a chart I keep beside me when I am writing in metre. Subconsciously they obviously sound right to you Stan. There is always a tension between syllable and stress but to me whilst the sound is important its a balance between that and using our eyes as well.

author comment

I have screenshot your rules and now have it sat on my desktop for reference. Thank you for providing this

I think I do the same. Is it an accent thing do you think? We all talk in different dialects so the emphasis would no doubt change, depending on that dialect. wouldn't it? (scratching my head)

Certainly your natural speech stresses will affect some words but this is about understanding the principles of syllables and stress timed speech that we do automatically and as Edna says we learn automatically. But if you get a feel for what you do normally and how it works then understanding metre isnt such a strain because it is an extension of normal speech and not some mystical new language.

author comment

You were saying you had a tendancy to put your stresses where you want them. So question if you do that do you land up with more, less or the same number of stresses?

author comment

My problem is that I put the stress in the wrong part of a word at times without noticing I've done so. Now this works ok in song lyrics but not in poetry. If I were to read almost any of my poetry to you unless you were paying close attention you might not even notice this tendency.

Speech rhythm
As you see the rhytmn of of spoken English is based on both syllables and stress to move language along in an orderly sequence using a minimum expenditure of energy. If we exaggerate either syllables or stress say to count them then there is a natural tendancy to make them occur at regular intervals of time. In a stretch of language where the stresses are separated by the same number of unstressed syllables the two rhythmic principles will work together to create a very even progression.

UNder the BLOSsom that HANGS on the BOUGH
And ALL that MIGhty HEART is LYing STILL

In each of these lines the stress rhythm is enhanced by the syllabic stress.

In the first line there are two unstressed syllables between each stressed syllable.
In the second line there is one unstressed syllable between the stresses and in the third line there are no unstressed syllables.

Where the number of unstressed syllables varies as happens in prose the two rhythmic tendencies collide. The tendency of stresses to even themselves out as we speak is counteracted by the syllables tendency to take up their own time in pronunciation.

It is a TRUTH uniVERsally ackNOWledged, that a
SINgle MAN in possESSion of a GOOD FORtune MUST be
in WANT of a WIFE.
Here you have an uneven of unstressed between the stressed syllables, the pressure of the stresses to produce their own rhythm is counteracted by the syllables to maintain their own identity making the interval between stresses different in length. The result is the sentence has no identifiable rhythmic pattern.
But the struggle is not an equal one, stress because of the stronger muscular effort can to some degree override the syllabic pattern especially if given some encouragement,
Say THIS exPEimentwill be VEry SHORT
When there are several unstressed syllables between stressed syllables we squeeze them so they each take a shorter time to pronounce and when there are a few we extend them so they take a longer time to say. When there are no stresses as break break break we use a silence or a lengthening of the syllable to produce a phase of relaxation.

CARoline inTENDS
CARoline interFERES

This shows that you can cram 6 syllables into the same space as two and we do this without concentration because it is the stresses that are the main markers of regular rhythm.
As soon as you add another stress you cant compress the syllables compare the following which have the same number of syllables but a different rhythm.
CARoline inTENDS

The interesting thing about English speech rhythm is that every syllable that is unstressed or has a secondary stress tends to be seen as being attached to a preceding or following stressed syllable. This is because when we talk the muscles that produce the stress use unstressed syllables to build up the burst of energy and then relax after. The linkage is syntactic and semantic and corresponds to the speakers sense of how the language is divided up.
For instance an article, preposition or conjunction goes with a following stress, the book, off course, and hold.
Prounouns can go with preceding and following stresses he comes, hold him. A single stress with any attached unstressed or lightly stressed syllables are called a stress group.

Thus a stress group of unstressed followed by a stressed syllable will give a rising rhythm.
alLOW, in a TRICE,

“They danced by the light of the moon” ( Edward Lear )

Dust of Snow (By Robert Frost)
“The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree"

A stress group with a stressed syllable followed by unstressed syllable or syllables will give a falling rhythm.
HABit, SYllable, MENtion it,

"The Raven
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there"

In practice we intermix stress groups as we speak and sometimes land up with a mixed rhythm of no discernable impact as hapoens in prose and some Free Verse Poetry.

So NOW l she is GONE l and the SERVantsl are GONE,l and the THINGSl are GONE.

If YOUR LIFE were irREVocably CHANged
That WHEN you FINally from the ROUTE best UNderSTOOD

In the English language there are more falling words than rising words but in continuous speech a rising rhythm predominates thanks to the many stress groups that consist of unstressed function words followed by content words.

So far we have looked at the syllable what it is how it adds rhythm to our speech. We have also started to look at the underlying principles of English as a stressed time language and how our whole communication system is designed to push language along with modulated sound. How syllables are stressed or unstressed or shades in between to enhance meaning.
How we form our stresses into groups to make communication easier and in doing so we making rhythmic patterns.

You need now to really listen to people speaking and start to identify words that are being stressed and what sort of rhythms people are using.

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maybe my usa english but i would emphasis not would (what you would do) but do

We will stop looking at theory and move to writing a poem I am sure you will breath a sigh of relief!

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Lets see how well you are doing with syllables with this lovely form that uses rhyme and syllables to create rhythmic poems.


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this is a hard one to write! last night i worked on poem, checked computer, worked on poem, watched tv, back to poem. i had to do this so my head would not explode. how do you pronounce magic? i put accent on first syllable but then in your poem the accent is not on the seventh syllable. am i reading something wrong? i am having much trouble getting an accent on the seventh syllable, as eight seem easier - da dum etc. obviously this type of poem cannot have an accent on every second syllable unless the first accent is on the first word? if i write "she stood right at the middle" i don't have the accent on the last (seventh) syllable, but neither does magic is pronounced the way i say it. help!

This poem simply counts syllables you are not trying to accent words.
This is not about stress.
you write 7 syllables per line
You have the 3 syllable envoi
To get the extra rhythm in this firm you have the rhymes at the end of lines one two and three
Plus the cross rhyme end of the envoi with syllable 3 or 4 line 2.
You are getting confused between syllables and stress they are separate entities.

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in your poem in the last line don't you have 8 syllables

Cathy I see it as 7 what are you seeing ?
destroy is 2
assumption is 3
the rest are 1.

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sorry wrong line i think. my creation huge but tragic. 8 syllables?

Hello Samary, I think my poem is ready to share. I am a little confused as to where to post it. Any help regarding that would be appreciated. I have never counted syllables so much in my life. It's been hard but fun. I might have it wrong. Apologies if I do

Kind Regards

I posted it, I found the tag at the bottom of submit poem. Hope it is alright. I must of checked and read it a hundred times lol

Kind regards

Lol sorry and not sorry you will at least really get syllables now I hope. Sam

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We have looked at how syllables and stressing syllables are how we talk and something we do automatically all the time. How syllables and alternating stressed syllables (beats) attached to unstressed syllables causes the rhythm of our speech. We are now going to move onto metre .. meter.
Promises promises!

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freeverse but may I join and just follow along?


check out our chat room open to all 24/7

yes of course. Understanding rhythm and metre is vital to free verse as well as classical forms. All poetry should flow and have musicality and the more you understand the power of word choice for sound as well as meaning the more emotion you can get into your poetry. Sound and language are so important in poetry.

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Metre comes from the way we use syllables.
Metre is the deliberate organisation of sounds within a poem concentrating and enhancing the rhythms of speech.

In speech we utilise stressed and unstressed syllables in a way that reduces the work of our speech muscles. We have those stress groups - stressed syllables with attached unstressed syllables. The rhythm in English poetry happens by alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables... beats and off beats. By alternation I mean that stressed syllables come at regular intervals but not necessarily one to one.
Of course we have fancy labels for different sorts of metre but we will worry more about how things work rather than the labels.

Poets who work in metre tend to stay primarily in one metre in their poetry. They may add a smidgeon of different metre in to create surprise or change the emotion.
So you should be able to read a piece of metrical poetry and be able to guage the metre.

As metre is musical you can tap out the rhythm with taps of different pressure, you can mark a stressed syllable DUM an unstressed with a di.

In poetry the groups of syllables that equate to stress groups are called Feet because they walk across a line.
Metre works with a limited number of feet.
The basic choices are:
• Unstressed + Stressed - diDUM (iamb) - my HORSE
• Stressed + Unstressed (trochee) - DUMdi - JACK and /JILL went /UP the/
• Stressed + Stressed - DUMDUM(spondee) - DOWNTOWN
• Unstressed + Unstressed +Stressed - didiDUM(anapest) - and the SOUND
• Stressed + Unstressed +Unstressed (dactyl)- DUMdidi- CANon to

Don't worry about the labels the names of the feet, lets work on the mechanics of the metre first.
Many classical forms specify the metre and the amount of lines and the rhyme scheme.

For example the Sonnet is 14 lines and written in iambs ....unstressed plus stressed syllables 5 pairs per line.

The most common metre is the unstressed and stressed syllable combination -'the iamb'so lets look at that first.

If we look at
We have 9 words but 10 syllables
5 pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables the stresses beats across the line.
We can look at it as 5 pairs of di dums.

He off/sings key/and makes/a dread/ful noise

di dum / di dum / di dum / di dum/ di dum

Five sounds repeating like a heart beat
and ONE and TWO and THREE and FOUR and FIVE

This combination of unstressed and stressed syllables working together is the iamb- di dum.

An iamb always starts unstressed.

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I put up my performance of the Thou Must Love Me, Cathy read it as pretty even soft hard syllables what about the rest of you?
Mine leaves us with some unanswered questions and the thought that so far two people have read the poem slightly differently so although there are great similarities there are also differences.
So we need to think about can lines be performed differently and what difference that makes.

So how did you feel the metre?

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Start really tuning into the sounds of conversation and listen to the lilt, capture a piece and analyse it. There will be pretty regular stressed syllables interspersed with unstressed syllables. Those unstressed syllables may come in ones and twos they will be pretty regular as our brains just naturally work in patterns.
So metre is just a tool for us poets to take normal language and make the rhythm regular and in doing so enhancing the meaning and emotion of our poetry.
This is the heart of poetry and as useful in Free Verse as in Classical.

We were looking at a rhythm brought about by the predominant use of iambs an unstressed syllable supporting a stressed syllable ... its the stresses that do most of the work.

lets look at a stanza of Flanders Field
Read it aloud
In Flanders Fields
    That MARK our PLACE; and IN the SKY
    The LARKS, still BRAVEly SINGing, FLY
Scarce HEARD aMID the GUNS beLOW.

4 stresses per line.. 4 sets of iambs.
One of the things to note is that once your brain percieves that pattern it will continue feeling that rhythm unless there is a big change.
In line 3 IN wouldnt be a word I would stress normally and it doesnt have as strong a stress
as place and sky but because of the natural rhythm there is a definate pat tnere enough to keep the flow.
At this stage you are learning to recognise iambs feel the rhythm, write a few and look how poets use iambs and sometimes abuse them.

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Read this aloud try to hear the stressed syllables.
Ode to Autumn (By John Keats)
“Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run…
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.”
What are you hearing?

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Lets look at this famous poem written in iambs.
FLUTtering and DANCing IN the BREEZE.

So here you have a poem written in regular iambs per line if you count them 4 iambs per line 8 syllables so that becomes the metrical norm for the poem.
Yet Wordsworth strayed a little look at line 6 he has started it with a stressed syllable why do you think he did that?
He could have written
Alive and dancing in the breeze which would have kept the perfect di DUM cadance.
Why do you think he didnt?

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Could it be because it's the final line, so he wanted to change the emphasis to wrap the poem up? It would give the reader the feel of it ending and also gives the poem a more grand conclusion, creating a more pleasant rhythm

I could be totally wrong


It was the final line of the first stanza

I think fluttering is what the flowers do in the wind and also if you say it out loud your tongue flutters too. Its also the right word for that image of dancing daffodils so I think he put thought into the word and the imagery was more important than keeping strictly to metre. This demonstrates looking at meaning, and sound and rhythm and making choices about what is best for the poem.

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I cant delete.

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What Is Meter in Poetry?
Common Types of Feet in Poetry
In English poetry, the most common types of metrical feet are two syllables and three syllables long. They’re characterized by their particular combination of stressed syllables and unstressed syllables. They include:

Trochee. Pronounced DAH-di as in “ladder.”
Iamb. Pronounced di-DAH as in “indeed.”
Spondee. Pronounced DAH-DAH, as in “TV.”
Dactyl. Pronounced DAH-di-di, as in “certainly.”
Anapest. Pronounced di-di-DAH, as in “what the heck!” (Anapestic poetry typically divides its stressed syllables across multiple words.)
Common Types of Meter in Poetry
Metrical feet are repeated over the course of a line of poetry to create poetic meter. We describe the length of a poetic meter by using Greek suffixes:

one foot = monometer
two feet = dimeter
three feet = trimeter
four feet = tetrameter
five feet = pentameter
six feet = hexameter
seven feet = heptameter
eight feet = octameter
So these are the labels.

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Jess leaving has put me into a funk as far as writing goes. But please don't end this shop yet. I'll get my shit together soon and a meter shop is really needed. The two time heart beat is a good analogy for a foot of poetry. One can seldom go wrong using the 2 beat and 4 or 5 foot format in writing a poem. Indeed one of the first poems I wrote after a 44 year hiatus was written in predominately tetrameter mixed with pentameter. This mixture seems to me to best mimic the pauses for great in normal speech. Here's the first stanza of said poem:
I came upon a house today
though most of it had gone away
and left behind its mossy comes
of listing piers and cracked hearthstones.

I'll try to get the shop poem you assigned posted no later than tomorrow......stan

Stan take your time Jess was a shock life gets in the way. I just thought if I had bored the group it wasnt worth continuing if people are ok with what I am doing will continue. Sam

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Listen to we talk about rhythm by Samary on #SoundCloud

What happens when you read it how does the rhythm feel?

We won't talk of stress,
We won't talk of feet,
We'll talk about rhythm -
We'll talk about beat

Read the words of the first two lines aloud and listen to where you put the stresses.
People sometimes say there is only one way to read a line but in fact in some circumstances there is more than one way.
Where do you

The poet who wrote these lines wrote with a particular metre (beat) in mind.
1. We WON'T talk of STRESS
We WON'T talk of FEET

This might be how you read it... but it might not
He had two beats or stressed syllables

It's not how I read it and there are other ways of putting stresses in this line which would make it a 3 beat stress line.

2. WE won't TALK of STRESS,
WE won't TALK of FEET

Which did you come up with?

So with this in mind we have a set of lines which have three natural sounding different performances.

The different performances also influence meaning.
The first emphasises the things we won't be doing.
The second emphasises we won't be doing certain things but maybe others will.
The third is very emphatic almost shouting to bring opposition even to stress and feet.

Lets look at the second set of lines
We'll talk about rhythm -
We'll talk about beat.

Are there three sets of possibilities?

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Daffodils - SoundCloud
Listen to Daffodils by Samary on #SoundCloud
Tell me if you can hear it.

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You have looked at syllables and the way we emphasise parts of words.
We use this purely as a rhythmic tool.
We looked at how syllables work together to make the beat od a line.
We looked at the most popular pair(foot) the iamb.
an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.
the ROAD, beFORE, toDAY.
If we write a piece in iambs they march across lines.

A couplet is two lines of verse that act as a discrete unit of sense.

Here are two couplets written in iambic pentameter meaning their are 5 pairs of iambs per line.



I would like you to produce some couplets in iambic pentameter.

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first, i would do line one as follows: we ARE two VEry DIFFerent SOULS or DIFFerENT souls

there was a girl who longerdto write a rhyme
she worked so hard she took a lot of time
and then she found when all was said and done
she'd really done it she had written one

the art of losing Elizabeth Bishop - SoundCloud
Listen to the art of losing Elizabeth Bishop by Samary on #SoundCloud
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Stanzas 1 and 2 and final.

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Metrical poetry: organises the rhythmical units in each line to create a regular pattern.
To analyse a poem's metre: (i) count total number of syllables per line; (ii) mark and count number of stresses per line; (iii) identify the rhythmic units

1. The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,
The vapours weep their burthen to the ground
TENNYSON: ‘Tithonus’

2. And death is better, as the millions know,
Than dandruff, night-starvation, or B.O.
W. H. AUDEN: ‘Letter to Lord Byron’, II

3. “Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”

4. Here you lie now six feet under, and I'm left to weep and wonder,
How the dead can hold such power o'er the living night and day—

5. “The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;"

6. "Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death"

Can you break these poetic lines into syllables, stresses and metrical units (feet)?

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1. 10 syllables
5 stresses
5 feet

1. Whats the stress rhythm Cathy?
hard soft or soft hard?

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little trouble with this. soft hard?
sorry i have been too absent.

Yes soft hard .. unstressed stressed.. so iambs

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1. Whats the stress rhythm Cathy?
hard soft or soft hard?

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To analyse a poem's metre: (i) count total number of syllables per line; (ii) mark and count number of stresses per line; (iii) identify the rhythmic units
1. The WOODS) deCAY,) the WOODS) deCAY) and FALL,
The VAP)ours WEEP) their BURTH)en TO) the GROUND
Here you have unstressed and stressed syllables..
So they work as Iambs. 10 syllables per line. 5 stressed syllables.
5 pairs of iambs. Note that iamb pairs can split words as in vapours.
This gives us Iambic metre.
TENNYSON: ‘Tithonus’
2. And DEATH) is BET)ter, AS) the MILL)ions KNOW,
Than DAN)druff, NIGHT)-starVAT)ion, OR) B.O.
Here we have classic unstressed and stressed syllables until the end of the second line but the way this is written - whilst you don't have an unstressed syllable between or and B.O. read it aloud, I do two things here I lengthen or - I say orrr and I pause slightly. So the effect of this gives me an implied stress so, I read the end of that line as if it was iambic.
So this is also 10 syllables per line. 5 pairs of iambs.
Iambic Metre.

I breaking these down so we can discuss if you have any questions or comments.

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3. “T'IS some) VISit)OR,” i) MUTTered,) “TAPPing) AT my) CHAMber DOOR—
            ONly THIS and NOTHing MORE.”
Here we have stressed alternating with unstressed syllables setting the norm of the metre.
First line 8 stressed syllables followed by unstressed syllables.
Line 2 four stressed syllables followed by unstressed syllables.
Now you are going to say wait the lines finish with stressed syllables and yes they do hes omitted the last unstressed in the pattern relying on the end of line pause to keep the rhythm going and it does. The line pattern is set as stressed followed by unstressed so this would be the metre norm.
Stressed plus unstressed syllables working together are called trochees.
So the metre would be called trochaic.

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5. “The AsSYR)ian came DOWN) like the WOLF )on the FOLD,
And his CO)horts were GLEAM)ing in PUR)ple and GOLD;"
Here we have unstressed syllable, unstressed syllable and a stressed syllable. 12 syllables per line. The foot combination is called an anapest.
So this is anapestic metre. You won't see many poems that are all anapestic there are some but you will see anapests in lines with other metre giving mixed metre lines. Limericks are often anapestic.

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6. "HALF a league,) HALF a league,
HALF a league) ONward,
ALL in the) VALLey of )DEATH"
Here you have Stressed syllables followed by 2 unstressed syllables.
The lines have varying syllable counts
You have mainly trios working together and a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables us called a dactyl.
So the metre is dactylic mostly written in dactyls.
Read it aloud and feel the rhythm its fast like a horse it has a falling rhythm ...the sounds get less towards the end of the lines except in line 3 where the poet choose to end on a stressed syllable thus emphasing the word death.The omission of a syllable after onward doesn't detract from the rhythm other than to slow the reader down before the valley of death.
A clever ploy not just a random chance

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Well I tried but I cant do a workshop by myself I cant amend without feedback. I have tried lots of different methods to engage you. I have worked at this but I have obviously lost you. But I cant help if there is no dialogue.
This workshop is over.

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Poet(ess) to the Stars

But for various reasons I can't seem to concentrate on poetry technicalities right now

I hope I'm not too late for the workshop.

I have stopped the workshop but please feel free to work through the material do the exercises and ask about anything you dont understand. It is nit shut for learning. Sam

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