Monday, April 29, 2013

Syllabic Verse counts on syllables


Accentual verse poetry, which we discussed last time, counts on your counting the accents in each line, whereas syllabic verse relies on an account of every syllable.

Either means of measuring off each line in a poem will add rhythm to your work, but if you put those two together, you’ll have the accentual syllabic verse that measures most of the traditional verse forms written in English.

Many, many, many poets get hung up here, which leaves only free verse in the toolbox, but none of this needs to be hard! To show you what I mean, here’s the “syllabic verse” entry from my Kindle e-book, the Poetry Dictionary For Children and For Fun, which “big people” poets just might enjoy too.


[Note: Capitalized words indicate other entries in the book.]


syllabic verse [Pronounced suh-LAB-ick.] For this type of poem, count the number of syllables you place on each LINE.

Some poets use a FORM with a particular number of syllables. For example, HAIKU has a count of 5, 7, 5 syllables on three lines. A CINQUAIN has 2, 4, 6, 8, 2 syllables on five lines.

Follow those patterns. Or design your own.

Your syllabic verse can have any number of syllables you choose. And, that number can change from line to line or stay the same.

As you keep count, the words may break, but that can add a WORDPLAY. For example, these lines have been broken as the title says:


Learning To Leave Well Enough
Alone In Five Syllables Or Less

by Mary Harwell Sayler

In the edited
edition of a
collection of me-
mories, syllables
start to pile up like
unread magazines
with missing labels
and dog-eared corners
and advertisements
of worthless products
of the I-magi-
nation with full words
yielding an index
of painstakingly
catalogued topics
that no one wants to
investigate to
find who wins the cash-
ew crumbs wedged in the
inside cover of
this otherwise closed
chronicle.


© 2012-2013, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved.

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