The meter in which poetry is written refers to the rhythmic structure and pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of verse. Different poetic forms have distinct meters, and some common ones include iambic pentameter, trochaic tetrameter, and anapestic hexameter.
Here are a few examples:
Iambic Pentameter: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" (William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18)
Trochaic Tetrameter: "Tyger Tyger, burning bright" (William Blake, "The Tyger")
Anapestic Hexameter: "And the sound of a voice that is still" (Lord Byron, "So We'll Go No More a-Roving")
To determine if the meter is correct, one must analyze the syllabic stress patterns in each line of the poem. The terms "iambic," "trochaic," and "anapestic" refer to specific combinations of stressed and unstressed syllables:
Iambic: Unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable (da-DUM).
Trochaic: Stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable (DUM-da).
Anapestic: Two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable (da-da-DUM).
The term "pentameter" or "hexameter" indicates the number of feet (sets of stressed and unstressed syllables) in a line. For example, pentameter has five feet per line.
To check if the meter is correct, read the poem aloud and pay attention to the stress patterns. If the stressed and unstressed syllables match the specified meter, then it is correct. Deviations from the established pattern may suggest intentional variations for artistic effect or unintentional errors. Understanding the conventions of different poetic meters is essential for poets and readers alike to appreciate the rhythmic nuances of a poem.