The thing PG really enjoys about doing TPV are some of the amazing comments that visitors post to provide additional information.
Yesterday’s post, It’s Always Time for Meter and Rhyme which brought PG back to Emily Dickinson’s poetry generated two world-class comments from Karen Myers and allynh, each a long-time denizens of the TPV world.
Each of the comments discussed the meter and rhyme of Emily’s poems, but in very different ways.
Karen provided this illustration of iambic tetrameter from Emily’s poem, Because I Could Not Stop for Death:
BeCAUSE I COULD not STOP for DEATH/he KINDly STOPPED for ME
The lower and upper cases are the unstressed and stressed syllables in this line.
Iambic refers to an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable – daDUM.
Tetrameter refers to how many iambs there are in the line of poetry – six.
Iambic pentameter (five iambs per line) is more frequently found in poetry written in the English language, but Karen’s comment argues that iambic tetrameter (six iambs per line) is a better fit for the way people speak using English.
This is important because in PG’s opinion (and the opinion of many other students of poetry who are smarter/have deeper knowledge than PG), while poetry can be enjoyed by reading it silently, classically, poetry is meant to be spoken aloud and hearing a poem is a better way of enjoying/understanding the poem than just reading it silently.
Music (at least in the Western tradition) is also meant to be played and/or sung and hearing is a better way of enjoying/understanding music than simply reading the words and notes on paper. Western music also has stressed and unstressed notes and often repeats its musical patterns with small or large differences.
Think of the opening sounds of Beethoven’s 5th symphony – da-da-da-DA – repeated thereafter in varying speeds and tonal variations.
allynh pointed out Dickinson’s iambic tetrameter in Because I Could Not Stop for Death meter works with the tune of a long-time favorite song (at least in Texas), The Yellow Rose of Texas.
Here’s an illustration (PG couldn’t get the YouTube video to embed).