Many of my poems are now available to you in my many books which gives you membership to the website which pertains to the books. They are inexpensive as E-books because one book gives poetry to the whole school.
English poetry employs five basic rhythms of varying stressed and unstressed syllables. The metres are iambs, trochees, spondees, anapests and dactyls. Each unit of rhythm is called a "foot" of poetry, which links poetry extremely well to dance and music, as it originally was.
The metres with TWO SYLLABLE feet are
IAMBIC (ti TUM) : Our TEACHer HAD a BRIGHT iDEA
TROCHAIC (TUM ti) - CANdle FLUTters; MOTHer MUTters –
SPONDAIC (/ /): Two equally strong syllables, eg: MIDNIGHT
The Metres with THREE SYLLABLE feet are:
ANAPESTIC (titty TUM) – On four SOFT padded PAWS walks the QUEEN of the NIGHT -
DACTYLIC (TUM titty) - FOUR silly WITCHes deCIDed to ZOOM -
Each line of a poem contains a certain number of feet of iambs, trochees, spondees, dactyls or anapests. A line of one foot is a monometer, 2 feet is a dimeter, and so on - trimeter (3), tetrameter (4), pentameter (5), hexameter (6), heptameter (7), and octameter (8). The number of syllables in a line varies therefore according to the meter. A good example of trochaic monometer, for example, is this poem entitled "Fleas":
Here are some more serious examples of the various metres.
IAMBIC PENTAMETER (5 iambs, ie iambic pentameter)
Strong arms that lift, sweet lips that gently smile. (MOTHER MINE – Josie Whitehead)
TROCHAIC tetrameter (4 trochees):
ROVer’s GROWLing, WILD wind HOWling -
ANAPESTIC tetrameter(4 anapests):
On four SOFT padded PAWS walks the QUEEN of the NIGHT
DACTYLIC tetrameter (4 dactyls):
FOUR silly WITCHes deCIDed to ZOOM -
HEPTAMETERS: Seven stress lines are possible, but in English verse they are usually split into two with four feet on the first line and three on the second. The rhyming, therefore is abab – with the end of the heptameters rhyming. I’ve used this metre and rhyming system very often. Here is a verse from one of my poems:
If you were but a fly or ant,
A snail or little bee,
When looking through your insect eyes
Well, what do you think you’d see?
It is not always possible to divide exactly with four feet on the first line and three on the second because you have to consider the natural pauses too.
Have you heard her laughter
As she waves her magic wand,
Sending sparkling ripples
All across the village pond?
I do try not to let this happen too often, but it would have looked absurd if I had added "As" to the end of the first line wouldn’t it? So the seven feet are beautifully laid out over each of the two lines.
You must remember that you will never get the words in our English language to conform to patterns to such an extent that they never vary. What happens when you are writing a line in iambic metre, and where the last foot should end on a heavy beat, but you have to use a word which has an -ing on it or a -ly etc? You can sometimes look in the thesaurus to find a very similar word that is exactly correct, or you can just leave it. Thus you have what is called a "feminine ending" and if you count the metre in "To BE or NOT to BE that IS the QUES t i o n" you will see that even the great Shakespeare had to cope with this. It is well to get a book such as "The Ode Less Travelled" by Stephen Fry which will help you understand these things. I have just given a brief outline but in the Stephen Fry book there are some simple exercises, and these you could easily do with your children at the same time. They are simple and fun and will help children understand how to read, write and understand poetic form.
I hope I have helped and I hope my poems will also not only be enjoyed but be useful to you in your classrooms.