Friday, January 8, 2010

I ain't got rhythm

Did I write that out loud?

When writing, I trust my ear. I trust the music in a line that my ear hears. Even
that professor said I had a good ear.

But I have trouble hearing stresses.

(As if I need any more stress.)

My natural lilt tends to add more than a normal person hears. It makes pentameter or tetrameter tricky.

So I cheat. I count syllables. My pentameter line, loosely iambic, has 10 syllables, give or take a stress.

Why am I sharing this? Probably because I woke up in the middle of the night trying to craft a line for another villanelle—even though I haven't finished the first one—and it got me thinking about formal verse, or my "casual formal" verse.

(I don't know how to diagram a sentence, either.)

Do you count your stresses? Do you look for music in your lines?

2 comments:

Sandy Longhorn said...

Joannie, I too am stressed by scanning for stresses. I really like you idea of "casual formal" verse. I do believe there is music in my lines despite my trouble with scansion, and I do purposefully seek out that music. Thanks for the post!

jeannine said...

In the recent novel, "The Anthologist" - about a poet writing an introduction to a volume of rhyming verse - the protagonist waxes on for chapters about beat, meter, and stress - and how "Iambic pentameter" is really a four-beat line, not a five-beat one. Some interesting ideas about meter hiding inside an amusing book!