Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday Tip #14: Writing Poetry, part 2--Rhyme Time

Do you want to write rhyming poetry that rolls off the tongue and is such a pleasure to read that poetry lovers will come back to it again and again? If so, you've got to master the art of meter! A poem can have the most colorful, lively, moving language and perfect rhyme, but if its meter is off, none of that matters. If your reader stumbles on one line, you could lose him (or her)!

But what is meter?

Meter is rhythm, the regular pattern of stressed and unstressed beats in a poem.

The first step in understanding meter is to be able to identify the metric pattern in a given poem. Let's look at a familiar children's song as an example.

Twinkle, twinkle little star
how I wonder what you are
up above the world so high
like a diamond in the sky.

The meter reads like this (CAPS are the stressed beats):

TWINkle TWINkle LITtle STAR
HOW i WONder WHAT you ARE
UP aBOVE the WORLD so HIGH
LIKE a DIAmond IN the SKY

This is a very simple pattern and fairly easy to duplicate. Here's an "off the cuff" example:

Dragon, dragon soaring high,
bursting flame as you fly by.
How I love to watch you glide.
Will you take me for a ride?

I'll try that again, and purposely mess up the meter:

Dragon, dragon soaring high,
a flash of flame bursts as you fly by.
singing the hairs on my head
turning my face bright, bright red.

A potentially cute poem, but only once the meter issues get resolved.

Meter doesn't have to be that simple. It can get rather complicated and funky! But for now, try writing your own words with the same rhythm as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Write in such a way that the natural stresses on words fall in the right places, so that the reader doesn't have to force it to fit.

Have fun with it!

1 comment:

  1. Ah ha! It is all coming clear now. I had heard the word before, but I was not quite sure what it meant. This makes sense.

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