[Bards] Poetic Exercise #4

Jay Rudin rudin at ev1.net
Thu Sep 25 09:33:50 PDT 2003

Grímólfr wrote:

> *Ahem*
> Oh, bitter was the ruddy fluid
> Our guest assailed we sots with.
> But we still quaffed it, I and these
> Good fellows I drank shots with.
> Ere long it seemed as if our eyes
> Were made just to see spots with;
> And my poor tongue felt like a thing
> That's made just to scrub pots with.
> Alright, it's not perfect form, what with the extra
> unstressed syllable at the end of each even-numbered
> line.  But... but... I should get extra points since
> it's a true story.  Yeah, that's it...

Actually, the extra syllable just makes it a feminine rhyme, which is
completely normal.  Consider:
Yankee Doodle went to town,
A-riding on a pony.
He stuck his feather in his cap,
And called it macaroni.

Note that if you time the beats of a ballad measure with a metronome, you'll
discover that the fourth beat on the second and fourth lines is actually
there -- it's a pause.  Most songs are written in this meter, and the extra
beat is represented by a long note that completes the measure.  (In "Yankee
Doodle, the third beat is "po-" and the fourth beat is "-ny".)

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip,
That started from this tropic port,
Aboard this tiny ship.

The fourth beat of the second and fourth line is taken up by a musical
trill.  Note also that "and you'll hear" and "of a fate-" are
three-syllabled feet.  The two unaccented syllables are sped up (eighth
notes instead of quarter notes) in music, and are metrical variations in
poetry.  Feminine rhymes are a perfectly acceptable metrical variation.

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin

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