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Tinker

Common Measure and its variations including Poulter's Measure

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry

English Poetry

Common Measure In the 15th to 16th centuries, English clerics were seeking a catchy rhythm and sound in which to set and sing the Psalms to capture the hearts and minds of the laity. They chose the popular Ballad Meter familiar to most everyone. They adapted the ballad rhythm and form to more formal and scriptural topics, eliminating the narrative, colloquial language. They called it Common Measure and developed several variations. The first poems were meant to be lyrics set to music. The metered lines give a musical sound to the poem. Emily Dickinson used variations of this form generously even though she was thought to prefer to write "outside the box" not adhering to traditional verse form.

  • Common Measure or Meter, the defining features are:
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains. When the quatrain is doubled, it is called Common Octave. Note: doubling a quatrain and writing 2 quatrains of the same form are not the same thing. A doubled quatrain would have rhyme scheme xaxa xaxa while 2 quatrains would change rhyme xaxa xbxb.
    2. metered, L1 and L3 are iambic tetrameter and L2 and L4 are iambic trimeter.
    3. rhymed, rhymed scheme xaxa xbxb etc x being unrhymed.

      Journal: Today's Weather by Judi Van Gorder

      It's Sunday here, the sun is high
      with gentle springtime breeze,
      the song birds sing a melody
      in tune with buzzing bees.
       
  • Hymnal Measure or Meter, the defining features are:
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains.A doubled quatrain is a Hymnal Octave
    2. metered, L1 and L3 are iambic tetrameter and L2 and L4 are iambic trimeter.
    3. rhymed, rhyme scheme abab cdcd etc.

      When you Sing you Pray Twice by Judi Van Gorder

      I'm in a churchy mood today
      though I didn't go to church.
      I work at writing hymns to pray
      and start at home to search.

      I raise my voice in thanks and praise
      and hear Him in my song.
      He charges me throughout my days
      and helps me shy from wrong.

      We double pray when ere we sing,
      a proverb I have heard.
      A joyful sound I hope to bring
      inspired by His Word.
       
  • Short Measure or Short Meter, the defining features are:
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains. When written in octaves doubling the short measure quatrains, the verse form is called Double Short Measure.
    2. metered, most often L1, L2, L4 iambic trimeter, L3 is iambic tetrameter.
    3. rhymed, Rhyme scheme xaxa xbxb etc x being unrhymed.
    4. called Poulter's Measure when consolidated into 2 lines.

      Laker Gold by Judi Van Gorder

      I have a lucky charm,
      a Laker logo, gold
      dangles from a chain 'round my neck,                           
      my loyalty is bold.

      I live in Warrior land
      where rivalry is fierce.
      Friends say I cheer the enemy,
      they would my heart be pierced.

      My necklace always worn
      throughout the season's run,
      I hope it helps us win the crown,
      return to number one.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Part Two: Nature XXII by Emily Dickinson 1830-1886

      A BIRD came down the walk
      He did not know I saw
      He bit an angle-worm in halves
      And ate the fellow, raw

      And then he drank a dew
      From a convenient grass,
      And then hopped sidewise to the wall
      To let a beetle pass

      He glanced with rapid eyes
      That hurried all abroad
      They looked like frightened beads, I thought
      He stirred his velvet head

      Like one in danger; cautious
      I offered him a crumb,
      And he unrolled his feathers
      And rowed him softer home

      Than oars divide the ocean,
      Too silver for a seam,
      Or butterflies, off banks of noon,
      Leap, splashless, as they swim.
       
  • Poulter's Measure was named by George Gascoigne, 16th century English poet, for its alternating 12 syllable and 14 syllable lines because when selling a dozen eggs a poulter would often measure out 13 eggs in case one was cracked and the 2 lines of 12 and 14 averaged 2 poulter's dozen. The correlation is a leap for me but I think it is a closer anomaly than the lines sounding like clucking hens which I've also read as a reason for the name.  The defining features of the Poulter's measure are:
     
    1. suitable to narrative poetry because of the Alexandrine line.
    2. metered, written in any number of couplets made up of an Alexandrine line, iambic hexameter broken by a caesura and a fourteener line, iambic heptameter.
    3. rhymed, rhyme scheme aa bb etc.
    4. called Short Measure if the couplet is broken into 4 lines.

 

  What Length of Verse? by Sir Philip Sidney
from Complaint of Her Lover, Being Upon the Sea
by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517 - 1547)

Good ladies, ye that have your pleasures in exile,
Step in your foot, come take a place and mourn with me a while;
And such as by their lords do set but little price,
Let them sit still, its skills them not what chance come on the dice.      
But ye whom love hath bound by order of desire
To love your lords, whose good desserts none other would require,
Come ye yet once again and set your foot by mine,
Whose woeful plight and sorrows great no tongue can well define.
 

Incendiary by Judi Van Gorder 04-16-04

The pinching smell of smoke, the dirty ash filled air
precedes the leaping flames, to play like children without care.
The blazing fingers flick and snap, to fling sparks high
and send the fiery cinders far, to light the blackened sky.

 

 

 

  • Long Measure or Meter, the defining features are :
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains. When written in octaves made up of 2 quatrains, the verse form is called Double Long Measure.
    2. metered, all lines iambic tetrameter.
    3. rhymed, rhyme scheme xaxa xbxb etc.

      Long Haired Dog by Judi Van Gorder

      In need of grooming, Trey lay down,
      the heat of noon too much for him.
      The shady space he occupied
      a respite til he took a swim.

  • Long Hymnal Measure or Meter, the defining features are:
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains.
    2. metered, all lines iambic tetrameter.
    3. rhymed, rhyme scheme abab cdcd etc.

      Cheezy Addiction by Judi Van Gorder

      To eat one Cheez-it is absurd,
      it can't be done, you have to eat
      another and another, Word!
      I stash away, admit defeat.

  • Short Hymnal Measure or Stanza , the defining features are:
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains.
    2. metric, L1,L2&L4 are iambic trimeter and L3 is iambic tetrameter.
    3. rhymed, rhyme scheme abab cdcd etc. ..
       
  • Short Particular Measure makes a slight departure from the quatrain pattern and is written in sixains.  The defining features of  Short Particular Measure are:
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of sixains.
    2. metric, L1,L2,L4,L5 are iambic trimeter and L3&L6 are iambic tetrameter.
    3. rhymed aabaab ccdccd etc.
       
  • Common Octave is a double Common Measure, the defining features are:
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of octaves.
    2. metered, L1 L3, L5 and L7 are iambic tetrameter and L2, L4, L6 and L8 are iambic trimeter.
    3. rhymed, rhymed scheme xaxaxaxa xbxbxbxb etc x being unrhymed.
       
  • Hymnal Octave is a double Hymnal Measure, the defining features are::
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of octaves.
    2. metered, L1, L3, L5, L7 are iambic tetrameter, L2, L4, L6, L8 are iambic trimeter.
    3. rhymed, rhyme scheme, abababab, cdcdcdcd etc.
       
  • Short Measure Octave is a doubled Short Measure, the defining features are: :
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of octaves.
    2. metered, most often L1, L2, L4, L5, L6, L8 are iambic trimeter, L3 and L7 are iambic tetrameter.
    3. rhymed, Rhyme scheme xaxaxaxa xbxbxbxb etc x being unrhymed.
       
  • Long Measure Octave is a double long measure, the defining features are::
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of octaves.
    2. metered, all lines iambic tetrameter.
    3. rhymed, rhyme scheme xaxaxaxa xbxbxbxb etc.
       
  • Long Hymnal Octave or double Long Hymnal Measure, the defining features are:
    1. ,stanzaic, written in any number of octaves.
    2. metered, all lines iambic tetrameter.
    3. rhymed, rhyme scheme abababab cdcdcdcd etc.

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