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waxwings

A questionable sonnet

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waxwings

A BIRTHDAY'S FALL

 

I watch the years go by. As seasons pass,

from supple boughs, from fragrant bowers,

soft petals fall, wraith-like, in gentle showers,

and dying leaves must fall on yellow grass.

 

Washed by spring rain, warmed by its breezes

each year I watch grains swell in summer's heat,

see harvest bring a flood of golden wheat

and hear pools shiver, knowing winter's freezes.

 

It has not turned cold yet. But my heart flutters.

Is it because I suddenly recall

that I give up a part of me each fall

when yellow leaves drift past my half-drawn shutters.

 

There, though I love to see the seasons turn,

goes one more year of my too brief sojourn.

Edited by waxwings

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tonyv

This is a lovely BOWLESIAN sonnet, Ikars. Introspectively, with the arrival of the fall and the cold, it confronts mortality. The turn comes, delightfully, in the third quatrain with a pleasing change of pace/rhythm. (I do wonder why you call it questionable.)

 

There are couple of things I would like to point out, as I know you welcome input. L2 and L5 are each short a stress. You handle the feminine endings in the third quatrain beautifully, and the poem deserves to benefit from the same effect, properly applied, in the first and second quatrains. For example, right now, L5 scans like this:

 

 

WASHED by/SPRING RAIN/WARMED by/its BREEZ/es

 

 

but it could be easily modified to scan as IP, perhaps like this:

 

 

WASHED by/SPRING RAIN/WARMED by/its GENT/le BREEZ/es

trochee/spondee/trochee/iamb/iamb/feminine ending

 

 

or like this:

 

 

WASHED by/SPRING RAIN/and WARMED/by GENT/le BREEZ/es

trochee/spondee/iamb/iamb/iamb/feminine ending

 

 

for a slightly different rhythm.

 

L2 could be slightly modified also to achieve a similar result.

 

There should also be a question mark after shutters at the end of the third quatrain. At first, I thought there was a gaffe in the final couplet because I'm accustomed to saying SOjourn, but then when I checked my dictionary, I saw that soJOURN is also an acceptable pronunciation.

 

BTW, I see your birthday is really in the fall. So, happy belated birthday!

 

Tony


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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dr_con

Lovely Waxwings- I can't comment on the sonnet not-sonnet qualities- but as a poem with clear reflections on impermanence and the self- I thought it superb... Many thanks!

 

 

DC&J


Join the Voodoo rEvolution. Classes forming now: http://www.integralvoodoo.org/

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waxwings

tonyv,

 

I really appreciate your insight and comments. Given time, that may help me to 'fix' this poem, but that may require a more thorough recasting of several lines. Any suggestions of how to reduce the much too tightly wound syntax!? The first staza seems quite a bit awkward to me.

 

It is a mixed sonnet, mostly a Bowlesian, as you point out, but not by design, and my first poem earning money ($20). It was rated the 2nd best poem in 1983, at the bi-annual meeting contest of the LOMP (League of Minnesota Poets) and one of the very first poems I had written in English. I was told it failed to garner 1st prize because of the feminine rhymes. (?*!#) BTW, in the original, the envelope rhymes were reversed in Stanza 1, and the lines were, suitably, quite different.

 

Lines 2, 4 and 5 are 'short', both a syllable and, perhaps, a metric foot. Due to feminine rhymes, the last feet are tri-syllabic amphibrachs. One might say they are in hypometric pentameter (9 syllables) and , by that token, lines 9 and 11 are hypermetric, having 11 syllables. That too was not by design. Your first scan of L5 is righ, but shows 5 stresses because the second foot is a spondee. To add the stress as you suggest would make L5 hypermetric

 

As for stresses, the word-stress (per dictionary) may not persist in a line, due to one or both the syntactic or the semantic/emotional feel of the reader. Officially, English exhibits four (4) stress levels, not easily detected by all, but definitely produced by master readers (the specially gifted ones called upon to read someone elses prize-winning poem at conventions).

 

Note - re question mark. Possibly, but I feel that, in a poem as in some other cases, a question mark is used best only when the question is explicit or when a quote of an actual one spoken by another. What say, you, tony, and the rest of this gang!

 

It may be of great value to me if members would assign stress patterns and/or metric feet. There are a handful of spots I am not at all certain I see/read them in the best, most commonplace way. It is certainly OK to recast the lines w/alternate word-s/ing.

 

Thank you tonyv and (in advance) all others for comments.

 

waxwings

 

Let's set tinker to hunt for the last word on stress/accent, for it may very well be produced by one or some combination of : emphasis (loudness), length/duration and/or pitch given to a syllable by a reader.

Edited by waxwings

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waxwings
Lovely Waxwings- I can't comment on the sonnet not-sonnet qualities- but as a poem with clear reflections on impermanence and the self- I thought it superb... Many thanks!

 

 

DC&J

 

I am pleased you like this simple offering. I did feel it when writing, and if that is what it does to you, it was worth writing in spite of its not most obvious limp(s).

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tonyv

Hello again, Waxwings,

 

tonyv,

 

... Any suggestions of how to reduce the much too tightly wound syntax!? The first staza seems quite a bit awkward to me.

 

It is a mixed sonnet, mostly a Bowlesian, as you point out, but not by design, and my first poem earning money ($20). It was rated the 2nd best poem in 1983, at the bi-annual meeting contest of the LOMP (League of Minnesota Poets) and one of the very first poems I had written in English. I was told it failed to garner 1st prize because of the feminine rhymes. (?*!#) BTW, in the original, the envelope rhymes were reversed in Stanza 1, and the lines were, suitably, quite different.

 

Lines 2, 4 and 5 are 'short', both a syllable and, perhaps, a metric foot. Due to feminine rhymes, the last feet are tri-syllabic amphibrachs. One might say they are in hypometric pentameter (9 syllables) and , by that token, lines 9 and 11 are hypermetric, having 11 syllables. That too was not by design. Your first scan of L5 is righ, but shows 5 stresses because the second foot is a spondee. To add the stress as you suggest would make L5 hypermetric

I don't think the syntax is too tightly wound, and I personally don't think a sonnet should be disqualified from first place because of feminine endings. However, I stand by my assertion that lines two and five are problematic. Why? Because they are not iambic pentameter (with acceptable substitutions). Rather, each is some form of tetrameter. The presence of a hypermetrical in any line of iambic pentameter (except one which begins with a headless iamb) is a non-issue, but the lack of a metrical foot is generally, to my understanding, a metrical flaw (though I have seen quite a few accomplished poets do it, and I always wonder why). Even so, these lines could easily be made into pentameter by adding a foot as I pointed out in my last post. I'll address the question of whether or not the lines would actually be iambic pentameter a little bit later, below.

 

Line five is fine; it's ten syllables long with five iambic feet. One can't get any more regular than that.

 

I didn't catch L9 the first time around. It's actually some form of hexameter with a headless iamb as the first foot and ended with a trochee!

 

/ ^IT / has NOT / TURNED COLD / yet BUT / my HEART / FLUT ters /

/headless iamb/iamb/spondee/iamb/iamb/trochee/

 

Even if one were to scan the first three syllables as an anapest (thereby yielding a line of pentameter ended with a trochee):

 

/ it has NOT / TURNED COLD / yet BUT / my HEART / FLUT ters /

anapest/spondee/iamb/iamb/trochee/

 

... or the first four syllables as a double iamb (thereby yielding a line of pentameter ended with a hypermetric):

 

/ it has / NOT TURNED / COLD yet / BUT my / HEART FLUT /ters /

{pyrrhic/spondee/ = double iamb}/trochee/trochee/spondee/^/

 

... the line would not scan as iambic pentameter because the amount of substitutions exceeds the amount of iambs ... unless you scan the second foot in the line with the anapest as an iamb instead of as a spondee, and you accept that a trochee is appropriate at the end of a line of iambic pentameter:

 

/ it has NOT / turned COLD / yet BUT / my HEART / FLUT ters /

anapest/iamb/iamb/iamb/trochee/

 

I've exceeded the number of iambs in a line (with substitutions) myself a number of times in a number of poems. I even did it in my first suggestion to you in post #2 above! (My second suggestion in post #2 does have three iambs in the line and, therefore, conforms.)

 

L10 is iambic:

 

/that I / give UP / a PART / of ME / each FALL /

/iamb/iamb/iamb/iamb/iamb/

 

while L11 is also iambic pentameter ended with a hypermetrical -- perfectly acceptable:

 

/when YEL / low LEAVES / drift PAST / my HALF / DRAWN SHUT / ters

/iamb/iamb/iamb/iamb/spondee/^

 

Note - re question mark. Possibly, but I feel that, in a poem as in some other cases, a question mark is used best only when the question is explicit or when a quote of an actual one spoken by another. What say, you, tony, and the rest of this gang!

Well, I don't know. I guess I would have to look for some more examples. Seems to me there should be a question mark. Or you could start the line with it is, rather than is it.

 

I'm sorry that my focus has been on form more than content. All my input on form thus far has been added while under the presumption that you intended to write in iambic pentameter. If that's not the case, please disregard everything I wrote about it. Hopefully someone else will add some thoughts on content.

 

Tony


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Lake

Enjoyed the discussions here. I don't have much to offer, but learned from Tony that there are different (acceptable) ways scanning metric feet. In contemporary sonnets, it seems that the basic elements such as the turn, the question, the resolution, the epiphany... are more favorable than meters. Is that right?

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waxwings
Hello again, Waxwings,

...........................................................

I'm sorry that my focus has been on form more than content. All my input on form thus far has been added while under the presumption that you intended to write in iambic pentameter. If that's not the case, please disregard everything I wrote about it. Hopefully someone else will add some thoughts on content.

 

Tony

 

I think we need to relegate a more detailed analysis/discussion to some more suitable thread.

 

Briefly: there is no rule that says form detrmines whether a poem is a sonnet. It is good to fit the form as closely as possible: meter, rhyme and line-count wise, but some think a sonnet is defined by the presence of a drama-play-like development. I think it is an impediment to believe iambic pentameter is holy. Certainly, a perfect one throughout makes for a dull and boring poem.

 

Would you not agree that it is impossible to have feminine rhymes within 10 syllables and maintain, at the same time, a true iambic pentameter? I have been too busy to complete my response to your last sonnet which too does not maintain an iambic pentameter but is very good anyway.

 

Ikars

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waxwings
Enjoyed the discussions here. I don't have much to offer, but learned from Tony that there are different (acceptable) ways scanning metric feet. In contemporary sonnets, it seems that the basic elements such as the turn, the question, the resolution, the epiphany... are more favorable than meters. Is that right?

 

Absolutely, as I just argued to acknowledge Tony's excellent contribution.

 

waxwings

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tonyv
Hello again, Waxwings,

...........................................................

I'm sorry that my focus has been on form more than content. All my input on form thus far has been added while under the presumption that you intended to write in iambic pentameter. If that's not the case, please disregard everything I wrote about it. Hopefully someone else will add some thoughts on content.

 

Tony

 

I think we need to relegate a more detailed analysis/discussion to some more suitable thread.

I could remove my posts from this topic and even add a more general reply if you would like that. Please let me know what you prefer.

 

Briefly: there is no rule that says form detrmines whether a poem is a sonnet. It is good to fit the form as closely as possible: meter, rhyme and line-count wise, but some think a sonnet is defined by the presence of a drama-play-like development. I think it is an impediment to believe iambic pentameter is holy. Certainly, a perfect one throughout makes for a dull and boring poem.

There certainly is no rule, as you say. Here's one from The Making of a Sonnet -- A Norton Anthology edited by Edward Hirsch and Eavan Bowland. It's by Serbian-American poet Charles Simic:

 

 

History

 

On a gray evening

Of a gray century,

I ate an apple

While no one was looking.

 

A small, sour apple

The color of woodfire,

Which I first wiped

On my sleeve.

 

Then I stretched my legs

As far as they'd go,

Said to myself

Why not close my eyes now

 

Before the Late

World News and Weather.

 

--Charles Simic

I certainly didn't posit that iambic pentameter is holy or even necessary in a sonnet. I scanned your poem and saw that eleven of the fourteen lines were in iambic pentameter while three were not. Based upon that observation, I concluded that normative iambic pentameter had been established and that your goal was to maintain it.

 

Would you not agree that it is impossible to have feminine rhymes within 10 syllables and maintain, at the same time, a true iambic pentameter?

The lines with feminine rhymes should have eleven syllables (perhaps more in the rare case that an anapest is used somewhere in the line) but not nine. Even when feminine rhymes are used at the ends of lines of "true" iambic pentameter, and the lines are technically eleven syllables long, they are still considered iambic pentameter. A line, or lines, that are missing metrical feet, to my knowledge and understanding, are not. Nine syllables in a situation like this yields, as I stated above, a line of tetrameter ended with a hypermetrical, not iambic pentameter.

 

I have been too busy to complete my response to your last sonnet which too does not maintain an iambic pentameter but is very good anyway.

You did write a fine reply on that poem, but I will disagree and assert that every line of that poem is in iambic pentameter; the substituted feet (the trochees) that I used from time to time conform. Of course, a more-detailed reply is always welcome, but I'm sure of the meter.

 

Tony


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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waxwings

I may be the 'old geezer' of this group but still am the 'new kid on the block' who has not learned all the ropes to make my posts as concise as the rest of you do. Consequently, I am slower and my responses may not be organized as properly as I want them to be.

 

Therefore, do not re-post anything. Let's try to wring the subject dry.

 

Here ar some ideas I have that may be worth y of examination:

 

1) English tends to be iambic, while Latvian and, perhaps, Russian tend to be trochaic and/or dactylic.

 

2) Pentameter is prevalent in many tongues. It has been postulated that the amount of breath it takes makes speech more comfortable and that more than 14 syllables per line is not.

 

3) Number of stresses in iambic pentameter can number more or less than because two (2) pyrrhic feet can be substitute for iambs but cannot be side by side, and a single spondaic foot will add a syllable.

 

4) If the placement is right, an amphibrach, an anapestand even a dactyl is found in some godd lines w/o being detected w/o close examination.

 

5) Trying to break down a line into strictly formal feet is not always possible w/o accepting (as many experts do) that a monosyllabic stressed word must be occasionally accepted as a valid metric foot.

 

6) Any meter admits catalectic and acatalectic lines. Then there is said to be some special value to hendecasyllabic lines, and the question of what exactly makes a line hypermetric or hypometric. Can the rule for that be applied in all cases?

 

The whole idea is that consecutive lines can vary in many formal metric ways but still leave the same or nearly same rhythmic feel. Should we not have a division where we can study metrics separately?

 

I wrote the poem because of an emotionally disturbing moment, and the words happened. Among them were those feminine rhymes. I did not search for them, nor did I plan the lines to be mostly pentameter nor the poem to be a sonnet. It turned that way through revisions to enable others to share how I felt and thought.

 

I never write unless there is an epiphany to me in the subject/experience/observation.

 

If it is not wrong to do what we are now doing in this division of the forum, let's go on.

 

This is one if not the best of poetic associations I have yet seen, and you and the rest here are to be praised for how it is conducted.

 

waxwings

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badger11

Please don't move this thread elsewhere guys. Thoroughly enjoying the exchange (deserves a sticky when concluded).

 

badge

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Lake

Second Badger, don't move this thread, nor delete any posts. Appreciate all the efforts and expertise here.

 

Lake

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Tinker

Wow, I am loving this thread and even more importantly I am loving this beautiful "Bowlesian Sonnet" as Tony so astutely pointed out. Nothing questionable about it at all.

 

First a sonnet sings and this piece does nothing less. A sonnet should be a lyrical meditation. Reading this sonnet aloud the rhyme is almost lost in the fluid movement of the words. The rhyme simply adds to the harmony of sound. The rhythm never stumbles, effortlessly carring the reader to its final destiny. The theme is one I too ponder more and more and the images are rich and mature and carry the color of a life well lived.

 

I love Tony's commentary. The careful analysis of the meter is well thought out and something I am going to go back and study since meter is always my hang up. There is much to absorb in this thread. Something I am beginning to finally grasp is, whether you are writing a "metric" pattern or not, a feel for the rhythm is crutial in all form, including free verse. Clearly this poem is metric and so a careful study of the meter and the suggestions Tony offers are in perfect harmony with the writer's intent.

 

When I study form, primarily the sonnet I focus on the "ideal". In English, a sonnet should "ideally" be PRIMARILY written in iambic pentameter. And if you are entering a poetry contest which specifies the poem must be a sonnet, I am pretty sure if you want your poem to win, the poem will probably have to be in iambic pentameter. Putting contests aside, deviation from the ideal metric criteria does not discredit a poem from being slotted as a sonnet. First and foremost it should be musical to the ear. Attempting to contort syntax or make word choices based on meter alone is detrimental to any poem. The lines should have a natural flow not a contrived one for meter's sake. Of course this poem doesn't have that problem. It is a lyrical meditation with an almost waltz like rhythm.

 

Since I study and write about verse form so much and stay primarily in that "ideal" mind set, it is great to see this discussion develop and allow me to step out of my self imposed "ideal" box. Thank you waxwings for posting this lovely sonnet and thank you Tony for providing such an in depth analysis of it that prompted this discussion.

 

~~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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waxwings

You are to be admired for having written a most inteligent and lucid summary and a learned conclusion about rhythm and meter.

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Tinker
You are to be admired for having written a most inteligent and lucid summary and a learned conclusion about rhythm and meter.

 

Says the master to the grasshopper. Thank you.

 

~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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douglas

i love the sensitivity and sentiments expressed in this piece. from the soul.


To receive love, you have to give it...

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waxwings
i love the sensitivity and sentiments expressed in this piece. from the soul.

 

A poet's gteatest reward is a fellow sufferers appreciation. Poetry is a disease. Thank you.

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dedalus

I admire your courage in attempting such a difficult form ... and I think you carried it off very well! There are some minor crits over rhythm and syntax (check you later) but I must say you did a really good job on this one!!

 

Nollaig Shona,

Brendan


Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Aleksandra

Waxwings, finally I'm getting to your poem icon_smile.gif. You won't like my scansion on this poem rolleyes.gif, so I will talk from another side, from the spiritual side icon_smile.gif. As we can see, this is an old poem, so that is a nice fact to know, because that proves that a good poem is never out of fashion.

 

I love the imagery in this poem. It sounds very natural and fresh. The form is probably good, but the meter... First, let me say that I don't recognize meter as most of you do, because I don't have enough knowledge as Tony or the others to speak theoretically about the subject. I feel the meter. So, while reading this poem, I get to some parts where I lose the sound. That means that, for me, this poem works metrically except in S3.

 

Much enjoyed.

 

Aleksandra


The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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waxwings
Waxwings, finally I'm getting to your poem icon_smile.gif. You won't like my scansion on this poem rolleyes.gif, so I will talk from another side, from the spiritual side icon_smile.gif. As we can see, this is an old poem, so that is a nice fact to know, because that proves that a good poem is never out of fashion.

 

I love the imagery in this poem. It sounds very natural and fresh. The form is probably good, but the meter... First, let me say that I don't recognize meter as most of you do, because I don't have enough knowledge as Tony or the others to speak theoretically about the subject. I feel the meter. So, while reading this poem, I get to some parts where I lose the sound. That means that, for me, this poem works metrically except in S3.

 

Much enjoyed.

 

Aleksandra

 

I would love to hear more. When you say "I don't recognize meter as most of you do", do you mean to say we know meter better, or to say that you know/see meter differently than we do.

 

You must not put yourself down. Classical meter is recognized in most any language, and you can check out sources available to you in Macedonian or on the web. But, if you mean the second possibility, I would like you to tell me about your way of seeing meter. I am always fascinated with new views on old/common things, esp. from people much, much younger than myself. Keeps me from getting rusty.

 

Thanks much for commenting on the spiritual side.

 

BTW, can you explain, in detail, why S3 does not work for you meterwise.

 

waxwings :((

Edited by waxwings

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Aleksandra

Waxwings, at first, there's no need for the sad face :) . I did not mean anything badly. Let me try to explain what I said in a better way.

 

I don't know much about meter, and I'm not able to analyze it in the way that you do by counting syllables etc. What I'm doing is reading the poem and "feeling" the meter. I'm not saying that I use a different meter than you do. I know less about the subject than all of you, and I can recognize meter only by feeling it. :) .

 

I really can't speak in a more detailed way about it or even be sure whether there is meter in the poem or not. Let's just say that, when I started to read S3, somehow the sound went. This is why I said that I can't explain it. I simply stumble a little when I read that part compared to when I read the rest of the poem. And I didn't say it earlier, but same thing happened with the first line at S2. The breath went differently when I finished the line.

 

This is what I mean about the meter. I can't talk about the subject, but I think I can tell sometimes if the meter in a certain poem is off or on. That doesn't mean that I'm right. It's just my reaction to the poem.

 

Aleksandra


The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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waxwings
Waxwings, at first, there's no need for the sad face :) . I did not mean anything badly. Let me try to explain what I said in a better way.

 

I don't know much about meter, and I'm not able to analyze it in the way that you do by counting syllables etc. What I'm doing is reading the poem and "feeling" the meter. I'm not saying that I use a different meter than you do. I know less about the subject than all of you, and I can recognize meter only by feeling it. :) .

 

I really can't speak in a more detailed way about it or even be sure whether there is meter in the poem or not. Let's just say that, when I started to read S3, somehow the sound went. This is why I said that I can't explain it. I simply stumble a little when I read that part compared to when I read the rest of the poem. And I didn't say it earlier, but same thing happened with the first line at S2. The breath went differently when I finished the line.

 

This is what I mean about the meter. I can't talk about the subject, but I think I can tell sometimes if the meter in a certain poem is off or on. That doesn't mean that I'm right. It's just my reaction to the poem.

 

Aleksandra

 

A most satisfactory response. I myself was not certain my words did say what I was wondering about. As an experiment let me present S3 in a way I think it should feel.

 

Let 's assume the following:

 

1. The emotional impact of a word is a blend of loudness/pitch/emphasis/duration of its syllable(s)

 

2. That impact is not fixed but can vary depending on the particular blend of those sonic properties of neighboring words/syllables.

 

3. Many accomplished authors who write poetry and esp. about reading poems have noted that the full rhythmic impact of poetic expression cannot be transmitted because we lack a way of writing something that is like a musical score for words-sounds. A specific example of that thinking can be found in Miller Williams' "PATTERNS OF POETRY, An Encyclopedia of Forms".

 

4. Different people will not read a given passage in same fashion, for that depends how much they identify with a poet's emotion when translated into mere words.

 

Here is one attempt to depict all of the above for S3.

 

 

....has ..................... yet || ................... flut-

It ............turned ............||....... my..............-ters.

......... not ......... cold .....||..But ..... heart

 

............-cause ...sud- ...............-call,

.... it.........................-den-ly

Is......be- ........ I .................. re-

 

............... up..... part

..... I............. a............. me ......... fall

that .. give ............... of ....... each

 

....... yel- .... leaves ...... past .....................shut-.

when ... -low ............................. half- ............. -ters.

............................. drift .......my .....-drawn

Edited by waxwings

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