The beat of a song is referred to as its rhythm in music. The rhythm formed by stressed and unstressed syllables in a poem, on the other hand, is referred to as its "meter." Meter is defined by the dictionary as "the arranging of words in consistently metered, patterned, or rhythmic lines or verses."
There are many different meters used in poetry. Some are simple, such as iambic pentameter, which consists of five feet: an iamb (a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one), a pentameter (five iambs). Others are more complex, such as dactylic hexameter, which includes six metrical units: a dactyl (a short stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one), a hexameter (six dactyls). Still others, such as sycamore meter, can be as complex as one wants them to be. In sycamore meter, each line of the poem contains seven syllables, with three stressed and four unstressed.
The term "metre" comes from the Greek word for "how," which means "the way things are done." That is, what we do with our words to create a poem's structure is called "poetic grammar."
In music, the term "beat" refers to the regular pulse you feel when listening to someone playing a drum or another musical instrument.
It might be beneficial to conceive of poetry's rhythm as a beat in music. The metre is the pattern of stressed and unstressed sections of words in poetry. Each line of a poem should have the same metre, but they can be different lengths. A poem with a regular metre will usually follow one of the metrical patterns listed below.
Anapest - six syllables, two feet: anap-pear-less-ly. This is the most common metre in English poetry, used especially for love poems.
Dipodia - four syllables, two feet: dip-o-dia. Used by Milton in Paradise Lost.
Electrophelium - nine syllables, three feet: elect-ro-phe-lum. Used by Blake.
Ekphrastic - an adjective meaning "relating to or being a visual image" - describes poetry that uses pictures to make its points. The rhythm also helps to describe this type of poetry: ekphrastic.
Iambic - two syllables, two feet: iam-bic. The basic foot in classical Greek and Roman poetry. Often used in English poetry as well.
The pattern of emphasis in a line of poetry is known as rhythm. Traditional forms of verse employ set rhythmic patterns known as meters (meter means "measure" in Greek), and meters are exactly that—premeasured patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables. Meters can be simple or complex, but they always remain the same length; a meter is never variable-length.
Rhythm is the pattern of pulses or beats in speech or writing. It gives life to language and holds an audience enthralled. The classic example is the iambic pentameter used by the English poet John Milton (1608–74). This meter has five feet each of which contains an iambus (a spondaic foot) followed by a trochaic foot. Thus, the iambic pentameter is made up of five pairs of spondees and trochees. A spondee is a two-syllable word ending in a strong sound (such as "up" or "in"); a trochee is a one-syllable word ending in a weak sound (such as "er" or "ow"). Milton wrote many poems in iambic pentameter including "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity" and "Paradise Lost".
In addition to the classic iambic pentameter used by Milton, there are many other meters used in poetry.
|Meter||The measured arrangement of sounds/beats in a poem, including the poet’s placement of emphasis and the number of syllables per line|
|Onomatopoeia||A word that sounds like what it means.|
|Rhythm||The recurrence of stressed and unstressed sounds in poetry|