Thursday, January 10, 2008

Lecture Terms from Wednesday

Here are the terms used in lecture to detail some of the aspects of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sonnet 43 from Sonnets from the Portuguese. They are simply a few very basic terms from poetics. The importance of the metrics in a poet of Elizabeth Browning's superlative calibre is the use that she makes of them for the meaning and import of the poem, as lecture detailed.
  • Iamb: a two syllable 'foot' or pattern - unstressed/stressed, or short/long. "Computer" is an iamb.
  • Pentameter: a meter with five (Gr. = 'penta') feet (two-syllable pairs) in a line.
  • Iambic Pentameter: a line of poetry, such as found in a sonnet or in blank verse, with five iambs. From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, "But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks" is iambic pentameter.
  • Trochee: opposite of an iamb: two syllable 'foot' or pattern - stressed/unstressed, or long/short. "Stephen" is an trochee.
  • Anapest: a metrical foot of three syllables, unstressed/unstressed/stressed. " Called the 'galloping foot' because is reads as "quick-quick-hard." (SFU's motto -- Nous Sommes Prêts -- is an anapest.
  • Dactyl: opposite of an anapest -- stressed/unstressed/unstressed. "Canada" is a dactyl.
  • Spondee: a stressed/stressed foot. In sonnet 43, the penultimate line opens with a spondee: "Smiles, tears...."
  • Anaphora: a repeated word or phrase. "I love thee..." is the anaphora in sonnet 43.
  • Octave: the first eight lines of a sonnet.
  • Sestet: the six lines concluding a sonnet.

I have put a link to a useful informal online guide to literary terms in the "Pertinent & Impertinent" link list. As always, use the Library for scholarly -- i.e. assignment -- research.

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