Examples of Rhythm in Poetry

Rhythm is the beat and pace of a poem and is created by the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. It helps in strengthening the meaning and ideas of the poem. It lies between a certain range of regularity, of specific language features of sound. It is readily discriminated by the ear and the mind, having as it works on a physiological basis. It directly affects the temporal structure of the poem. Rhythm is important for the highly organized sense of poetry.

The presence of rhythmic patterns heightens emotional response and affords the reader a sense of balance. Meter often equated with the rhythm, is perhaps more accurately described as a method of organizing a poem’s rhythm. To define the rhythm, we should be aware of the presence of beat or metrical units. There are five metrical unite in the English language. You can get their detail from http://www.literarydevices.com/rhythm/. Here are some examples of rhythm:

Lines Written in Dejection – William Butler Yeats

When have I last looked on
The round green eyes and the long wavering bodies
Of the dark leopards of the moon?
All the wild witches, those most noble ladies

The above lines are the example of slant rhyme, since ‘moon’ and ‘on’ don’t rhyme perfectly but end in the same consonant, while ‘bodies’ and ‘ladies’ don’t use the same sound in their stressed syllables but end with identical unstressed syllables. The poet has also used alliteration in the phrase ‘wild witches’.

Wrath Of Kane – Big Daddy Kane

Cause I can never let ’em on top of me
I play ’em out like a game of Monopoly
Let ’em speed around the board like an Astro
Then send ’em to jail for trying to pass Go
Shaking ’em up, breaking ’em up, taking no stuff
But it still ain’t loud enough

The example is dactylic because the final three syllables of both lines rhyme and have the same stress pattern, whereas the third and fourth line is double because the final two syllables of the lines rhyme and share the same stress pattern. This example has slant rhymes not through simple pair of words, but by sometimes matching sets of words.

The Tyger – William Blake

Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright
In the forest of the night.
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

The trochees are perfectly used by the poet. Here the first syllables of the words ‘tyger’, burning’ and ‘forest’ are stressed whereas second syllables are unstressed.

Ocean – Pery Nunez

O how beautiful is the ocean. Why don’t you
C ompare it to the fish’s swimming motion?
E ven in a fishtank you can compare
A fish’s swimming motion. Even in a turtle
N otion, you can find a fish’s swimming motion.

The rhythm of the second and third verses starts with lazy dactylic waves, matches their content. Further, there is a use of goofy, attention-drawing rhyme in ‘turtle notion and swimming motion.

The Tempest – William Shakespeare

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Ding-dong.

In the second line, the curt trochaic tetrameter is used. The initial spondee- an accent formed of two hard syllables next to each other. ‘Father’ and ‘fathom’ are closed in sounds, underscore the father’s fate. The hard ‘c’ of coral harmonizes the hardness of bones. In the 3rd line, every sound can be held in the mouth which expresses the slow transformation of soft eyes to pearl. In the 5th line, the spondaic sea change stands out rhythmically as a variation.

The Courage The Mother Had – Edna St. Vincent

Oh, if instead, she’d left to me
The thing she took into the grave!
That courage like a rock, which she
Has no more need of, and I have.

The above lines follow the pattern of four iambs in each line. We can feel the catchy rhythm because first, the poet sets the rhythm and then breaks it in the last few syllables. It makes this poem smooth and more melodious.

Daffodils – William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

This poem is presented in a fairly simple form. Consisting of four stanzas with six lines each, this twenty-four line poem exemplifies the iambic tetrameter style. This form is specifically employed by the poet who wishes to generate light, ‘carefree’ mood for their piece, making the poem easily accessible to multiple audiences.

Fire and IceRobert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

This poem is written in iambic tetrameter. For example, lines 1,3,4,5,6 and 7, and iambic dimeter in lines 2, 8 and 9. The rhythm divides the poem into two proper sections while linking the two. Line 5 is a pivot.

Will There Really Be a Morning – Emily Dickinson

Will there really be a morning
Is there such a thing as a day?
Could I see it from the mountains
If I were as tall as they?
Has it feel like water lilies?
Has it feathers like a bird?
Is it brought from famous countries

In this poem, the speaker is feeling dejected, thinking if there could be hope or a morning again. Here the trochees are used, which are giving strength to the poem. In the first stanza, the accented syllables are emphasized. The words ‘I’ is unstressed with different feet as underlined.

Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in under growth…

Anapest meter is quicker and lighter than iambic. The spondee on ‘Two Roads’ reinforces the equal value of each road. Frost’s meters reinforce the meaning of the poem. He mixes the meter from line to line for dramatic effect along with several syllables.

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