Talk:Metre (poetry)

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Should this be moved to Metre (poetry), similar to Metre (music)? Opinions?

or "poetic metre" /"poetry metre", "musical metre" to avoid brackets? -- Tarquin
I think with poetic metre should redirect to Metre (poetry) as with the first suggestion. --Zippanova 06:39, 16 Jun 2005 (UTC)

New posts at the bottom of the page please


I think the word "scansion" is too obscure for the introductory paragraph: I had to look it up! As it's a technical word which refers to the "analysis of verse" (according to, perhaps it should either be a link or be replaced by a more common word (such as "analysis").--Malcohol 11:49, 8 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I think is vastly overstating the technical-ness of this word. I consider it basic vocabulary for anyone who has taken a literature class of any kind. Since it's defined in the article, I don't think it's too obscure. Using "analysis" would change the meaning.Franzeska 20:03, 4 October 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. 10-th grade word tops. -- 09:49, 7 August 2007 (UTC)


I feel that the lists of feet and of hymn meters are detracting from this article's already strained readability. It might be best to move them -- the list of feet can happily reside at foot (prosody), which is fairly stubby right now, and the list of hymn meters could either be moved to hymn or to a separate article like list of hymn meters or hymn meter. Are there other opinions on this? -- Rbellin|Talk 14:38, 26 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I went ahead and moved the list of feet to foot (prosody) and the list of hymn meters to hymn. Comments or changes are still welcome. -- Rbellin|Talk 18:30, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

It seems to me, that this article would greatly benefit from an extremely simplistic break down of English Poetic Rhythm and Meter, i.e.

The meters with two-syllable feet are

   * IAMBIC (x /) : That time of year thou mayst in me behold
   * TROCHAIC (/ x): Tell me not in mournful numbers
   * SPONDAIC (/ /): Break, break, break/ On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!

Meters with three-syllable feet are

   * ANAPESTIC (x x /): And the sound of a voice that is still
   * DACTYLIC (/ x x): This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlock (a trochee replaces the final dactyl)

trimeter 3, tetrameter 4, pentameter 5, hexameter 6, heptameter 7, and o ctameter 8

iambic pentameter (5 iambs, 10 syllables)

   * That time | of year | thou mayst | in me | behold

trochaic tetrameter (4 trochees, 8 syllables)

   * Tell me | not in | mournful | numbers

anapestic trimeter (3 anapests, 9 syllables)

   * And the sound | of a voice | that is still

I did not write this, this is a breakdown I found on another site when this article proved to be too nebulous for a beginner. 07:07, 11 May 2006

I understand what you mean by "too nebulous" ... however, this article needs to address metre in general, not just in English lnaguage poems written in the accentual-syllabic tradition. Possibly the article Accentual-syllabic verse — which is currently little more than a stub — would be an appropriate place for the sort of outline you propose, which could then lead off to more detailed articles, such as the (still incomplete) one on iambic pentameter. — Stumps 08:45, 11 May 2006 (UTC)


It's striking that the article explains the meter of only a few languages, all of them European. Even the closely related list of verse forms article mentions only a few non-European forms--mostly the famous Japanese forms.

Yes, I was disappointed to see that the "Greek and Latin" section only covers Latin. I followed a link here from the article on digamma, hoping to find an explanation of how Greek meter can demand that some syllables begin with consonants. --Darrell Manrique, 17:39, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

Inversion only refers to first foot??[edit]

What is the source for this. I can site sources - such as Milton's Prosody (book) which talk about 'the inversion of the second foot' and so forth. — Stumps 11:03, 14 December 2005 (UTC)

Accentual-Syllabic Verse redirects to Poetry (Meter)?[edit]

Accentual verse has a category of its own and does not redirect to this article as does Accentual-syllabic verse. Were this article to discuss those areas more, it would not be as necessary, but seeing as there is hardly any explanation of it in this article, it ought to have an article of its own. Also, links both in this article and in other articles refer to Accentual-Syllabic Verse but are redirected back to this article, which doesn't help anyone.

Never mind, Problem solved. I've fixed all the links and redirected Accentual-Syllabic Verse to Accentual-syllabic verse TheNathanator

Syllabic and Quantatative Verse considered English systems?[edit]

I believe that because English is an accentual language only those meters which rely on accent can be considered "English". Quantatative verse has not been met with much success in English and is an attempt to apply latin rules to English poetry. English is not a syllabic language either because one does not hear the syllables in a line, but rather the accents. TheNathanator 02:11, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

Poetry not human?[edit]

I am puzzled by the supposed belief attributed in the last section of this article to some famous proponents of free verse, "that meter was imposed into poetry by man." As opposed to the rest of poetry, which was ordained of God? What is this supposed to mean? Poetry is a human creation.

That's funny, I was coming here to question the same exact thing. I will go ahead and change the wording. Recury 22:30, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

Latin scansion[edit]

"Vérgĭlĭūm vīdī // tāntúm, něc ămāră Tĭbúllŏ Témpŭs ămī cĭtĭáe // fātă dĕdḗrĕ mĕáe."

The caesura in this verse belongs AFTER tantum, not before. This is because "tantum" refers back to the preceding words and forms a phonological unit. Not all hexameters have a caesura in the third foot: a caesura in the fourth foot (as here) is almost as common.-jpb

Re: Ottoman Turkish meter section[edit]

I've added a section on poetic meter in Ottoman Turkish, and I will get around to adding examples of the meters shown as soon as I can, but I wanted to ask one question as well.

In the section, I included a list of the poetic feet used in Ottoman verse. I understand that, theoretically, this list might go better into the Foot (prosody) article; however, as that article is currently even slimmer pickings than this article, and moreover largely lacks the references to non-English languages (apart from Latin and Greek) that this article has, I thought it might be appropriate—at least for the time being—to include the Ottoman poetic feet here. Hopefully, the list of feet in the way it's currently arranged is not too obtrusive (it is, of course, rather specialist and technical, but I think that anyone who is actually willing to read about Ottoman verse structure probably has a good bit of general knowledge on poetic meter already).

Anyhow, any thoughts? —Saposcat 11:32, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Truly excellent and informative. I'd encourage you to copy the part relevant to poetic feet into that article directly, or in summary form with a cross reference. I also would encourage you to add a brief summary of this section to the Poetry article, and to expand this as much as possible - it may be that we should have a long-term vision of separating European, Ottoman, Vedic and other metric systems into their own page, and turning this page into a summary of the other pages. Sam 13:48, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

"Worldwide view"[edit]

Since meter in poetry relies upon and is relied upon by the language in which the poetry is written, NO AMOUNT of editing can give the Meter page a true worldwide view. Maybe it would be better to have a separate Meter page for each language for which there is a Poetry and/or Prose page posted in the English-language Wikipedia. Otherwise, that flag may never be removed from the Meter page. --Misterdoe 06:19, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

I think you're right on ultimately spearating pages for each language, but disagree that this page can never have a true worldwide view. I think the worldwide view will end up being a broad-brush review of the linguistics ideas behind creating meter in different languages with a summary style paragraph devotes to the meter of each different language or language group (similiar to the Poetry article). Right now I see this as a place for the discussions of different meters to live and grow until a separate page gets set up; if you or someone else are game for it, it's a great project. Sam 15:32, 17 July 2006 (UTC)


Unless I am grossly mistaken, the notes on this page are no longer editable. Does anyone have an idea about how to fix this? Otherwise, I completely agree with Misterdoe, there is no way all metrical ideas can be crammed in a single article: this one should only apply to English, whereas, e.g. Italian prosody ought to be on; in any case, people who are not able to read a language are certainly not able to appreciate its metres.

I had no problem editing. You should sign your posts, so we know who made the comment. It's not hard at all to discuss the way meter works in different languages, and can be quite important to understand what is imported or carried over from other languages. For example, the discussion of Ottoman meter is quite informative, and gives a good comparitive context. Classifying languages into different linguistic types (e.g., tonal languages, mora timed languages)and then seeing how meters are produced within each type, and how they move from, for example, the Arabic to the Romance languages, is quite interesting. Sam 23:30, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Ambiguous syllables[edit]

Weak position (grammar) currently talks about syllables that can be either long or short in Classical scansion (generally containing a short vowel followed by muta cum liquida). Here's an example (Metam. XIII):

et prīmō similis volucrī, mox vēra volucris

The first lu is short, the second one is counted as long by position. Is there a standard name for such syllables (because I don't think that "weak" is the right term)? I thought it might be "anceps", but that turns out to be something else. CapnPrep 03:51, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

"Anceps" usually refers to a position in the meter that may be filled by either a short or long syllable. What we want here is a name for a kind of syllable that may be counted either as long or short. But I think that "anceps" would be appropriate here as well, since the same words are usually used to describe syllables and metrical positions ("long" and "short"). The word means originally "doubtful" or "capable of two interpretations".--Gheuf 16:55, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

A Linguistic Approach to Modeling Meter[edit]

I find most of this article to be rather outdated in its approaches to meter, primarily centering on its treatment of English meter (i.e., iambic pentameter). Many linguists have shown that the "traditional" approach to scansion, which includes iambs with random trochees and such mixed in, is an inefficient way of describing the native intuitions that a poet has about rhythm. Linguists have instead opted for a more generative view on meter, which includes rhythmic templates of weak and strong positions and correspondence rules for mapping syllables and linguistic stress to the metrical template. This way, we can nearly systematically analyze exceptions such as inversion in the metrical line; for example, inversion has been shown this model to happen always at the left-most boundary of a metrical constituent and never happens in the middle of one (Hanson 2003). For more information on this topic, I'd suggest reading Otto Jesperson's "Notes on Metre," Paul Kiparsky, and Kristin Hanson, who are all linguists working in the field of rhythm and meter. (posted by Expectfailure (talk · contribs) 03:30, 23 October 2006)

Jesperson's Notes — dating from 1900 — get a mention in Systems of scansion. The inversion of the first foot after a line-break or a ceasura mid-line (and the use of a feminine ending before either of these) was practiced by Shakespeare and early Milton (i.e. before Paradise Lost) .. see the section 'Rhythmic variation' in iambic pentameter. However this does not account for Milton's later use of meter, see Bridges' Analysis of Paradise Lost.
In general I agree that there is much recent material that could be incorporated into the article. I'd also recommend Principles of English stress by Luigi Burzio (Cambridge, 1994). Stumps 08:16, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

Removal of old dissent section[edit]

I've removed the poorly written and unclear 'dissent' section added in this change back in October 2005. I don't think this article is (or should) be 'advocating' the use of meter, and therefore 'dissent' seems misplaced. Links to other theories of rhythm of course are entirely valid, and maybe I've been a little too extreme in my surgery. Stumps 10:17, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

It seems to have been re-inserted, and it's still badly written, and still seems to be fighting a straw man. Besides, it gives unnecessary prominence to Dan Schneider--why are we quoting him rather than (say) Ezra Pound, who is much more prominent and had strong opinions on what he saw as the stultifying metronomic effect of traditional meter? I entirely support your decision to delete this section two years ago, and I'd support re-deleting it now. (talk) 20:50, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
I think we can agree that "dissent" is the wrong word: I don't see how one could dissent against an element of poetic theory any more than you could dissent against the "Soup o' the Day". Perhaps rephrasing it along the lines of "Critisisms," or "Alternative structures" could salvage it? Would seem closer to the contributor's intentions.
Overall, I feel that the section is trying to say something worth saying — that metre is not universal — but is doing so ineffectually, and perhaps inefficiently. I agree that the section as it stands is worthy of Deletion. (talk) 23:45, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

Poetry in the Heavenly Spheres?[edit]

The last paragraph mentions poets who "believed that meter was imposed into poetry by man, not a fundamental part of its nature". Where does the "fundamental part of the nature of poetry" come from if not from man? from the Heavenly Spheres?--Gheuf 07:32, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

It isn't "metre" in British English[edit]

"Metre" is only used in English for the unit of distance. Everything else (thermometer, poetic meter etc) is spelled with an "er".-- 17:47, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Untrue; see e.g. Chambers Dictionary. I agree, though, that "meter" with -er is more common in the poetic sense even in British English, whereas it is not widely accepted in BrE for the unit of length. (talk) 02:31, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

Poetic metre is also spelt 're'. Meter is only used for measuring devices. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 00:53, 19 February 2013 (UTC)

monometer, dimeter, etc.[edit]

On 5 Dec 07, I read this article and found that it lacked the basic information i sought in a clear, concise manner. I couldn't remember whether the meter form was called Tetrameter or quadrameter, and i expected this page would contain it.

I found it elsewhere, and so I added the succinct info:

The term monometer describes verse with one foot per line. Dimeter describes verse with two feet per line. Trimeter describes verse with three feet per line. Tetrameter describes verse with four feet per line. Pentameter describes verse with five feet per line. Hexameter describes verse with six feet per line. Heptameter describes verse with seven feet per line. Octameter describes verse with eight feet per line."

It was later deleted being called "redundant nonsense". Not sure why, since that info isn't given clearly elsewhere on the page (there's a lot of rambling examples).

I'd love to add the info to the page, as i believe people would find this rather essential to the discussion and understanding of poetic meter. but i don't have the energy to police the page.

Merger proposal[edit]

I think the various articles describing the different kinds of feet and their usage are naturals for merging into this. If I'm looking for a list of feet and their uses, my first thought is to search for "Meter," and once here, it can be difficult to figure out that I need to find a tiny link to a separate page on feet, which in turn links to lots of stubs about those feet. Merging these in and giving them each sections of this page, and then of course cleaning up what's here, could make this page great. I'll do the merger in a week or two if no objections. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Quintopia (talkcontribs) 02:02, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

I would support this as long as it doesn't result in the loss of information from the individual articles. IMO the articles on the feet are very well written, so their content should be kept. Obviously this would result in this article being very long, so some stuff might need to be moved into other articles. The Ottoman section in particular seems particularly long, so it may be that there should be a separate article on meter in Ottoman poetry along with a short summary in this one. If a merger would result in a loss of all the useful examples and stuff, I would oppose despite the added convenience -- there's little point in changing something to make it easier to get if the change results in you no longer wanting to get it. Raoul (talk) 17:03, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Bad idea. The very reason for the separate articles is because they have their own separate constructs. Meter encompasses all of these in general, while the individual articles are specific. Specificity is needed for such articles. But a general article is needed with links to the specific points. To analogize, would one list al of the articles on individual bird species under the general article of birds?Olliekamm (talk) 23:52, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Against merger I believe the articles should NOT be merged ... there is much to be said on the individual histories of each of the many types of meter. There may indeed be a good case for refactoring some of the content to avoid repetition, and the general article on meter should no doubt contain a concise overview which points off to the most important examples of meter. But once we get past the basic nuts and bolts explanation of what iambic pentameter means, and we get into the real substance of its historical use in various languages, various prosodic interpretations (e.g. Robert Bridges reading Milton as a syllabic writer), variations / developments I can't see how the main Meter article could possibly do it justice. Stumps (talk) 13:39, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

Fundamentals non-fundamental?[edit]

The article starts with a "fundamentals" section; good. But some of the fundamentals seem to be missing, whilst some distinctly advanced concepts are present. "Feet" only mentions "iambic": should it not also include fundamentals such as the trochee and dactyl? And should "metric variations" be regarded as a fundamental? (At present [1] the poor novice is thrown into the deep water of catalexis without even a basic foot-hold.) I'm not quite sure yet what to propose instead. Feline Hymnic (talk) 18:13, 5 October 2008 (UTC)

Add Sonnet 18[edit]

I think it should be mentioned that its Sonnet 18 that is being analysed "Da-dum" etc in the very beginning of the article. /Tense (talk) 11:43, 28 December 2008 (UTC)

difference between meter and foot?[edit]

In poetry can a foot also be referred to as a meter? Since a pentameter is literally five meters, but in this article it calls a single set of syllables a foot. And it seems in non-English countries they wouldn't be using the word foot. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:26, 13 January 2009 (UTC)

No, you wouldn't say "meter" for "foot." Pentameter isn't "five meters" exactly - it's more like "a measure of five [stresses]." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:06, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

Potential Subdivision[edit]

I think that this page(and perhaps Wikipedia) could be improved by some subdividing. Independent pages for the quantitative (classical) and accentual (modern) meters would be a good starting point. I would try to do this myself only I am not sure how. Any thoughts would be appreciated Applechair (talk) 23:34, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

Arabic and Persian[edit]

I noticed this article listed Ottoman Turkish meters, but not the Arabic or Persian ones from which they were derived. I've taken a stab at remedying this by including a basic outline of Arabic metrics, and will probably do a Persian one later. Any suggestions as to what I should add and/or remove? Szfski (talk) 06:41, 5 September 2009 (UTC)

definition of foot/meter[edit]

If you look at Shakespeare's iambic pentameter, the example given here is practically an exception, not the rule. Normally the only thing that counts toward getting the number five is the stressed syllables per line. Most lines will have at least one case where there are more that one syllable between each stressed syllable. This can be easily verified by reading some lines by Shakespeare. For this reason the definition should be changed, to something like... "each foot consists of one stressed syllable preceded or followed by one or more unstressed ones." The most famous example: to BE or NOT to be, THAT is the QUEStion -- The SLINGS and ARrows of outRAGEous FORTune, etc. etc. etc.AtomAnt (talk) 23:26, 20 September 2009 (UTC)


Is there in English a word like metrisieren in German meaning "to change a text so that it fits to a prescribed meter"? (The relevance of this notion is obvious for anyone who translates a poem, see Notes on Prosody.) If there is already an article on that in en.WP, please insert an interwiki link into de.WP/Metrisierung. – Rainald62 (talk) 10:00, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

There is no "stress"[edit]

After suffering the inanity of an English education in which we were taught that certain syllables are "stressed," I hoped some headway had been made since those years but I find this nonsense repeated universally. "Stressed" suggests loudness, or even something undefined, where in reality, it is pitch or frequency. This distortion of meaning makes fools of everyone who retains this imprecise nomenclature and retards comprehension. Mydogtrouble (talk) 19:07, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

If you are unhappy with the terminology used by professional linguists to describe these phonemoma, that is your prerogative, but don't expect the article to reflect your objection. --Pfold (talk) 22:29, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Spanish section[edit]

I just wanted to bring some attention to this section, specifically the part added in this revision. It reads with great difficulty (especially the formatting) and some of the formatting is not in keeping with the original poems. The translation of Francisco de Quevedo's poem is pretty bad and kind of unreadable, and everything except that translation appears to have been lifted directly or almost directly from various pages of this website with no citation. If a translation of that poem is necessary, there is a much better one at that website that has actually been published. Also, I studied Spanish literature for years, and I don't recall this poet's name ever being mentioned -- I see no evidence of him being one of the most famous Spanish poets. I don't want to just edit it since I'm not an experienced Wiki editor and am not sure I'd do it right, so I thought I'd bring it up here first. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:59, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Francisco de Quevedo is very much one of the most famous Spanish poets indeed.
I wonder what exactly happened to this section, but it's badly messed up. I haven't made a thorough search among past versions—which seems pretty time-consuming—but it looks every bit like someone, quite some time ago, decided to blindly replace the word dieresis (I'm sticking to this spelling for consistency's sake, since syneresis is already in use in the section, rather than synaeresis) with umlaut in someone else's previous wording. This makes absolutely no sense, since we're talking about a metric licence, not a diacritic. In addition, the only surviving example of a Spanish word affected by these licences (poeta) stands next to an English word (loyalty) and a jumble of word segments I fail to decipher: su-to-see, ru-i-ing, mu-si-tion of a-the. My guess is that once there were Spanish words there, and someone performed some kind of automated translation on them, turning lealtad (with two vowels in a row which don't normally form a diphthong, so it's a suitable example of a word which can undergo synaeresis) into loyalty (no longer having that property and no longer Spanish), and transmogrifying all the following examples beyond recognition (maybe translating some segments on their own as though they were full words).
I'm fixing what I can and making up new Spanish examples instead of the ones I can't restore. Splibubay (talk) 15:25, 19 June 2014 (UTC)


This example seems inappropriate: are not the commas markers of caesuras? And, while "All her feasts, her / actions honor," could be read with a pause (as marked by the "/") between the possessive pronoun her and actions, the noun which it modifies, this seems highly artificial. Is there some missing "Latin and Greek poetry" text, as mentioned in introducing this example, to which this is supposed to be a gloss? Dcattell (talk) 15:00, 28 September 2010 (UTC)


This was rated b-class, but I've re-rated it c-class. It does not meet the b-class standards as per Wikipedia:Version 1.0 Editorial Team/Assessment#grades guidelines. The article is not suitably referenced, and is even tagged as needing additional sources. INeverCry 00:02, 29 May 2012 (UTC)

Proposal to undo move from Meter (poetry) to Metre (poetry)[edit]

Triggered by a discussion about Metre/Meter in music (see here), we came into discussion about Metre (poetry).

Based on my understanding the move from Meter (poetry) to Metre (poetry) (in 2011) was in contradiction of WP:ENGVAR without giving a reason for deviation. Here is why I think it was in contradiction with ENGVAR:

  • Since back in 2001: This article used to be an all Meter article.
  • Later it became somewhat more mixed between Metre and Meter.
  • Then in Jun 2011, this edit came:
    • I have attempted to put the word "met(re/er)" entirely in American English, for two reasons: 1: to duplicate the title. 2: It says somewhere in the rules that, unless the article is on a local subject, it should be written in the majority dialect.
    • This change was for the wrong reason (majority dialect precedence) but with the correct change (because ENGVAR in case of mixed variants revert to variant of first non-stub article version)
  • Then in Nov 2011, these edits
    • First: Corrected spelling of 'meter' to 'metre' - British English takes precedence
    • Then: moved Meter (poetry) to Metre (poetry) over redirect: British English takes precedence
    • These changes were done without any explained reason for precedence and not correct (because ENGVAR existing variant should not change)

I look forward for someone to confirm or reject my understanding. If my understanding is correct then I propose that this article is moved back to Meter (poetry) and contents changed accordingly. LazyStarryNights (talk) 22:33, 10 August 2013 (UTC)