Not too sure right now of how to cope with the fact that I've only just embarked on chapter three. Chapter three! I don’t believe it, I hear you say, its madness! Yes it really is. But onwards we go.
At the beginning of this chapter I am given the names for lines with different numbers of feet—or beats—such as Dimeter (2 feet) Hexameter (6) and of course, Pentameter (5). Apparently, Pentameter is generally used for contemplative, epic, heroic and dramatic verse. I think the lines I wrote in my last blog definitely fall into all of these categories…
Hexameter is very common in classic English verse, but is a bit of a mouthful when reading it aloud, which is why lots of playwrights such as Shakespeare preferred pentameter. I’m relived now that I’ve never attempted to write a play in verse, as I would definitely have made the stupid mistake of using Hexameter, and all the actors would be gasping for breath and fainting off the stage.
The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe, is one of the few examples of English verse made up of eight beat lines, or Octameter. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I fell a little bit in love with Poe last year on my Masters course. I think I just love the creepiness of his stories. And also I am reminded of the happy memory of expressing my love of Poe to a fellow student, only to receive the reply, “Sure, I liked him too- when I was five!’ Well so-o-rry! I guess that some of us aren't as cool as you.
Heptameters (7 feet) are called ‘fourteeners’ amongst people in the trade, as Stephen puts it. I feel like I am really starting to learn the lingo now, becoming part of the ever cool poetry possy.
I prefer the look and feel of fourteeners when they are split into two lines rather than one. What do you think?
But stay: O Spite! But Mark, poor knight, What dreadful dole is here?
Eyes, do you see? How can it be? O dainty duck, O dear.
Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
But stay: O spite! But Mark, poor knight,
What dreadful dole is here?
Eyes, do you see? How can it be?
O dainty duck, O dear.
I think it’s nicer, it looks tidier.
This extract is from the play within the play, ‘Pyramus and Thisbe,’ which a joke for the audience both in script and in performance. It’s funny that Shakespeare is taking the piss here out of poets who liked to write in fourteeners, by writing his joke play in Heptameter, rather than the Pentameter. It seems that he wasn’t a fan of this length of line and chose to use ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’ as a way of subtly mocking other writers. Silly Shakespeare, what a funny man he was.