Four beats to a line—or tetrameters—are very popular amongst English poets. Stephen says where Iambic Pentameter is a joint of beef, tetrameter is a sandwich. Mmm sandwiches. I like this style already: beautiful in its simplicity.
And that leads us on to “mixed feet,” which of course makes me think of a weird and twisted shop where you can choose from a range of different styles of human foot to take home and wear at your leisure. “Can I have one sensible men’s and one women’s with the toenails painted electric blue please?” Or perhaps just, “Choose me some at random if you don’t mind, I like the surprise.”
We look at poems where one line has four beats and the next has three. It is OK to do anything really, as long as it fits the style and the mood of the poem.
I need to remember to stay in control of my metre, to keep a certain method to the madness. I am reminded of my own cooking style when I read that ‘too many herbs in a dish can cancel each other out’. That’s me! Usually, in an attempt to be creative in the kitchen, I shove in whatever I can find and just hope for the best.
I was always under the impression that this worked alright, but now I’m rethinking…
It’s funny, and quite unfair I think, that if a well known writer, or any other type of artist in fact, does something a bit shit, everyone passes it off as purposeful, deliberate and probably even inspired. How unlucky for me that as an 'unknown', I wouldn’t be able to get away with rubbish if I wanted my work to be accepted or praised.
Luckily I’m not looking for acceptance or praise. I am perfectly happy being mocked and scorned. Hahaha.
Poetry exercise five
What I have to do:
Write eight quatrains, i.e. eight sets of four lines.
- Two iambic tetrameter (each line 4 beats, with the stress on the second syllable).
- Two alternating tetrameter (4 beats) and trimeter (3 beats).
- One trochaic tetrameter (4 beats with the stress on the first syllable)
- One trochaic tetrameter with the last syllable chopped off the end of the 2nd and 4th lines.
I am given 45 minutes to do it. Piece of cake, right?
The topic is television.
It’s 10pm, so I’ve got until 10.45. Here goes.
I don’t watch TV in Korea,
I have one tucked in the corner.
It holds a vase of flowers well,
A nice touch in the room of fauna.
Not much had changed when I went home,
Except one thing that quite stunned me,
In every living room but ours,
A huge flat screen monstrosity!
I like to pick the things I watch,
Choose sitcom, film, drama
Or when I’ve had a stressful day
A Disney film is calmer.
Back home I just could not escape,
X Factor weekly hell.
On Saturday and Sunday too,
(I liked it, please don’t tell).
Misfits is what I am watching,
But I’m not so sure it’s gripping,
Writers can you keep it up?
Careful there! The script is slipping.
With no News I’m in a bubble,
Hearing nothing day to day.
Why do we focus on bad things,
Hide all the good things away?
I actually managed to do it in the time frame! For some reason this exercise was much easier than the Iambic Pentameter one where I had to put in trochaic and pyrrhic beats. Probably because each line had the same stresses throughout, so it just flowed easier. Still, on reflection the poems are not exactly anything to shout about, but I completed the task properly and that's what matters.