Fold Garment Bag

November 8, 2008 12:05 AM | Alaskan Photo Tours

Fold Garment Bag

Hi I need an explaination for what is a stressed and unstressed syllable? Also, how do I find out the rhythm of a poem? Please answer, and give examples preferably to this poem:

She comes by night, In fearsome flight,
In garments black as pitch,
The queen of doom Upon her broom
The wild and wicked witch.

A cackling crone with brittle bones
And decicated limbs,
Two evil eyes with warts and sties
And bags about the rims.

A dangling nose, 10 twisted toes
And folds of shriveled skin,
Cracked and chipped and crackled lips
That frame a toothless grin.

She hurtles by, she sweeps the sky
And hurls a piercing screech,
As she swoops past, a spell is cast
On all her curses reach.

Take care to hide when the wild witch rides
To shriek her evil spell,
What she may do with a word or two
Is much to grim to tell

Thanx sooooo much!!!!! 10 points to best answer!!!!

If you count the syllables in each stanza, you will see that they alternate, eight syllables and six syllables. This scheme is easy to sing, so it is common among light narrative verse.

All of the lines alternate unstressed and stressed syllables; English verse most naturally begins with an unstressed beat because most phrases begin with unstressed connecting words such as `a,’ `the,’ and so on. If you look at this poem, you’ll see this is the case; line 11 is the only exception. The second syllables are mostly stressed.

The alternating pattern of short followed by long (for historical reasons short is a synonym for unstressed and long for stressed; I prefer them because they are shorter) is called iambic, and a single short-long pair is called an iamb. I denote an iamb like this: -`. If you look at the first line, there are four iambs; and in the second, there are three. Here is how I scan your first stanza:

-`-`-`-` (She comes by night, in fearsome flight)
-`-`-` (In garments black as pitch)
-`-`-`-` (The queen of doom upon her broom)
-`-`-` (The wild and wicked witch)

You could do this with the rest; the long lines are called iambic tetrameter (tetra = four in Greek; metre < metron = measure in Greek); the short lines are called iambic trimeter (tri = three, of course). I hope this helps. Sometimes I like to tap out metre on a desk with my fingers as I read, tapping a bit harder for the long syllables than the short ones; I can often do this faster than I can actually read, and metrical irregularities usually make a strong physical impression. Just to show how common the alternating tetrameter-trimeter lines are, here is a shred from Tolkien I happen to remember, which I think was sung at Rivendell. An elven maid there was of old, A shining star by day; Her mantle white was hemmed with gold, Her shoes were silver grey. A star was bound upon her brows, A light was on her hair, As sun upon the golden boughs In Lorien the fair. (...)

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