It's worth pointing out that what you're learning here is merely a bit of terminology or jargon and the ability to apply it accurately. Naming meters is not the same as being sensitive to effects of rhythm in poems. Good readers who can hear what they're reading will respond to the poet's effects even if they lack the terms to name them. Still, it's worthwhile to be able to discuss effects. I hope to add another quiz which will invite choices of a more subtle kind, between more and less expressive ways of scanning (i.e. hearing) lines of poetry.
You can also, to test your memory, see this quiz without suggested answers. Click here.
Memorize Coleridge's mnemonic lines to help you with the names of the feet. I list the main ones below, using a hyphen to show a weakly stressed syllable and a virgule or slash to show a strongly stressed syllable:
|trochee||/ -||"PRU frock"|
|spondee||/ /||"LONG DAY"|
|dactyl||/ - -||"SYLL ab le"|
|anapest||- - /||"in ter FERE"|
Trochee trips from long to short. From long to long in solemn sort. Slow Spondee stalks, strong foot!, yea ill-able. Ever to keep up with Dactyl's trisyllable. Iambics march from short to long, With a leap and a bound the swift Anapests throng."Long" and "short" are terms drawn from the metrics of Latin quantitative verse. English verse is patterned by accent or stress, so we use terms like "stressed and unstressed" or "strong and weak" to describe the meter. Remember that it is syllables that get counted and marked, not whole words, so don't let your eye mislead your ear.
In what follows, the diagonal slash marks a strongly stressed syllable, the hyphen a relatively weakly stressed syllable (relative, that is, to the adjacent syllables).
- / - / - / - / - /
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day
Nor law nor duty bade me fight, Nor public men, nor cheering crowds. A lonely impulse of delight Drove to this tumult in the clouds.
O young Lochinvar is come out of the west, Through all the wide Border his steed was the best.
The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen( Click to hear it spoken aloud (44K).)
Go, and catch a falling star, Get with child a mandrake root, Tell me, where all past years are . . .
Happy the man whose wish and care A few paternal acres bound
Do you remember an inn, Miranda? Do you remember an inn?
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things pastClick to hear the first line read (49K).
But I hung on like death. Such waltzing was not easy.
A syllable is surprisingly hard to define with technical accuracy. Informally we might say it's the smallest bit of a word you can say on its own which contains a vowel sound. The word "syllable" has three syllables. The word "poem" has two syllables (po-em) or, in some people's pronunciation, one syllabe (pome). So there's room for disagreement at times. Back to where you were