Frost: The Iamb and other stories… -

Frost: The Iamb and other stories… -

FROST: THE IAMB AND OTHER STORIES An introduction to metre, with an eye on AO2. jonathan Peel UCGS 2013 WHY? AO1 use of appropriate critical vocabulary and technically fluent style/ well structured and coherent argument AO2 exploration and analysis of key features of form and structure with perceptive evaluation of how they shape meanings AO2 exploration and analysis of key aspects of language

with perceptive evaluation of how they shape meanings. BAND 6 descriptors. With poetry, many are afraid of form and only allow structure to rest on a general comment about free jonathan Peel UCGS 2013 verse POETRY HAS RULES! (Not always) Robert Frost is famously misquoted in saying that writing free verse was like playing tennis with the net down you can find the real quotation yourselves and consider its implications. For Frost, poetry had a regular structure and form

generally iambic pentameter or tetrameter ??? jonathan Peel UCGS 2013 Technical lexis and explanation: part 1 The term IAMBIC PENTAMETER: The IAMB is a unit of poetry a foot consisting of one unstressed and one stressed syllable. Ta-DAH! Five of these make a PENTAMETER ( its Greek to me) Four make a TETRAMETER Consider: a short line of poetry about my life When I am teaching all I feel is joy

when repeated they will look like this. jonathan Peel UCGS 2013 SO: Frost chose this metre as his basic form when writing. Why? Suggestions are that it is the nearest poetic form to natural speech or that it mimics the human heart beat This may be so, it certainly flows well when you read it aloud. But it would get very boring if it never changed jonathan Peel UCGS 2013

Only break a rule, once you have learned how to use it. There are common variations to the IAMB found in these poems: The Trochee: The Spondee: The Pyrrhic:

There is also the anapaest, but I will leave him for another time jonathan Peel UCGS 2013 USES: If a poem is solely written in IAMBs it will become tedious. All poets use the TROCHEE as a substitute to emphasise key words, usually in the first foot of a line though not always. The SPONDEE is quite rare think how rarely you stress two adjacent syllables in everyday speech. The PYRRHIC is often a filler to balance the rhythm of everyday speech and to save a line from becoming too poetical.

Dont worry where these terms come from, just become confident when using them jonathan Peel UCGS 2013 EXAMPLES: Metre in action! Straightforward Iambic Pentameter?Consider the words Ive known ere now an interfering in italics: how do they fit into the branchbasic iambic pattern? The first one is an Of alder catch my lifted ax behind (me). extra unstressed

syllable But that was in the woods, to hold my hand From striking at another alders The second MAY be a pyrrhic roots.substitution. Why might Frost wish to do this? jonathan Peel UCGS 2013 Discussion Ive known ere now an interfering branch Of alder catch my lifted ax behind (me).

This gives a soft or feminine ending to the line which almost ensures that the reader seeks a response or an explanation to what is not a definite statement. Note also the way the rhythm might also start to replicate the action of chopping wood and place emphasis on the AX as a key idea. We call the extra syllable HYPERMETRICAL. If this hypermetrical line creates an open ending to the first couplet, the next should respond to it in a similar way jonathan Peel UCGS 2013 DISCUSSION 2 But that was in the woods, to hold my hand From striking at another alders roots. The point about the Pyrrhic is this: If you were to say the line

naturally you would hurry over the words was in the to get to WOODS. In the IMABIC structure an unnecessary weight is put on IN and the line becomes a bit too bouncy. Substituting a PYRRHIC for an IAMB in the 2 nd foot prevents this AND helps to maintain the sense of conversation so vital to this poem. Also the strict Iambic Couplet seems to provide an answer to the opening clarification. Considered musically, these are a pair of answering phrases, created by the use of the extra unstressed syllable in line 2. We call this technique STROPHE and ANTISTROPHE. jonathan Peel UCGS 2013 GIVE ME MORE: Which device do you see here: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood? Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

This is more complex. It opens clearly with two IAMBs and concludes with a 4 th (it is a tetrameter) but then? This is the anapaest in action the sounds in a Yell- require a new foot: which is a bouncy little chap. The underlying IAMBIC feel is not really jonathan Peel UCGS 2013 affected though. Another: Drama is delivered with a TROCHAIC SUBSTITUTION: As if /to prove/ saws know/ what sup/per meant,

Leaped out/ at the/ boys hand,/ or seemed/ to leap He must/ have giv/en the hand./ Howev/er it was, Neither/ refused/ the mee/ting. But the hand! Line 1 here is a straight IAMBIC PENTAMETER which moves the story on at pace and in a natural rhythm. Frost inverts the metre at the start of line 2 where a trochee places stress on the unusual and vital action of the saw and continues with a pyrrhic in the 2 nd foot to allow the story to be told in a natural speech rhythm before reverting to an Iamb to stress the HAND. The third line contains a CAESURA to indicate a shift from narrative to comment upon it, following the anapaest in the third foot. In Line 4 a Trochee is used again to stress the opening which combines the boy and the saw in the action. After the caesura, the iambic Pentameter continues unchanged, though the effect of the caesura is to suggest a strong accented re-attack on the cry But, the Hand! thus strengthening the exclamation and the shock/ horror felt by the narrator. jonathan Peel UCGS 2013 ENOUGH:

When you are reading the poems, be on the look out for metre and dont be afraid to bring the terms into class for discussion. It is not easy it is an area of analysis only applicable to poetry and it should be part of your armoury. Remember that the most important part of your development as a student might be you willingness to take RISKS! Why not start here? jonathan Peel UCGS 2013

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