Common Meter and Pentameter - Morning Walk

Today we are going to create a structure that looks like this:

4 a
3 b
5 c
4 a
3 b
5 c

Yesterday consisted of two rhyming couplets broken up by pentameter lines, whereas today is essentially a section of common meter broken up by pentameter lines. This creates a really interesting effect, introducing a little more instability where both the common meter and the hanging pentameter line are begging for resolution.

Let’s try building one of these things using the prompt of a “morning walk”. As usual stay sense bound and keep your eyes open for interesting metaphor!

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So I assume the number is the number of stressed syllables in the line. If I got that wrong, sorry.

There’s blood that’s spattered on driveway’s end
A story lost last night
A dog is sniffing round to find the place
To mark it’s turf in whistling wind
A dove is mourning light
Tired feet will tarry further at placid pace

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I gotta wrap my head around this one, is there any examples you can share from the book @jamie ?

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The sun rises up like a golden balloon
Painting the newborn sky
Ready to light the course of a youthful day
The grass is still wet with the morning due
A squirrel catches my eye
The world starts to wake as the darkness fades away


Sneakers that patter on fresh morning sidewalks
The rhythm starts the day
Smells of wet grass, sprinklers wetting the greens
Peaceful as dreaming, the morning bird’s talk
Lead me on my way
Feeling the sky’s welcoming yawn to me

Ladies pass by with their gossip and iPods
The colours that I see
Bright-coloured sweatsuits in their full morning bloom
Men in their khakis being led by their dogs
Greeting every tree
They will be off to their workday very soon

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I admit I’m bad with syllables, but to me the first line has 5 stresses when I read it naturally: Sun, Rise, Up, Gold, Loon. I guess the “up” is kind of a soft emphasis? If that is the case, maybe you could just leave out “up” since that is the direction of a “rise”? I like the imagery though. I love the “Painting the newborn sky” line, that is really great imagery. The fourth line, again, I get mixed up with stresses and rhythm. I think you could throw away “is” and "the (before “morning dew”) and it would be 4 stresses and maintain a natural rhythm. Great job, this is a toughy.

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I agree that the syllable element of these tasks is quite tricky on paper as we can’t communicate the sonic aspect we hear in our heads and how we would set it to music. For example the “melody” I heard in my head had “the SUN rises UP like a GOLDen baLLOON” in a 12/8 feel, so this is a really useful and interesting reminder that when you read my words it is not a perfect transfer of thoughts - there is some sonic information missing.

Anyway, nice imagery yourself. The one thing I was going to say is that this structure creates a pretty hard stop after the five syllables of line 3, giving a momentary pause. I therefore am not entirely sure this is an optimum place for the enjambment of “to find the place to mark it’s turf”. But again, you may hear a very clever melodic way of pulling this off in your head, so I am open for correction!

Good work!

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Birds fill the sky and frost fills your nose
The gravel soft underfoot
Cold air lets the frosted grass linger till noon
Familiar faces begin to show
walking through last years soot
Fire ravaged trees will begin to reshoot very soon

Shoot fellas this is tough.

I’ll have to go back and have a read through the book, I’m getting my tetrameter, pentameter and common meter call mixed up. Hopefully I’ve fit the brief though!

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Alright so I just had a read through the chapters in the book and understand now.

Pentameter, common and tetra aren’t anything to do with the piece being
DUM da DUM da
da DUM da DUM

but everything to do with either 3, 4, or 5 stresses.

This makes more sense to me now hahaha

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Sorry that’s my fault for not explaining it clearly enough - I’ll try and make some changes for those coming up behind us! Yes the unstressed syllables don’t really matter, whether it is da DUM, da da DUM etc. The only constraint is on the number of stressed syllables per line. That being said the unstressed syllables have to be such that the line flows, if you have more than two da’s it can lose its poetry.

Anyway yours fits the brief, and has good sensory words, so we’ll done!

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The unstressed and whether its starts on a stress or off a stress like da DUM or DUM da. I will go back I think I told @4StarViewMusic at one point that common meter is one way and tetrameter is the other. Let me find it.

Also Sorry fellas for not giving feedback as much as I want to! I’m getting back into routine so I can give my input again

I think this is really good! A nice compact story, I can imagine it’s been challenging for you to compact your thoughts from the essays of old to 6 lines.

@jamie I really like the morning being like this new entity in the world and the things one might see.

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Alright so I found it, On the tetrameter - Broken glass one I said in my head I always think of da DUM da DUM and then in common meter - falling in love (is there a way to link previous posts?) it was described as DUM da DUM da. This is where i did’nt make the distinction of where the stress is isnt the priority, but how many stresses there are per line. As in common meter is 4, then 3. whereas tetrameter is 4 stresses each line. Is this right @jamie ?

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Yes that’s right. If you want to get technical in poetry they have terms for the so-called “feet”. An iamb is da DUM, a trochee is DUM da, a dactyl is DUM da da. Iambic pentameter is therefore 5 iambs, trochaic tetrameter 4 trochees and so on in any configuration.

But here we don’t specify what kind of feet you should use, only how many per line, allowing you to decide or indeed mix and match between them. But it has to sound “flowey” to use @4StarViewMusic‘s term.

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I really like that first line, but here again is where my (probably somewhat due to accent) problem with syllable counting comes in. When I read this naturally, I stress Birds, fill, sky, frost, fills, nose. I guess, I tend to stress verbs when they are more active, and the nouns. But, because of your explanation, I think I see the four syllables you want stressed, it is just a little unnatural for me.
The next line is really cool because it combines tactile and internal muscle feel. I can feel the gravel, but I also feel the ankle kind of turning because the gravel is soft, which leads to my calves and knee needing to stabilize me. That is super effective. In the third line, it is good, but I would try not to use “frost” again because you already used it in the first line (the “fill” in the first line is different to me for some reason (beyond the conjugation), there is just something that separates birds filling the sky vs frosty air in the nose).
The last three lines are great because it kind of all shows a rebirth of sorts, like a new hope. Great job!