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Dealing with Stress

Meter, rhythm, cadence. These are all words that can be related to how words are emphasized in poetry. Some find scansion, meaning the reading of rhythm, difficult, so here are some rules to follow until you get the hang of it.

  1. Important one-syllable words are stressed. This usually means the type of words that would be capitalized in a title: nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives.
  2. Unimportant one-syllable words are unstressed: articles (a, an, the), pronouns, helping verbs (am, are, have, is, etc. when they are immediately followed by a participle), prepositions.
  3. Multi-syllabic words are in the dictionary. Look them up to be sure of stress.
  4. In the case where there are three unstressed syllables in a row, the middle one tends to be promoted: Withín the níght, I héard the cáll.
  5. Where three stressed syllables are in consecutive positions, the middle one tends to be demoted: Swéet, fair Jáne, whose éyes were gréen.

Happy scanning!

The Gnostic Poet

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