Practice Verse

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Here are some excerpts of the scrap verse I produced in iambic pentameter. It’s just practice, but I thought I’d share it anyway.

A murk-doomed day, its fleet of astral smog,
its subterranean earthworm exposed.
The cigarette, unashed, burnt to her lips,
and lit the fuse that burst within her breast.
The void was such a gentle place to be
in harsher times, the rose had three regrets.
All smothered in a business suit, the boy
outbet the men, like stars outburn the sun.
I’m seeing where I don’t belong, and why.
Behold the hour, no sweeter than its year,
at which we trash our calendars and clocks.

He holds his fate between his lips and smiles.
She fought a bird beneath a broken sky.
The wheel of doubt has struck me down again.
I turned the wheels inside her circus mind.
Those wheels burned against the painted clowns.
Sunk in a doom of birds, who won’t rejoice?
Tonight the stars say grace, and fall to snow.

We wore our hoods and slipped beneath the stars.
All sex is measured by its eloquence.
Made in the dark, what do decisions do?
Be serious, the song of you begins.
Be mad as ducks, shred rivers with your wings.
Be someone else, be anyone but me.
Believe in beauty, be the femme fatale.
Be death, transfigured, ghost of the ocean,
the fiery reef of the chief’s sea-tossed wife,
One bullet’s in the barrel of the gun.
The cabin slanted in the winter storm.
The tree picked at its bark with jagged sticks.
The guillotine is strung by tiny thread;
a cat plays with the knot beside the head.
Those eyes of easel grease and glassy ice.
A glistening of thorns broke from those eyes.
I’m melted in a maelstrom of selves,
Make the muck hum, toad of a tickled throat.
The royal skeleton upon his bone.

by Ryan Dowling

Frost And Natural Rhythm

Acquainted with the Night

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say goodbye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Iambic Pentameter

Iambic pentameter is a metrical line in poetry that has been used since the beginning of the English language. Many have argued that it is the most naturally-occurring meter in the English language, and several famous epic poems have employed it.

Pentameter refers to the 5 feet that occur in the line. In poetry, a foot is a term used to delineate the units of rhythm in every line. Iambic refers to the type of foot that is being used: An iamb is a unit of rhythm with one unaccented syllable followed by an accented syllable. In the first line from Frost’s poem reproduced below, I have separated the five feet with vertical bars and marked the accented syllables with underscores.

I – have | been – one | ac – quain | ted – with | the – night.

The line should have a galloping rhythm that sounds like da-DA-da-DA-da-DA-da-DA-da-DA. When forced, such a line may sound wooden and strained. However, when executed skilfully, iambic pentameter can have a very natural grace. Take the lines, “I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet/ When far away an interrupted cry/ Came over houses from another street.” Here Frost sounds quite conversational. Though in fact, each of these lines is written in near-perfect iambic pentameter.