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Passions in Poetry

Dialect and Meter

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Member Elite
since 06-22-99
Posts 2442

0 posted 10-23-1999 12:38 PM       View Profile for DreamEvil   Email DreamEvil   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit DreamEvil's Home Page   View IP for DreamEvil

I am seeking continuity of form since doing otherwise prevents the use of form at all. The formats do not exist nor were created for a specific dialect, rather to provide a uniformity to every piece written in that format, otherwise, it is not a format at all. I believe that format should be followed regardless of dialect simply because dialect is open to interpretation and prevents a format from being universally applicable. To that end, the accepted dictionary stresses become the only way for a format to work equally for everyone regardless of dialect. After all, the reader cannot see the dialect of the poet.

By way of explanation for this opinion and for those who know it not, I am near tone deaf so needs must rely on the dictionary stresses at times. The issue is not stresses however so much as syllable count per line and that is what the formats are based on. Change the syllable count and you change the format.

That said, my question is this; Should dialect take precedence over syllable count in written poetry that is meant to adhere to a format?

Now and forever, my heart hears ~one voice~.

Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea

1 posted 10-23-1999 04:17 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

There's no such thing as standard English however. I think this is English's strength (French, Korean, and Japanese all have government boards to determine what is standard and what is not). Why objectify something that can only be objectified arbitrarily? I disagree with people all the time when it comes to syllable counts and stressed syllables. I think this is fun (and inevitably increases the variety of my own language).

As regards to your 'tone deafness', if you can speak the language, you can hear when something sound wrong to you, right? conTRACT (v) versus CONtract (n) (seems to be my favorite example these days). Go to the Atlantic Monthly and listen to the poets there. Also Seamus Cooney (I forget the address but I found it last year) has a websight where you can test your meter listening abilities -- You can hear what certain meters sound like. Nothing wrong with using a dictionary (and a Thesaurus); I use them all the time.

What's wrong with changing formats? The Villanelle is from France and the Pantoum from Indonesia. In a certain sense, the moment you use the format, you are changing them.

Syllable counts are less important than how the poem sounds to you. If it sounds right, keep it. If it doesn't,change it.

Format and metered poetry are guides, only guides, to write poetry that has worked in the past -- use them but don't be used by them.


Senior Member
since 08-20-99
Posts 742
Houston, TX

2 posted 10-23-1999 04:57 PM       View Profile for Julie   Email Julie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Julie

Thank you both...I too feel "tone deaf". I will often read my poetry out loud to see if anything sounds forced and doesn't seem to flow vs. scrutinizing the format. Glad to see someone else bringing this up.

Almost all our misfortunes in life come from the wrong notions we have about the things that happen to us.

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