Regina, Saskatchewan; Canada
All you need to do is study how stress works in words and then you will generally recognize how it is put into special patterns by poets, from which these half-useless terms such as "feet", "iambic" "trochaic" etc come. The stress of a word is generally the most pronounced syllable of a word, such as the hor- of horror. The first syllable hor- of horror has more pressure and vibration on it. That is the stress. You need to listen at least halfcarefully to recognize that pressure, and eventually after practice you naturally grow an ear to hear that similar "spot" in other words. If you are unsure of the correct pronunciation , then usually the dictionary may help. For example, at dictionary.com the pronunciation is given in brackets with the syllable that has the stress in bold type: "Horror [hawr-er, hor-]".
Where people were saying "DUM" above, that is where the stresses of words generally go, where they were saying "da" that is where other syllables go. If a normal word has only one syllable that one syllable has the stress. But little words such as to, from, of, in, or, I, he, it, etc. don't have stress. The rest is a bunch of exceptions and variations that may be learned along the way.
[This message has been edited by Essorant (02-17-2009 04:19 PM).]