Information gleaned from the Rod and Staff English books 5 and 6
Rhythm in our speech is gained by us putting more emphasis on one syllable of a word than another. Words can have emphasis at the:
- beginning: “eating”, “happy”, and “Sarah”;
- middle: “accentuate”, “intimidate”, and “perpetuate”; or
- end: “because”, “until”, “supreme”, “beyond”, and “beside”.
Some words can have two places of emphasis. “Restaurant” and “activate” are two examples.
The most common emphasis, however, is that at the beginning of the word. Looking at words all around you will prove this.
Usually, rhythm is not organized into any particular pattern, and it rises and falls all over the place, just like these few sentences have.
However, with care and thought, sentences can be arranged so that the emphasis rises and falls in a recurring, consistent manner, which is pleasing to the ear. This is a part of poetry.
There are 4 main types of rhythm used in poetry. A foot is the piece of rhythm which is repeated.
- Iambic: each foot has one unaccented syllable, followed by one accented syllable:
~ , ~ , ~ , ~ , A host of golden daffodils
This style gives the poem a light, cheerful, optimistic sound; good for themes of joy or beauty.
- Trochaic: each foot has one accented syllable, followed by one unaccented syllable.
, ~ , ~ , ~ , ~ , ~ , ~ , ~ , Courage, brother! Do not stumble, though thy path be dark as night
This style is much more serious and tends to be best suited for deep thoughts and sober words. The theme of such a poem can be earnest or enthusiastic.
- Anapestic: each foot has two unaccented syllables, followed by one accented syllable.
~ ~ , ~ ~ , ~ ~ , There’s a land that is fairer than day
This style is light and flowing, and is most similar to common speech. In other words, it is most natural sounding.
- Dactylic: each foot has one accented syllable, followed by two unaccented syllables.
, ~ ~ , ~ ~ , ~ ~ , I am so glad that our Father in heav’n
This tends to create a happy and delightful theme.