F is for Foot


F is also for other fancy poetic terms, but let’s begin with an important basic one:


“The basic unit of measurement of accentual-syllabic meter. A foot usually contains one stressed syllable and at least one unstressed syllable. The standard types of feet in English poetry are the iamb, trochee, dactyl, anapest, spondee, and pyrrhic.”

Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/glossary-terms

To drive home the point, here’s how each of the specific, um, feet mentioned above look.

iamb (unstressed stressed)

“To be or not to be that is the question”

trochee (stressed unstressed)

“Double, double toil and trouble”

dactyl (stressed unstressed unstressed)

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”

anapest (unstressed unstressed stressed)

“I am monarch of all I survey”

spondee (stressed stressed)

“By the shining Big-Sea-Water” (where Big-Sea-Wa are all stressed)

Pyrrhic (unstressed unstressed)

“When the blood creeps and the nerves prick” (where “when the” and “and the” are the pyrrics)

If these feet aren’t fancy enough, try out this form:

Found poem

“A prose text or texts reshaped by a poet into quasi-metrical lines.”

Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/glossary-terms

Slate writer Hart Seely found poetry in the speeches and news briefings of Donald Rumsfeld, and published his arrangements in his 2003 book, Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld. Here’s an excerpt:

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.

We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.

But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.

Is anyone daring enough to find poetry in this year’s election cycle? If you are, please share your results!


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