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Note that monosyllabic words allow the meaning of the line to vary according to which words we choose to stress when reading (i.e., the choice of rhythm we make).The first line of Milton’s Paradise Lost presents a different type of problem.
The first paragraph should present the large issues; it should inform the reader which conflicts are dramatized and should describe the dramatic situation of the speaker.
The explication does not require a formal introductory paragraph; the writer should simply start explicating immediately.
The most common form of meter in English verse since the 14th century is accentual-syllabic meter, in which the basic unit is the foot.
A foot is a combination of two or three stressed and/or unstressed syllables.
In this way, the poet forges a tension between meter and rhythm: does the word remain contained by the structure, or do we choose to stretch the word out of the normal foot, thereby disobeying the structure in which it was made?
Such tension adds meaning to the poem by using meter and rhythm to dramatize certain conflicts.Finally, after describing his deep feeling of calmness, the speaker notes how the “houses seem asleep” and that “all that mighty heart is lying still” (13, 14).In this way, the speaker seems to say simply that London looks beautiful in the morning.This handout reviews some of the important techniques of approaching and writing a poetry explication, and includes parts of two sample explications.To analyze the design of the poem, we must focus on the poem’s parts, namely how the poem dramatizes conflicts or ideas in language.Perhaps the best way to begin scanning a line is to mark the natural stresses on the polysyllabic words.Take Shelley’s line: Then mark the polysyllabic nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that are normally stressed: Then fill in the rest: Then divide the line into feet: Then note the sequence: The line consists of four iambs; therefore, we identify the line as iambic tetrameter.The speaker notes that the city is silent, and he points to several specific objects, naming them only in general terms: “Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples” (6).After describing the “glittering” aspect of these objects, he asserts that these city places are just as beautiful in the morning as country places like “valley, rock, or hill” (8,10).Rhythm refers particularly to the way a line is voiced, i.e., how one speaks the line.Often, when a reader reads a line of verse, choices of stress and unstress may need to be made.