Christopher Titmuss Dharma Blog

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Poems and Prose

Verses in tune with the heartbeat

In an earlier blog, I had written about my conversion of iambic pentameter as a beautiful form of poetry widely used in the English language – a metre of unstressed/stressed syllables in tune with the heart beat.

I picked out some of my favourite verses in poetry, not knowing beforehand whether these poems were free form or the poet engaged in the discipline of the metre. All these engaged in the discipline as the basis for the poem with a little variation. I asked Jenny in Totnes to look at the verses. The poets have deliberately used some minor irregularites.

Iambic tetrametre (four beats):

She walks /in beau/ty; like /the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes [note: trochee at beginning of line – even Byron isn’t always regular, it gives more emphasis to ‘meet’. ‘…and her’ is perhaps pyrrhic]

Thus mellowed to that tender light […’to that’ is also rather pyrrhic]

Which to gaudy day denies. [there is a light syllable missing at start of line; Stephen F might have some other examples of this.]

Lord Byron.


There is a certain number of stresses per line.

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree

and a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made

nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee

and live alone in the bee-loud glade.

WB. Yeats.


This seems to be close to iambic tetrametre too but with some irregularities (anapaests, underlined]:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveller, long I stood,

And looked down one as far I could [should it be as far as I could?]

To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Robert Frost.


This is pure iambic pentameter, alternating feminine and masculine endings – giving a sense of firmness at the end of every alternate line.

If you can dream and not make dreams your master

If you can think and not make thoughts your aim

If you can meet with triumph and disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same.

Rudyard Kipling.


Iambic tetrameter again:

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host of golden daffodils.



Basically iambic pentameter but with some variations,

Turning/and turn/ing in /the wide/ning gyre [one trochee and four iambs]

The falc/on can/not hear /the falc/oner [four iambs and final pyrrhic]

Things fall /apart,/ the cent/re can/not hold  [five iambs]

Mere an/archy /is loose /upon /the world  [five iambs]



Unstressed/stressed syllable form for 10 syllables harmonises with the heart beat and natural length of receptivity per line. I continue to change my poems into such forms – with some irregularities, not always intentional.


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