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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Blank Verse (The Daily Telegraph)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1306  Monday, 13 May 2002

From:           Takashi Kozuka <
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Date:           Saturday, 11 May 2002 21:03:09 +0100 (BST)
Subject:        Blank Verse (The Daily Telegraph)

There has been a discussion in the 'letters to the editor' section in
the Daily Telegraph relating Shakespeare's use of iambic pentameter. I
copied & pasted it below as I recall that there was a thread about it on
SHAKSPER. If you would like to write to the editor of the newspaper, you
can e-mail your comment to 
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Best wishes,
Takashi Kozuka

======================

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2002/04/28/dt2808.xml

Re: On poetry
Date: 28 April 2002

YOUR Exmouth correspondent, Mr Dunne,
confuses, like so many, "blank" and "free";
blank verse (that's most of Shakespeare) is a form
of iambic pentameters like this,
each line contains five iambs
(unstressed/stressed)
and there's no need for any sort of rhyme.

Vers libre - so very hard to write -
will flow with rhythms,
with cadences of the speaking voice.
"Tennis with the net down"
grumbled Frost;
Eliot, his contemporary, served aces.

So many people think
that if they use impressive words,
quite often archaic,
and cut a piece of prose
into lines (like this)
it is a poem.
But it's not!

From:
Imogen Grosberg, Crewe, Cheshire

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fopinion%2F2002%2F05%2F05%2Fdt0511.xml

Re: Iambic correction
Date: 5 May 2002

Since the subject of verse and metre seems to be popular, may I correct
a widely held false belief which I have seen most recently expressed by
Imogen Grosberg (Letters, April 28)?

Shakespeare did not write in "iambic pentameters", and I am not aware of
anyone who did.

An iambic metron consists of two iambi, restricted in ways concerning
the position of long and short syllables: the dialogue line used by the
Greek dramatists consists of six iambi, and is called a "trimeter"
(3x2). The Latin dramatists used a line of six iambic feet, but this is
not a trimeter, because it does not follow the same rules: it is known
as a "senarius" (6x1).

If Shakespeare thought it was a pentameter, he was in error. It is an
"iambic quinarius".

From:
Peter Baldwin, Godalming, Surrey

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