anonymous asked:

I never really understood how the iambic pentameter works and how I should read Shakespeare's verses. Could you please recommend me some books about how to read Shakespeare properly? I'd be much obliged to you! :D

How to read Shakespeare aloud is mainly in the department of acting. Two seminal books you might look at are John Barton’s Playing Shakespeare, and Peter Hall’s Shakespeare’s Advice to the Players.

But, honestly, my inclination is to tell you to begin by just reading Shakespeare, and preferably reading it out loud. Having tried first will give you a starting point after which, if you still feel the need to develop your understanding, these famous directors’ books might take you further. What you need is a foundation based on your own experience of reading the texts.

As far as iambic pentameter goes, it’s just a style of poetry made up of five (as in pentagon) iambs, which are two syllable units made up of a short(unstressed) syllable followed by a long (stressed) syllable. The word ‘aloud’, for instance, is an iamb. 

This sounds all a little confusing when explained in words, but it really isn’t. All it means is that you have a line of poetry made of five ba-DUH rhythms:
ba-DUH  ba-DUH  ba-DUH  ba-DUH  ba-DUH. Or, to give the example everyone uses from Shakespeare’s poetry (sonnet 18),

But Shakespeare’s verse isn’t always made up of straightforward iambic pentameter (sometimes it’s not written in iambic pentameter at all). Take the beginning of Henry V, for instance:

The verse starts with a trochee (which is the opposite of an iamb – it has a long stress followed by a short stress: BAH-da), and the effect is attention-grabbing. The second line is one syllable short.

Knowing about the various techniques Shakespeare uses can certainly help you to understand why his writing sounds the way it does, but it’s not strictly necessary for knowing how to read the plays. Just because it’s in iambic pentameter, it doesn’t mean you have to read it any differently. Part of the reason it’s written like that is because it sounds like the natural rhythm of spoken English, and it’s often counter-intuitive and extremely unnatural to read it emphasising the rhythms and the end of the lines.

So what you do need to watch out for, instead of trying to work out the iambic pentameter in lines, is how to verse flows. Well edited versions are useful: all you have to do is keep reading until you reach a punctuation mark. For instance, in the lines from Henry V I just quoted you can’t stop at the end of the first line, even though the line ends there: ‘O for a muse of fire that would ascend’… Ascend what? It needs to keep going straight onto the next line to make sense: ‘O for a muse of fire that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention’. 

In fact, iambic pentameter is there to help you, rather than hinder you. Historically, Shakespeare’s troupe had very little time to prepare their plays; they did them with hardly any rehearsal, so the language had to do some of the work for them. The rhythmic style of writing forces the actor to speak the lines in a certain way, and often does a lot to convey the emotions of a character (by making the actor speed up and slow down on a verbal level). Iambic pentameter is something that happens rather than something you consciously do or think about (unless you’re doing textual analysis)

So if you’re sensitive to the flow of the language, the rhythm should actually come naturally; you’ll start to hear and feel it. Just let the verse carry you, instead of trying to impose the rhythm you think it ought to have onto it.

Literally Studying’s Guide to Metre and Verse

Metre and verse are the bread and butter of poetry, but they can be really damn hard to get your head around! Here is my - hopefully! - handy breakdown of the different styles of metre and verse.


Metric Foot: One stressed syllable paired with one or two unstressed syllables, that repeat in a regular pattern.

Iamb: a combination of one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable (dah dum). Most common in pentameter (five metric feet per line).

Trochee: the opposite of an iamb. A stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable (dum dah). Most common in tetrameter (four metric feet per line). Example: ‘Gall of goat, and slips of yew.’

Dactyll: one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables (dum dah dah) Example: ‘Just for a handful of silver he left us.’

Anapest: two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable (dah dah dum). Most common in trimeter (three feet per line), tetrameter (four feet per line) or hexameter (six feet per line). Doctor Seuss’ favourite metre: ‘And today the Great Yertle, that marvellous he.’

Spondee: two stressed syllables next to one another, with no gap between them. Example: the word ‘football’ is a spondee.


We can have varying different amounts of these feet per line:

Dimeter: Two metrical feet per line. 

Trimeter: Three metrical feet per line.

Tetrameter: Four metrical feet per line. 

Pentameter: Five metrical feet per line. The most common verse form. 

Hexameter: Six metrical feet per line.

Septameter: Seven metrical feet per line.

Octameter: Eight metrical feet per line.


Iambic Pentameter: The most famous verse form, popularised by Shakespeare, made up of five iambs per line. Example: ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ or ‘But soft, what light from yonder window breaks?’

Blank Verse: Unrhymed iambic pentameter. Often thought of as the meter most reflective of everyday speech. 

Trochaic Substitution: When an iamb is swapped out for a trochee in a line of otherwise perfect iambic feet. Example: “Now is the winter of our discontent”. The first foot of the line is a trochee, where the rest is made up of iambs. Usually used for emphasis.

Feminine Endings: A line ending in an unstressed syllable, that adds an extra half-foot to the line. Example: “To be, or not to be; that is the question.” Usually used to show confusion or indecision. The opposite of a feminine ending is a masculine ending, a line ending in a stressed syllable, that adds an extra half-foot to the line.  

Trochaic Tetrameter: Made up of four trochees per line. Used by Shakespeare for his magical characters, such as the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Witches in Macbeth. Example: “Double double toil and trouble”. Gives the line a fast pace, and chant-like feel.

anonymous asked:

"Maybe one day you'll call me and tell me that you sorry tooo ooo" & "i live for you i long for you oliviiiaa" doesnt sound very a like to u???


The FTDT lines are part of Harry’s quote from “Over the Rainbow,” the song that Judy Garland sang in “The Wizard of Oz” (melody by Harold Arlen, lyricist Yip Harburg). I’m not sure if you saw this post, where it’s discussed in more depth:

The genius of the lines from FTDT is that Harry harmonizes with himself, stacking notes from a triadic chord on top of the melody like a musical rainbow– and the result is just as beautiful.


Maybe one day you’ll call me
And tell me that you’re sorry too

Just let me know, I’ll be at the door, at the door
Hoping you'l come around

We never learn, we’ve been here before
Why are we always stuck and running from
The bullet, the bullet

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow,
Why, oh why, can’t I?


The similarity to the lines from Olivia is one of METER, not really melody. But you’re onto something here.


Woke up alone in this hotel room
Played with myself, where were you?
Fell back to sleep, I got drunk by noon
I’ve never felt less cool

We haven’t spoke since you went away
Comfortable silence is so overrated
Why won’t you ever be the first one to break?
Even the phone misses your call, by the way


Remember the day we were giving up
When you told me I didn’t give you enough
And all of your friends were saying I’d be leaving you

She’s lying in bed with my T-shirt on
Just thinking how I went about it wrong
This isn’t the stain of a red wine, I’m bleeding love


Even though the lines from FTDT are slower, the meter is very similar. The lines start with two dactyls (one accented beat, two unaccented) and end with trochees (accented-unaccented).

In fact, to drill this dactylic meter home even more, in FTDT, the music is actually written in triplets, contrasted to the chorus, which is written in 4/4.

Maybe one day you’ll call me and tell me that you’re sorry too
Maybe one day you’ll call me and tell me that you’re sorry too
Maybe one day you’ll call me and tell me that you’re sorry too
But you, you never do

Similarly, in Olivia:

I live for you, I long for you, Olivia
I’ve been idolising the light in your eyes, Olivia
I live for you, I long for you, Olivia
Don’t let me go, don’t let me go


Both of these choruses are heavy on the iambic (unaccented-accented) meter.

i LIVE for YOU, i LONG for YOU.
one DAY you’ll CALL me, and TELL me THAT you’re SOR-ry TOO.

The Olivia chorus weaves in the dactyls, to link back to the verse. Hear it?

LIGHT-in-your; Li-vi-a.

Both songs use rhythmic contrast, the beats of 3’s contrasted to the beats of 2’s.

Both songs use the change in rhythm to signal a pivot in the emotions, too. The verses start out with a sad premise. In FTDT, the singer is despondent, lonely, and bored without his lover: masturbating, getting drunk, feeling sorry for himself. In Olivia, the singer is trying to reassure his lover that he loves her, despite what her friends tell her.

The choruses are a pivot to more positive, romantic, hopeful thoughts.

In FTDT: maybe you’ll come back.

In Olivia: you are the summertime and butterflies.

Good pick up!


anonymous asked:

I know you mostly do jupeter, but you said you started listening to the bright sessions recently, so can you maybe do something cute and fluffy with Caleb and Adam?

For the record, you have @tane-p to thank for getting me started on the Bright Sessions. I pretty much shotgunned the entire series in about a week? Two weeks? But pretty fast. That in mind, I might have missed a few details or characterization, especially if it happened in their character instagram accounts and the like. So bear with me.

(Also, I legit had a moment of “What are they teaching high school seniors these days?” so I just borrowed some analysis I did from my senior year, because I can.)

Keep reading


«Η ζωή είναι αυτό που εμείς την κάνουμε να είναι. Τα ταξίδια είναι οι ταξιδιώτες. Αυτό που βλέπουμε δεν είναι αυτό που βλέπουμε, είναι αυτό που είμαστε».

[Το βιβλίο της ανησυχίαςFernando Antonio Nogueira Pessoa (heteronyms): Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis, Federico Reis, Álvaro de Campos, António Mora, Claude Pasteur, Bernardo Soares, Vicente Guedes, Gervasio Guedes, Alexander Search, Charles James Search, Jean-Méluret of Seoul, Rafael Baldaya, Barão de Teive, Charles Robert Anon, A. A. Crosse, Thomas Crosse, I. I. Crosse, David Merrick, Lucas Merrick, Pêro Botelho, Abilio Quaresma, Inspector Guedes, Uncle Pork, Frederick Wyatt, Rev. Walter Wyatt, Alfred Wyatt, Maria José, Chevalier de Pas, Efbeedee Pasha, Faustino Antunes / A. Moreira, Carlos Otto, Michael Otto, Sebastian Knight, Horace James Faber, Navas, Pantaleão, Torquato Fonseca Mendes da Cunha Rey, Joaquim Moura Costa, Sher Henay, Anthony Gomes, Professor Trochee, Willyam Links Esk, António de Seabra, João Craveiro, Tagus, Pipa Gomes, Ibis, Dr. Gaudencio Turnips, Pip, Dr. Pancrácio, Luís António Congo, Eduardo Lança, A. Francisco de Paula Angard, Pedro da Silva Salles / Zé Pad, José Rodrigues do Valle / Scicio, Dr. Caloiro, Adolph Moscow, Marvell Kisch, Gabriel Keene, Sableton-Kay, Morris & Theodor, Diabo Azul, Parry, Gallião Pequeno, Urban Accursio, Cecília, José Rasteiro, Nympha Negra, Diniz da Silva, Herr Prosit, Henry More, Wardour, J. M. Hyslop, Vadooisf ?, Nuno Reis, João Caeiro]

(Όλοι μας είμαστε πολλά πρόσωπα, ταυτόχρονα και παράλληλα. Ο Pessoa τα έδωσε όνομα, επώνυμο και ζωή…)

(Το βιβλίο της ανησυχίας είναι το αγαπημένο μου βιβλίο!)


Sometimes the poem
doesn’t want to come;
it hides from the poet
like a playful cat
who has run
under the house
& lurks among slugs,
roots, spiders’ eyes,
ledge so long out of the sun
that it is dank
with the breath of the Troll King.

Sometimes the poem
darts away
like a coy lover
who is afraid of being possessed,
of feeling too much,
of losing his essential
loneliness-which he calls

Sometimes the poem
can’t requite
the poet’s passion.

The poem is a dance
between poet & poem,
but sometimes the poem
just won’t dance
and lurks on the sidelines
tapping its feet-
iambs, trochees-
out of step with the music
of your mariachi band.

If the poem won’t come,
I say: sneak up on it.
Pretend you don’t care.
Sit in your chair
reading Shakespeare, Neruda,
immortal Emily
and let yourself flow
into their music.

Go to the kitchen
and start peeling onions
for homemade sugo.

Before you know it,
the poem will be crying
as your ripe tomatoes
bubble away
with inspiration.

When the whole house is filled
with the tender tomato aroma,
start kneading the pasta.

As you rock
over the damp sensuous dough,
making it bend to your will,
as you make love to this manna
of flour and water,
the poem will get hungry
and come
just like a cat
coming home
when you least
expect her. 

Erica Jong                    

scullyitwasaliens  asked:

okay, so this might seem out of the blue but I just thought i'd drop in to mention that a) YOU ARE A BRILLIANT WRITER, and b) I've probably read 'the ballad of chuck and angus' approximately 1930284 times since you posted it. (this is the part where I try and act all macho and pretend I didn't cry literally every time)

oh thank you!!! i’m so glad you like the ballad of chuck and angus! i wrote that for a writing class in college. it was part of a compilation of stories i was writing about saints (kind of an expansion on the mundane saints society). i only wrote one other one, about saint mary the harlot.

i’m catholic, technically, so. that explains…a lot.

I mourn for the days of my negligence, for I have not any excuse to offer.
- Ephraem, deacon of Edessa

Here is a list of the things that Mary of Edessa knows about her Uncle Abraham, who lives behind the wall:

  1. He does not like his food with flavor. He’ll eat only the simplest of dishes, only the most plain. Uncle Abraham says that flavor is the devil’s way of pleasuring the body. Pleasuring the body, says Uncle Abraham, is the fastest way to hell.
  2. When Uncle Abraham was a young man, his parents betrothed him to a woman in the town. He refused to marry her, wanting instead to devote himself to God. So Uncle Abraham walled himself into this little house and never left, subsisting on food passed to him through a small window. His tall brother married the village girl instead. They had a daughter. They named her Mary. They both died.
  3. His fingers are thin and crooked, hooked like twigs that have been bent by wind and rain. His hands shake when he takes the food that Mary has prepared for him, and when he chews it sounds like bones rattling.
  4. Uncle Abraham believes that there is an answer to everything.
  5. That answer is abstinence and God.
  6. Uncle Abraham has a voice like a hundred whispers, each threaded into each other. A decade ago, when Mary was first deposited on his doorstep, it had been a little stronger. She could write music to the rhythm and cadence of Uncle Abraham’s slow way of talking, his caesuras and his ellipses, the way he swings up crescendos and then flutters back down as soft as ashes. Mary knows nothing in this world so well as she knows the mountains and valleys of the way that Uncle Abraham says, “Amen.”

Keep reading

Greetings, Colleagues;

New information suggests that the Iron Lords were as fond of poetry as we are, and this seems as good a time as any to call attention to a selection of previously-published logs of a poetical nature, focusing on the Iron Lords. 

We look forward to unearthing further information on our forebears and their love of verse. Had we been present in the Age of Iron, we likely would have suggested that Lady Skorri focus less on iambs and embrace the trochee for appropriate effect. Iambs don’t lend themselves to epics.

Shockingly, we continue to enjoy the following entries, and hope that regular users of this log (colloquially, “The Mothyards”) will find them enjoyable as well.


The Mothyards

The Iron Lords

- The Ironspeech

- The Ironwood Tree

- Iron Wolves

- Iron Invocation

- The Second Forging

deepfathom  asked:

"There once was an island named Thorstonton, where everybody wanted to have fun-fun-fun. We sang and we danced and we all peed our pants when the ruler came up with a great pun...pun-pun."

I positively adore the fact that Fishlegs speaks poetry throughout the television series. And that it’s awful.

Throughout Riders of Berk, Defenders of Berk, and Race to the Edge, we see Fishlegs intentionally try to compose poems. It seems to be something emotionally he likes to turn to, a source of creativity and inspiration for him. However, while writing and adlibbing poems come from Fishlegs’ heart, it doesn’t mean he’s necessarily good. Even his poems to Meatlug, which he really wants to be sappy and sweet, turn out sounding… pathetic. Here, in “Reign of Fireworms,” where he’s forced to write a poem, it turns out almost worse than usual.

The meter in the first line is solid:

Thĕre ónce wăs ăn íslănd nămed Thórstŏntŏn

From the best of my knowledge (which is admittedly drawing back to my tenth grade poetry unit and my own amateur experiences composing poetry), it’s a dactylic trimeter preceded by one unstressed “upbeat.” The foot - one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables - repeats three times without any problem. The meter follows the natural stress of the words perfectly, and Fishlegs finishes his first ten syllable line without a problem.

The second line is… awkward. To say the least. The meter is messed up no matter how you look at it. We want Fishlegs to be consistent and to continue using dactyls (that stressed, unstressed, unstressed syllable pattern)… but the word “everybody” messes that up. Alternatively, you could try to analyze the line with a different foot like the trochee… but the idea that Fishlegs would be switching his meter from a three syllable foot to a two syllable foot makes for a shoddy poem. And outside of the meter crashing and burning, the switch from ten syllables in the first line to twelve syllables in the second isn’t the smoothest it could be.

The third line is actually a well-constructed line with rhyme and a consistent meter - the same one used in the first line.

And then the fourth line has horrible meter… again. 

Beyond the metric structure of this, there’s also the lameness of how Fishlegs tries to rhyme. Single syllable rhymes can be pretty lazy and sound amateur… and Fishlegs indeed can’t do better than to rhyme “Thorstonton” with “fun-fun-fun” and “pun-pun-pun.” Honestly, if he took out the repetition, the poem would almost sound better and seem more solidly constructed. I know it’s a rhythmic effect repeating the words, but when you hear Fishlegs speak it, it sounds like he’s just floundering for syllables and sound effects, and using the repetition simply because he doesn’t know what else to do.

It’s the content of the poem that makes me laugh the most, of course. That is hysterical. Fishlegs does craft a great story about either Ruffnut or Tuffnut (we’re not sure which one) cracking a great pun. This pun is so great that everyone sings, dances, and even wets themselves.

The thing is… Fishlegs usually isn’t the sort of person to speak of the vulgar such as peeing in his pants. And if he were to talk about it, I’d imagine he’d bring it up usually in the contexts of being afraid rather than hysteric with laughter. It almost makes it seem as though Fishlegs had no idea what to say after “We sang and we danced,” so he grabbed a near-rhyme to “dance” - aka “pants” - and fumblingly completed the rhyme. The way he cringes when he recites that line gives us evidence along those lines.

It’s no wonder that Ruffnut, Tuffnut - and Chicken, of course! - were not amused by this poem. Even Fishlegs’ showmanship, waving his arms around and even winking at one point, cannot redeem the awfulness. He gets arrested and jailed immediately by “Notlout.”

Fishlegs’ poetry throughout the rest of the television series usually is spontaneous, and he admits that it’s pretty bad. His poetry is often used as a free expression of his love for Meatlug. This situation here where Fishlegs gives this poem to the Thorstons is the first time we see Fishlegs in a controlled situation with his verse. Fishlegs would have had time to craft this poem, to write it down, to try to make it his best… and yet this thing is, if anything, just as bad as his spontaneous expressions.

You could excuse maybe some of that to stress and a lack of inspiration. Still, Fishlegs, even when he’s given time to write a poem… isn’t exactly that talented.

It all harks back to the fact Fishlegs’ poetry in the books needs some work, too:

Dear Tantrum O’Ugerly,

Your eyes are like two pools of green,
Your hair’s the reddest I’ve ever seen
Your quadrapeds are rather fine
I wish you’d be my Valentine.

From “How to Break a Dragon’s Heart” p. 41

What’s amusing to me is that the character who is the most verbally intelligent in the television series isn’t Fishlegs the poet… but Tuffnut Thorston. The poem he plugs out on the fly in “A View to a Skrill Part 2″ is slightly (though not much) more impressive than Fishlegs’ verse in “Reign of Fireworms,” but Tuffnut pulled that poetry out on the fly under fear of death and still makes it better than Fishlegs’ “carefully crafted” poetry on Dragon’s Edge. And then Tuffnut all the time throughout the series is noticing when two words rhyme, or orating in vocabulary of a markedly high level. Though others usually don’t recognize it, he’s actually pretty verbally gifted.

Poor Fishlegs is set up for failure when he becomes the official “poet laureate of Thorstonton.”


How do different languages play with pitch to create differences in meaning? How do we tell where stress falls? In this week’s episode, we look at stress and foot structure: how languages use tone, pitch, and stress; how we can build different kinds of feet; and how where we place our stress can change the way we emphasize our sounds.

This is our first look in at stress and feet and tone and such, but it won’t be our last! Looking forward to hearing what people have to say. ^_^

Thanks to a new taxonomic study, the beloved brontosaurus is back. Elif Batuman writes:

That the brontosaurus’s legitimacy was ever in question may be news to some readers. The name “apatosaurus,” which translates to “deceptive lizard” in Greek, after a curiously shaped bone on the underside of the animal’s tail, never quite took off. It’s unclear what it was that people loved about “brontosaurus”—the pleasant double trochees, or the resonance of the word’s meaning, “thunder lizard,” which so evocatively conjures a pea-brained vegetarian colossus, the earth shaking beneath its feet as it lumbers in search of tender ferns.

Image from ullstein bild / Getty