Glossary

Term: Syllabic Verse


Syllabic verse is the name given to poetry written to a scheme of counting syllables, whether or not they are stressed. The scheme may be one of all lines having the same number of syllables, or one that creates a pattern of different numbers of syllables, just as accentual verse may have different numbers of stresses in each line.

The English language, being fairly heavily stressed, makes syllabic verse hard to write, but not impossible. An example within the Archive is Thom Gunn's 'Considering the Snail', which uses lines of seven syllables each, without a repeated pattern of stresses. The shaping effect of this is less obvious than a regular accentual metre would have been, but more obvious than completely free verse.

How to use this term

Haikus, in that they are based on a system of counting syllables per line, are a kind of syllabic verse.

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Daljit Nagra

From time to time a poet is in residence at the Poetry Archive, talking about poetry with anyone who wants to join in the conversation.

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