Syllabic verse

Syllabic verse has a fixed number of syllables per line or stanza regardless of the number of stresses that are present. It is common in languages that are syllable timed such as classical Latin, as opposed to accentual verse, which is common in stress timed languages such as English.

The following poem by Thomas Campion is an example of syllabic verse in English. Every line has 8 syllables.

Lenten Hymn

With broken heart and contrite sigh,
A trembling sinner, Lord, I cry:
Thy pard'ning grace is rich and free:
O God, be merciful to me.

I smite upon my troubled breast,
With deep and conscious guilt opprest,
Christ and His cross my only plea:
O God, be merciful to me.

Far off I stand with tearful eyes,
Nor dare uplift them to the skies;
But Thou dost all my anguish see:
O God be merciful to me.

Nor alms, nor deeds that I have done,
Can for a single sin atone;
To Calvary alone I flee:
O God, be merciful to me.

And when, redeemed from sin and hell,
With all the ransomed throng I dwell,
My raptured song shall ever be,
God has been merciful to me.

A number of English-language poets in the Modernist tradition experimented with syllabic verse. These include Marianne Moore, Louis Zukofsky, and Cid Corman.




copyright 2004 FactsAbout.com