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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > February 2017 > Poetry from A to Z

Poetry from A to Z

Poet Alison Chisholm guides you through the language of poetry, with an extended explanation of metre


For some poets, METRE is the sticking-point in writing formal poetry. It shouldn’t be. Metre is simply one of the tools in the poet’s kit, a device to help construct poetry by regulating the pattern of beats.

For metrical purposes, the line is divided into a number of measures or feet, and most feet consist of either two or three syllables. The syllables are either unstressed or stressed, depending on the natural pronunciation of the language. If in doubt about whether a syllable is stressed or not, simply speak it aloud and let your voice decide. The phrase that begins this paragraph, for example, would be spoken aloud as:

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