This page is a brief guide to AWE's treatment of one aspect of the forms of poetry. The distinction between poetry and verse is sometimes debated in literary circles; to know more about what AWE thinks, click on that link. (There is a difference between them, although in everyday speech many people do not distinguish between them. Verse is a technical term for the sorts of patterns that poetry takes. Poetry is more an aesthetic term, the name for a particular genre.)
The study of that aspect of verse usually called metre is sometimes classified as scansion, sometimes as prosody.
The most notable forms of sound patterning in the writing of verse, particularly what is now known as 'traditional verse', include
- the different metres, or the patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables in each line (such as iambic). AWE has a category containing our articles on some metres;
- the different rhymes or patterns of sounds at the ends of lines (e.g. feminine rhyme). Our articles on some aspects of rhyme may be found in the category:prosody;
- and the different combinations of metre and rhyme called verse forms (like the sonnet). AWE has a category containing our articles on some of these
For other uses of the word verse see Verse - disambiguation.
The description of the patterning of poetry occupies whole volumes, and not many students are likely to require it. If you do, then look in a good book. Hobsbawm's Metre, Rhythm and Verse Form is a good introduction for those who have time to read it (it is a teaching course and a brief introduction; but it has 196 pages). For an older approach, you may (but may not) like to see Saintsbury 1910 in 3 vols, or The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, which is a handy single volume in which to find many technical terms. There is a brief section in a text-book written for the sixth form in schools: Considering Poetry, ed. B.A. Phythian, Hodder & Stoughton, 1970, 1975.