Accentual Verse

Discussion in 'Glossary Term of the Day' started by MsJacquiiC, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. MsJacquiiC

    Poetica Magnifique Staff Member
    Jun 8, 2006
    Accentual verse has a fixed number of stresses per line or stanza regardless of the number of syllables that are present. It is common in languages that are stress-timed, such as English—as opposed to syllabic verse, which is common in syllable-timed languages, such as French.

    Accentual verse is particularly common in children's poetry – nursery rhymes and the less well-known skipping-rope rhymes are the most common form of accentual verse in the English Language. The following poem, Baa Baa Black Sheep, has two stresses in each line, but a varying number of syllables. (Underline represents stressed syllables, and the number of syllables in each line is noted)

    [fieldset=Baa Baa Black Sheep]Baa, baa, black sheep, (4)
    Have you any wool? (5)
    Yes sir, yes sir, (4)
    Three bags full; (3)
    One for the mas-ter, (5)
    And one for the dame, (5)
    And one for the lit-tle boy (7)
    Who lives down the lane. (5)[/fieldset]

    Accentual verse derives its musical qualities from its flexibility with unstressed syllables and tends to follow the natural speech patterns of English.
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