Poetic Designs


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements1. Meter and RhythmTHE IMPORTANCE OF PROSODY / The Sound of Meter / Different Metrical Systems and Their Histories / The Meaning of Meter / THE ACCENTUAL-SYLLABIC SYSTEM / The Regular Iambic Pentamenter Line / Variation 1: The Reversal of Accent (Trochaic Substitution) / Variation 2: The Principle of Relative Accent (Spondaic and Pyrrhic Substitution) / Variation 3: Added Syllables (Anapestic and Dactylic Subsitution) / Variation 4: Omitted Syllables / SYNTACTIC RHYTHM AND THE LINE UNIT / Rhyme, Alliteration, Assonance and Onomatopoeia / Facility2. Beyond Iambic PentameterACCENTUAL METERS AND THE BALLAD STANZA / The Accentual Meters / THE LONGER AND SHORTER IAMBIC METERS / The Trochaic Meters / The Triple Meters: Anapestic and Dactylic / SYLLABIC AND QUANTITATIVE SYSTEMS3. Stanza and FormTHE DYNAMICS OF STANZA AND FORM: RHYME, LINE AND CLOSURE / Some Standard English Stanzas / Beyond the Single Stanza / Some Virtuoso Pieces / SOME STANDARD VERSE FORMS: FIXED AND NOT SO FIXED: The Sonnet / The French Forms / The Ode4. Figures of SpeechRHETORIC AND FIGURE / THE SCHEMES: Figures of Balance and Parallelism / Figures of Repetition / Figures of Amplification and Omission / Figures of Address / Figures of Syntactic Deviation / Figures of Verbal Play / THE TROPES / Metaphor and Simile / Metonymy and Synecdoche / Personification / Irony and Paradox5. Form in Free Verse

Lines: The Master Convention of Free Verse / Numbers: Metrical Presences in Free Verse / Figures: Syntactic Patterning in Free Verse / THE MARGINS OF GENRE: Shaped Poetry, Concrete Poetry, Sound Poetry / The Prose Poem

Appendix 1: The Terminology of RhymingAppendix 2: Sample Scansions, with CommentaryIndex of SourcesIndex of Names and Terms

About the Author

Stephen J. Adams of the English Department at the University of Western Ontario, is currently Associate Dean of Arts at that university. He is also the author of R. Murray Schafer, in the Canadian Composers Series of the University of Toronto Press.


One of the book's most salient strengths is how gracefully the author handles some of the knottiest problems a teacher of prosody will encounter. This is a very strong book." - Annie Finch, Miami University, Ohio.

"One of the most impressive features is Adams' mastery at introducing various intricacies as they surface in his examples instead of giving lists of rules and the like. Adams' writing style is impeccable, lucid and tightly controlled. He manages to get through a great deal of material quite quickly, without ever sacrificing accuracy and thoroughness." - Demetres Tryphonopoulos, University of New Brunswick

"A very good guide to the subject, full of erudition, but also full of pedagogical savvy. There is a fine and informal ear evident throughout." - Don McKay, winner of the Governor General's Award for Poetry

"Adams offers help to students and teachers of poetry with his lively, accessible guide to the mechanics of verse. [His] clear and measured examination of the elements of poetry and straight-ahead style make Poetic Designs a valuable resource" - Quill and Quire

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