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After reading the PDF of Annie Finch’s “The Many Voices of Iambic Pentameter” (pp. 83-119), take note of Finch’s helpful list of expressive variations, which include anapests (two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable: “ta-ta-dum” or “New Or-leans”); trochees (a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable: “dum-ta” or “Bos-ton”); spondees (two stressed syllables: “dum-dum”) and pyrrhics (two unstressed syllables: “ta-ta”); dactyls (one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables: “dum-ta-ta” or “Bal-ti-more”); and headless and/or extra-syllable lines. Next, read the blank-verse anthology I provided this week, looking for examples of each variation.
Finally, post entries for accurate examples of at least two variations here, including a scansion of each line you quote. In other words, choose an example of two lines, one that provides one of the following variations and another line that provides an example of another: 1) an an anapestic variation, 2) a trochaic variation, 3) a spondee and/or a pyrrhic variation–these often side-by-side in a line; 4) a dactylic variation; and 5) either a headless line or an extra-syllable line.
Make sure you’re listing the author and title of each poem you quote from, as well as what number line you’re quoting. Each entry must contain a “technical analysis” (accurately identifying each variation) and a “thematic analysis” (interpreting why the poet varied the meter in this way, i.e. what each variation may be expressing). Capitalize and/or italicize stressed syllables. Unstressed syllables should be placed in lowercase letters, roman type-face. Back-slashes may separate each metrical foot. So each should look something like this*:
Variation: trochaic, spondaic/pyrrhic, line 2, “Directive,” Robert Frost.
Original line: “Back in a time made simple by the loss”
Scansion: BACK in / a TIME / MADE SIM / ple by / the LOSS
Technical analysis: If a regularized (tone-deaf) scansion of this line would be “back IN / a TIME / made SIM / -ple BY / the LOSS,” there are actually three possible metrical variations in this line: a trochaic variation in the first metrical foot (“BACK in”), a sponaic variation in the third foot (“MADE SIM”), and a pyrrhic variation in the third foot (“-ple by”).
Thematic analysis: Throughout “Directive,” Frost varies the iambic pentameter many times. The first line, for example, which is in monosyllabic iambic pentameter, might be scanned at least two different ways (Back OUT / of ALL / this NOW / too MUCH / for US” or “BACK out / of ALL / this NOW / too MUCH / for US”). The third line is even more various in its metrical presentation, offering three variations. Such variations work throughout the poem to emphasize the modus operandi of the speaker and “guide,” who “only has at heart” the reader/traveller’s “getting lost.” The reader becomes “lost” in line three with its twisting and turning variations that might trip up novice and expert alike. But one must first get lost, as Frost later suggests, in order to be found. Those who never venture on such a metaphysical quest, which Frost compares to the search for the Holy Grail, are the ones who are truly lost, never to be found.

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