Virginia Lucas Poetry Scrapbook

A Formal Description of "The Ruins of Palmyra"

“The Ruins of Palmyra” is an anapestic poem in tetrameter with instances of an iambic foot. It is composed with a preceding iambic foot – a light-heavy stress – and the subsequent feet in the line are composed in anapests – light-light-heavy stresses. It was constructed with twenty-four (24) lines with four (4) stanzas per line; it has little punctuation in Virginia Lucas’s copied version, though the original form of the poem held a variety. It is possible Lucas had not seen the original version of “The Ruins of Palmyra,” one that did not preserve the punctuation, but Lucas may have intentionally discarded the commas, colons, and so forth for some other reason. All words preserve capitalization and apostrophes in instances they are required for comprehension (e.g., “Thou’st”). There are a few periods and commas at the ends of lines.

It follows an AABBCC (through KK) rhyme scheme with one instance of slant rhyme in “death” and “wreath” (lines 13 and 14). The CC rhyme repeats once in the poem, breaking the chronological order of the poem: HHIICCJJ. It is possible the repetition of the CC rhyme is intended to draw attention to some shift in the poem, as the speaker becomes increasingly morose about the state of the ruins of Palmyra in these lines.

Davidson primarily uses masculine rhyme within the piece, only breaking this order at the end of the poem with a half-feminine rhyme – the word does not have a partner to be a full feminine rhyme. There is one instance of punctuation in Virginia Lucas’s transcription of “The Ruins of Palmyra”: a caesura. Coincidentally or not, the caesura occurs within the same line as the slant rhyme (GG). Again, this could be another occasion in which Davidson is attempting to draw attention to those lines and their importance in the piece. Overall, the poem is typically consistent with its form and rhyme scheme.