Formal Elements of Poem - Hemans
“The Rock Beside the Sea” by Felicia Dorothea Hemans consists of two octavos. The lines alternate between eight syllables and six syllables. The rhyme scheme is in the following pattern: abab, cdcd, efef, ghgh. The first line is written in iambic tetrameter followed by iambic trimeter in the second line. Iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter means that each line begins with a lightly stressed syllable followed by a heavily stressed syllable: when spoken, the rhythm sounds like a horse galloping.
Hemans uses the imagery of nature to convey her message. Lines four, six, and eleven use personification: leaves play, wind has a violet breath, and the narrator’s heart is watching.
Let’s Pause for a Moment
Lines two, four, six, and eight conclude with either a semi-colon or period, giving the poem four separate pauses known as self-enclosed lines. A self-enclosed line is when use of punctuation stops the reader at the end of a line in poetry, indicating the beginning of a new line. Another pause –known as a caesura—occurs after the first word of the poem. A caesura happens when there is a pause in a line of the poem that occurs prior to reaching the end of that line: it can be indicated by use of exclamation point, semi-colon, period, etcetera.
Both the first and second stanzas have five punctuation marks that force the reader to stop reading or talking. The placement of these pauses in the second stanza is used in a way that prevents the reader from reading the poem with the same rhythm as the first stanza. The pauses in both stanzas consist of four self-enclosed lines and one caesura. But in the second stanza, the self-enclosed lines are placed in the latter half of the stanza. The different arrangement of enjambments and self-enclosed lines keep the second stanza from maintaining the clip-clop rhythm seen in the first stanza.
Is that Line Slanted?
Lines thirteen and fifteen are written in slant rhyme, which means the words do not rhyme, but do sound closely similar. Slant rhymes are utilized to create a pleasing sound to a poem when a rhyming word is unavailable or doesn’t make sense.
Did those four Lines Sound the Same?
Lines five, six, seven, and eight are not slant rhymes, but do sound similar. The purpose of the similar sounds in the last four lines of the first stanza is unclear, but does provide fluidity in the poem.
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