Virginia Lucas Poetry Scrapbook

Formal Description of "Not Ours the Vows"

“Not Ours The Vows” by Bernard Barton consists of five quatrains with an ABAB rhyme pattern that changes end rhyme in every stanza. The lines end with true rhyme throughout the whole poem but alternate between masculine rhyme on the first and third lines of each stanza and feminine rhyme on the second and fourth lines. This is represented in the first stanza by the words “plight,” “bright” and “weather,” “together.” 

The meter of the lines within each stanza also alternates between iambic tetrameter (contains four iambs, which contain a light stress followed by a heavy stress) in the first and third lines. Iambic trimeter (three iambs) with a tag (a light stress at the end of a line which is not counted towards the metrical pattern) at the end of the line is used in the second and fourth lines throughout the entirety of the poem.

The use of sound in this poem is not obvious due to its subtlety. The more common uses of sound in poetry such as alliteration, consonance, assonance, and onomatopoeia do not seem to be present at all. However, there is a notable use of harsher sounds in phrases or words like “stormy skies,” “plight,” and “darker,” which are not often used in romantic poetry. This also creates a stark contrast to the “[l]ove born in hours of joy and mirth,” where the poet makes use of softer sounds.

Barton makes use of enjambment within stanzas. Typically, the first two lines of each stanza are enjambed as well as the last two of each. Each stanza seems to be a complete thought that is ended with a period. However, the second stanza does not end with a period but does not seem to be enjambed with the third stanza. However, online versions of the poem do include a period at the end of the second stanza, so it is likely that Virginia Lucas simply did not copy down a period when she was writing the poem in her scrapbook.

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Biography of Bernard Barton

Explication of "Not Ours the Vows"