Here is an example of English poetry written in a regular meter: , the standard meter of English literary poetry.
An iamb is a metrical foot consisting of two syllables.
The majority of poets today choose to work in free verse, though there are many fine poets still working in meter.
Having loosely established what verse is, it should now be emphasized that verse is not what we mean by the word "poetry." Devices such as rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, meter, and regular line length are elements of verse which aid poets in producing patterned arrangements of language called "poems," yet, supplemental to these, certain qualities of imagination, of emotion, and of language itself must be added before we can properly call a piece of writing by the name of "poetry." Poetry is considered a higher thing than mere verse, and for good reasons.
Greek and Roman lines were regular in their structure and could be classified and analyzed according to their component elements, the poetic feet in each line, which gives the line's meter.
Over time, verse has come to mean poetic composition in regular meter, or metrical composition.It takes special pleasure in focusing on the verbal music inherent in language.When we hear a poem, we may recognize certain patterns, such as a regular beat, a rising rhythm, or a series of rhymes.The first syllable is unstressed and the second syllable receives a stress, as in "ta-DA." There are five of these feet in each line, which is why it is called "pentameter." Below are two of these lines divided by stroke marks into their component metrical feet (iambs) and the stressed syllable in each foot is capitalized: Not every line of the four lines first quoted above is a perfect iambic pentameter line.Good poets change their meters occasionally to provide variety or for other reasons, but since the predominant meter is iambic pentameter, we can say that is the meter of the poem.Such tendencies make you want to lay hands on a good dictionary, where the facts are.The trouble with this approach is, most dictionary definitions of poetry are so dry, limiting, vague, or otherwise unsatisfactory, they eventually send you back to beating the bushes for that elusive, beautiful pheasant you once glimpsed. Even so, it is possible to describe the general elements of poetry and to at least indicate the power, range, and magic of this ancient, ever-renewing art form.The word "verse" comes to us from the Latin , a "turning," and denotes the turning from the end of one line to the beginning of the next line.For the ancient Greeks and Romans, as for us today, the line was the basic unit of poetry, just as the sentence is the basic unit of prose.The long, rolling, repetitive lines of American poet Walt Whitman and the passionate Hebrew psalms found in the Holy Bible are well-known older examples of free verse.Free verse has grown in popularity since the early twentieth century and has now pretty well "swept the field," as poet Stanley Kunitz observed.