Prosody Examples


Prosody refers to the patterns of rhythm, stress, or sound in writing or speaking. In a literary sense, prosody is used to refer to the study or analysis of the patterns of rhythm, stress, or sounds in writing. Specifically, this type of analysis occurs most often with poetry.

The prosody of writing can depend on syllables and accents. Sometime, poets use a set number of syllables to create rhythms. At other times, poets do not worry as much about the number of syllables in a line, and instead, they concentrate on how many accents are in a line. Some poets focus on both, such as Shakespeare who writes in iambic pentameter, which includes a set number of syllables (10) and a set number of accents (5 accents and 5 "unaccented" syllables). Finally, in free verse, poets do not worry about a set number of syllables or accents, so the analysis of the prosody has more to do with the amount of time it takes to pronounce the words and lines, a type of "quantitative" prosody.

Examples of Prosody:

Japanese Haiku poetry focuses on the number of syllables in each line to create the prosody or rhythm. The form includes 3 lines with 5 syllables in the first and third lines and 7 syllables in the second line. Here is an example:

In the twilight rain
These brilliant-hued hibiscus
A lovely sunset.

In "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," Wordsworth creates prosody through the use of both accents and syllables. The lines all have 8 syllables, with a pattern of stressed and unstressed accents:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Shakespeare also creates prosody through the use of both accents and syllables, as you can see in this excerpt from Romeo and Juliet:

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.

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