Scansion Examples


Scansion is the act of analyzing the lines of a poem to divide them into feet and mark accented and unaccented patterns of syllables. When we "scan" a poem or use scansion, we typically mark the syllables in some way-bold or underlined for accented syllables, or using accent marks over the syllables.

Examples of Scansion:

When spring comes 'round with her colorful wand

And waves it o'er ev'ry field and pond,

My heart begins to sing.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star. How I wonder what you are?

Up above the world so high. Like a diamond in the sky.

Examples of Scansion of Famous Poems:

Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven":

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

Sonnets are written in iambic pentameter, so the scansion is made easy because the lines have five feet with a pattern of unstressed, stressed syllables. Here is Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare.

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Related Links:
Literary Terms Examples