Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The Verse Moment

I was teaching "The Clerk's Tale" the other day, and wanted to talk a bit about how the rhyme royal stanza works as a stanza.  And then I realized that my mostly English major students have no idea how to talk about verse as verse; they have no idea because we aren't teaching them in our lit courses.

So, I tried on the fly, and I don't think I did terribly well.  (I used "Adam Scriveyn" to try, and I should have gone with something different, probably.  But there it is.)  We did get to talking about how meter feels in the mouth, how repetitions work in the mouth and ears, and so forth, and a little to how the stanza builds.  Let's just face it: it wasn't my best teaching moment.

So the question of the day:  where/how do your English majors learn to read verse as verse, if they do?

And how do you teach students to read verse as verse, if you do?

What strategies do you use?  What examples?


  1. It's so hard. Most of my students aren't even learning about iambic pentameter and rhyming couplets. I start there, usually, because it's (relatively) easy to teach.
    I use Frost's "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" as an example, which most of them USED to know (now you can't even count on that) and then move on to more complicated forms.

  2. I teach it in just about every class (and some of my colleagues make a point of teaching it in our "intro to lit analysis class").

    I think I may have sent you some of my Shax poetics assignments and worksheets. I think drama is a much easier place to teach versification, because it allows students to talk about character & motive--how the verse shows what's being said between the lines.

  3. "Trochee trips from long to short;/From long to long in solemn sort/Slow Spondee stalks; strong foot!..." I don't teach literature, but I learned meter from Samuel Taylor Coleridge.