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Accentual Verse

Definition

Accentual Verse is also known as "Stressed Verse." It is Verse that is focused on the count of stresses, or distinct emphasis of parts of speech, instead of the count of syllables. It emphasizes a fixed number of stresses per line or stanza regardless of the number of syllables that are present.

It is common in languages that are stress-timed such as English as opposed to syllabic verse, which is common in syllable-timed languages such as classical Latin. Nursery Rhymes are the most common form of Accentual verse in the English Language.


Example

The following poem, Baa Baa Black Sheep, has two stresses in each line, but a varying number of syllables.
(Bold represents stressed syllables, and the number of syllables in each line is noted)

Baa, baa, black sheep, (4)
Have you any wool? (5)
Yes sir, yes sir, (4)
Three bags full; (3)
One for the mas-ter, (5)
And one for the dame, (5)
And one for the lit-tle boy (7)
Who lives down the lane. (5)

Related Information

More Accentual Verse Links