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5/18/2013 7:11:05 PM


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I am writing my first sonnet and using classic iambic pentameter. I want to use a dash to signal a pause. Do I count that as a syllable?
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7/7/2014 7:29:53 PM

cheryl higgins
Posts: 12
Be careful. You don't need a dash or a "dot dot dot" to signal a pause. The line ending its self is your pause, and that is why we choose our line endings carefully. In the middle of a liine, use a comma to signal a breath or pause, but there is no need for a dash.

You are trying to give too much to your reader. Let your reader find his own breath and write your poem so that he finds his breath where you want him to. Give your reader credit - we pause at the end of the line. We pause at a comma in the middle of a line. Let us read the poem and find our own understanding of it. Use periods where they need to be, commas, and question marks. It makes you as the poet, forces you to SHOW and not TELL us the poem.
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7/7/2014 7:44:32 PM

cheryl higgins
Posts: 12
Actually, if you are looking for the use of a ceasura, which is a pause used as a rest for a metric foot, you can just allow that - in some forms, the use of a double bar || is used to indicate a rest or breath in a metrical foot. In general its not used, and if you write iamgic pentameter, count your five 'feet' of iambs, and if a syllable is left off, allow it for that line, and begin your next line correctly.

A caesura is like a rest in music. a space which takes up the room of a syllable, but is not represented except in the line and phrasing. Make your phrasing and line read correctly, and the reader will acknowlege that space. You do not need to use a dash, though.
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