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Definition: The measured arrangement of words in poetry using accents in words, syllables in words, and the number of syllables in a line.

First and second drafts of poems often have unnecessary words. The small words that make a sentence grammatically correct like a, the, as, and if are sometimes extraneous in poetry. You need to be able to justify every word in your poem.

Read these two lines aloud to compare how they sound:
1. You and I can't be friends because we know each other too well and we'll never forget the pain.
2. You and I / know too well / can't forget / heartache, pain

In #2, there's a rhythm of stressed syllable, unstressed syllable, stressed syllable. Meter can give a line a sing-song quality; a deliberate break from meter will sound harsh or unexpected.

Read this poem aloud and listen to how the first four lines almost sing the sad song of the friends' goodbye. Jedd wrote the first draft of this poem in iambic pentameter and you can still hear the attention to sound in this final draft.


Airport Flags

The airport's flags hang from the roof,
holding onto their thrones of rafters.
I stand beneath the blues, the whites,
the greens of guardians that watch and sigh.
We wait for boarding call to take you home
and I am wishing I had tickets too.
Your hair thick, obsidian, and distinct,
will never be seen by my lost eyes, again,
no longer gray but red, like Russia's banner,
who, from far above, judges and sways
with Poland and Zimbabwe frowning at her sides.
To know I'm holding you the last time now,
I want to crush you here within my grasp
and I'll absorb your body into mine,
like farewell conversations that, rising up,
are swallowed by the hungry flags above.

— Jedd R, SC, Scholastic Art & Writing Gold Award


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