Monday, July 4, 2011

A Word About Limericks - The Anapest

As I've discussed before in a post back on May 13th, the limerick is composed of five lines: Two long, two short, one long. To state that more accurately, lines 1,2 and 5 consist of three anapestic feet, while lines 3 and 4 have only 2 anapestic feet.

But what is an anapest? Simply put, the anapest is the basic building block of a limerick and is responsible for the familiar bouncy meter we find in limericks. An anapestic foot is a three syllable section, beginning with two unstressed syllables followed by an accented syllable.

So a beginning line containing three anapestic feet would go something like this:
A small DROID | mak-ing WHIS | -tles and BEEPS...

A limerist should avoid attempting to fit words into a limerick where the accents sound unnatural. Look at this line:
Last week my minivan conceded...
This has the correct number of syllables but observe where the stresses fall. If you try to force anapest meter on this, your line will sound odd:
Last week MY min-i-VAN con-ced-ED...
In natural speech you would say it like this:
Last WEEK, my MIN-i-van con-CED-ed... which doesn't fit the anapestic meter.
This line would sound much more natural like this:
So my VAN took a NOSE-dive last WEEK...
Of course, this raises an important question...What if your other lines need to rhyme with 'conceded'? And even more can you end a line with 'conceded' when the last syllable of the word is unstressed? I will answer both of those questions in the next article of this series. Next time we will talk about Transitional Anapestic Meter.

In the mean time, enjoy the saga retold, and May the Force Be With You.

Anapest Destiny

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