Uncommon verse

Having run a session on poetry for songwriters at Catalyst Festival 2014 (about which more later) I have been keeping an eye out for interesting metre. I was glancing at a children’s book when I noticed something unusual about the metre. At first I thought it was slightly incompetent iambic verse, but, on a closer reading (fingers tapping out feet) I realised it was something much more unusual:

In the darkest of depths of the Galilee Sea,

There I lived with a secret as deep as could be.

Known as Felipe Fish, I looked brave at first sight.

No one knew that this fish was afraid of the light.

Yes, anapaestic tetrameter. The same metre as Byron’s The Destruction of Sennacherib. A far from easy form to use in English. I don’t know why Dandi Daley Mackall chose the metre, but I had a foolish thrill of recognition.

Looking more closely, there are problems with the piece, the strange name Galilee Sea which seals the third anapaest and forms the fourth one; the additional there at the start of the first line, which only serves to give the first syllable of the first anapaest. I also suspect the character’s name was also chosen for its convenience for anapaests.

Overall, more of a curiosity than anything else.

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