On Poetic Forms - 8 (Heroic Verse: Theory & Practice)

(a)    Heroic Verse is quite a simple one      
(a)    ti-tum  ti-tum  ti-tum  ti-tum  ti-tum      
(b)    with five strong beats per line it’s quite a game      
(b)    to keep it running more-or-less the same.      
(c)    Five ‘feet’, iambic, some no doubt have noted      
(c)    can also make you famous and be quoted:      
(d)    “know then thyself, presume not God to scan      
(d)    the proper study of Mankind is Man”(1)      
(e)    those lines are writ by Alexander Pope      
(e)    a man who clearly was no kind of dope.      
(f)    And this is how John Dryden used it well      
(f)    with moralistic tones he used to tell      
(g)    he died in 1700, yes, please note      
(g)    and way ahead of time let’s read his quote:      
(h)    “By education most have been misled;      
(h)    So they believe, because they so were bred.      
(i)    The priest continues what the nurse began      
(i)    And thus the child imposes on the man.”(2)      
(j)    It also lends itself to epic tales      
(j)    heroic journeys round the world - and nails      
(k)    the reader to their seats if written well      
(k)    but otherwise is tedious as hell.      
(l)    Enjambment(3) can of course be added, used      
(l)    to pique the reader’s mind - and half-rhymes too.      
(m)  Caesura(4) has its place. Of that no doubt.      
(m)  Cleverly substitutions(5) add some clout.      
(n)   Braced Triplets(6) too are welcomed, let me think,      )      
(n)   are bracketed as shown, to read your ink                       )      
(n)   and breaks the couplets, making readers blink.            )      
(o)   And neither is one stuck with single endings      
(o)   ‘feminine’(7) words, and ‘scudding’(8) - no defending                   
(p)   for such techniques give added ‘zing’ to verse      
(p)   to stop them going boring; bad to worse.      
(q)   So if you wish to tell a certain story:      
(q)   romantic love, to dark or really gory      
(r)   perhaps Heroic Verse is just your thing -      
(r)   for centuries it’s had that special ring … etc, etc      
(s)   … etc      
(s)   ... etc      
Notes for Theory part:      
(1).From Pope’s “An Essay on Man” (1735) - Epistle II, section I, Lines 1&2 (all written all in heroic couplets).      
(2).From Dryden’s “The Hind And The Panther” (1687) - Part III, line 389.      
(3).Enjambment: phrase sense rolls over from one line to the next (ie: not ‘end-stopped’).      
(4).Caesura: A stop, or break - mid-line.      
(5).Substitutions: Can be various. Used here is where an ‘iamb’ (ti-tum) is flipped around into a trochee (tum-ti); this would be called a ‘Trochaic substitution’).      
(6).Braced Triplets: bracketed to draw attention to them, to break up the possible monotony of endless couplets, and used as an insert to make a complete point; usually end in a full-stop.      
(7).Feminine Endings: are ti-tum-ti, rather than ti-tum. They add an extra syllable but it is a ‘weak’ one, which means you can use end rhyming words with -ing (eg: ending, waiting), -ed (as in noted, quoted,  -y (as in story, gory) and -tion words (eg: nation, contemplation), etc. By the way, blame the French for associating 'feminine' with 'weak' endings, in poetry.
(8). Scudding: where two syllables are rolled into one; e.g.: feminine would be pronounced ‘fem-nin’ rather than ‘fem-in-ine’ in the above sample; or “on a boat” might be scudded to 2 syllables ‘ona-boat’, rather than three.
The Tale of Knight Verity (opening sequence)      
They say affairs on earth are aptly ruled      
by certain gods who number very few      
and they in turn have favourites they call      
to carry out their plans, affecting all      
and some of them are jealous gods to boot      
who pounce deception caring not a hoot      
where ordinary humans bear the brunt      
of special golden deals, and not up front      
they wheeler-deal their earth-bound counterparts      
who joined the ranks of gofers at the start      
to wreak destruction, havoc, chaos, wars      
and then say “nought to do with me!”, of course      
yet other gods would counter all this evil      
by raising up true warriors who’re able      
to stand against the rise of mass confusion      
and point the way unmasking vain illusions      
but such good men and women are quite rare      
requiring faith and courage, those who dare      
to fight determinedly their inner demons      
and understanding all with healing reason      
until these enemies become their friends      
are integrated, serving noble ends      
and thus the inner power is released      
whereby the One True God is very pleased      
to bless the run of universal laws      
which focus on the fundamental cause      
and when it’s done the scene will flip around      
and all is changed to hum a higher sound -      
and rarest of the rare who serve this way      
are female knights in history’s time array      
about whom you won’t find that much to read      
but I will right this dearth by my good deed      
recount events of one old famous tale      
before it’s lost forever in the mail      
for what’s communicated down the line      
is often piles of lies - and that’s not fine -      
so here’s the story I’ve been asked to tell      
about a special Knight who fought a spell      
and facing fear with knightly calm and courage      
cleansed her powered mind from all the rubbish      
and when her inner world was cleaned and cleared      
she’d dealt with all the monsters that she feared      
releasing her to be the honoured Knight      
who led the others in their quests and fights      
which happened over thousand years ago      
but only now has come to us to know      
and since her time has nothing been the same -      
Knight Verity, yes verily t’was her name.
Written by Josh (Joshua Bond)
Author's Note
Number 8 in a series on Poetic Forms, including both Theory and Practice. The first poem uses the form itself to explain the 'Theory' of the form. The second poem uses the form as a random 'Practice'...
Number 8 in a series on Poetic Forms, including both Theory and Practice. The first poem uses the form itself to explain the 'Theory' of the form. The second poem uses the form as a random 'Practice' example. (On Poetic Forms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 covered Quaterns, Limericks, Free Verse, Triolets, Ottava Rimas, Luc-Bats & Haikus).
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