This comprehensive and joyous celebration of metered verse—from Shakespeare to slam poetry—brings together some of the best rhythmic lines in literature.
After a century dominated by free verse, there is a new excitement about rediscovering poetry's ancient musical and performative roots. Iambic pentameter is the most familiar meter for most readers, but it only scratches the surface of the extraordinary diversity of rhythmic patterns that poets have employed over the ages. That astonishing variety is fully explored in this one-of-a-kind anthology, packed with great poems that beg to be read aloud. Measure for Measure is organized by meter, with brief explanatory headnotes covering accentual meter, trochees, anapests, dactyls, iambs, ballad meter, and more exotic species like amphibrachs, dipodics, hendecasyllabics, sapphics, and more. The entrancing examples of each meter are drawn from a wide range of poetic traditions, from Ovid and Sappho to Shakespeare and Milton, encompassing the Victorians, the Romantics, ballads, folk songs, poets of the Harlem Renaissance, and modern-day hip hop. Whether performed aloud or enjoyed in solitude, Measure for Measure is a treat for the ear, the heart, and the mind.