Notes on Posted Notes: Solitude #1



Notes on Posted Notes : Solitude #1


As promised, I would like to post a study, some notes on scansion and self-comment on my stanzas titled ‘Solitude’. Originally I said I would provide a comment on Solitude #1 and #2, but as there is some detail in this post regarding #1, I hope to post separate comment on #2. This post, therefore, concerns Solitude #1. My earlier post explains the background.  I trust that followers of my poetry will find scansion fun, because poetry should be taken as a serious discipline, which will help a poet develop their craft. Feedback to this post will be welcome.

Evolution of the poem

For Solitude 1 I created a structural symmetry by having a nine-line single stanza consisting of 9 syllables each, thereby making an 81-syllable verse.  In this verse, there is no ‘set’ rhyme scheme that I am aware of which would follow a seminal type ‘established’ by a well-known poet. The rhyme scheme in Solitude #1 is: abbbaaacc. I had deliberately set out from the beginning to have an a, b or c end-rhyme scheme to provide myself with a challenge. The cc in lines 8 and 9 could be seen as a rhyming couplet which normally terminates the English Shakespearean sonnets. The stanza is not the seminal Spenserian 9-line verse (which themselves consist of eight iambic pentameters and one closing hexameter). The ‘beat’ of Solitude #1 ‘found’ its natural rhythm when I created the opening line.

Line One emerged from elision. After deciding that ‘singleness’ would be the end word of Line One, I attempted other word combinations till I found that ‘To elect a state of singleness’ had a natural word flow, a more natural beat, as well as elision. I then counted the syllables, and decided that the following lines should also be of nine syllables. At the early stage I did not know how many lines there would be; I simply went with the flow.

On reviewing and editing my nine-line stanza, I also feared that by paying too much attention to Spenser, I could lose the ‘flow’ of what I began in Line One. Spoken aloud, Line One sounds naturally like ‘Twoelect estateov singleness’, which, I would suggest, is how native English speakers would say it.  In Line 2, for instance, the schwa of neither enjoins with the word following: self, so that the speaker would say it as neitheself…. Note here that British English speakers would use the schwa, but American English speakers would probably roll the ‘r’ at the end of neither. Note also that British English speakers would put emphasis on the first syllable of neither, with the flat schwa for the second, making it a trochee, whereas American English speakers would have two long syllables due to the rolling of the ‘r’, making it a spondee (as well as pronouncing the ei as the Germanic ‘ie’, as in schiessen [shoot], whereas the English would say the ei as in reisen [travel]).

Line 1 begins with statement of fact, the opinion of the writer, which was quantified in lines two and three (neithernor) and having composed the second  line that finishes with ‘purdah’, I needed to find the third line (and eventually line 4) that end-rhymed with purdah; I found ‘pariah’ and ‘insular’; this, then was end rhyme b.  For lines 5, 6, and 7 I needed a different rhyme, a or c. As line 4 has said that ‘One has not turned cold and insular’, I asked myself ‘Who might say we writers are weird loners, and are cold and insular.’? Prudes, of course, I said to myself, after all solitary writers are non-conformist, and bourgeois prejudice paints us in a bad light, so ‘prudes’ it was. This was rhyme c.

For lines six and seven I decided to keep the same rhyme as line five, and found that the consonance of the long ‘s’ sound created more force, as this was a statement to counter-argue the ‘prudes’, ergo, ‘Wrongly viewed as loneliness/when truly a reserve of wholeness. I also deliberately chose the –ness suffix, as once I elected to use loneliness, what argument, I asked myself, could I use to counter the prudes? I found the word ‘oneness’, and after that searched for synonyms; ‘wholeness’ fitted naturally into the  rhyme and syllable format I was seeking to achieve. It also fitted contextually into the counterattack against the prudes.

Speaking of consonance, and near rhymes (or pararhyme) and internal rhymes, to which I shall return, lines 8 and 9 end with –ty because I wanted, firstly, to insert multi-syllabic words which created a rapid beat to strengthen my case for solitude, as well as a new ‘c’ rhyme that was neither flat like the schwas of lines 2, 3 and 4, and to follow the consonance of the later lines of the verse. I had earlier found the word ‘chilly’, but could not initially find a place for it. This adjective (the ‘y’ sound not the –ty) fitted the assonance already created by the ‘y’ sound in the internal rhymes of: ‘by’ (L5), ‘wrongly (L6), and truly (L7) . They say slay your adverbs and adjectives, but in poetry I think they have a place if one wants the assonance or consonance. The very last word, ‘indivisibility’ is also deliberate due to the strong vowel sounds (d, v,b,t) as well as having an internal consonance of its own, with the di/vi/ si/ bi/ li sounds, and also being consonant with and pararhyming with the suffix, –ty. ‘Unsociability’ also possesses the bi/ li/ty consonance to match ‘indivisibility’.

Now to the rhymes.

The end-rhymes are: ‘singleness/prudes/loneliness/wholeness, purdah/pariah/insular, and unsociability/indivisibility.

Internal rhymes:

by/wrongly/truly/chilly, with the assonance as stated earlier with Lines 8 and 9; turned/cold/believed/viewed/instead, where there is also an consonance with prudes;

one has/oneness, which are in turn consonant with the end-rhymes for Lines 1, 5,6, and 7;

an internal para-rhyme can be found in the vowel sounds  become/turned when spoken allowed by BrEng speakers.


I won’t explore the beat pattern of the stanza, as I went with the flow, and it ensued that the Spenser form wasn’t-and couldn’t be- used, there being 9 syllables in each line. This can be seen, for instance in L1, where, as close as I could get, depending on subtle emphasis, the beat pattern is not iambic at all, but the following [long syllables underlined]:


Anapaestic [to elect]/

 iamb [a state]/

iamb [of sing…]/

trochee […leness],

or perhaps spondee [leness],

or even iamb […leness ];

or dactyl [singleness].

If dactyl is the form for ‘singleness’, then ‘a state of’ as a word group does not fit any of the above beat patterns, as ‘a’ and ‘of’ are short sounds, and the ‘a’ in state is long (as in ‘pay’ or ‘stay’).


If you have managed to reach this far, thank you. Feedback will be welcome. The next self-analysis will cover Solitude #2.


© RC Clermont 2016


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