Tag Archives: For Better For Verse

Blog Post #2: For Better, For Verse

This site functions as a pedagogy tool–to help teach people how to scan lines of poetry and find the rhyme scheme.  It presents you with a number of poems categorized by difficulty in terms of identifying the meter.  You can then move your cursor above each syllable and click for the stress (once for  accented, twice for unaccented).  Once complete, you click on an icon to the right of the poem that tells you if your scansion was correct or problematic.  Essentially, you can do the same thing with the meter and rhyme–try it first yourself and then check your work.

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Scansion, though tedious, is important when learning the intricacies of poetry.  I like how the site describes the stress as the “bones” and the meter as the “flesh” of poetry.  Stress, meter, feet, and rhyme all work behind the scenes to give poetry its music–its rhythms and beats.  Just by looking at a poem on the page, we aren’t able to see “what makes it tick.” On For Better For Verse, viewers can discover the  authors’  deliberate metrical choices by scanning and re-scanning the lines as many times as they want without the messy erasures or mark-outs.  Another related feature that I thought was particularly clever is the lightbulb icon that appears beside lines with interesting or out-of-the-ordinary features.  By clicking on the icon, the viewer can get a short explanation of the line/ an analysis of the author’s intent.  This is a great tool for students who are learning to interpret rhyme or meter in the context of the poem as a whole.

This site could be useful for researchers studying the metrical patterns (or the diversions from pattern) of a particular poem or poet.  However, I think it’s much more useful as a pedagogy tool for English teachers or students.  I just wish this site had a feature that enabled sound so that viewers could not only see but also hear the rhythms that they are uncovering.  That way, the music of the poetry could actually come to life! Maybe For Better For Verse could team up with Incredibox (http://www.incredibox.com/)  or something similar to make the music happen.