Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the UEA (University of East Anglia)'s online course, Preparing for University. Join the course to learn more.
Graphing showing syllables in poems

Creating a data set

Look at these three short poems or extracts. Each writer has his own individual style, a component of which is word complexity.

One way of measuring this is by counting the number of syllables in the words used. These can be shown in a frequency chart above. Just over 60% of the words in Poem A are of one syllable. Decide which is poem A, B & C by examining the syllable frequencies.

The small towns of Ireland – John Betjeman

The small towns of Ireland by bards are neglected,

They stand there, all lonesome, on hilltop and plain.

The Protestant glebe house by beech trees protected

Sits close to the gates of his Lordship’s demesne.

But where is his Lordship, who once in a Phaeton

Drove out twixt his lodges and into the town?

Of his tragic misfortunes I will not dilate on;

These mansions a ruin, his woods are cut down.

His impoverished descendant is dwelling in Ealing,

His daughters must type for their bread and their board,

O’er the graves of his forebears the nettle is stealing

And few will remember the sad Irish lord.

Everyone for tennis – Nigel Forde

Unanswered questions lie about

Our universe like leaves:

Why Man? Why universe at all?

Why poverty, war, disease?

Who can enter the storehouse of the snow

Or bind the Pleiades?

Is Man an accidental blob

Of pure primaeval jelly?

How then Aquinas, Rembrandt, Newton,

Shakespeare, Botticelli?

And who gives a monkey’s anyway -

There’s tennis on the telly!

Lament of glasses case - John Hegley

you go out and do a full day’s work

I remain shut up and empty

my job is looking after you

I do it very well

and yet you never return with open arms

How might you tackle this problem?

The answer is in the video in the next step.

Share this article:

This article is from the free online course:

Preparing for University

UEA (University of East Anglia)

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: