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In discussing rhythm and metre, David demonstrates just how unnatural a poem becomes when the stresses are read out as incorrectly as possible.

The poem I just butchered in this video, by the way, was My Country by Dorothea Mackellar, written in 1906.

Obviously, my deliberate misplacement of stresses and un-stresses was not how Dorothea would have intended her poem to be read (sorry, Dorothea!). It does, however, suggest that there is a certain magic that happens when poets tap into the natural rhythm of human speech.

English is a language which requires stresses to be placed on certain syllables in certain words in order to be understood properly. If you were from Mars, perhaps, and were trying to speak English for the first time and had no idea about stresses, you might sound something like my “unique” recital.

Unnatural beauty

I might be giving the impression that all poetry should feel natural. What circumstances can you think of where that might not be your aim in a poem?

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Playing with Poetry: Creative Writing and Poetics

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