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Working In Rictameter

Updated on April 11, 2012

What the heck is rictameter?

Well, now you know, right? You've been reading it for 10 'pages' now--and I'm sure you noticed the way in which rictameter verses start with just one- or two-syllable lines, add more each line, then decrease again. The result is a pleasing diamond-like shape upon the page.

But I must be clear that not all of my 'rictameter' verses follow the classic pattern. Here is that pattern:

  • 2 syllables
  • 4 syllables
  • 6 syllables
  • 8 syllables
  • 6 syllables
  • 4 syllables
  • 2 syllables

Verses 1, 3, 8, and 10 all have that form, but there are two 'rictameter variations' used in this poem. Variation 1 follows this scheme:

  • 1 syllable
  • 1syllable
  • 2 syllables
  • 3 syllables
  • 5 syllables
  • 8 syllables
  • 13 syllables
  • 8 syllables
  • 5 syllables
  • 3 syllables
  • 2 syllables
  • 1 syllable
  • 1 syllable

This pattern can be found in verses 2, 4, 7 and 9.

The last variation can be summarized like this:

  • 1 syllable
  • 2 syllables
  • 3 syllables
  • 4 syllables
  • 5 syllables
  • 6 syllables
  • 7 syllables
  • 8 syllables
  • 7 syllables
  • 6 syllables
  • 5 syllables
  • 4 syllables
  • 3 syllables
  • 2 syllables
  • 1 syllable

This scheme is used in verses 5 and 6.

(Although it's probably needless to add that the last line always replicates the first, I will say so anyway, just for the sake of completeness.)

Apart from the fun of inventing something, I came up with these changes to classic rictameter because I required a relatively long poem to describe the trajectory of feeling through the working day, and unvaried rictameter seemed to become too monotonous; to change the rhythm created by verse lengths really improved the 'reading experience'--for this writer-as-reader, at least.

Perhaps it's worth mentioning that the first and last verses were actually written during on the of the periods of 'waiting' experienced on the particular job described by the poem. I'd just encountered rictameter for the first time in a Hub by BlossomSB:

________________________________________________________

Clearly, the form stuck in my mind. The variations followed later. So, SB, thanks for some inspiration!

I should perhaps add a couple of 'content notes' and a 'form note' as well:

  1. A "lam" is a temporary ID card, usually worn clipped to belt or lapel, or hung (via lanyard) around the neck. The term is short for "laminate," since the cards are usually so reinforced. They are commonly issued to tech and stage crews, especially on touring shows or trade shows.
  2. For the rest of the English-speaking world: Americans write "check" for "cheque," and that's the intended sense in verse 3.
  3. In counting syllables, I did not include silent vowels--for example, the line "Imagined, recalled, and real" looks on paper to have 8 syllables, but since the "-ed" suffix features a silent "e", I counted only six syllables. (In 18th century poetry, this was often spelled out for the reader, like this: "Imagin'd, recall'd, and real." But the 18th century didn't have lams--or plasma TVs, either--and for me to follow that precedent would have just seemed weird.)

I must also acknowledge that some of the images used in my 'picture book' pages were obtained courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, and are in the public domain. (Others were photographed by the author.)

All photos were digitally manipulated by the author.

Comments

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    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      6 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Well, there are now!

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      Haha no wonder I didn't realise there were other versions. :)

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      6 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Hi, Rosemay! Thanks for checking out my efforts in rictameter.

      At the risk of telling you what you already know, the other versions are 'mine'--at least, I know I made them up, and I have no reason to think that I wasn't the first innovator with them. If you work with them, I hope you'll let me know!

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      I have only written the 2468642 syllable style, I didn't realise that there were other syllable counts too.

      Thank you for pointing this out.

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      6 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Funny, Jools! I've had the same experience a time or two.

      Good luck with your rictameter efforts!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 

      6 years ago from North-East UK

      Doc, I found you through Google, I should have looked closer to home first. Enjoyed this hub, well explained - now for my first attempt!

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      6 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Delighted you like it! Thank you in turn.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      6 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Thank you for the compliment. You did so well with those variations as well. An interesting hub and thanks for explaining 'lam.' Keep up the good work!

    • Doc Snow profile imageAUTHOR

      Doc Snow 

      6 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      OK, poetry fans--what do you think of 'rictameter?' Cool, Haiku-like form, or gimmick?

      Either way, thanks for reading all the way through my take on Rictameter!

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