ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Writing Poetry with Musical Influences

Updated on March 6, 2008

Writing poetry isn’t only about stringing words together to create images, but also to use prosody to incorporate both intonation and rhythm into your poems. If you use hymnals and other short, catchy songs as a basis of learning about rhythm, you will be able to translate this into your poetry.

You have been learning about prosody your entire life, even if you didn’t know it. I bet, as a child you sang Mother Goose nursery rhymes:

Hynx, Mynx, the old witch stinks!

The fat begins to fry.

There’s no one home but jumpin’ Joan

And father and mother and I.

If you score this, it looks like:

/ / _/ / /

_/ _/ _/

_/ _/ _/ _/

_/ _ _/ _ _/

_ is an unstressed syllable, while / is a stressed syllable.

Look at the rhyme again:


The FAT begins to FRY.

There’s NO one HOME but JUMPin’ JOAN

And Father and Mother and I.

Let’s look at how to score another common childhood song. You will find that these songs won’t work if you don’t put the proper stress on the right syllables.


WENT upstairs and KISSED a FELLa

That regular rhythm is very important because the stressed syllables mark when you jump rope. These song lines can be scanned as:

/ _ _/ _ _/ _ _/ _ _

/ _ _/ _ _/ _ _/ _ _

Now, let’s look at the next two lines of this popular jump rope song:


HOW many DOCtors DID it TAKE.

You have to slur the second and third syllables of each line to keep the rhythm. Go back and sing it again to make sure you hear the stressed and unstressed syllables.

You will find the most common measure used in English language poetry is the iambic pentameter. In fact, Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter. The iamb is the foot, and marked _ _/ (an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable).

An iambic pentameter line contains five feet of five or ten syllables.

_ _/ _ _/ _ _/ _ _/ _ _/

Applying This to Poetry

Once you understand the effect combining stressed and unstressed syllables can have in the rhythm of your poetry, you will be able to write more effectively. This allows you the freedom to create rhythm without having to rely on cheesy rhymes.

Let’s look at a stanza from William Wordsworth’s poem, “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal.”

A slumber did my spirit seal;

I had no human fears;

She seemed a thing that could not feel

The touch of earthly years.


This is considered the “hymnal” or ballad measure. The next time you attend a church service, listen to the stress used while hymnals are sung, and you will recognize where this measure gets its name.

When you can the hymnal, it looks like:

_/ _/ _/ _/

_/ _/ _/

_/ _/ _/ _/

_/ _/ _/

Can you create a poem following these measures? Practice by looking at publish poetry, and mark the stresses. You will be amazed at how often you find it in popular poetry. You will also notice patterns that mark different kinds of measures.

Practice by trying to write your own poetry. Share what you come up with in the comment box below.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)