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Meter in The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd

Meter Examples in The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd:

Text of the Poem

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"All these in me..."   (Text of the Poem)

This is a distinctly musical line. Raleigh makes particular use of assonance and alliteration, all while paying close attention to meter. The line has four beats. The first three of the beats fall on words that share a hard e vowel sound: “these”/“me”/“means.” The final three fall on words that begin with m: “me”/“means”/“move.” The vowel-sound downturn on the final beat—the shift from e to o—conveys a feeling of released tension, a sort of letdown. Thematically, this feeling expresses the shepherd’s own disappointment when the nymph refuses his gifts.

"In folly ripe, in reason rotten..."   (Text of the Poem)

Raleigh uses an abundance of liquid consonants—l and r—to produce a decadent sound that underscores the meaning of the line. He places three r words on consecutive beats to heighten the effect, a type of alliteration prevalent in Anglo-Saxon verse. Finally, the line carries an extra unstressed syllable at the end, conveying a sense of excess. With a surplus of syllables and oozing consonants, the reader can hear the quality of rottenness described in the line.

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