Meter in Wild Swans

Meter Examples in Wild Swans:

Wild Swans 1

"I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over...."   (Wild Swans)

Millay uses a dactylic tetrameter in the opening two lines, before transitioning into a more classic pentameter. The use of dactyls—a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables—creates a breathless quality which conveys the rapture of seeing wild swans soaring overhead. This initial sight spurs the narrator into deeper reflection and questioning.