Living in Sin
by Adrienne Rich
Analysis: Form and Meter
In free verse, there is not a regular rhythm or rhyme scheme. Still, there are some interesting patterns and things to notice in this poem. For example, rhyming often makes lines sound melodious, like they fit together well. The fact that there is no rhyming in the poem at all gives us a bit of a clue about the relationship—this couple doesn't really fit together well. It wouldn't really feel right for this poem to be written in rhyming couplets, for example.
In terms of the poem's meter, most of the lines have ten syllables, many have eleven syllables, and a handful have fewer. Even though there is no pattern to them, we think the fact that many lines have the same number of syllables reflects the repetitiveness the poem mentions when the dreaded daylight keeps coming back to shed light on the work that needs to be done on the studio (and the relationship).
Also, even if you didn't go and count the syllables, you probably noticed the occasional shorter lines that stand out because of the rough regularity of the longer lines. Examples include "had risen at his urging," (7) and "Meanwhile, he, with a yawn." (15). Even though the poem isn't broken into stanzas, these shorter lines seem to signal a shift in the poem's ideas.
For example, all of the lines before line seven seem to describe the ideal way that the woman dreamed the studio would look. But after line seven, the poem shifts to describe the way the studio really looks. Check out the other shorter lines. Can you tell how the poem begins to emphasize new things around those areas? They act like cues, saying "Hey there, reader, shift in topic dead ahead!"