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Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

by Richard Wilbur

Analysis: Form and Meter

Free Verse or Blank Verse in Six Stanzas

At first glance, it would be easy to call this a free verse poem and be on our merry way. There's no rhyme scheme, and when we read it aloud, it's hard to hear any particular meter.

But not so fast, dear Shmoopers. If you look a little closer, you'll see some patterns start to emerge:

• Each of the lines is about ten syllables long, give or take a few. Even the shorter lines, like "As false dawn" (4), have ten or so syllables when you squish them together with what comes after (in this case, like 5, or "Outside the open window").
• Each of the stanzas is five or six lines long.

Hmm. With patterns like that, this poem's definitely playing with form a bit.

A Metrical Mess

As a general rule, when we see ten syllables in a line, our brains should immediately jump to iambic pentameter, or in this case, blank verse (or iambic pentameter with no rhyme scheme). That means we should be looking for a repeated daDUM daDUM pattern in the lines of this poem.

But do we find one?...Sort of. Let's peek at the first line:

The eyes open to a crypulleys.

Okay this line totally starts off strong—"the eyes" is totally an iamb. It goes daDUM. But then it really hits the fan, and the meter's lost. No dice on the iambic pentameter front.

But check out the last line of the stanza:

The morning air is all awash with angels.

That's a perfect line of iambic pentameter, it just has an extra syllable tacked on at the end (which is totally legit—poets do it all the time).

As you read through the poem, you'll see some moments of iambic meter, and some moments where there's really no rhythm at all. Overall, you might say this poem's vaguely iambic, which means we can call it almost blank verse. Or something like that.

The point here is that, while Wilbur's using form to structure the poem, he's not married to it. He can shake things up when he likes, and boy does he. It's fitting though, for a poem with such fantastical, free-flowing imagery. Why not have a meter that's free-flowing, too?

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