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by H.D.

Analysis: Form and Meter

Free Verse

"Oread" is written in free verse, which means that it has no recurring rhyme or meter. It doesn't fit into a nice little traditional form. It's not a sonnet or a haiku or a sestina. It's another beast entirely.

But this doesn't mean that "Oread" is just some crazy mess of a poem. Far from it. In fact, "Oread" is the epitome of an Imagist poem, and that's practically a form unto itself. According to Imagism founder Ezra Pound (read more on him in our "In a Nutshell" section), an Imagist poem should abide by three rules:

  1. Direct treatment of the "thing," whether subjective or objective.
  2. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
  3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of the metronome. (Source.)

"Oread" definitely fits into this schema for an Imagist poem. There's no flowery, unnecessary language, there's no regular meter, and the poem treats its "things"—the land, the sea, the Oread—directly.

But that doesn't mean it's without song and dance. In fact, the poem is quite musical in its own way. It may not have regular rhyme or meter, but it does have a whole bunch of repeated sounds—the repeated words "whirl" and "pines," the rhymes of "whirl" and "hurl"—that give it a different kind of form. There's also a little alliteration, in phrases like "pointed pines," and consonance on the letter R in the poem's final line: "cover us with your pools of fir." We mention these little moments because in a little poem, it's the small stuff you've got to sweat. Sure, "Oread" is not held together by any sort of traditional poetry architecture, but it is held together by these repeated sounds. That's where its form comes from.

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