Form and Meter

Free Verse (Fall to Hades)

As you can probably tell, there's not much form or meter happening in "Demeter's Prayer to Hades." That's because it's written in free verse, or poetry without set rhyme scheme or form.

So, what do we have instead? Well, Rita Dove sprinkled her poem with tons of enjambment, which means that the phrases continue to flow from line to line. Try reading the following lines aloud for example:

Now for the first time
I see clearly the trail you planted,

Despite the line breaks, our natural tendency is to keep reading without pause. Then, when Dove wants us to take a breath, she uses an end stop in the form of a comma or period. For example:

and so I give up this fate, too. (13)

The period as an end-stop forces us to take a breath and think about what we've just read before moving along. It's one way to emphasize an image, idea, or phrase. And in a poem with few stylistic tricks, Dove's use of end-stops and enjambment shows us that she wasn't just throwing any old word down on paper. She had a particular point to make with this poem, and she used its form to draw us through her ideas, then highlight the points where she wanted us to sit up and take notice.

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