Study Guide

I measure every Grief I meet Form and Meter

By Emily Dickinson

Form and Meter

Ballad Meter

Ahem. It's time to stretch your vocal muscles, Shmoopoets. Do your scales, take some deep breaths, and break out into song.

Oh, you need a tune? How about the "Battle Hymn of the Republic"? And some lyrics, too? Funny you should ask, because Emily's given us the perfect words in "I measure every Grief I meet."

That's right—if you sing this sucker to the tune of the "Battle Hymn," or "Amazing Grace," or really any hymn you want, and it'll sound eerily perfect. That's because Dickinson wrote in ballad meter, the chosen meter of Christian hymns everywhere.

The alternating lines of iambic tetrameter (four iambs per line) and iambic trimeter (three iambs per line), along with the ABCB rhyme scheme, make for a jaunty, sing-songy feel. It's a bit wacky for a poem about death and grief, but don't forget—this poem's also about comfort. And there's no greater comfort than music.