Study Guide

The Layers Form and Meter

By Stanley Kunitz

Form and Meter

Free Verse

We don't have much to say about form and meter because Kunitz has kept it simple in that department. His earlier works were actually more formal (employing metrical feet and traditional structures), but not so in 1978, when this poem was published. "The Layers" is a free verse poem with no regular meter or rhyme scheme patterns. The entire poem is composed of forty-four lines in one long stanza. This structure echoes the theme of continuation as the lines meander along in a solid stream of text.

The lines are short and sweet, but they combine to construct sentences with rather conventional punctuation. So while there is some enjambment (a phrase or clause carrying over a line break), many of the lines end with a punctuated pause. This creates three effects: the lines are direct (welcome to a flowery language no-fly zone), the poem moves at a steady pace despite the lack of multiple stanzas, but mainly the poem comes off as conversational in tone, direct and personal. This speaker is sharing something about his life with us, and we're invited into this discussion to listen.

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