Rhythm

Rhythm is to borrow Plato’s words, ‘an order of movement’ in time. We generally speak of rhythm in connection with poetry or music. However, you must have heard people talking of the rhythms of nature or even biological rhythm. -Perhaps periodic repetition of a certain pattern is the sine qua non of rhythm. All the arts-painting, sculpture, and architecture – have their rhythm. Here, however, we will talk of rhythm in the context of poetry only. Above you studied about a variety of acoustic effects in poetry such as metre, rhyme, alliteration, onamatopoeia, etc. They contribute to the rhythm of a poem. Prosody which taltes into account the historical period to which a poem belongs, the poetic genre and the specificities of a poet’s style goes closer to the rhythmic aspect of a poem.

For instance, quantity ( or vowel length ) is a rhythmic but not a metrical feature of English poetry. This is because English does not impose any strict regularity in quantity as it does with respect to stress. For example in ‘sweet rose’ the vowel sounds can be lengthened or shortened at will. This cannot be done in many Indian languages. However, the lengthening and shortening of the vowel sound does affect the rhythm of the poem. Similarly, the*rise and fall in the human voice. especially in reading poetry which is called cadence is a rhythmic not a metrical feature. Many other factors contribute to the rhythm of a piece of verse or prose. Grammatical features are some of these.

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