Scenario: you've been crushing real hard on that super sensitive poet hunk for so long, but don't know how to propose you two engage in some autumn snuggling. He's holding a copy of Keats tightly against his chest so you know he's DTMO—but his awkward demeanor tells you he's too shy to hold eye contact past his thick-rimmed glasses long enough to let you know what's up. Honey, we've all been there. Luckily, Harriet's gone Cosmo and we've got some tips for the perfect angle of attack: acting like you know everything about the entire history of poetry. Easy peasy! HuffPo's got you covered:


Him: ... I feel like playing as the drummer in my band, Dear Bear, has helped me gain a better understanding of both homonyms (see: band name) and rhythm. If you want, you should come see us play on Thursday.

You: That might be okay! But let's backtrack: you said something about rhythm. Merriam-Webster defines rhythm as "a regular, repeated pattern of sounds or movements." In poetry, this manifests itself as stressed and unstressed words or syllables. Stressed syllables sound longer, and unstressed syllables sound shorter. Combine different variations of stressed and unstressed syllables, and you have feet. Varying arrangements of feet within a line or sentence are called meters. Also, not to sound pedantic or whatever, but "deer" and "dear" are not actually homonyms.

Him: You're right. That's all completely true.

You: I know! So let's continue: There are a whole bunch of types of meters. Perhaps the most common is iambic pentameter, which isn't as confusing as it sounds. It's a ten-syllable line, consisting of five feet, each with one stressed and one unstressed syllable. When read aloud, it sounds a little bit like a heartbeat: "ba DUM ba DUM ba DUM ba DUM ba DUM."

Him: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

You: If you want to! Moving on: ....

Read on, boost your confidence in poetic lingo, and go get your man, girl!!

Originally Published: November 5th, 2013