Cadence (poetry)

In poetry, cadence describes the fall in pitch of the intonation of the voice, and its modulated inflection with the rise and fall of its sound.[1]


From Middle French cadence, and from Italian cadenza, and from Latin cadentia[2] with the meaning to fall.

Cadence in poetry

In poetry cadence describes the rhythmic pacing of language to a resolution[3] and was a new idea in 1915[4] used to describe the subtle rise and fall in the natural flow and pause of ordinary speech[5] where the strong and weak beats of speech fall into a natural order[6] restoring the audible quality to poetry as a spoken art.[7] Cadence verse is non-syllabic resembling music rather than older metrical poetry with a rhythmic curve containing one or more stressed accents and roughly corresponding to the necessity of breathing,[8] the cadence being more rapid and marked than in prose.[9]


The idea that cadence should be substituted for metre was at the heart of the Imagist credo according to T. E. Hulme.[10] Unrhymed cadence in Vers libre is built upon 'organic rhythm,' or the rhythm of the speaking voice with its necessity for breathing, rather than upon a strict metrical system .[11] Cadence in Free verse came to mean whatever the writer liked, some claiming verse and poetry had it, but prose did not, but for some it was synonymous with Free verse,[12] where each poet has to find the cadence within himself.[13]

See also


  1. The Chambers Dictionary Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd London ISBN 978-0550102379
  2. Wikionary
  3. Glossary-The Great Modern Poets , (Michael Schmidt editor) Querus Poetry 2006 ISBN 9780857382467
  4. Preface to Some Imagist Poets 1915
  5. Allen Charles- Cadenced Free Verse. College English Vol 9 Dept of English, University of Arizona 1948
  6. F.S Flint .Presentation: Notes on the Art of Writing The Chapbook II London :Poetry Bookshop ,1920
  7. Lowell, Amy Poetry as a Spoken Art , The Dial 1918
  8. Lowell, Amy Some Musical Analogies in Modern Poetry Musical Quarterly ,6 1920
  9. Aldington, Richard Free Verse in England, The Egosit 1914
  10. Hughes, Glenn, Imagism and the Imagist, Stanford University, New York 1931
  11. Lowes, John Livingston Conventions and Revolt in Poetry Houghton Mifflin, Boston 1919
  12. Charles O. Hartman, Free Verse: An Essay on Prosody, Northwestern University Press, 1980. ISBN 0-8101-1316-3
  13. Taupin, Rene, The Influence of French Symbolism on Modern American Poetry (1986),(trans. William Pratt) Ams Studies in Modern Literature, ISBN 0-404-61579-1

Further reading

External links

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