Metre & Stress
The Sonnets of The Inextinguishable Light generally adhere to the standard sonnet form of 14 lines, an overall rhyme scheme, with a rhyming couplet conclusion, and yet, within this framework, Peros incorporates an original and innovative approach to metre & stress.
In these Sonnets, unlike the traditional stress pattern of iambic pentameter, Peros employs what he describes as Natural Syllabic Verse. Natural Syllabic Verse combines the stress approach of traditional Accentual Verse with the syllable count of Syllabic verse. Traditional Accentual Verse is a stress pattern that follows the pattern of natural speech, without paying regard to the number of syllables in a line, while Syllabic Verse is based on a specific number of syllables per line.
One of the most common and well-known illustrations of traditional Accentual Verse is the children’s song “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, which is as follows:
Baa baa black sheep
Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir
Three bags full.
One for the master
And one for the dame,
One for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.
Throughout this text, there is a varying, inconsistent number of syllables per line – 4/5/4/3; 5/5/6/5 – and yet, each line has a clear, and natural, stress pattern of two stresses per line, regardless of the number of syllables.
Peros employs the stress approach of Accentual Verse in the Sonnets but, unlike traditional Accentual Verse, in the Sonnets there is a defined number of syllables per line, thereby defining this approach as Natural Syllabic Verse.
In the case of the Sonnets, in virtually all cases throughout the 150 poems, there are four stressed beats per line, with those stress beats following the pattern of natural speech. However, in the Sonnets, there is also a clear number of syllables per line, despite the four stressed beats of the Accentual Verse.
For example, Sonnet 7 has eleven syllables per line, and four stress beats per line, with those stress beats following the pattern of natural speech rather than following a contrived, artificial, measured stress pattern:
The power that infuses the unknown night
Is the breath that breathes shadow, death and decay
And corruption, whose nature does then incite
To breed a despair of consuming dismay
Each line has eleven syllables, each line has four stressed beats, but with the position of those stressed beats shifting from line to line as per the pattern of natural speech.
Likewise in Sonnet 2, each line is comprised of eleven syllables and has four stress beats per line:
A landscape of beauty enraptures my eye
With a force and power which does emanate
Throughout the vast breadth of unimagined skies
Which speaks to me now and which does resonate
Once again, each line has eleven syllables as well as four stressed beats, with the position of those stressed beats shifting from line to line as per the pattern of natural speech.
This is Natural Syllabic Verse, and it is a defining characteristic of Peros’ sonnet approach.
In regards to the number of syllables per line within the same Sonnet, often a line may contain an extra syllable, almost always to accommodate an upbeat at the start of the line, and very often the final two lines of the concluding couplet each have an added syllable(s) to help establish the clear sense of conclusion. In each case, though, there are always only four stress beats per line.
Peros’ use of Natural Syllabic Verse in the Sonnets is an innovative approach that brings an added vibrancy and energy to the flow of each line by means of the shifting positions of stress, thereby giving each line a unique rhythmic vitality for the purpose of heightened impact, expression and forward momentum.
The Sonnets of The Inextinguishable Light present the use of Natural Syllabic Verse as a defining characteristic of the contemporary sonnet, an approach which embraces tradition but expands upon it, an amplification of the form for the modern day.