Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Just for a moment,

  • focus on your breath.

  • In slowly.

  • Out slowly.

  • In slowly.

  • Out.

  • The same pattern repeats within every one of us

  • and consider your pulse.

  • The beat is built into the very fabric of our being.

  • Simply put, we're creatures of rhythm and repetition.

  • It's central to our experience,

  • rhythm and repetition,

  • rhythm and repetition.

  • On, and in,

  • and on, and out.

  • And we delight in those aspects everyday,

  • in the rhythm of a song,

  • the beat of the drum,

  • the nod of your head,

  • or in the repetition of soup cans,

  • the rows of an orchard,

  • the artistry of petals.

  • Pattern can be pleasure.

  • In language, rhythm and repetition are often used

  • as the building blocks for poetry.

  • There's the rhythm of language,

  • created by syllables and their emphasis,

  • such as, "So long as men can breathe or eyes can see."

  • And there's the repetition of language at multiple levels:

  • the repetition of letters,

  • "So long lives this and this gives life to thee,"

  • of sounds,

  • "breathe," "see," "thee,"

  • and of words.

  • With so many uses, repetition is one of the poet's most malleable

  • and reliable tools.

  • It can lift or lull the listener,

  • amplify or diminish the line,

  • unify or diversify ideas.

  • In fact, even rhythm itself,

  • a repeated pattern of stressed syllables,

  • is a form of repetition.

  • Yet for all its varied uses,

  • too much repetition can backfire.

  • Imagine writing the same sentence on the blackboard twenty times,

  • again, and again, and again, and again,

  • or imagine a young child clamoring for her mother's attention,

  • "Mom, mom, mommy, mom, mom."

  • Not exactly what we might call poetry.

  • So what is poetic repetition, and why does it work?

  • Possibly most familiar is rhyme,

  • the repetition of like sounds in word endings.

  • As with Shakespeare's example,

  • we often encounter rhyme at the ends of lines.

  • Repetition in this way creates an expectation.

  • We begin to listen for the repetition of those similar sounds.

  • When we hear them, the found pattern is pleasurable.

  • Like finding Waldo in the visual chaos,

  • we hear the echo in the oral chatter.

  • Yet, rhyme need not surface solely at a line's end.

  • Notice the strong "i" sound in,

  • "So long lives this and this gives life to thee."

  • This repetition of vowel sounds is called assonance

  • and can also be heard in Eminem's "Lose Yourself."

  • Notice how the "e" and "o" sounds repeat both within in

  • and at the end of each line:

  • "Oh, there goes gravity,

  • Oh, there goes rabbit, he choked,

  • he so mad but he won't give up that easy,

  • no, he won't have it,

  • he knows his whole back's to these ropes."

  • The alternating assonance creates its own rhythm,

  • and invites us to try our own voices in echoing it.

  • Similarly, consonance is the repetition of like consonant sounds,

  • such as the "l" and "th" in,

  • "So long lives this and this gives life to thee."

  • In fact, this type of specific consonance,

  • which occurs at the beginning of words

  • may be familiar to you already.

  • It's called alliteration, or front rhyme.

  • Great examples include tongue twisters.

  • Betty bought some butter but the butter was bitter

  • so Betty bought some better butter to make the bitter butter better.

  • Here, the pleasure in pattern is apparent as we trip over the consonance

  • both within words and at their start.

  • Yet tongue twisters also reflect the need for variation in poetic repetition.

  • While challenging to say,

  • they're seen by some as lesser imitations of poetry,

  • or gimmicky because they hammer so heavily on the same sounds,

  • closer to that blackboard-style of repetition.

  • Ultimately, this is the poet's balancing act,

  • learning when to repeat

  • and when to riff,

  • when to satisfy expectations,

  • and when to thwart them,

  • and in that balance, it may be enough to remember

  • we all live in a world of wild variation

  • and carry with us our own breath and beat,

  • our own repetition wherever we go.

Just for a moment,

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 TED-Ed repetition rhythm pattern rhyme butter

The pleasure of poetic pattern - David Silverstein

  • 24 3
    林宜悉 posted on 2020/07/03
Video vocabulary