THE INSISTENT METER OF POE’S RAVEN. As this wikipedia entry explains, the meter of The Raven is generally “trochaic octameter – eight trochaic feet per line, each foot having one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed syllable.” The meter is not frequently used, although wikipedia says that Poe based his poem on a meter and rhyme scheme used by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. (Wikipedia says that Poe claimed the poem was a combination of octameter acatalectic, heptameter catalectic, and tetrameter catalectic, but I have not pursued this.)

The meter has always been controversial. This scholarly article by Gerald Garmon begins: “Emerson once referred to Poe derisively as the “jingle man….” And Yeats also hated the rhythm, calling the poem “insincere and vulgar … its execution a rhythmical trick”.

Walken’s conversational and questioning reading avoids, I think, the pitfalls of the insistent meter.

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