What's it called what Poe does?
December 28, 2008 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Is there a name for what Poe did in The Raven where there's lots of long, vowel sounds? And is there anybody in music writing lyrics in a similar fashion?

The second question is more what I'm interested in. It must be better to sing vowelly words than consonanty words.

I know some of what he was doing in that poem was trying to make it sound more gloomy, which would help with metal lyrics, I guess, but I'm interested in generally easy to sing words too, not just gloomy ones.

posted by low affect to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can't really answer either of your questions very well at all, but the Alan Parsons Project's first album, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, was based on Poe's work, and does contain a song entitled The Raven. While it is a retelling, it uses passages of the original text in many of the songs.

So yes, not an answer, perhaps just an interesting point?
posted by Dysk at 1:08 PM on December 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

If nothing else, it's a form of assonance, or the repetition of vowel sounds.
posted by themadjuggler at 1:10 PM on December 28, 2008

It's not specific to vowel sounds, but rhyming the syllables of multi-syllabic words is known as "feminine rhyming." The wikipedia article suggests it is common in hip-hop http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminine_rhyme.
posted by Grod at 1:50 PM on December 28, 2008

If you're interested in what Poe's doing (aside from the terminology) I highly recommend you read his essay "The Philosophy of Composition." Note, though, that he gets some of his terminology wrong.
posted by synecdoche at 2:15 PM on December 28, 2008

Wikipedia says;

Generally, the meter is trochaic octameter — eight trochaic feet per line, each foot having one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed syllable.

Edgar Allan Poe, however, claimed the poem was a combination of octameter acatalectic, heptameter catalectic, and tetrameter catalectic. The rhyme scheme is ABCBBB, or AA,B,CC,CB,B,B when accounting for internal rhyme. In every stanza, the 'B' lines rhyme with the word 'nevermore' and are catalectic, placing extra emphasis on the final syllable. The poem also makes heavy use of alliteration ("Doubting, dreaming dreams...").

20th century American poet Daniel Hoffman suggested that the poem's structure and meter is so formulaic that it is artificial, though its mesmeric quality overrides that
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:15 PM on December 28, 2008

A lot of hip hizzop artizzizts do thizzis: they draawp it like it's haaawt and stuff.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:22 PM on December 28, 2008

Chris Bathgate is big on long vowels.
posted by timsteil at 2:51 PM on December 28, 2008

If they are vowel sounds of the same length, I might describe it as assonance in isocolon, even though isocolon is typically used to describe phrase-level lengths.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:39 PM on December 28, 2008

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