I'm reading some explanations of the various types of poetic meter. Several of them cite a poem from the Harry Potter books as an example of anapestic meter:

His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad
His hair is as dark as a blackboard,
I wish he was mine, he's truly divine
The hero who conquered the dark lord.

But if anapestic meter is unstressed-unstressed-stressed, I can't figure out how that makes sense.

his eyes ARE as green AS a fresh PICKled toad
his hair IS as dark AS a blackBOARD
i wish HE was mine, HE'S truly DIVine
the herO who conQUERed the DARK lord.

When I googled this to see if anyone else described its meter or how to read it, I found that the official Harry Potter website says it has an ABAB rhyme scheme, which makes even less sense and makes me feel like I'm taking crazy pills or have completely misunderstood absolutely everything.

How am I supposed to read this poem? What is its meter, where are the stresses?

  • It's not exactly anapaestic, as each line starts with a shortened foot of two syllables: His eyes, His hair, I wish, The hero. The emphasis then falls on every third syllable as per normal anapaestic meter: green, fresh, toad, etc. To make it exactly anapaestic, the first line could have started with "Oh" and the second line with "And"; "-board" provides the syllable to start the third line but you'd add "as" before "he's" to maintain the meter, and add a monosyllabic adjective like "great" before "hero". Feb 14 '19 at 3:35

Anapestic meter doesn't necessarily start with a complete foot, often leaving off the first syllable, and this verse isn't completely consistent. There's a non-anapest in the third line.

his EYES are as GREEN as a FRESH pickled TOAD
his HAIR is as DARK as a BLACKboard
I WISH he was MINE, he's TRUly divINE
the HERo who CONquered the DARK lord

As far as an ABAB rhyming scheme goes, I don't get it either. I'm not seeing any rhymes except the slightly slanted BLACKboard and DARK lord.

  • 3
    The non-anapest would be solved if the line were "I WISH he was MINE, he is TRUly divINE" Feb 13 '19 at 19:11
  • There's also an internal rhyme between MINE and diVINE in the third line. Mar 17 '19 at 17:21

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