Are there any software tools available that will help me dissect my meter? I have always been extremely poor at scansion and while my writing doesn't suffer terribly for it, it makes writing strict meter very difficult for me. In fact I don't think I've ever managed to write a sonnet in strict iambic pentameter.

  • 1
    Do you want a tool that would allow you to mark scansion on top of your text, or are you looking for software that would do it all for you? I don't think the latter is possible: prepositions, for example, might be stressed or unstressed depending on the rest of the sentence. Mar 5, 2019 at 14:18
  • @Galastel The latter ideally, although I could probably manage with the former.
    – Summer
    Mar 5, 2019 at 14:19
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    For me, it was practice that helped me get better at scansion. I recall sitting in math class, and sometimes writing down phrases the teacher had said and trying to mark meter on them - when I wasn't too busy taking real notes. It always seemed easier to mark meter longhand.
    – Jedediah
    Mar 6, 2019 at 22:54
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    versepad.com/write can help detect meter, but it's not always accurate Nov 10, 2022 at 10:42

2 Answers 2


This might help with the identifying-meter educational part of it. For Better for Verse:

It’s an interactive on-line tutorial that can train you to scan traditionally metered English poetry. Here you can get practice and instant feedback in one important way of analyzing, and developing an ear and a feel for, accentual-syllabic verse. That’s the kind of verse that remained standard in English during the half millennium from Chaucer’s age until the time of Hardy, Yeats, and Frost ...

Once you’ve marked each syllable to reflect your reading of the line — and we’ll get soon to some guidelines for doing that — cursor over to the right of the box and click the first icon (arrows). A green, red, or yellow light will let you know you’ve scanned the line correctly, incorrectly, or somehow problematically...

And this part sounds really useful:

one more feature, which 4B4V displays only once your scansion of the full text is correct. At that point a Syncopation checkbox appears next to the others down below. Try it, and you’ll see the poem’s rhythmic discrepancies brought out in new color. These are the poem’s planned prosodic accidents, its signal idiosyncrasies (all quotes from the help page)

It looks like researchers making progress on an auto-scansion tool detailed their findings about ZeuScansion. (I just skimmed the PDF)

That was 2013, so you may want to check their citations and who has cited them to check on more current progress

English is full of irregularities, so it seems AI has had better luck with Latin at Parsing Latin poetry using constraint satisfaction:

Instead, it works backwards: starting from the assumption that the meter is perfect dactylic hexameter, it is able to determine the natural length of each vowel by guessing which feet are dacyls [sic] and which are spondees

  • I tried to edit the typo towards the end 'dacyls' (should be 'dactyls') but failed due to a system constraint - easier if you do it as poster. Good answer. Sep 1, 2021 at 13:18
  • That isn't really making progress with AI analysis of Latin scansion. It's just lazily applying a rubrik overtop of whatever words are actually there. xD
    – lly
    May 8, 2023 at 3:12

Zeuscansion is available at Github now, although you have to download and set up its components. I don't see anyone who has it available for easy use online. Ditto with Prosodic from another coder at Stanford.

Like Mr. Mulquin wrote above, there is VersePad that can give you rough ideas with your own poems. Dark circles under the syllables that should almost certainly stressed; white circles mark unstressed and possibly stressed syllables. It marks the main stress of polysyllabic words and treats most short words as soft, so you need some DIY secondary steps to handle those.

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