Anybody who is trying to sound intelligent about formal poetry will probably drop the words “iambic pentameter.” And that truly is a fine meter (and, along with iambic tetrameter, one of the two meters that describe the vast majority of English formal poetry); but I personally have a preference for iambic heptameter myself. Having 7 beats in a line instead of 5 places the major rhymes a little farther apart, and provides space for internal rhymes as well. Furthermore bulkier words and phrases can be written in a heptameter line, which might not fit comfortably in a shorter line. Meanwhile the longer line seems to have no adverse effect on pacing–but listen to an example yourself, and see if you agree. This is The Glove and the Lions:
If you like heptameter poetry you can also check out some of my own work, such as the poems Rebekah or Complementary Beauties. Better yet, help support a new poet by purchasing Visions on your Kindle for only 99 cents!
King Francis was a hearty king, and loved a royal sport,
And one day, as his lions fought, sat looking at the court.
The nobles filled the benches, and the ladies in their pride,
And ‘mongst them sat the Count de Lorge, with one for whom he sighed:
And truly ‘twas a gallant thing to see that crowning show,
Valor and love, and a king above, and the royal beasts below.
Ramped and roared the lions, with horrid laughing jaws;
They bit, they glared, gave blows like beams, a wind went through their paws;
With wallowing might and stifled roar they rolled on one another,
Till all the pit with sand and mane was in a thunderous smother.
The bloody foam above the bars came whisking through the air;
Said Francis then, “Faith, gentlemen, we’re better here than there.”
De Lorge’s love o’erheard the king, a beauteous lively dame,
With smiling lips and sharp bright eyes, which always seemed the same;
She thought, “The Count, my lover, is brave as brave can be;
He surely would do wondrous things to show his love of me;
King, ladies, lovers, all look on; the occasion is divine;
I’ll drop my glove, to prove his love; great glory will be mine.”
She dropped her glove, to prove his love, then looked at him and smiled;
He bowed, and in a moment leaped among the lions wild;
The leap was quick, return was quick, he has regained his place,
Then threw the glove, but not with love, right in the lady’s face.
“By heaven,” said Francis, “rightly done!” and he rose from where he sat;
“Not love,” quoth he, “but vanity, sets love a task like that.”
Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in:
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.