Learning Poetry: Exercise 5

This is the fifth entry in a series documenting my attempts at exercises in Stephen Fry's The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking The Poet Within. Since exercise one in the book did not require a post and because I did not really think about it, all my posts are one off, so this post corresponds to exercise six in the book1. For previous exercises, see my earlier posts:

The exercise

  1. Write some anapaestic2 hexameters3 describing how to get to your house
  2. And some dactylic4 pentameter5 on the subject of cows. For fun these should be in the classical manner: four dactyls and a spondee6, with the spondee as spondaic as English will allow7.

The results

From the road take a right by the charlatans office and stop at the sign,
Then straight on by the taxi and seventies house with the hedgerows in line.
You might find that we don't have a car in the drive but we're still there at home.
Try the doorbell and see if we answer, if not don't despair, try the phone.

Fenced in by the powered electrified wires that we stretched out
Far across pastures they stand and they chew upon green grass
Neighbours confused why the cows are all standing in straight lines.
Cattle unsure of the pain they receive if they touch it.


  1. If you want to follow along, you can get your own copy of the book from most book retailers, such as Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor 

  2. The anapaestic meter is two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable, as in: ti-ti-tum 

  3. A line of verse containing six metrical feet 

  4. The dactylic meter is one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables, as in: tum-ti-ti 

  5. A line of verse containing five metrical feet 

  6. two stressed syllables, as in tumtum 

  7. Unlike French, where each syllable is usually supposed to get equal stress, English does not tend to have words with two stressed syllables side-by-side – this is why English speakers often incorrectly add emphasis when speaking French