This question is pretty old, so I doubt you'll actually be seeing my answer, but I'll answer it anyway. In theory there are four types of meters; accentual-syllabic, accentual (strong-stress), syllabic, and quantitative.(posted 5639 days ago)
You can dismiss quantitative meter almost immediately as a valid meter for poetry in English. Our language is not built on quantities like languages such as ancient Greek, and later on Latin, were. Quantities relied on the duration of syllables (short or long) to modulate rhythm. English relies on accented and unaccented syllables to do this.
Simply put, this is the method of placing the same number of syllables in certain lines to form a repetitive pattern. In other words, let's say you have a poem consisting of four stanzas of four lines each. The first line of each stanza would have the same number of syllables. The second line of each stanza would also have the same number of syllables, but not necessarily the same number as the first lines. Lines three and four of each stanza would have a set number of syllables as well. Check out Dylan Thomas's "Poem in October" for an excellent example of this meter. Syllabics has been said by many experts to be a false meter in English, that the ear cannot detect the repetition set forth by maintaining strict syllable count, but it is the basic system for modern French and Japanese.
Accentual Meter (Strong-Stress Meter)
This means having a certain number of stressed syllables, also called beats, in each line regardless of the number of unstressed syllables. This is the basis for most nursery rhymes and rap music. In other words, you could have a varying number of syllables in each line, but the number of stresses would fall into a recognizable pattern.
This is the most common and widely recognized meter in English. Accentual-syllabic meter counts both stressed and unstressed syllables and arranges them in specific patterns with specific names. Each unit in accentual-syllabic meter is called a "foot". A foot consists of a number of accented and unaccented syllables. Each line has a certain number of feet in it. For instance, an "iamb" is a two syllable foot where the first syllable is unaccented and the second is accented. Words like "tonight" and "about" are iambs. When someone says "iambic pentameter" they mean a line consisting of five iambs, equalling ten syllables in the line. There are several metrical feet defined, some with two, three or even four syllables. If you do read this and would like more detail e-mail.
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