Seek for the Rhythm (ep. 133)

Indilwen

New Member
I just passed listening to episode 134, when Corey was looking at the rhythm of the poem that came from Gondor in a prophetic dream. This is how I worked out the rhythm, with "o" being a stressed syllable and "-" being an unstressed.

o - - o - - o -
o - o - - o
o - - o - o -
o - - o - o
o - - o - o -
- o - o - o
- - o - o - o -
- - o - o - o

Seek for the sword that was broken:
In Imladris it dwells;
There shall be counsels taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildore's bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand.

Reading this poem with the above rhythm of stressed-unstressed syllables helps in three ways. Number one, which I think gave Corey the most trouble, is that the Elvish names of Imladris and Isildore are given their proper pronounciation, with the second syllable of each name stressed (as is my name, btw: In-DIL-wen. On Twitch my name is Indilwen_of_Rivendel. Yes, I messed up the spelling of Rivendell [over-hasty fingers, I'm afraid] and I can't figure out how to correct it. Any help would be greatly appreciated).

Anyway ...

Number two, it shows an interesting stressed-unstressed scheme at the beginning of each line. Looking at the first syllable of the first five lines, one can see that they are all stressed. The sixth line breaks the pattern by beginning with an unstressed syllable, and sets up the next two lines, which both begin with double-unstressed syllables.

Number three, looking at the last syllable of each line, one noticed a pattern of unstressed syllable, stressed syllable, unstressed syllable, stressed syllable, for all eight lines. Now THAT is pretty amazing, even without considering the intricate rhyme-scheme Tolkien uses. He is unquestionably a master poet, among his myriad other accomplishments.
 
Last edited:

JJ48

Well-Known Member
Admittedly, I don't really get poetry at all, but I can't figure out how that second line would work in this scheme. The "In" being stressed doesn't really sound right at all, regardless of the stresses afterwards.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
I concur with JJ48, that the second line seems odd. I don't think imLAdris is how this word is pronounced. IMladris seems more probable?
 

Indilwen

New Member
Yes, it's a bit tricky, but giving a non-word to the stressed and unstressed syllables in the first two lines might help:

DA-da-da DA-da-da DA-da
DA da-DA-da da-DA

SEARCH for the SWORD that was BRO-ken
IN im-LA-dris it DWELLS

If the second line still doesn't make sense, well, this was only as guess on my part. I promise I won't get violent if no-one agrees, though I wish I could read it out loud. Sometimes it's difficult to get across in writing what one hears in one's mind's ear, especially where poetry is concerned.
 
Last edited:
For what it's worth, I have always read Imladris as Im-LAD-ris. I will not even prtent that it is correct, but that has always sounded like the natural rhythm in my head.
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
The other problem with line 2 is the strong accent is on the word "in" which doesn't fit either. And starting with two unaccented syllables just brings more attention to the unwieldiness of accenting the second syllable of Imladris.

Also, you have an extra unaccented syllable in line 7 - it looks like you made the last word "awaken" rather than "waken."
 

Indilwen

New Member
The other problem with line 2 is the strong accent is on the word "in" which doesn't fit either. And starting with two unaccented syllables just brings more attention to the unwieldiness of accenting the second syllable of Imladris.

Also, you have an extra unaccented syllable in line 7 - it looks like you made the last word "awaken" rather than "waken."
*facepalm*
You're quite right. I added an extra syllable to line 7. I was even looking straight at the poem when I wrote out the stressed/unstressed pattern. See what happens when I act as though I know what I'm talking about?

PS If you can talk me through how to edit my name on Twitch I'd be grateful.
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
Sorry, I'm not on Twitch. But it's the kind of thing that drives me crazy all the time, so I probably couldn't help even if I was. :)

Just to be clear about what I meant about the second line - if I were writing the rhythm in music notation, most accents would be quarter notes or eighth notes on the beat. But the first syllable of this line - the unimportant word "in" - would be longer, a dotted quarter note so the next syllable would be and eighth note, and the accent in ImLADris would come from falling on the beat but would still probably be an eighth note. It puts too much emphasis on a throw-away word.
 
I hear a very regular 3 strong beats in each line which seems to be the most important feature that ties me to a regular rhythm and informs my pronunciation.

1. SEEK for the SWORD that was BROken:
2. In IM-la-DRIS it DWELLS;
3. There SHALL be COUNsels TAKE-en
4. STRONger than MORgul-SPELLS.
5. There SHALL be SHOWN a TOKE-en
6. That DOOM is NEAR at HAND,
7. For ISS-il-dur's BANE shall WAKE-en,
8. And the HALF-ling FORTH shall STAND."

In the video above I put the accent on There rather than shall, but looking how 3 marries up to 6 and DOOM is obviously stressed, it seems better to keep "There" unstressed and put the stress on SHALL. It also emphasizes the "shallness" of a prophetic dream, which is a nice bonus ;)
 

JJ48

Well-Known Member
I hear a very regular 3 strong beats in each line which seems to be the most important feature that ties me to a regular rhythm and informs my pronunciation.

1. SEEK for the SWORD that was BROken:
2. In IM-la-DRIS it DWELLS;
3. There SHALL be COUNsels TAKE-en
4. STRONger than MORgul-SPELLS.
5. There SHALL be SHOWN a TOKE-en
6. That DOOM is NEAR at HAND,
7. For ISS-il-dur's BANE shall WAKE-en,
8. And the HALF-ling FORTH shall STAND."

In the video above I put the accent on There rather than shall, but looking how 3 marries up to 6 and DOOM is obviously stressed, it seems better to keep "There" unstressed and put the stress on SHALL. It also emphasizes the "shallness" of a prophetic dream, which is a nice bonus ;)
Why does 3 marry up to 6 rather than to 5? I read it as:

1. SEEK for the SWORD that was BROken:
2. In IM-la-DRIS it DWELLS;
3. THERE shall be COUNsels TAKE-en
4. STRONger than MORgul-SPELLS.
5. THERE shall be SHOWN a TOKE-en
6. That DOOM is NEAR at HAND,
7. For Is-IL-dur's BANE shall WAKE-en,
8. And the HALF-ling FORTH shall STAND.

I know that probably mispronounces Isildur's name, but that's just the way that sounds best to my ear.
 
I have no good argument for that, I was only thinking in terms of reflecting top to bottom, but I really like yours just as much. In fact yours with the emphasis on There rather than shall was how I originally and more naturally said it. It’s only in thinking that shall would emphasize a prophetic nature that I started questioning that.

As regards the pronunciation of Isildur, I can see both ways. It feels to me crammed to rush 2 quick unaccented syllables into line 7, but then the same thing happens in line 8, so I can’t argue against that either. The more I think about it the more different options seem to work and I start doubting everything. I think I’ll go crawl up in a corner and rock slowly back and forth for awhile.
 

JJ48

Well-Known Member
I have no good argument for that, I was only thinking in terms of reflecting top to bottom, but I really like yours just as much. In fact yours with the emphasis on There rather than shall was how I originally and more naturally said it. It’s only in thinking that shall would emphasize a prophetic nature that I started questioning that.

As regards the pronunciation of Isildur, I can see both ways. It feels to me crammed to rush 2 quick unaccented syllables into line 7, but then the same thing happens in line 8, so I can’t argue against that either. The more I think about it the more different options seem to work and I start doubting everything. I think I’ll go crawl up in a corner and rock slowly back and forth for awhile.
This is all just my opinion, as I'm by no means a poet (and usually get told by them in great detail precisely why I'm wrong, even though I can't understand any of the explanation). So, anything I say should be taken with several tons of salt.
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
As regards the pronunciation of Isildur, I can see both ways. It feels to me crammed to rush 2 quick unaccented syllables into line 7, but then the same thing happens in line 8, so I can’t argue against that either. The more I think about it the more different options seem to work and I start doubting everything. I think I’ll go crawl up in a corner and rock slowly back and forth for awhile.
I was trying to think why I accent the first syllable of Isildur, and realized that it's because it matches line 3 with the two unaccented syllables between the first and second beats. Actually, this is the pattern in all but lines 2 and 6, with line 8 standing by itself. But again, it's all a matter of how we hear things.
 

Jim Deutch

Well-Known Member
I was trying to think why I accent the first syllable of Isildur, and realized that it's because it matches line 3 with the two unaccented syllables between the first and second beats.
In what now seem Ancient Times, before the Tolkien podcasts, I pronounced these names im-LA-dris and IS-il-DUR, and now I think I did so primarily from the beat of this very poem, which I read very much as Indilwen at the top of the thread.

Even Corey admits that he sometimes mispronounces a name to accommodate the stress pattern of a poem. (There was a very specific example, which I can't call to mind.)
 
Top