Evocative Words and Rhythm
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Welcome to this Mometrix lesson on evocative words and rhythms!
Evocative words are words that remind the reader of something else, maybe an emotion or a thought.
Evocative words are used as illustrious language, often times in poetry, to emphasize and better paint an idea of a word. When the word ache is used, an image or idea probably just popped into your mind. The word ache brought up a thought or feeling inside of you, thus making it an evocative word. Now, I’ve provided a very small, very general list of words considered to be evocative. Even if the words do not have a specific feelings or thoughts associated with them for you personally, I think it can be agreed on that these are typical words that most people have an identifiable experience with.
Some examples of evocative words would be:
Rhythm is also associated with poetry and figurative language. It’s used to create a certain kind of flow throughout the sentences and as a result contributes that flow to the whole of the piece. It is the beat of the words as they are read, basically the musicality of the words.
Some examples of poetic elements that contribute to rhythm are:
- Dashes for pausing
- stress/unstress of syllables
I’ve provided a classic poem that I think does some interesting things with rhythm and evocative words.
To My Dear and Loving Husband
Anne Bradstreet, 1612 – 1672
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more we may live ever.
Words that could be considered evocative in this poem are two were one, we, loved, happy, compare, prize, love, mines of gold, riches, the East, quench, recompense, heavens, pray, persevere, we may live ever. Each of these words summon, bring up, or evoke ideas and feelings of wholesomeness, relationship, commitment, and an undying love/dedication to another person.
Looking at rhythm, and more specifically meter, this poem is written in iambic pentameter. An iamb is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Pentameter means that there are five sets of iambs in the line of words. You can notice that line 10 is not perfectly in iambic pentameter but has an anapest thrown in the middle of the line. An anapest is when there are two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable. The meter in this poem helps to direct the reader’s pacing of the poem while reading it. Pacing in a poem helps a lot with how the reader should feel reading the poem, slow and drawn out or quick and rushed.
By using choice evocative words with rhythm, poets like Anne Bradstreet can create meaningful pieces with a sense of purpose behind their work. Specifically, using rhythmic devices and word choice help to convey the meaning of the poem and direct the reader on how it should be interpreted.
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