17 pages 34 minutes read

Edgar Allan Poe

The Lake

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1827

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Literary Devices

Form and Meter

“The Lake” has 23 lines arranged in 4 stanzas with a consistent rhyme scheme. The form is inspired by Romantic odes but is ultimately Poe’s own invention. Three of the four stanzas have six lines, while the penultimate (second-to-last) stanza has five lines. The six-line stanzas use rhyming couplets in the pattern AABBCC. The five-line stanza adds a triple rhyme: AABBB. All of these are end rhymes, appearing at the end of each line. One rhyme pair in Lines 9 and 10, “by” / “melody,” requires melody to be pronounced with a long Y (as in cry). This kind of rhyme is similar to song lyrics, giving it a musical quality.

The individual lines of “The Lake” tend to be around eight syllables long. Most lines fulfill the conditions of iambic tetrameter having four iambic feet, with eight syllables. Other lines can be read with spondees, or two long or stressed syllables following two short or unstressed syllables, such as, “Of a | wild | lake, with black | rock | bound” (Line 5). End rhymes have metrical impact as well. For instance, “loneliness” (Line 4) is conventionally a dactyl, a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables, as shown in English dictionaries.