Scansion: definition/explanation

In general, to scan is to look intently at all parts of a verse in a poetry successively. Therefore, in prosody, Scansion refers to metrical scanning of verse, because it analyzes the metrical pattern of a poem through stressed and unstressed syllables.

When a unit of verse- a foot, line or a stanza is scanned with the help of symbols the metre can be seen as well as heard.

In classical poetry, these patterns are quantitative based on the different lengths of each syllable. (stressed or unstressed in a verse or a line of poetry)

We make use of few symbols in order to scan a passage in verse (and sometimes also in a prose).

Let’s understand all the symbols through a table

SymbolName of the symbolPurpose
/The acute accent syllableMetrically stressed
UThe braveMetrically wear syllable
|A single lineDivision between feet
||A double lineCaesura or pause
^A restA syllable, metrically expected but not actually present

‘/’ represents the stressed syllable while ‘U’ represents the unstressed syllable in a verse or a line of a poetry.

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