The Stevenson

The Stevenson is an invented verse form patterned after the poem, Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish poet 1850-1894.

The Stevenson is:
○ an octastich (8 line poem) made up of 2 quatrains.
○ metric, L1-L3 & L5-L7 are iambic tetrameter, L4 & L8 are iambic trimeter.
○ rhymed, rhyme scheme aaabcccb.

{Insert by Lawrencealot
Note:  I reject the metric representation and present RESTATED specifications below.}

Requiem by Robert Lewis Stevenson 1879

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This is the verse you grave for me:
‘Here he lies where he longed to be;
Here is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.’

Pasted from
My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on the PMO resource.

I was having difficulty scanning this poem, so asked for help from Gary Kent Spain, who provided the following:

UND er the WIDE and STAR ry SKY,
DIG the GRAVE and LET me LIE.
GLAD did i LIVE and GLAD ly DIE,
And i LAID me DOWN with a WILL.

THIS is the VERSE you GRAVE for ME:
‘HERE he LIES where he LONGED to BE;
HERE is the SAIL or, HOME from the SEA,
And the HUNT er HOME from the HILL.

It IS three lines of tetrameter followed by one of trimeter, but not strictly iambic:  the tetrameters are basically iambic (if a bit trochee heavy, and that last foot in S2L3 is an anapest), but the trimeter lines are roughly anapestic:  most anapestic-style lines in English have some iambs strewn about in them.  Perhaps ‘sprung’ rhythm would better be applied to meter such as this, where the nature of the foot is less rigid than normal; but that would fly in the face of convention I guess.

My thanks to Gary for the above. We see the same kind of reliance upon stressed syllables in the form “The Stephens”.

My Example poem

My Requiem (The Stevenson)

Wherever I have been I’ve been
content existing there and then
and never wondered where or when
I’d cash my chips and die.
So when I transfer from this realm
I reckon I’ll not overwhelm
the maker if he’s at the helm,
for he’ll know when and why.

© Lawrencealot – July 20, 2014

Note: This poem was written using the specifications set forth by Van Gorder, above.
It is correct according to her metric specifications, but is a corruption of the Stevenson, shown by the 2nd template below.


Added to original content.

In October 2015 I noticed about the meter. At that time in my development I had a much broader and hopefully more complete understanding of meter generally than I did when this was first entered here. This is my current analysis:

One can keep the definition for L1-L3, L5-L7 presented by Van Gorder if one realizes that single foot substitutions are allowed almost anywhere except the final foot in a line and trochee substitutions occur in the first foot in ALL of the tetrameter lines.
I think that is quite reasonable, BUT there is no way the trimeter lines can properly be called iambic.
One can NOT make final foot substitution and keep the metric name imho.

Therefore to answer the question recently put to me by Avraham Roos, I hereby boldly reject the specification presented above and PROPOSE that this is the correct metric specification for the Stevenson:

The Stevenson is:
An Octastitch made up of two quatrains.
Metric with L1-L3 and L5-L8 composed in IAMBIC TETRAMETER, and
with L4 and L8 composed of ANAPESTIC TRIMETER.
Each tetrameter line begins with a trochee foot substitution, and
each trimeter line contains an iamb foot substitution as foot two.


Visual Templates

The Stevenson

Here is the template as used by Stevenson.


Here is Stevenson’s Requiem, had he followed the metric without
extra substition or headless feet. Only L2 and L7 are changed,
and the L7 change makes the line unnatural.

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig me a grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
and I laid me down with a will.
This is the verse you grave for me:
‘Here he lies where he longed to be;
‘Here is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.’



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One Response to The Stevenson

  1. Avraham Roos says:

    need your help understanding iambic tetrameter.

    I understand that it should be ta DUM ta DUM ta DUM ta DUM but see this is not strictly followed in Stevenson

    I found a poem that is stressed and Rhymes just like Stevenson and need to know if it is indeed a iambic tetrameter

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