The Anapestic Doctor

I wrote this poem last December during a creative writing course based at Rochester Adult Education Centre. Local authorities and government policies should recognise the importance of adult education in contributing to the health and welfare of the population. As a result of the course and a further one this year, I am now in contact with a group of local writers; we share our work and give feedback to each other; guided by the tutor this is one of the most important aspects of the course. Adult education does not just need to be about academic targets.

Thank you to our excellent tutor, Adam Modley and everyone in the group – you know who you are.

To move on, one of our homework tasks in December 2013 was to write a poem in anapaestic tetrameter – more explanation after the poem, if you’re interested.

So The Anapestic Doctor was created.

At the end of the world the Doctor is waiting

He knows what needs doing without hesitating

His faithful companion, Rose Tyler is with him

When it comes to the crunch, she will risk life and limb

The Daleks attack without any compassion

They don’t know that killing has gone out of fashion

The Doctor will snare them, they will suffer defeat

With his sonic screwdriver, they’ll soon be dead meat

So earthlings, don’t worry or get into a stew

You have a protector – he’s called Dr Who

This poem combines two of my favourite things, time travel and Dr Who. David Tennant is still my favourite Doctor so far. My children’s book, The True History of the Silver Pocket Watch,’ is a time-slip novel.

For those of you who want more explanation of poetic language, read on:

When our tutor introduced the concepts of stress, metre, iambs, foot and anapests more than one of us felt some stress. My confusion increased when I read Iambs on the whiteboard as lambs – had the Christmas Nativity play come early to Rochester?

 Poems that contain a regular rhythm are said to have metre.

Stress is the emphasis that falls on certain syllables and not others.

Most words that are made up of more than one syllable have at least one stressed syllable and one unstressed syllable. The stressed syllables are the ones which are emphasized, or spoken more loudly. The unstressed syllables are not emphasized; they are not spoken as loudly.

A foot is a combination of stressed and unstressed syllables, nothing to do with shoes.

There are all kinds of feet in poetry, and they all sound different. Here are some common examples. The stressed syllables are shown in bold.

Iamb                daDUM

Trochee            dumDA

Spondee           DUMDUM

Anapest            dadaDUM

Dactyl              DUMdada

The most common term you may come across is iambic pentameter.

Iamb – an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one – daDUM

 Pentameter – penta means five; metre refers to the regular rhythmic pattern

This means that each line of the poem has five iambs per line:


Look atDUM the first line of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The stressed syllables are shown in bold.

 If music be the food of love, play on

 Thanks to Literary Glossary website for definitions and examples.

So, a poem written in Anapestic Tetrameter has:

 Anapest –two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed one – dadaDUM

Tetrameter – tetra means four – so each line of the poem has four anapests per line.

dadaDUM dadaDUM dadaDUM dadaDUM

Look at the opening lines of, ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas,’ by Clement Clarke Moore which is written in anapestic tetrameter. Again the stressed syllables are shown in bold.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…

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Happy Christmas

1 thought on “The Anapestic Doctor

  1. Pingback: Delight or Despair? | J.M.Dallimore

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