19 pages 38 minutes read

Derek Walcott

Adam's Song

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1985

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Literary Devices

Form and Meter

“Adam’s Song” is not written in any particular meter. Some stanzas, such as the first and last, could be scanned as highly variable trimeter or pentameter, respectively. However, the poem’s stress placements are difficult to pinpoint and will vary from reader to reader. The poem’s second line, for instance, could be read as either “is killed in our own time” or “is killed in our own time.” Though the first reading scans as perfect iambic trimeter, the second reading emphasizes the poem’s shift to the present tense, and so both are viable interpretations. Line 25 is another strong example of the work’s unstable meter, and could be read either “heart, you lie still in me as the dew is” or “heart, you lie still in me as the dew is.” Since most of the poem’s lines vary in length or are open to metrical interpretations and variations, it is difficult to use the poem’s meter as evidence for particular readings. In this way, the poem is best thought of as a free verse poem with no strict metrical form.

Free verse is an interesting choice insofar as it resonates with the poem’s larger themes of freewill and self-expression.