Line Lengths and a Viking Bunny


So I have been thinking about line lengths lately. I am working on a set of poems loosely set in ancient Greece, which has led me to sorta kinda use iambic pentameter, which means ten syllables with an unstressed followed by a stressed syllable, times five. But sometimes for the sake of either a conversational sound or to end a line on a solid word (generally not a preposition, although I am not opposed to that), I add or take away a few syllables. The Alexandrine line, so called because it was frequently used by Alexander Pope, the misogynist bastard, is twelve syllables, and I recall my English teachers saying that he chose it because twelve syllables is about the maximum you can say on a single breath. But the poem I wrote today about the Roman criminal punishment of crucifixion (you have remember that all this has been inspired by Xena: Warrior Princess) has lines of fifteen or more syllables and I think the breath is fine. It might be that shorter syllables take less breath, I suppose, which would make sense if you set a poem to music and hold some notes longer, probably frequently the longer syllables.

I guess for the most part, I am looking for a line of three to four inches in Times New Roman 12 point font, though how I got that line length, I have no idea. The writer of the blog Optional Poetry uses extremely short lines, sometimes only a few words. What kind of line lengths do you use in your poetry?

Also, this Viking Bunny appeared in my email inbox today, so I am doing you the favor of sharing. Pass it on.