For musicality almost any poem counts on a beat, but an accentual verse form counts heavily on a fixed number of beats per line.
To give you a user-friendly definition of this early form of poetry, the following comes from my Kindle e-book for kids of all ages: the Poetry Dictionary For Children and For Fun. I’ve left the typing intact with capitalized words to show other entries in the A to Z book that might interest you too.
accentual verse [Pronounced ack-SIN-chew-uhl.] This very old type of poem counts each ACCENT in a LINE. If the first line has four accents, the other lines need that many too. As you read, clap your hands to the BEAT.
In the accentual verse below, the number of words and syllables changes from line to line. Yet all have two accents as shown in capital letters:
Up The Wall
WHY does the FLY
WALK up the WALL?
if I were to TRY,
i’d CER-tainly FALL.
but WHY does the FLY
WALK up at ALL?
WHY does the FLY
© 2009, Mary Harwell Sayler
In accentual verse, it does not matter how many words are on a line. It does not matter if a word has one SYLLABLE or more. Only the accents count. So decide how many accents you want. Then have that number on each line.
©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved.
Yes, I wrote the above definition for kids, but why make learning hard? For a light and friendly e-book of poetry terms, order the Poetry Dictionary For Children and For Fun from the Kindle store on Amazon.
If you write Bible-based poetry, devotionals, or religious poems, you might also like a Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry, an e-book version of the poetry home study course I wrote in the early 1980’s and used for years in working with other poets and poetry students.