Short meter (short measure)

The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018

Short meter (short measure)

Short meter (short measure): A four-line stanza with an abab or abcb rhyme scheme in which the first, second, and fourth lines typically are written in iambic trimeter and the third in iambic tetrameter. Short meter, often abbreviated “S.M.,” is common in hymns.

EXAMPLES: The hymn “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord” (1800), written by Timothy Dwight, uses short meter with an abcb rhyme scheme; the first stanza, which contains a half-rhyme (abode / blood), follows:

Ĭ lóve│Thy̆ ki̇́ng│dŏm, Lórd,

The house of Thine abode,

Thĕ Chúrch│oŭr blést│Rĕdéem│ĕr sáved

With His own precious blood.

Many of Emily Dickinson’s poems were written in short meter, such as the following poem (posthumously published in 1891), which begins:

A BIRD came down the walk:

He did not know I saw;

He bit an angle-worm in halves

And ate the fellow, raw.