Wrenched accent

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

Wrenched accent

Wrenched accent: In a line of verse, the stress imposed on a syllable to conform to the meter, contrary to the stress in everyday speech. Accent is “wrenched” when the metrical accent trumps the word accent, forcing stress onto a syllable that would normally go unstressed. When a wrenched accent occurs at the end of a line of verse, the line is said to have a weak ending.

EXAMPLES: The accent in morning in the following lines from Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” (1599) is wrenched, falling on the second syllable rather than the first and creating a weak ending:

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing

Fŏr thý│dĕlі́ghteăch Máy│mŏrnі́ng… .

The following line from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798) contains two wrenched accents, with the metrical shifting of stress to roar in the word uproar and to from in the phrase bursts from:

Whăt loúd│ŭpróar│bŭrsts fróm│thăt dóor!