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Like Donne’s poem, The Altar engages in an alternate iambic pentameter and iambic tetrameter for the first two couplets. The poem then changes to iambic dimeter for four couplets and then the last two couplets mirror the alternate meters in the first two couplets. Similarly to The Flea, the alternate meter’s highlight the speaker’s character. The immediate switch from iambic tetrameter to iambic dimeter speeds the pace of the poem up; the middle section illuminates the speaker’s message in how he believes one should offer himself to God. The last couple of iambic dimeter is, ‘Meets in this frame / To praise thy name’ (11/12) which is of high significance. Herbert cleverly uses a punning reference to the ‘frame’ of the poem and also a person’s state of mind. Following on from this, the alternate meter’s also fit in with the visual shape of the poem which is effective as it links in with the metaphysical conceit of an altar that Herbert uses throughout. Both poets use various meter’s to demonstrate either the duplicitous motive of the speaker in The Flea or to strengthen importance of the message in The Altar.


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