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Poetry Guide: Common Metre

Common metre, abbreviated to C. M., is an iambic metre consisting of four lines of length 8,6,8,6. It has historically been used for ballads such as Tam Lin, and hymns such as Amazing Grace and the Christmas carol While Shepherds Watched their Flocks By Night.

Many of the poems of Emily Dickinson use this metre, with the parlor game of singing her poems to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas" or the theme song from "Gilligan's Island" finding some vogue in the late 20th century. The latter is also a popular choice for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.