Electronic Database of Poetic Form

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Project Description:

We are working on a database containing information on the metrical structures and rhyme schemes of poetry. The poetry included would initially be from the 1590s for a pilot, then expanding to include poetry published 1475-1700. We aim ultimately to create a database in which users will be able to search a variety of criteria, searching specific poetic forms by name (‘ode’, ‘ballad’), or metre (‘iambic tetrameter’), or rhyme scheme (‘abcb’) and then refine search results within a time period, or according to author, or place of publication, or language. They would also be able to enter information about a poem, such as its rhyme scheme, and be able to view similar or identical forms in the database. Our strategy is to create an interface which will interrogate marked-up EEBO-TCP texts, as users present queries. We employ a Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) P5-compliant scheme to enrich the relevant encoded texts, using a base tag set for the encoding of rhyme scheme and metrical information, along with a rhyme element to support simple analysis of rhyming words. The primary function of these tags is to encode the conventional metrical or rhyming structure within which a poet is working. By making this information available to users, the database will enable users to ask the kinds of questions about poetic form that we currently ask about words and phrases in EEBO-TCP texts, such as what the origins of a given form are, how does its structure and use change over time, whether a form relates to others and how this relationship develops over time.