4.3.3 - Demotion Rule

"A stressed syllable may realize an offbeat when it occurs between two stressed syllables, or after a line-boundary and before a stressed syllable" (REP 169).

This rule is the almost mirror opposite of the promotion rule. Here syllables are demoted to prevent too many consecutive stressed syllables. However, unlike the Promotion rule, which allowed promotion at line beginnings and endings, demotion can only occur at the beginning of a line (Example 16b) or internal to it (Example 16a).


Example 16a


Example 16b

You will notice that demotions most commonly occur in an environment of consecutively stressed monosyllabic words. Were you to draw a tree for 16 b, you would scan "rough winds," w s. Further, it's worth noticing that both promotion and demotion do not really change our pronunciation of these lines or alter our clear perception of the metrical set. Instead, they complicate our perception of the meter by giving the sense of slowing down or speeding up the lines. Promotion tends to give the line the feeling of a quicker pace while the consecutive stresses involved in demotion usually make the line seem slower because of the time it takes to pronounce and distinguish the individuated syllables. This sense of speed has clear interpretive implications as we become relatively more and less aware of certain words.

Exercise #7

Mark the stress and the metrical beats and offbeats in the following:
And do whate'er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,

And do whate'er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,