To scan a verse is to determine
its meter that is, to go through
each foot and indicate whether each
syllable is stressed or unstressed. The resultant pattern is
called its scansion. We sometimes say a verse "doesn't
scan," meaning the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables
is irregular although it's wise to censure only verse that's
supposed to be regular, since free
verse isn't meant to have a fixed pattern of stressed and
From the Guide to Literary Terms by Jack Lynch.
Please send comments to Jack Lynch.
Note: This guide is still in the early stages of development.
Three question marks mean I have to write more on the subject. Bear with me.