What is the meaning of "that broke meter" in this context? Does it have a meaning like way too much or out of control?

Yes. By the time I came to Life Studies I’d been writing my autobiography and also writing poems that broke meter. I’d been doing a lot of reading aloud. I went on a trip to the West Coast and read at least once a day and sometimes twice for fourteen days, and more and more I found that I was simplifying my poems. If I had a Latin quotation I’d translate it into English. If adding a couple of syllables in a line made it clearer I’d add them, and I’d make little changes just impromptu as I read. That seemed to improve the reading.


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    In the poetical context it could mean poems that did not respect the rhythm pattern. See the definition of Meter 1. in Merriam-Webster.
    – None
    Mar 25, 2017 at 9:34

1 Answer 1


In poetry, metre is:

the basic rhythmic structure of a verse or lines in verse.

And you could look at this definition and examples on Literary Devices.

So once you know the person saying those words is the American poet Robert Lowell and you know that Life Studies as mentioned in this interview showed a change in the way he wrote poetry, you understand that writing poems that broke meter means "writing poems that broke with the traditional way of respecting metre in traditional English poetry".

This excerpt from the article about Robert Lowell on the Poetry Foundation deals with this aspect of Lowell's art:

In the 1940s he wrote intricate and tightly patterned poems that incorporated traditional meter and rhyme; in the late 1950s when he published Life Studies, he began to write startlingly original personal or "confessional" poetry in much looser forms and meters;

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