In modern poetry, echo verse is quite rare1. Many students, especially those not focusing on poetry, may have never come across such a style, one that has not been used heavily since the renaissance period. With exception, however, Fred Chappell’s Narcissus and Echo employs incredible echo technique in a fashion relatively unique to Chappell himself. The secondary poem hidden within Chappell’s Narcissus and Echo not only contains a more potent message, forcing the reader to consider the basic nature of love and relationship, but also transforms the original poem into a dialogue versus its original genre as a statement or explanation.Within Narcissus and Echo, Fred Chappell brilliantly combines meter, rhyme, rhythm, assonance, and allusion. The meter within this poem consists of varying types of pentameter. While each line holds within it exactly five stressed syllables, the number of unstressed syllables as well as their placement varies greatly. This technique gives the poem a feeling of passion as Narcissus – and Echo – speak, rather than sounding stoic and rehearsed as a poem in simple iambic or trochaic pentameter might. Punctuation is used sparingly within this poem of Chappell’s thus the rhythm is controlled almost totally by the highly varying meter. This technique lends greater authenticity to the poem when it is read aloud.A scheme of echo rhyme is apparent almost immediately within Narcissus and Echo. Though confusing at first, this scheme is an integral portion of the poem. Not only is this echo scheme used, but Chappell also creates a hidden poem within these rhyming
words. In this hidden poem the persona taken on by Chappell shifts from Narcissus to the opposing nymph, Echo. The second poem effectively changes the poem’s style from a statement-type in which Narcissus explains his life, to a dialogue-type between the two personas mentioned.Echo rhyme, however, is not the only form of repetition found inside Chappell’s piece on love and relationship. Within every line of the original poem, at least one example of assonance exists.