Metrical analysis differentiates between actual stressing and the abstract metrical scheme. In early modern England, metrical rules allowed rhythmical variety in verse lines, and Shirley, like other authors of iambic verse, achieved this by playing off ‘irregularities’ against a ‘metrical sound board’.1 The metrical scheme of iambic verse can be hummed as ta-TA-ta-TA-ta-TA . . ., or it can be visualised as an alteration of syllabic ‘slots’, or syllabic positions. In English, some positions require stressed syllables more often, while others require unstressed or weakly stressed syllables. Syllabic positions that are predominantly filled with stressed syllables are called metrically strong, and those that are predominantly filled with unstressed syllables are called metrically weak.