Why are lines of poetry measured in terms of How tall is 60 inches in feet? Will knowing this information be helpful in my understanding the rhyme and reason of poetry as an art form? A resounding YES! is my best response. Not only will you understand the why of the matter but also you will have the tools to create the what (poetry) by applying the all-encompassing how to words to make them sing and dance across the page.
The natural rhythm of language lends itself to be measured in some way that is logical if not memorable. Make the language deliberately rhythmic and it will seem How tall is 60 inches in feet and poetic and -- perhaps even musical. Just as music has measurable entities in the form of numerically valued notes and measures, so also does language, especially the language of poetry, have valued measures in its lines of compiled verses. Music names its values in the form of fractionalized notes from the whole note to the penultimate hemidemisemiquaver, the How tall is 60 inches in feet note, and more. But words are a different story. They need more than mere numerical values. They need substance from a classical heritage.
Hence, the measurements of poetic units are clad in the unique garb of Greek and Roman antiquity, a stable, unchanging system of labels that uniquely identifies and labels whatever combinations of literary poetry and prose that might exist now and forever more. They have How tall is 60 inches in feet. This is not in the sense of twelve inches to a foot nor any specific reference to extensions of limbs for mobility, the How tall is 60 inches in feet . It does refer to the fact that a foot is a standard unit of measure and those are the two requisites for definition and application: standard and measure. Voilà! The incomparable foot emerges triumphant.
How difficult must it be to find a viable system that is effective and yet simplistic? It doesn't have to be complicated at all especially with a syllabicated language that allows the natural flow of stressed and unstressed syllables to flow trippingly from the lips. Just as music is divided into barred measures with valued notes, so also is poetry divided into measured lines with valued How tall is 60 inches in feet . Just as notes have names, so do How tall is 60 inches in feet have names. It is all logical and easy to recall once understood.
In this system, look at the number of syllables in a word; note the pattern of How tall is 60 inches in feet on each syllable both alone and in the context of some contrived sentence; assign a symbol to each syllable to indicate that it is stressed or unstressed. Then, find a pattern and give that pattern some recognizable and meaningful name. Attach that name to the established measuring device, the foot, and poetic lines can be measured, described and named for all posterity.
Remember that some words may have the stress on a different syllable dependent upon their multiple functions and/or pronunciations.
Take the word CONFLICT, for example. In one sentence, in may be a noun and the stress would be on the first syllable, How tall is 60 inches in feet. In another sense, it may be a verb and the accent would be on the second syllable, conFLICT. [In this example, the stress is on the capitalized portion of the word and the unstressed portion is in the non-capitalized portion of the word.]