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In many forms do I appear,
Some to the eye, some to the ear.
You've known me since you were a babe;
I'll be here when you're in the grave.
Some tame me and make works of art,
But most fall flat before the start.
I'm measured by meter and by foot.
You notice me in your own output.
It's fair to tell me that I am,
And a pest sometimes gets a slam.
Some think that ptero- went astray,
But it's just me there, plain as day.
If handling problems is what you must,
Like a baker, I'm a pro at crust.
Though insults I do not abide,
Slighting comments may hitch a ride.
By now you should my identity spy,
So tell me then: who am I?

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  • $\begingroup$ WRE? $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Oct 6 '16 at 0:53
  • $\begingroup$ @randal'thor I'd clarify, but it would likely give away the answer. $\endgroup$ – Leafy Greens Oct 6 '16 at 0:55
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Perhaps you are

poetry or verse.

In many forms do I appear,
Some to the eye, some to the ear.

There are many poetic forms, and some poems like this one are intended to be seen as well as heard.

You've known me since you were a babe;
I'll be here when you're in the grave.

Nursery rhymes. (And poetry is likely to be around for a good long time.)

Some tame me and make works of art,
But most fall flat before the start.

There is a considerable gap between, say, William Shakespeare and William McGonagall.

I'm measured by meter and by foot.

Poetic meter, which is made up of units called feet.

You notice me in your own output.

From time to time, you may write a rhyme -- wouldn't you know it, you're a poet!

It's fair to tell me that I am,
And a pest sometimes gets a slam.

I think we have puns here on "iamb" and "anapaest".

Some think that ptero- went astray,
But it's just me there, plain as day.

Dactyl.

If handling problems is what you must,
Like a baker, I'm a pro at crust.

Not sure what this is about -- it seems like there's a pun on "Procrustean" but so far as I know that doesn't refer to any particular feature of metre, though of course you could apply it to any case where someone forces writing to fit a particular verse form.

Though insults I do not abide,
Slighting comments may hitch a ride.

I'm failing to understand this too. I suspect there's a term roughly synonymous with "slighting comments" that either also denotes a kind of verse or sounds like something that does.

By now you should my identity spy, So tell me then: who am I?

As I said above: either poetry or verse.

I haven't yet figured out what's going on with the title.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The intended answer was "rhyme" itself, but there's no meaningful distinction to be made here, so I've marked this as correct. If nobody else can get those last two clues, I'll explain them here. $\endgroup$ – Leafy Greens Oct 6 '16 at 1:16
  • $\begingroup$ Well, "rime" can mean "crust"; was the suggestion of a pun on "procrustean" coincidence? $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Oct 6 '16 at 1:17
  • $\begingroup$ Procrustean is exactly what was intended. Oddly enough, wikipedia doesn't have a page for the thing that couplet was referring to, so it might not be as well known as I thought. $\endgroup$ – Leafy Greens Oct 6 '16 at 1:19
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    $\begingroup$ I'd love to know who or what WRE is, too. I had a bit of a search for relevant people who died either recently or on the 5th or 6th of October in any year, and didn't find any. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Oct 6 '16 at 1:24
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    $\begingroup$ Ok, I just did a quick search, and my rhyming dictionary failed to materialize. It's a bit too late for me to turn over my whole room, so you can expect a full explanation of Procrustean rhyme tomorrow. As for the elusive WRE, has anyone taken a look at my profile page? $\endgroup$ – Leafy Greens Oct 6 '16 at 1:50
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The answer is

DACTYL.

In many forms do I appear,
Some to the eye, some to the ear.

The word has several different meanings, some of which (fingers) are visible to the eye while some (the poetry term) are most easily detectable in spoken words.

You've known me since you were a babe;

This refers to the finger meaning of the word.

I'll be here when you're in the grave.

Finger bones.

Some tame me and make works of art,
But most fall flat before the start.
I'm measured by meter and by foot.

This refers to the poetic term "dactyl", which is a foot in poetic meter.

You notice me in your own output.

I've written many a poem in my time.

It's fair to tell me that I am,
And a pest sometimes gets a slam.

Not quite sure about these lines.

Some think that ptero- went astray,
But it's just me there, plain as day.

Pterodactyls - this line was what first put me on to the solution.

If handling problems is what you must,
Like a baker, I'm a pro at crust.

Not sure about these lines. Maybe the fact that fingers are used for making crusts when baking?

Though insults I do not abide,
Slighting comments may hitch a ride.

Giving the middle finger (US) or two fingers (British) to someone?

By now you should my identity spy,
So tell me then: who am I?

You are a dactyl.

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  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking probably something a little more general. (Answer still being written. But I wondered about yours too and might change my mind...) $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Oct 6 '16 at 1:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Gareth I just finished adding my explanation. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Oct 6 '16 at 1:10
  • $\begingroup$ I still like mine better. But there are annoying gaps I'm still trying to fill. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Oct 6 '16 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ Very clever! But not quite right-- the missing parts are in the lines you couldn't figure out. $\endgroup$ – Leafy Greens Oct 6 '16 at 1:11

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