Metre (poetry)
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In
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre (poetry), metre—to ...

poetry
, metre ( Commonwealth spelling) or meter (
American spelling Despite the various English dialects spoken from country to country and within different regions of the same country, there are only slight regional variations in English orthography English orthography is the system of writing convention ...
; see
spelling differences Despite the various English dialects Dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two distinct ways to refer to two different types of Linguistics, ...
) is the basic rhythmic structure of a
verse Verse may refer to: Poetry * Verse, an occasional synonym for poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language ...
or lines in verse. Many traditional
verse form Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre (poetry), metre—to ...
s prescribe a specific verse metre, or a certain set of metres alternating in a particular order. The study and the actual use of metres and forms of versification are both known as prosody. (Within
linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include phonetics, phonet ...

linguistics
, "
prosody Prosody may refer to: * Sanskrit prosody, Prosody (Sanskrit), the study of poetic meters and verse in Sanskrit and one of the six Vedangas, or limbs of Vedic studies * Prosody (Greek), the theory and practice of Greek versification * Prosody (Lati ...
" is used in a more general sense that includes not only poetic metre but also the rhythmic aspects of
prose Prose is a form of written (or spoken) language that usually exhibits a natural speech, natural flow of speech and Syntax, grammatical structure—an exception is the narrative device stream of consciousness. The word "prose" first appears in Eng ...

prose
, whether formal or informal, that vary from language to language, and sometimes between poetic traditions.)


Characteristics

An assortment of features can be identified when classifying poetry and its metre.


Qualitative versus quantitative metre

The metre of most poetry of the Western world and elsewhere is based on patterns of syllables of particular types. The familiar type of metre in English-language poetry is called qualitative metre, with stressed syllables coming at regular intervals (e.g. in
iambic pentameter Iambic pentameter () is a type of metric line used in traditional English poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of l ...
s, usually every even-numbered syllable). Many
Romance languages The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin is a range of informal sociolects of Latin Latin (, or , ) ...

Romance languages
use a scheme that is somewhat similar but where the position of only one particular stressed syllable (e.g. the last) needs to be fixed. The metre of the old
Germanic poetry In prosody, alliterative verse is a form of verse that uses alliteration as the principal ornamental device to help indicate the underlying metrical structure, as opposed to other devices such as rhyme. The most commonly studied traditions of ...
of languages such as
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic languages, North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and th ...
and
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventu ...
was radically different, but was still based on stress patterns. Some classical languages, in contrast, used a different scheme known as quantitative metre, where patterns were based on
syllable weightIn linguistics, syllable weight is the concept that syllables pattern together according to the number and/or duration of segment (linguistics), segments in the syllable rime, rime. In Prosody (Latin), classical Indo-European verse, as developed in A ...
rather than stress. In the
dactylic hexameter Dactylic hexameter (also known as "heroic hexameter" and "the meter of epic") is a form of meter (poetry), meter or rhythmic scheme in poetry. It is traditionally associated with the quantitative meter of classical epic poetry in both Greek langua ...
s of
Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin, Latin language recognized as a Literary language, literary standard language, standard by writers of the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire. It was used from 75 BC to the 3rd century AD, when it deve ...
and
Classical Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European family of languages, nati ...
, for example, each of the six
feet The foot (plural: feet) is an anatomical structure found in many vertebrates. It is the terminal portion of a Limb (anatomy), limb which bears weight and allows Animal locomotion, locomotion. In many animals with feet, the foot is a separate org ...
making up the line was either a
dactyl Dactyl may refer to: * Dactyl (mythology) In Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the Cosmogony, origin and Co ...
(long-short-short) or a
spondee A spondee (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repub ...
(long-long): a "long syllable" was literally one that took longer to pronounce than a short syllable: specifically, a syllable consisting of a long vowel or diphthong or followed by two consonants. The stress pattern of the words made no difference to the metre. A number of other ancient languages also used quantitative metre, such as
Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia ...
,
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
and
Classical Arabic Classical Arabic ( ar, links=no, ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلْفُصْحَىٰ, al-ʿarabīyah al-fuṣḥā) or Quranic Arabic is the standardized literary form of the Arabic language Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, ...
(but not
Biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew ( ''Ivrit Miqra'it'' or ''Leshon ha-Miqra''), also called Classical Hebrew, is an archaic form of Hebrew language, Hebrew, a language in the Canaanite languages, Canaanite branch of Semitic languages, Semitic languages, spoken b ...
). Finally, non-stressed languages that have little or no differentiation of syllable length, such as French or Chinese, base their verses on the number of syllables only. The most common form in French is the , with twelve syllables a verse, and in classical Chinese five characters, and thus five syllables. But since each Chinese character is pronounced using one syllable in a certain
tone Tone may refer to: Color-related * Tone, mix of tint and shade, in painting and color theory * Tone, the lightness In colorimetry and color theory, lightness, also known as value or tone, is a representation of a color's brightness. It is ...
,
classical Chinese poetry Classical Chinese poetry is traditional Chinese poetry written in Classical Chinese and typified by certain Classical Chinese poetry forms, traditional forms, or modes; Classical Chinese poetry genres, traditional genres; and connections with part ...
also had more strictly defined rules, such as thematic parallelism or tonal antithesis between lines.


Feet

In many
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...

Western
classical poetic traditions, the metre of a verse can be described as a sequence of ''
feet The foot (plural: feet) is an anatomical structure found in many vertebrates. It is the terminal portion of a Limb (anatomy), limb which bears weight and allows Animal locomotion, locomotion. In many animals with feet, the foot is a separate org ...
'', each foot being a specific sequence of syllable types – such as relatively unstressed/stressed (the norm for
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
poetry) or long/short (as in most classical
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...
and
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
poetry).
Iambic pentameter Iambic pentameter () is a type of metric line used in traditional English poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of l ...
, a common metre in English poetry, is based on a sequence of five '' iambic feet'' or ''iambs'', each consisting of a relatively unstressed syllable (here represented with "˘" above the syllable) followed by a relatively stressed one (here represented with "/" above the syllable) –
 ˘  /   ˘   /   ˘    /      ˘  /     ˘   /
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
 ˘  /    ˘      /   ˘     /   ˘     /    ˘   /
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
This approach to analyzing and classifying metres originates from
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Dark Ages () ...
tragedians and poets such as
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') was the presumed author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are the foundational works of ancient Greek literature. The ''Iliad'' is set during the Trojan War, the ten-year s ...

Homer
,
Pindar Pindar (; grc-gre, Πίνδαρος , ; la, Pindarus; c. 518 – 438 BC) was an Ancient Greek lyric poet from Thebes. Of the canonical Canonical may refer to: Science and technology * Canonical form In mathematics Mathematics (from ...

Pindar
,
Hesiod Hesiod (; grc-gre, Ἡσίοδος ''Hēsíodos'', 'he who emits the voice') was an ancient Greek poet generally thought to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēro ...
, and
Sappho Sappho (; el, Σαπφώ ''Sapphō'' ; Aeolic Greek In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling t ...

Sappho
. However some metres have an overall rhythmic pattern to the line that cannot easily be described using feet. This occurs in Sanskrit poetry; see
Vedic metre Vedic metre refers to the poetic metre in the Vedic literature. The study of Vedic metre, along with post-Vedic metre, is part of Chandas, one of the six Vedanga __NOTOC__ The Vedanga ( sa, वेदाङ्ग ', "limbs of the Veda") are six aux ...
and
Sanskrit metre Sanskrit prosody or Chandas refers to one of the six Vedangas, or limbs of Vedic studies.James Lochtefeld (2002), "Chandas" in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A-M, Rosen Publishing, , page 140 It is the study of poetic metres ...
. (Although this poetry is in fact specified using feet, each "foot" is more or less equivalent to an entire line.) It also occurs in some Western metres, such as the
hendecasyllable In poetry, a hendecasyllable is a line of eleven syllables. The term "hendecasyllabic" is used to refer to two different poetic meters, the older of which is quantitative and used chiefly in classical (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes ...
favoured by
Catullus Gaius Valerius Catullus ( ; ; c. 84 – c. 54 BC) was a Latin poet of the late Roman Republic who wrote chiefly in the neoteric style of poetry, focusing on personal life rather than classical heroes. Poetry of Catullus, His surviving works ...

Catullus
and Martial, which can be described as: x x — ∪ ∪ — ∪ — ∪ — — (where "—" = long, "∪" = short, and "x x" can be realized as "— ∪" or "— —" or "∪ —")


Disyllables

'' Macron and breve notation: '' = stressed/long syllable, = unstressed/short syllable


Trisyllables

If the line has only one foot, it is called a ''
monometerIn poetry, a monometre is a line of verse with just one metrical foot. Example Monometer can be exemplified by this portion of Robert Herrick (poet), Robert Herrick's poem "Upon His Departure Hence":Works of Robert Herrick Vol 1 ed. Alfred Pollard, ...
''; two feet, ''
dimeter In poetry, a dimeter is a metrical line of verse with two metrical foot, feet. The particular metrical foot, foot can vary. Consider Thomas Hood's "The Bridge of Sighs (poem), Bridge of Sighs:", in which the first line of a pair is of two feet, e ...
''; three is ''
trimeter In poetry, a trimeter (Greek for "three measure") is a metre of three metrical foot, metrical feet per line. Examples: : When here // the spring // we see, : Fresh green // upon // the tree. See also * Anapaest * Dactyl (poetry), Dactyl * Tristi ...
''; four is ''
tetrameterIn poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre (poetry), me ...
''; five is ''
pentameter Pentameter ( grc, πεντάμετρος, 'measuring five (Foot (prosody), feet)') is a poetic meter (poetry), meter. А poem is said to be written in a particular pentameter when the line (poetry), lines of the poem have the length of five feet, wh ...

pentameter
''; six is ''
hexameterHexameter is a metrical line of verses consisting of six feet (a "foot" here is the pulse, or major accent, of words in an English line of poetry; in Greek and Latin a "foot" is not an accent, but describes various combinations of syllables). It wa ...

hexameter
'', seven is ''
heptameter Heptameter is a type of meter where each line of verse contains seven metrical feet.Harmon, William, and Hugh Holman. ''A Handbook to Literature.'' Eleventh ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson-Prentice Hall, 2009. 264. It was used frequently in Clas ...
'' and eight is '' octameter''. For example, if the feet are iambs, and if there are five feet to a line, then it is called an
iambic pentameter Iambic pentameter () is a type of metric line used in traditional English poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of l ...
. If the feet are primarily ''dactyls'' and there are six to a line, then it is a
dactylic hexameter Dactylic hexameter (also known as "heroic hexameter" and "the meter of epic") is a form of meter (poetry), meter or rhythmic scheme in poetry. It is traditionally associated with the quantitative meter of classical epic poetry in both Greek langua ...
.


Caesura

Sometimes a natural pause occurs in the middle of a line rather than at a line-break. This is a
caesura 100px, An example of a caesura in modern western music notation. A caesura (, . caesuras or caesurae; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was orig ...
(cut). A good example is from ''
The Winter's Tale ''The Winter's Tale'' is a play by William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and one of ...
'' by
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and one of the world's greatest dramatists. He is often called England' ...

William Shakespeare
; the caesurae are indicated by '/':
:It is for you we speak, / not for ourselves: :You are abused / and by some putter-on :That will be damn'd for't; / would I knew the villain, :I would land-damn him. / Be she honour-flaw'd, :I have three daughters; / the eldest is eleven
In Latin and Greek poetry, a caesura is a break within a foot caused by the end of a word. Each line of traditional Germanic
alliterative verse In meter (poetry), prosody, alliterative verse is a form of poetry, verse that uses alliteration as the principal ornamental device to help indicate the underlying Metre (poetry), metrical structure, as opposed to other devices such as rhyme. The m ...
is divided into two half-lines by a caesura. This can be seen in
Piers Plowman , showing drolleriesImage:Piers plowman drolleries.gif, Page from the 14th-century Luttrell Psalter, showing a drollery on the right margin. A drollerie, often also called a grotesque, from French language, is a small decorative image in the Margi ...

Piers Plowman
:
:A fair feeld ful of folk / fond I ther bitwene— :Of alle manere of men / the meene and the riche, :Werchynge and wandrynge / as the world asketh. :Somme putten hem to the plough / pleiden ful selde, :In settynge and sowynge / swonken ful harde, :And wonnen that thise wastours / with glotonye destruyeth.


Enjambment

By contrast with caesura, enjambment is incomplete syntax at the end of a line; the meaning runs over from one poetic line to the next, without terminal punctuation. Also from Shakespeare's ''The Winter's Tale'':
:I am not prone to weeping, as our sex :Commonly are; the want of which vain dew :Perchance shall dry your pities; but I have :That honourable grief lodged here which burns :Worse than tears drown.


Metric variations

Poems with a well-defined overall metric pattern often have a few lines that violate that pattern. A common variation is the ''inversion'' of a foot, which turns an
iamb Iamb, iambus, or iambic may refer to: Meter and poetry Classical poetry and quantitative verse * Iamb (poetry) * Choliamb * Iambus (genre) Accentual-syllabic and syllabic verse * Iambic trimeter * Iambic trimeter#Accentual-syllabic iambic trimete ...
("da-DUM") into a
trochee In poetic metre, a trochee (), choree (), or choreus, is a metrical foot consisting of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one, in English, or a syllable weight, heavy syllable followed by a light one in Latin or Greek (also described ...
("DUM-da"). A second variation is a ''headless'' verse, which lacks the first syllable of the first foot. A third variation is catalexis, where the end of a line is shortened by a foot, or two or part thereof – an example of this is at the end of each verse in Keats' "La Belle Dame sans Merci":
:And on thy cheeks a fading rose (4 feet) :Fast withereth too (2 feet)


Modern English

Most English metre is classified according to the same system as Classical metre with an important difference. English is an accentual language, and therefore beats and offbeats (stressed and unstressed syllables) take the place of the long and short syllables of classical systems. In most English verse, the metre can be considered as a sort of back beat, against which natural speech rhythms vary expressively. The most common characteristic feet of English verse are the
iamb Iamb, iambus, or iambic may refer to: Meter and poetry Classical poetry and quantitative verse * Iamb (poetry) * Choliamb * Iambus (genre) Accentual-syllabic and syllabic verse * Iambic trimeter * Iambic trimeter#Accentual-syllabic iambic trimete ...
in two syllables and the
anapest An anapaest (; also spelled anapæst or anapest, also called antidactylus) is a metrical foot The foot is the basic repeating rhythmic unit that forms part of a line of verse in most Indo-European traditions of poetry, including English accen ...
in three. (See
Foot (prosody) The foot is the basic repeating rhythmic unit that forms part of a line of verse in most Indo-European traditions of poetry, including English accentual-syllabic verse and the quantitative meter In poetry, metre (British English, Commonwealt ...
for a complete list of the metrical feet and their names.)


Metrical systems

The number of metrical systems in English is not agreed upon. The four major types are:
accentual verseAccentual verse has a fixed number of stresses per Line (poetry), line regardless of the number of syllables that are present. It is common in languages that are stress-timed language, stress-timed, such as English language, English, as opposed to sy ...
,
accentual-syllabic verse Accentual-syllabic verse is an extension of accentual verse which fixes both the number of stresses and syllables within a line or stanza. Accentual-syllabic verse is highly regular and therefore easily scannable. Usually, either one metrical foo ...
,
syllabic verseSyllabic verse is a poetic form having a fixed or constrained number of syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, sy ...
and
quantitative verse In poetry, metre (British English, Commonwealth spelling) or meter (American English, American spelling; see American and British English spelling differences#-re, -er, spelling differences) is the basic rhythm, rhythmic structure of a verse (poet ...
. The
alliterative verse In meter (poetry), prosody, alliterative verse is a form of poetry, verse that uses alliteration as the principal ornamental device to help indicate the underlying Metre (poetry), metrical structure, as opposed to other devices such as rhyme. The m ...
of Old English could also be added to this list, or included as a special type of accentual verse. Accentual verse focuses on the number of stresses in a line, while ignoring the number of offbeats and syllables; accentual-syllabic verse focuses on regulating both the number of stresses and the total number of syllables in a line; syllabic verse only counts the number of syllables in a line; quantitative verse regulates the patterns of long and short syllables (this sort of verse is often considered alien to English). The use of foreign metres in English is all but exceptional.


Frequently used metres

The most frequently encountered metre of English verse is the
iambic pentameter Iambic pentameter () is a type of metric line used in traditional English poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of l ...
, in which the metrical norm is five iambic feet per line, though metrical substitution is common and rhythmic variations are practically inexhaustible.
John Milton John Milton (9 December 16088 November 1674) was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England The Commonwealth was the political structure during the period from 1649 to 1660 when Englan ...

John Milton
's ''
Paradise Lost ''Paradise Lost'' is an epic poem in blank verse by the 17th-century English poet John Milton (1608–1674). The first version, published in 1667, consists of ten books with over ten thousand lines of verse (poetry), verse. A second edition fol ...

Paradise Lost
'', most
sonnet A sonnet is a poetic form which originated in the Italian poetry composed at the Court of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II in Palermo, Sicily. The 13th-century poet and notary Giacomo da Lentini is credited wit ...
s, and much else besides in English are written in iambic pentameter. Lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter are commonly known as
blank verse Blank verse is poetry written with regular metre (poetry), metrical but rhyme, unrhymed lines, almost always in iambic pentameter. It has been described as "probably the most common and influential form that English poetry has taken since the 16 ...
. Blank verse in the English language is most famously represented in the plays of
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and one of the world's greatest dramatists. He is often called England' ...

William Shakespeare
and the great works of Milton, though
Tennyson Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892) was a British poet. He was the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, Poet Laureate during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular British poets. ...

Tennyson
(''
Ulysses Ulysses is the Roman name for Odysseus, a hero in ancient Greek literature. Ulysses may also refer to: People * Ulysses (given name), including a list of people with this name Places in the United States * Ulysses, Kansas * Ulysses, Kentucky * U ...
'', '' The Princess'') and
Wordsworth William Wordsworth (7 April 177023 April 1850) was an English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge Samuel Taylor Coleridge (; 21 October 177225 July 1834) was an English poet, literary critic, philosopher and theologian wh ...

Wordsworth
(''
The Prelude ''The Prelude or, Growth of a Poet's Mind; An Autobiographical Poem '' is an autobiographical poem in blank verse by the English poet William Wordsworth William Wordsworth (7 April 177023 April 1850) was an English Romantic poetry, Romant ...

The Prelude
'') also make notable use of it. A rhymed pair of lines of iambic pentameter make a
heroic coupletA heroic couplet is a traditional form for English literature, English poetry, commonly used in epic poetry, epic and narrative poetry, and consisting of a rhyming pair of lines in iambic pentameter. Use of the heroic couplet was pioneered by Geoff ...
, a
verse form Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre (poetry), metre—to ...
which was used so often in the 18th century that it is now used mostly for humorous effect (although see
Pale Fire ''Pale Fire'' is a 1962 novel by Vladimir Nabokov Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (russian: link=no, Владимир Владимирович Набоков ; 2 July 1977), also known by the pen name A pen name, also called a ''nom de plume'' ...
for a non-trivial case). The most famous writers of heroic couplets are
Dryden John Dryden (; – ) was an English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who was appointed England's first Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, Poet Laureate in 1668. He is seen as dominating the literary life of Restoration (Eng ...

Dryden
and
Pope The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff () or the Roman pontiff (), is the bishop of Diocese of Rome, Rome, chief pastor of the worldwide Catholic Church, and head of state o ...

Pope
. Another important metre in English is the ballad metre, also called the "common metre", which is a four-line stanza, with two pairs of a line of
iambic tetrameterIambic tetrameter is a meter in poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound sym ...
followed by a line of
iambic trimeter The Iambic trimeter is a meter of poetry consisting of three iambic units (each of two feet) per line. In ancient Greek poetry Ancient Greek literature is literature Literature broadly is any collection of Writing, written work, but it ...
; the
rhyme A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds (usually, exactly the same sound) in the final stressed syllables and any following syllables of two or more words. Most often, this kind of perfect rhyming is consciously used for a musical or aesthetic ef ...
s usually fall on the lines of trimeter, although in many instances the tetrameter also rhymes. This is the metre of most of the Border and Scots or English ballads. In
hymn A hymn is a type of song, usually religious and partially coincident with devotional song, specifically written for the purpose of adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification. Th ...

hymn
ody it is called the "common metre", as it is the most common of the named hymn metres used to pair many hymn lyrics with melodies, such as ''
Amazing Grace "Amazing Grace" is a Christian hymn published in 1779, with words written in 1772 by the English poet and Anglican clergyman John Newton (1725–1807). It is an immensely popular hymn, particularly in the United States, where it is used for bo ...
'':
:Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound ::That saved a wretch like me; :I once was lost, but now am found; ::Was blind, but now I see.
Emily Dickinson Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet. Little known during her life, she has since been regarded as one of the most important figures in American poetry. Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachu ...
is famous for her frequent use of ballad metre:
:Great streets of silence led away :To neighborhoods of pause — :Here was no notice — no dissent — :No universe — no laws.


Other languages


Sanskrit

Versification in Classical Sanskrit poetry is of three kinds. #Syllabic () metres depend on the number of syllables in a verse, with relative freedom in the distribution of light and heavy syllables. This style is derived from older Vedic forms. An example is the
Anuṣṭubh ( sa, अनुष्टुभ्, ) is a meter and a metrical unit, found in both Vedic FIle:Atharva-Veda samhita page 471 illustration.png, upright=1.2, The Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. Above: A page from the ''Atharvaveda'' ...
metre found in the great epics, the
Mahabharata The ''Mahābhārata'' (; sa, महाभारतम्, ', ) is one of the two major Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit Indian epic poetry, epics of ancient India, the other being the ''Ramayana, Rāmāyaṇa''. It narrates the struggle betwee ...

Mahabharata
and the
Ramayana ''Rāmāyana'' (; sa, रामायणम्, ) is one of the two major Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit Indian epic poetry, epics of ancient India and important text of Hinduism, the other being the ''Mahabharata, Mahābhārata''. The epic ...

Ramayana
, which has exactly eight syllables in each line, of which only some are specified as to length. #Syllabo-quantitative () metres depend on syllable count, but the light-heavy patterns are fixed. An example is the
Mandākrāntā metre (Sanskrit: ) is the name of a metre commonly used in classical Sanskrit poetry. The name in Sanskrit means "slow-stepping" or "slowly advancing". It is said to have been invented by India's most famous poet Kālidāsa, (5th century CE), who used it ...
, in which each line has 17 syllables in a fixed pattern. #Quantitative () metres depend on duration, where each line has a fixed number of ''
morae A mora (plural ''morae'' or ''moras''; often symbolized μ) is a unit in phonology that describes syllable weight, which in some languages determines stress (linguistics), stress or timing (linguistics), timing. A mora is a sound which comes after ...
'', grouped in feet with usually 4 ''morae'' in each foot. An example is the
Arya metre ''Āryā meter'' is a Meter (poetry), meter used in Sanskrit, Prakrit and Marathi language, Marathi verses. A verse in metre is in four metrical lines called ''pāda''s. Unlike the majority of meters employed in classical Sanskrit, the meter is ba ...
, in which each verse has four lines of 12, 18, 12, and 15 ''morae'' respectively. In each 4-''mora'' foot there can be two long syllables, four short syllables, or one long and two short in any order. Standard traditional works on metre are Pingala's and Kedāra's . The most exhaustive compilations, such as the modern ones by Patwardhan and Velankar contain over 600 metres. This is a substantially larger repertoire than in any other metrical tradition.


Greek and Latin

The metrical "feet" in the classical languages were based on the length of time taken to pronounce each syllable, which were categorized according to their
weight In science and engineering, the weight of an object is the force acting on the object due to gravity. Some standard textbooks define weight as a Euclidean vector, vector quantity, the gravitational force acting on the object. Others define weight ...
as either "long" syllables or "short" syllables (indicated as ''dum'' and ''di'' below). These are also called "heavy" and "light" syllables, respectively, to distinguish from long and short vowels. The foot is often compared to a musical measure and the long and short syllables to whole notes and half notes. In English poetry, feet are determined by emphasis rather than length, with stressed and unstressed syllables serving the same function as long and short syllables in classical metre. The basic unit in Greek and Latin prosody is a
mora Mora may refer to: Places * Doctor Mora, city in the Mexican state of Guanajuato * Mora (Cordillera), Bolivia * Mora, Cameroon, a town * Mora (canton), Costa Rica * Mora, Cyprus, a village * Mora, Maharashtra, India, a port near Mumbai * Mora, Port ...
, which is defined as a single short syllable. A long syllable is equivalent to two morae. A long syllable contains either a long vowel, a
diphthong A diphthong ( or ; from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''diphthongos'', literally "double sound" or "double tone"; from ''δίς'' "twice" and ''φθόγγος'' "sound"), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel sounds w ...
, or a short vowel followed by two or more consonants. Various rules of
elision In linguistics, an elision or deletion is broadly defined as the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two princi ...
sometimes prevent a grammatical syllable from making a full syllable, and certain other lengthening and shortening rules (such as
correption In Latin and Greek poetry, correption ( la, correptiō , "a shortening") is the shortening of a long vowel at the end of one word before a vowel at the beginning of the next. Vowels next to each other in neighboring words are in hiatus (linguistic ...
) can create long or short syllables in contexts where one would expect the opposite. The most important Classical metre is the
dactylic hexameter Dactylic hexameter (also known as "heroic hexameter" and "the meter of epic") is a form of meter (poetry), meter or rhythmic scheme in poetry. It is traditionally associated with the quantitative meter of classical epic poetry in both Greek langua ...
, the metre of Homer and Virgil. This form uses verses of six feet. The word ''dactyl'' comes from the Greek word ''daktylos'' meaning ''finger'', since there is one long part followed by two short stretches. The first four feet are dactyl (poetry), dactyls (''daa-duh-duh''), but can be
spondee A spondee (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repub ...
s (''daa-daa''). The fifth foot is almost always a dactyl. The sixth foot is either a spondee or a
trochee In poetic metre, a trochee (), choree (), or choreus, is a metrical foot consisting of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one, in English, or a syllable weight, heavy syllable followed by a light one in Latin or Greek (also described ...
(''daa-duh''). The initial syllable of either foot is called the ''ictus'', the basic "beat" of the verse. There is usually a
caesura 100px, An example of a caesura in modern western music notation. A caesura (, . caesuras or caesurae; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was orig ...
after the ictus of the third foot. The opening line of the ''Aeneid'' is a typical line of dactylic hexameter: :Armă vĭ , rumquĕ că , nō, Troi , ae quī , prīmŭs ăb , ōrīs :("I sing of arms and the man, who first from the shores of Troy...") In this example, the first and second feet are dactyls; their first syllables, "Ar" and "rum" respectively, contain short vowels, but count as long because the vowels are both followed by two consonants. The third and fourth feet are spondees, the first of which is divided by the main
caesura 100px, An example of a caesura in modern western music notation. A caesura (, . caesuras or caesurae; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was orig ...
of the verse. The fifth foot is a dactyl, as is nearly always the case. The final foot is a spondee. The dactylic hexameter was imitated in English by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem ''Evangeline'':
:This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, :Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, :Stand like Druids of old, with voices sad and prophetic, :Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Notice how the first line: :''This'' is the , ''for''-est pri , ''me''-val. The , ''mur''-muring , ''pines'' and the , ''hem-locks'' Follows this pattern: :dum diddy , dum diddy , dum diddy , dum diddy , dum diddy , dum dum Also important in Greek and Latin poetry is the dactylic pentameter. This was a line of verse, made up of two equal parts, each of which contains two dactyls followed by a long syllable, which counts as a half foot. In this way, the number of feet amounts to five in total. Spondees can take the place of the dactyls in the first half, but never in the second. The long syllable at the close of the first half of the verse always ends a word, giving rise to a
caesura 100px, An example of a caesura in modern western music notation. A caesura (, . caesuras or caesurae; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was orig ...
. Dactylic pentameter is never used in isolation. Rather, a line of dactylic pentameter follows a line of dactylic hexameter in the elegy, elegiac distich or elegiac couplet, a form of verse that was used for the composition of elegies and other tragedy, tragic and solemn verse in the Greek and Latin world, as well as love poetry that was sometimes light and cheerful. An example from Ovid's ''Tristia'': :Vergĭlĭ , um vī , dī tan , tum, nĕc ă , māră Tĭ , bullō ::Tempŭs ă , mīcĭtĭ , ae , , fātă dĕ , dērĕ mĕ , ae. :("Virgil I merely saw, and the harsh Fates gave Tibullus no time for my friendship.") The Greeks and Romans also used a number of Lyric poetry, lyric metres, which were typically used for shorter poems than elegiacs or hexameter. In Aeolic verse, one important line was called the hendecasyllabic verse, hendecasyllabic, a line of eleven syllables. This metre was used most often in the Sapphic stanza, named after the Greek poet
Sappho Sappho (; el, Σαπφώ ''Sapphō'' ; Aeolic Greek In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling t ...

Sappho
, who wrote many of her poems in the form. A hendecasyllabic is a line with a never-varying structure: two trochees, followed by a dactyl, then two more trochees. In the Sapphic stanza, three hendecasyllabics are followed by an "Adonic" line, made up of a dactyl and a trochee. This is the form of
Catullus Gaius Valerius Catullus ( ; ; c. 84 – c. 54 BC) was a Latin poet of the late Roman Republic who wrote chiefly in the neoteric style of poetry, focusing on personal life rather than classical heroes. Poetry of Catullus, His surviving works ...

Catullus
51 (itself an homage to Sappho 31): :Illĕ mī pār essĕ dĕō vĭdētur; :illĕ, sī fās est, sŭpĕrārĕ dīvōs, :quī sĕdēns adversŭs ĭdentĭdem tē ::spectăt ĕt audit :("He seems to me to be like a god; if it is permitted, he seems above the gods, who sitting across from you gazes at you and hears you again and again.") The Sapphic stanza was imitated in
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
by Algernon Charles Swinburne in a poem he simply called ''Sapphics'':
:Saw the white implacable Aphrodite, :Saw the hair unbound and the feet unsandalled :Shine as fire of sunset on western waters; ::Saw the reluctant...


Classical Arabic

The metrical system of Classical Arabic poetry, like those of classical Greek and Latin, is based on the weight of syllables classified as either "long" or "short". The basic principles of Arabic poetic metre ''Arūḍ'' or Arud ( ar, العروض ') Science of Poetry ( ar, علم الشعر '), were put forward by Al-Farahidi (786 - 718 CE) who did so after noticing that poems consisted of repeated syllables in each verse. In his first book, ''Al-Ard'' ( ar, العرض '), he described 15 types of verse. Al-Akhfash described one extra, the 16th. A short syllable contains a short vowel with no following consonants. For example, the word ''kataba,'' which syllabifies as ''ka-ta-ba'', contains three short vowels and is made up of three short syllables. A long syllable contains either a long vowel or a short vowel followed by a consonant as is the case in the word ''maktūbun'' which syllabifies as ''mak-tū-bun''. These are the only syllable types possible in Classical Arabic phonology which, by and large, does not allow a syllable to end in more than one consonant or a consonant to occur in the same syllable after a long vowel. In other words, syllables of the type ''-āk-'' or ''-akr-'' are not found in classical Arabic. Each verse consists of a certain number of metrical feet (''tafāʿīl'' or ''ʾaǧzāʾ'') and a certain combination of possible feet constitutes a metre (''baḥr''). The traditional Arabic practice for writing out a poem's metre is to use a concatenation of various derivations of the verbal root ''F-ʿ-L'' (فعل). Thus, the following hemistich قفا نبك من ذكرى حبيبٍ ومنزلِ Would be traditionally scanned as: فعولن مفاعيلن فعولن مفاعلن That is, Romanized and with traditional Western scansion: Western: ⏑ – – ⏑ – – – ⏑ – – ⏑ – ⏑ – Verse: ''Qifā nabki min ḏikrā ḥabībin wa-manzili'' Mnemonic: fa`ūlun mafā`īlun fa`ūlun mafā`ilun Al-Kʰalīl b. ˀAḫmad al-Farāhīdī's contribution to the study of Arabic prosody is undeniably significant: he was the first scholar to subject Arabic poetry to a meticulous, painstaking metrical analysis. Unfortunately, he fell short of producing a coherent theory; instead, he was content to merely gather, classify, and categorize the primary data—a first step which, though insufficient, represents no mean accomplishment. Therefore, al-Kʰalīl has left a formulation of utmost complexity and difficulty which requires immense effort to master; even the accomplished scholar cannot utilize and apply it with ease and total confidence. Dr. ˀIbrāhīm ˀAnīs, one of the most distinguished and celebrated pillars of Arabic literature and the Arabic language in the 20th century, states the issue clearly in his book Mūsīqā al-Sʰiˁr: “I am aware of no [other] branch of Arabic studies which embodies as many [technical] terms as does [al-Kʰalīl’s] prosody, few and distinct as the meters are: al-Kʰalīl’s disciples employed a large number of infrequent items, assigning to those items certain technical denotations which—invariably—require definition and explanation. …. As to the rules of metric variation, they are numerous to the extent that they defy memory and impose a taxing course of study. …. In learning them, a student faces severe hardship which obscures all connection with an artistic genre—indeed, the most artistic of all—namely, poetry. ………. It is in this fashion that [various] authors dealt with the subject under discussion over a period of eleven centuries: none of them attempted to introduce a new approach or to simplify the rules. ………. Is it not time for a new, simple presentation which avoids contrivance, displays close affinity to [the art of] poetry, and perhaps renders the science of prosody palatable as well as manageable?” In the 20th and the 21st centuries, numerous scholars have endeavored to supplement al-Kʰalīl's contribution.


The Arabic metres

Classical Arabic has sixteen established metres. Though each of them allows for a certain amount of variation, their basic patterns are as follows, using: * "–" for 1 long syllable * "⏑" for 1 short syllable * "x" for a position that can contain 1 long or 1 short * "o" for a position that can contain 1 long or 2 shorts * "S" for a position that can contain 1 long, 2 shorts, or 1 long + 1 short


Classical Persian

The terminology for metrical system used in classical and classical-style Persian poetry is the same as that of Classical Arabic, even though these are quite different in both origin and structure. This has led to serious confusion among prosodists, both ancient and modern, as to the true source and nature of the Persian metres, the most obvious error being the assumption that they were copied from Arabic. Persian poetry is quantitative, and the metrical patterns are made of long and short syllables, much as in Classical Greek, Latin and Arabic. ''Anceps'' positions in the line, however, that is places where either a long or short syllable can be used (marked "x" in the schemes below), are not found in Persian verse except in some metres at the beginning of a line. Persian poetry is written in couplets, with each half-line (hemistich) being 10-14 syllables long. Except in the ruba'i (quatrain), where either of two very similar metres may be used, the same metre is used for every line in the poem. Rhyme is always used, sometimes with double rhyme or internal rhymes in addition. In some poems, known as masnavi (poetic form), masnavi, the two halves of each couplet rhyme, with a scheme ''aa'', ''bb'', ''cc'' and so on. In lyric poetry, the same rhyme is used throughout the poem at the end of each couplet, but except in the opening couplet, the two halves of each couplet do not rhyme; hence the scheme is ''aa'', ''ba'', ''ca'', ''da''. A ''ruba'i'' (quatrain) also usually has the rhyme ''aa, ba''. A particular feature of classical Persian prosody, not found in Latin, Greek or Arabic, is that instead of two lengths of syllables (long and short), there are three lengths (short, long, and overlong). Overlong syllables can be used anywhere in the line in place of a long + a short, or in the final position in a line or half line. When a metre has a pair of short syllables (⏑ ⏑), it is common for a long syllable to be substituted, especially at the end of a line or half-line. About 30 different metres are commonly used in Persian. 70% of lyric poems are written in one of the following seven metres: *⏑ – ⏑ – ⏑ ⏑ – – ⏑ – ⏑ – ⏑ ⏑ – *– – ⏑ – ⏑ – ⏑ ⏑ – – ⏑ – ⏑ – *– ⏑ – – – ⏑ – – – ⏑ – – – ⏑ – *x ⏑ – – ⏑ ⏑ – – ⏑ ⏑ – – ⏑ ⏑ – *x ⏑ – – ⏑ – ⏑ – ⏑ ⏑ – *⏑ – – – ⏑ – – – ⏑ – – – ⏑ – – – *– – ⏑ ⏑ – – ⏑ ⏑ – – ⏑ ⏑ – – Mathnawi, ''Masnavi'' poems (that is, long poems in rhyming couplets) are always written in one of the shorter 11 or 10-syllable metres (traditionally seven in number) such as the following: *⏑ – – ⏑ – – ⏑ – – ⏑ – (e.g. Ferdowsi's Shahnameh) *⏑ – – – ⏑ – – – ⏑ – – (e.g. Gorgani's Vis o Ramin) *– ⏑ – – – ⏑ – – – ⏑ – (e.g. Rumi's Masnavi, Masnavi-e Ma'navi) *– – ⏑ ⏑ – ⏑ – ⏑ – – (e.g. Nizami Ganjavi, Nezami's Layla and Majnun, Leyli o Majnun) The two metres used for ruba'i, ''ruba'iyat'' (quatrains), which are only used for this, are the following, of which the second is a variant of the first: *– – ⏑ ⏑ – – ⏑ ⏑ – – ⏑ ⏑ – *– – ⏑ ⏑ – ⏑ – ⏑ – – ⏑ ⏑ –


Classical Chinese

Classical Chinese poetic metric may be divided into fixed and variable length line types, although the actual scansion of the metre is complicated by various factors, including linguistic changes and variations encountered in dealing with a tradition extending over a geographically extensive regional area for a continuous time period of over some two-and-a-half millennia. Beginning with the earlier recorded forms: the Classic of Poetry tends toward couplets of four-character lines, grouped in rhymed quatrains; and, the Chuci follows this to some extent, but moves toward variations in line length. Han poetry, Han Dynasty poetry tended towards the variable line-length forms of the folk ballads and the Music Bureau yuefu. Jian'an poetry, Six Dynasties poetry, and Tang poetry, Tang Dynasty poetry tend towards a poetic metre based on fixed-length lines of five, seven, (or, more rarely six) characters/verbal units tended to predominate, generally in couplet/quatrain-based forms, of various total verse lengths. The Song poetry is specially known for its use of the ''Ci (poetry), ci'', using variable line lengths which follow the specific pattern of a certain musical song's lyrics, thus ''ci'' are sometimes referred to as "fixed-rhythm" forms. Yuan poetry metres continued this practice with their ''Qu (poetry), qu'' forms, similarly fixed-rhythm forms based on now obscure or perhaps completely lost original examples (or, ur-types). Not that Classical Chinese poetry ever lost the use of the ''Shi (poetry), shi'' forms, with their metrical patterns found in the "old style poetry" (''Gushi (poetry), gushi'') and the regulated verse forms of (''Lushi (poetry), lüshi'' or ''jintishi''). The regulated verse forms also prescribed patterns based upon Tone (linguistics), linguistic tonality. The use of caesura is important in regard to the metrical analysis of Classical Chinese poetry forms.


Old English

The metric system of Old English poetry was different from that of modern English, and related more to the verse forms of most of the older Germanic languages such as
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic languages, North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and th ...
. It used
alliterative verse In meter (poetry), prosody, alliterative verse is a form of poetry, verse that uses alliteration as the principal ornamental device to help indicate the underlying Metre (poetry), metrical structure, as opposed to other devices such as rhyme. The m ...
, a metrical pattern involving varied numbers of syllables but a fixed number (usually four) of strong stresses in each line. The unstressed syllables were relatively unimportant, but the
caesura 100px, An example of a caesura in modern western music notation. A caesura (, . caesuras or caesurae; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was orig ...
e (breaks between the half-lines) played a major role in Old English poetry. In place of using feet,
alliterative verse In meter (poetry), prosody, alliterative verse is a form of poetry, verse that uses alliteration as the principal ornamental device to help indicate the underlying Metre (poetry), metrical structure, as opposed to other devices such as rhyme. The m ...
divided each line into two half-lines. Each half-line had to follow one of five or so patterns, each of which defined a sequence of stressed and unstressed syllables, typically with two stressed syllables per half line. Unlike typical Western poetry, however, the number of unstressed syllables could vary somewhat. For example, the common pattern "DUM-da-DUM-da" could allow between one and five unstressed syllables between the two stresses. The following is a famous example, taken from The Battle of Maldon, a poem written shortly after the date of that battle (AD 991): ''Hige sceal þe heardra,'' , , ''heorte þe cēnre,'' ''mōd sceal þe re,'' , , ''swā ūre mægen lȳtlað'' ("Will must be the harder, courage the bolder, spirit must be the more, as our might lessens.") In the quoted section, the stressed syllables have been underlined. (Normally, the stressed syllable must be long if followed by another syllable in a word. However, by a rule known as ''syllable resolution'', two short syllables in a single word are considered equal to a single long syllable. Hence, sometimes two syllables have been underlined, as in ''hige'' and ''mægen''.) The German philologist Eduard Sievers (died 1932) identified five different patterns of half-line in Anglo-Saxon alliterative poetry. The first three half-lines have the Sievers' theory of Anglo-Saxon meter, type A pattern "DUM-da-(da-)DUM-da", while the last one has the type C pattern "da-(da-da-)DUM-DUM-da", with parentheses indicating optional unstressed syllables that have been inserted. Note also the pervasive pattern of alliteration, where the first and/or second stressed syllables alliterate with the third, but not with the fourth.


French

In French poetry, metre is determined solely by the number of syllables in a line. A silent 'e' counts as a syllable before a consonant, but is elided before a vowel (where ''h aspiré'' counts as a consonant). At the end of a line, the "e" remains unelided but is hypermetrical (outside the count of syllables, like a feminine ending in English verse), in that case, the rhyme is also called "feminine", whereas it is called "masculine" in the other cases. The most frequently encountered metre in Classical French poetry is the French alexandrine, alexandrine, composed of two hemistiches of six syllables each. Two famous alexandrines are :''La fille de Minos et de Pasiphaë'' ::(Jean Racine) (the daughter of Minos and of Pasiphaë), and :''Waterloo ! Waterloo ! Waterloo ! Morne plaine!'' ::(Victor Hugo) (Waterloo! Waterloo! Waterloo! Gloomy plain!) Classical French poetry also had a complex set of Rhyme#French, rules for rhymes that goes beyond how words merely sound. These are usually taken into account when describing the metre of a poem.


Spanish

In Spanish poetry the metre is determined by the number of syllables the verse has. Still it is the phonetic accent in the last word of the verse that decides the final count of the line. If the accent of the final word is at the last syllable, then the poetic rule states that one syllable shall be added to the actual count of syllables in the said line, thus having a higher number of poetic syllables than the number of grammatical syllables. If the accent lies on the second to last syllable of the last word in the verse, then the final count of poetic syllables will be the same as the grammatical number of syllables. Furthermore, if the accent lies on the third to last syllable, then one syllable is subtracted from the actual count, having then less poetic syllables than grammatical syllables. Spanish poetry uses poetic licenses, unique to Romance languages, to change the number of syllables by manipulating mainly the vowels in the line. Regarding these poetic licenses one must consider three kinds of phenomena: (1) syneresis, (2) dieresis and (3) hiatus There are many types of licenses, used either to add or subtract syllables, that may be applied when needed after taking in consideration the poetic rules of the last word. Yet all have in common that they only manipulate vowels that are close to each other and not interrupted by consonants. Some common metres in Spanish verse are: * Septenary (meter), Septenary: A line with seven poetic syllables * Octosyllable: A line with eight poetic syllables. This metre is commonly used in ''romances'', narrative poems similar to English ballads, and in most proverbs. * Hendecasyllable: A line with eleven poetic syllables. This metre plays a similar role to pentameter in English verse. It is commonly used in sonnets, among other things. * Alexandrine: A line consisting of fourteen syllables, commonly separated into two hemistichs of seven syllables each (In most languages, this term denotes a line of twelve or sometimes thirteen syllables, but not in Spanish).


Italian

In Italian poetry, metre is determined solely by the position of the last accent in a line, the position of the other accents being however important for verse equilibrium. Syllables are enumerated with respect to a verse which ends with a paroxytone, so that a Septenary (having seven syllables) is defined as a verse whose last accent falls on the sixth syllable: it may so contain eight syllables (''Ei fu. Siccome immobile'') or just six (''la terra al nunzio sta''). Moreover, when a word ends with a vowel and the next one starts with a vowel, they are considered to be in the same syllable (synalepha): so ''Gli anni e i giorni'' consists of only four syllables ("Gli an" "ni e i" "gior" "ni"). Even-syllabic verses have a fixed stress pattern. Because of the mostly trochee, trochaic nature of the Italian language, verses with an even number of syllables are far easier to compose, and the Novenary (meter), Novenary is usually regarded as the most difficult verse. Some common metres in Italian verse are: * Sexenary: A line whose last stressed syllable is on the fifth, with a fixed stress on the second one as well (''Al Re Travicello / Piovuto ai ranocchi'', Giusti) * Septenary (meter), Septenary: A line whose last stressed syllable is the sixth one. * Octosyllable: A line whose last accent falls on the seventh syllable. More often than not, the secondary accents fall on the first, third and fifth syllable, especially in nursery rhymes for which this metre is particularly well-suited. * Hendecasyllable: A line whose last accent falls on the tenth syllable. It therefore usually consists of eleven syllables; there are various kinds of possible accentuations. It is used in sonnets, in ''ottava rima'', and in many other types of poetry. The Divine Comedy, in particular, is composed entirely of hendecasyllables, whose main stress pattern is on the 4th and 10th syllable.


Turkish

Apart from Ottoman poetry, which was heavily influenced by Persian traditions and created a unique Ottoman style, traditional Turkish poetry features a system in which the number of syllables in each verse must be the same, most frequently 7, 8, 11, 14 syllables. These verses are then divided into syllable groups depending on the number of total syllables in a verse: 4+3 for 7 syllables, 4+4 or 5+3 for 8, 4+4+3 or 6+5 for 11 syllables. The end of each group in a verse is called a "durak" (stop), and must coincide with the last syllable of a word. The following example is by Faruk Nafiz Çamlıbel (died 1973), one of the most devoted users of traditional Turkish metre: In this poem the 6+5 metre is used, so that there is a word-break (''durak'' = "stop" or
caesura 100px, An example of a caesura in modern western music notation. A caesura (, . caesuras or caesurae; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was orig ...
) after the sixth syllable of every line, as well as at the end of each line.


Ottoman Turkish

In the Ottoman Turkish language, the structures of the poetic foot (تفعل ''tef'ile'') and of poetic metre (وزن ''vezin'') were imitated from Persian poetry. About twelve of the most common Persian metres were used for writing Turkish poetry. As was the case with Persian, no use at all was made of the commonest metres of Arabic poetry (the ''tawīl'', ''basīt'', ''kāmil'', and ''wāfir''). However, the terminology used to describe the metres was indirectly borrowed from the Arabic poetry, Arabic poetic tradition through the medium of the Persian language. As a result, Poetry of the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman poetry, also known as Dîvân poetry, was generally written in quantitative, Mora-timed language, mora-timed metre. The Mora (linguistics), moras, or syllables, are divided into three basic types: * Open, or Syllable weight, light, syllables (''açık hece'') consist of either a short vowel alone, or a consonant followed by a short vowel. ** Examples: ''a''-''dam'' ("man"); ''zir''-''ve'' ("summit, peak") * Closed, or heavy, syllables (''kapalı hece'') consist of either a long vowel alone, a consonant followed by a long vowel, or a short vowel followed by a consonant ** Examples: ''Â''-''dem'' ("Adam and Eve, Adam"); ''kâ''-''fir'' ("non-Muslim"); ''at'' ("horse") * Lengthened, or superheavy, syllables (''meddli hece'') count as one closed plus one open syllable and consist of a vowel followed by a consonant cluster, or a long vowel followed by a consonant ** Examples: ''kürk'' ("fur"); ''âb'' ("water") In writing out a poem's poetic metre, open syllables are symbolized by "." and closed syllables are symbolized by "–". From the different syllable types, a total of sixteen different types of poetic foot—the majority of which are either three or four syllables in length—are constructed, which are named and scanned as follows: These individual poetic feet are then combined in a number of different ways, most often with four feet per line, so as to give the poetic metre for a line of verse. Some of the most commonly used metres are the following: * ''me fâ’ î lün'' / ''me fâ’ î lün'' / ''me fâ’ î lün'' / ''me fâ’ î lün''
. – – – / . – – – / . – – – / . – – – ::—Bâkî (1526–1600) * ''me fâ i lün'' / ''fe i lâ tün'' / ''me fâ i lün'' / ''fe i lün''
. – . – / . . – – / . – . – / . . – ::—Şeyh Gâlib (1757–1799) * ''fâ i lâ tün'' / ''fâ i lâ tün'' / ''fâ i lâ tün'' / ''fâ i lün''
– . – – / – . – – / – . – – / – . – ::—Nedîm (1681?–1730) * ''fe i lâ tün'' / ''fe i lâ tün'' / ''fe i lâ tün'' / ''fe i lün''
. . – – / . . – – / . . – – / . . – ::—Fuzûlî (1483?–1556) * ''mef’ û lü'' / ''me fâ î lü'' / ''me fâ î lü'' / ''fâ û lün''
– – . / . – – . / . – – . / – – . ::—Neşâtî (?–1674)


Portuguese

Portuguese poetry uses a syllabic metre in which the verse is classified according to the last stressed syllable. The Portuguese system is quite similar to those of Spanish and Italian, as they are closely related languages. The most commonly used verses are: * ''Redondilha menor'': composed of 5 syllables. * ''Redondilha maior'': composed of 7 syllables. * Decasyllable (''decassílabo''): composed of 10 syllables. Mostly used in Parnassianism, Parnassian
sonnet A sonnet is a poetic form which originated in the Italian poetry composed at the Court of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II in Palermo, Sicily. The 13th-century poet and notary Giacomo da Lentini is credited wit ...
s. It is equivalent to the Italian
hendecasyllable In poetry, a hendecasyllable is a line of eleven syllables. The term "hendecasyllabic" is used to refer to two different poetic meters, the older of which is quantitative and used chiefly in classical (Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes ...
. ** Heroic (''heróico''): stresses on the sixth and tenth syllables. ** Sapphic stanza, Sapphic (''sáfico''): stresses on the fourth, eighth and tenth syllables. ** ''Martelo'': stresses on the third, sixth and tenth syllables. ** ''Gaita galega'' or ''moinheira'': stresses on the fourth, seventh and tenth syllables. * Dodecasyllable (''dodecassílabo''): composed of 12 syllables. ** Alexandrine (''alexandrino''): divided into two hemistiches, the sixth and the twelfth syllables are stressed. * Barbarian (''bárbaro''): composed of 13 or more syllables. ** Lucasian (''lucasiano''): composed of 16 syllables, divided into two hemistiches of 8 syllables each.


Welsh

There is a continuing tradition of strict metre poetry in the Welsh language that can be traced back to at least the sixth century. At the annual National Eisteddfod of Wales a Chairing of the Bard, bardic chair is awarded to the best , a long poem that follows the conventions of regarding Stress (linguistics), stress, alliteration and
rhyme A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds (usually, exactly the same sound) in the final stressed syllables and any following syllables of two or more words. Most often, this kind of perfect rhyming is consciously used for a musical or aesthetic ef ...
.


History

Metrical texts are first attested in early Indo-European languages. The earliest known unambiguously metrical texts, and at the same time the only metrical texts with a claim of dating to the Late Bronze Age, are the hymns of the Rigveda. That the texts of the Ancient Near East (Sumerian, Egyptian or Semitic) should not exhibit metre is surprising, and may be partly due to the nature of Bronze Age writing. There were, in fact, attempts to reconstruct metrical qualities of the poetic portions of the Hebrew Bible, e.g. by Gustav Bickell or Julius Ley, but they remained inconclusive (see Biblical poetry). Early Iron Age metrical poetry is found in the Iranian Avesta and in the Greek works attributed to
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') was the presumed author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are the foundational works of ancient Greek literature. The ''Iliad'' is set during the Trojan War, the ten-year s ...

Homer
and
Hesiod Hesiod (; grc-gre, Ἡσίοδος ''Hēsíodos'', 'he who emits the voice') was an ancient Greek poet generally thought to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēro ...
. Latin poetry, Latin verse survives from the Old Latin period (c. 2nd century BC), in the Saturnian (poetry), Saturnian metre. Persian poetryFereydoon Motamed '':File:La Metrique Diatemporelle Full Text.pdf, La Metrique Diatemporelle'': Quantitative poetic metric analysis and pursuit of reasoning on aesthetics of linguistics and poetry in Indo-European languages. arises in the Sassanid era. Tamil language, Tamil poetry of the early centuries AD may be the earliest known non-Indo-European Medieval poetry was metrical without exception, spanning traditions as diverse as European Minnesang, Trouvère or Bardic poetry, Classical Persian poetry, Persian and Sanskrit poetry, Tang dynasty Chinese poetry or the Japanese poetry, Japanese Nara period ''Man'yōshū''. Renaissance and Early Modern poetry in Europe is characterized by a return to templates of Classical Antiquity, a tradition begun by Petrarch, Petrarca's generation and continued into the time of Shakespeare and John Milton, Milton.


Dissent

Not all poets accept the idea that metre is a fundamental part of poetry. 20th-century American poets Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams and Robinson Jeffers believed that metre was an artificial construct imposed upon poetry rather than being innate to poetry. In an essay titled "Robinson Jeffers, & The Metric Fallacy" Dan Schneider (writer), Dan Schneider echoes Jeffers' sentiments: "What if someone actually said to you that all music was composed of just 2 notes? Or if someone claimed that there were just 2 colors in creation? Now, ponder if such a thing were true. Imagine the clunkiness & mechanicality of such music. Think of the visual arts devoid of not just color, but sepia tones, & even shades of gray." Jeffers called his technique "rolling stresses". Moore went further than Jeffers, openly declaring her poetry was written in syllabic form, and wholly denying metre. These syllabic lines from her famous poem wikisource:Poetry, "Poetry" illustrate her contempt for metre and other poetic tools. Even the syllabic pattern of this poem does not remain perfectly consistent: ::::nor is it valid ::::::to discriminate against "business documents and ::school-books": all these phenomena are important. One must make a distinction :::::however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry Williams tried to form poetry whose subject matter was centered on the lives of common people. He came up with the concept of the variable foot. Williams spurned traditional metre in most of his poems, preferring what he called "colloquial idioms." Another poet who turned his back on traditional concepts of metre was Britain's Gerard Manley Hopkins. Hopkins' major innovation was what he called sprung rhythm. He claimed most poetry was written in this older rhythmic structure inherited from the Norman side of the English literary heritage, based on repeating groups of two or three syllables, with the stressed syllable falling in the same place on each repetition. Sprung rhythm is structured around feet with a variable number of syllables, generally between one and four syllables per foot, with the stress always falling on the first syllable in a foot.


See also

*
Foot (prosody) The foot is the basic repeating rhythmic unit that forms part of a line of verse in most Indo-European traditions of poetry, including English accentual-syllabic verse and the quantitative meter In poetry, metre (British English, Commonwealt ...
* Generative metrics * Line (poetry) * List of classical metres * Metre (hymn) * Metre (music) * Scansion * Anisometric verse


References


Citations


Sources

* Abdel-Malek, Zaki N. (2019), ''Towards a New Theory of Arabic Prosody'', 5th edition (Revised), Posed online with free access. * . * . * . * . {{DEFAULTSORT:Meter(Poetry) Poetic rhythm, metre (poetry) Phonology