Other Poetic Feet and Uses

Note: a syllable can be stressed (long) or unstressed (short).

A pyrrhic foot has two unstressed syllables, like the second foot of the following line:

     The depths | of a | great woods | is home
     To a | wolf pack | that once | did roam...

A spondee or spondaic foot is a foot with two stressed syllables, e.g., like "wolf pack" and "great woods" in the previous example.

An amphimacer is a three-syllabled foot, opposite the amphibrach, with an unstressed syllable in the middle, and stressed ones at both ends. Amphi is a combining form meaning both, both kinds, on both sides. This word amphimacer derives from amphi at both ends + the Greek makros meaning long, great.

An amphibrach is a three-syllabled foot with the stressed syllable in the middle, and unstressed ones at both ends, e.g., ennobling: en.nob.ling.  Brachy is a combining form meaning short.  The word comes from the Greek amphibrachys meaning short at both ends.

An anacrucis is an unexpected unstressed syllable at the beginning of a trochaic or dactylic line.

An initial truncation is the omitting of an expected unstressed syllable at the beginning of an iambic or anapestic line.

A catalexis is the omission of  an unstressed syllable at the end of a trochaic or dactylic line, or at the beginning of an iambic or anapestic line, e.g., > Hail | to thee, | my ab | sent friend...

A pause sometimes takes the place of an unstressed syllable:
     Thunder here, < | thunder there <

A caesura is a natural break in a line according to the sense or punctuation. It may be within or at the end of the line. When at the end, the line is described as end-stopped. When the thought carries over to the next line without a pause or stop, it's called a run-on line.

Substitution is the using together of iambic and anapestic feet which have a rising rhythm, or the using together of trochaic or dactylic feet which have a falling rhythm. You'll substitute, say,
an anapestic foot for one of the iambic feet. You'll note the stress still falls on the last syllable.

Inversion is a mixing of iambic with trochaic, or dactylic with anapestic feet. In other words, you mix feet that have stress at opposite ends.

From "Thou Art a Jewel":
Your pure and honest being,
     And humility shine so bright!
     There's prudence and kindly seeing,
     Sparkling in our sight!

This preceding stanza of poetry is a mixture of things. The first line has iambic feet followed by an  amphibrach:
      | Your pure | and ho | nest being |

The second and third lines mix anapestic and iambic feet, with another amphibrach:
      | And humil | ity shines | so bright! |
      | There's pru | dence and kind | ly seeing, |

The fourth line begins with "Sparkling" which by itself is a trochaic foot. You can continue with its falling rhythm and end up with a catalexis.


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Site Last Updated on 07/10/06