monometer a line of 1 foot dimeter 2 feet trimeter 3 feet tetrameter 4 feet pentameter 5 feet hexameter 6 feet (also "Alexandrine") heptameter 7 feet octameter 8 feet
Because the memory can retain a rhythmical pattern of only a limited duration, heptameters and longer lines tend to receive from reader or hearer an unconscious restructuring: the heptameter commonly breaks into a tetrameter and a trimeter (as in ballad meter, q.v.), the octameter into two tetrameters, and so on. Line divisions frequently function like foot divisions in providing a form of counterpoint to the rhetorical and syntactical design in a poem. Although generalization on this point is traditionally hazardous, it may be suggested that short lines (trimeter and shorter) tend to imply levity of tone, and that the pentameter line (or a line of similar duration, measured by whatever system of scansion) has proved the most flexible in English.
A feminine ending has the last stress on the penultimate (or even the ante penultimate) syllable and most often requires terminal extra metrical syllables:Upon the moon I fixed my eye
(Wordsworth, "Strange Fits of Passion")
Whatever ails me, now a-late especially, I can as well be hanged as refrain seeing her (Middleton, "The Changeling" [2.1])
Feminine ending is very common in the blank verse of the Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, where it is frequently used to give the verse a suggestion of colloquial informality, lightness, or irregularity. The term weak ending is sometimes used to describe masculine ending with a secondary (instead of primary) degree of stress. Marianne Moore's "In Distrust of Merits" is full of weak endings.
Document URL: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/line.html
Last modified: Wednesday, 18-Jul-2007 16:27:17 EDT