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METRICS: RULES FOR SCANNING

DACTYLIC HEXAMETER, ELEGIAC COUPLET, HENDECASYLLABIC, CHOLIAMBIC


& SAPPHIC
A. SYLLABLES
1. Each vowel or dipthong represents a syllable.
2. If a vowel or dipthong is followed by
a. a single consonant or blend
b. another vowel or
c. a dipthong
then the syllable ends after the vowel/dipthong.
DIPTHONGS : ae, ai, au, eu, oe, oi
3. If a vowel or dipthong is followed by two consonants (excluding clusters)
then the consonants are divided between the syllables.
CLUSTERS: bl, br, ch, dr, fl, fr, gl, gr, ph, pl, pr, sp, st, tr, th, gu, hu, qu, su
B. LONG or SHORT?
1. Syllable is long
a: by nature - contains a long vowel or a dipthong
b: by position - contains a short vowel followed by two consonants or x (x =
ks)
2. Otherwise it is short
3. Exceptions - (wiggle room for poets) : Can be either long or short
a) final -i of ubi, ibi, mihi, tibi
b) vowel followed by cluster group
C. ELISION :
1. When a word ends with a vowel or the letter 'm' and when the following
word begins with a vowel or the letter 'h' then the final syllable of the first
word is dropped.
quae pu er i in te ne bris --- quae pu er in te ne bris
2. Except when the second word is est. Instead of dropping the final syllable
of the first word, the 'e' in est is dropped. (Prodelision)
ti men dum est --- ti men dumst
METER: DACTYLIC HEXAMETER
The Dactyl ( -uu ) is a metrical pattern known as a "foot" which is comprised
of one long syllable followed by two short syllables.
The Spondee (- -) is a metrical foot comprised of two long syllables.
Dactylic hexameter is line of poetry made up of six metrical feet (hex = six),
mostly dactyls.
The pattern for a line of pure dactylic hexameter consists of five dactyls and
a final foot that consists of two syllables (- - or - u). Since the final syllable
may be long or short it is called an anceps (either). Since two short syllables
equal one long syllable any or all of the dactyls in a line of dactylic
hexameter may become spondees.
(-uu | -uu | -uu | -uu | -uu | -u)
METER: ELEGIAC COUPLET
The Elegiac Couplet is a two line-unit of poetry similar to dactylic
hexameter.
In fact the first line of the couplet is dactylic hexameter, the second dactylic
pentameter:
(-uu | -uu | -uu | -uu | -uu | -u)
(-uu | -uu | - || -uu | -uu | -)
METER: CHOLIAMBIC (iamb = ) (trochee = )
Choliambic meter limping imabic designed by Greek poets to be the
meter of satire and mockery:
(u - | u - | u - | u - | u - | - u)
METER: HENDECASYLLABIC (11 syllables)
(u u | - u u | - u | - u | - u)
METER: SAPPHIC
This meter, named after Sappho, is composed of four-line stanzas :
( - u | - - | - u u | - u | - u) lines 1-3
(- u u| - u) line 4