Upon careful observation, it will be seen that we involuntarily divide a line of rhythmical verse into meter, by a sort of keeping time with hands and feet: accenting at regular intervals certain syllables, thus giving the peculiar musical accompaniment which makes poetry attractive.

There are four kinds of feet in English verse called Iambus, Trochee, Anapest and Dactyl. The distinguishing characteristic of Iambic verse is, that we always accent the second syllable in reading the same; as "Beho1d, how great."

The Trochee, like the Iambus, consists of two syllables, with the accent on the first syllable; as "See the distant forest dark and waving."

The Anapest has the first two syllables unaccented, and the last accented; as "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."

The Dactyl contains three syllables, with the accent on the first: as durable, bravery.


Verse is also named according to the number of feet in each line; a foot in Iambic being two syllables. Monometer is a line of one foot; dimeter, of two feet; trimeter, of three feet; tetrameter, of four feet; pentameter, of five feet; hexameter, of six feet; heptameter, of seven feet; odometer, of eight feet.


The following examples represent the Iambic, Trochaic, Anapestic, and Dactylic, in the different kinds of meter. A straight line () over a syllable, shows that such syllable is accented. A curved line (˘) indicates the unaccented.

Iambic. - One foot.

"Thĕy gō To sow."

Iambic. - Two feet.

" TO mē | thĕ rōse No longer glows,"

" Thĕir love | ănd āwe Supply | the law."

Iambic. - Three feet.

" Blŭe light | nings singe | thĕ wāves, And thunder rends the rock."

Iambic. - Four feet.

" Ănd cŏ1d | ĕr still | thĕ winds | did blōw, And darker hours of night came on."

Iambic. - Five feet.

" Fŏr prāise | tŏo dēar | ly lōv'd | Or warm | ly sōught, Enfeebles all internal strength of thought."

IaMbic. - Six feet.

" His heārt | ĭs sād, | hĭs hope | ĭs gone, | hĭs light | ĭs pāssed; He sits and mourns in silent grief the lingering day."

Iambic. - Seven feet.

" The lōf | ty hill, | thĕ hum | blĕ lawn, | with count | lĕss beau | ties shine; The silent grove, the solemn shade, proclaim thy power divine."

Note. - It has become common in writing modern. poetry to divide this kind of verse into four lines; alternate lines having four and three feet; thus, -

" The lofty hill, the humble lawn, With countless beauties shine; The silent grove, the solemn shade, Proclaim thy power divine."

Iambic. - Eight feet.

O āll | yĕ pēo | plĕ, clap | yŏur hānds, | ănd with | trium | phănt voic | ĕs sing; No force the mighty pow'r withstands of God the universal


Note. - It is common at present to reduce this verse into lines of eight syllables, as follows, -

" O all ye people, clap your hands. And with triumphant voices sing, No force the mighty pow'r withstands Of God the universal King."

Stanza - Long, Short, And Common Meter

A stanza is a combination of several lines in poetry, forming a distinct division of the poem; thus, -

" The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea, The ploughman homeward plods his weary way, And leaves the world to darkness and to me."

A Verse

Verse is but a single line of a stanza, thus, -

" The curfew tolls the knell of parting day."

Long Meter

The long, short, and common meters are known by the number of feet or syllables found in them. Long meter stanzas contain in each line four Iambic feet, thus -

" Through every age, eternal God Thou art our rest, our safe abode; High was thy throne ere heaven was made, Or earth, thy humble footstool, laid."

Short Meter

Short meter stanzas contain three lines of six syllables, and one of eight syllables - the third line being the longest, and containing four Iambic feet, thus -

" Sweet is the time of Spring,

When nature's charms appear; The birds with ceaseless pleasure sing And hail the opening year."

Common Meter

Iambic verse of seven feet, divided into two lines, the first containing four, and the latter three feet, makes what is known as common meter; thus -

" When all thy mercies, O, my God. My rising soul surveys, Transported with the view, I 'm lost In wonder, love, and praise."

Each species of Iambic verse will admit of an additional short syllable; as

Ůpōn ă mount | ain, Beside a fount | ain.

Trochaic Verse

The accent in Trochaic verse occurs on the first syllable. The foot consists of two syllables.

Trochaic. - One foot.

Chāngĭng. Ranging.

Trochaic. - Two feet.

Fancy | viēwĭng, Joys ensuing.

Trochaic. - Three feet.

"Whēn thy | heārt Is | mōurning." " Go where comfort waits thee."

Trochaic. - Four feet.

" Rōund ā | hōly | cālm dif | fusing, Love of peace and lonely musing."

Trochaic. - Five feet.

All that | wālk ŏn | fōot ŏr | ride In | chāriŏts, All that dwell in palaces or garrets.

Trochaic. - Six feet.

On a | mountain I stretch'd be | neath a | hōary | willŏw, Lay a shepherd swain and viewed the roaring billow.

Trochaic. - Seven feet.

Hāsten | Lord tŏ | rescue | me, and | set me | safe frŏm | trōuble. Shame thou those who seek my soul, reward their mischief double.

Trochaic. - Fight feet.

Note. - Trochaic and Iambic are frequently found combined in one etanza.

Once up | on a | midnight | drēary | while I | pondered | weak and | weary Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.

Anapestic Verse

Anapestie verse contains three syllables to the foot, with the accent on the last syllable.

Anapestic. - One foot.

"On the land, Let me stand."

Anapestic. - Two feet.

"But his cour | age 'gan fail, Fŏr nŏ arts cŏuld avail."

This form admits of an additional short syllable; as

" But his cour | age gan fail | him, For nŏ arts cŏuld avail him."

Anapestic. - Three feet.

0 ye wōods | spread yŏur branch | es apace, Tŏ your deepest recesses I hie;

I wŏuld hide with the beasts of the chase,

I wŏuld vanish frŏm ēvery ēye.

Dactylic Verse; Poetical Pauses. Anapestic. - Four Feet

May I gov I ern my pass | ions with ab | s6lute sway, And grow wiser and better as life wears away.

This measure admits of a short syllable at the end; as

On the warm | cheek 6f youth | smiles and ro | ses are blend I ing.

Dactylic Verse

In Dactylic verse the accent occurs on the first syllable of each successive three, being on the first, fourth, seventh, and tenth syllables.

Dactylic. - One foot.

Cheerfully, Fearfully.

Dactylic. - Two feet.

Father all | glorious O'er all victorious.

Dactylic. - Three feet.

Wearing a | way in his | youthfulness, Loveliness, beauty, and truthfulness.

Dactylic. - Four feet.

" Boys will an | ticipate, | lavish and | dissipate, All that your busy pate hoarded with care; And, in their foolishness, passion, and mulishness, Charge you with churlishness, spurning your pray'r."

Dactylic. - Five feet.

" Now th5u d5st | welcome me", | welc5me me", | from the dark

I sea, Land of the beautiful, beautiful land of the free."

Dactylic. - Six feet.

" Time, thou art | ever In | motion, 6n | wheels Of the | days, years, and | ages, Restless as waves of the ocean, when Eurus or Boreas rages."

Dactylic. - Seven feet.

" Out 5f the | kingdom 6f | Christ shall be | gathered, by | angels 5'er Satan victorious, All that offendeth, that lieth, that faileth to honor his name ever glorious."

Dactylic. - Fight feet.

Nimrod the | hunter was | mighty In | hunting, and | famed as the | ruler 5f | cities of | yore; Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, from Shinar's fair region his name afar bore.