|˘ ˘||pyrrhus, dibrach|
|¯ ˘||trochee, choree|
|˘ ˘ ˘||tribrach|
|¯ ˘ ˘||dactyl|
|˘ ¯ ˘||amphibrach|
|˘ ˘ ¯||anapest, antidactylus|
|˘ ¯ ¯||bacchius|
|¯ ¯ ˘||antibacchius|
|¯ ˘ ¯||cretic, amphimacer|
|¯ ¯ ¯||molossus|
|Number of feet per line|
|See main article for tetrasyllables.|
- Trochaic (trochaic) n. Tro*cha"ic (Pros.)
- Trochaic (trochaic) a. Tro*cha"ic [L. trochaïcus, Gr. (?) or (?). See Trochee.]
- (Pros.) Of or pertaining to trochees; consisting of trochees; as, trochaic measure or verse.
- Trochee (trochee) n. Tro"chee [L. trochaeus]
- A foot of two syllables, the first long and the second short, as in the Latin word ante, or the first accented and the second unaccented, as in the English word motion; a choreus.
Trochee comes from the Greek τροχός, trokhós, wheel, and choree from χορός, khorós, dance; both convey the "rolling" rhythm of this metrical foot.
- Should you ask me, whence these stories?
- Whence these legends and traditions,
- With the odours of the forest,
- With the dew and damp of meadows,
In the second line, "and tra-" substitutes a is a Pyrrhic substitution (substituting foot of two unsressed syllables, as is "of the" in the third. Even so, the dominant foot throughout the poem is the trochee. Apart from Song of Hiawatha, this metre is rarely found in perfect examples, at least in English. This is from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven":
- Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
- And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Trochaic meter is also seen among the works of William Shakespeare:
- Double, double, toil and trouble;
- Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Perhaps owing to its simplicity, though, trochaic meter is fairly common in children's rhymes:
- Peter, Peter pumpkin-eater
- Had a wife and couldn't keep her.
Trochaic meter in iambic verseEdit
Often a few trochees will be interspersed among iambs in the same lines to develop a more complex or syncopated rhythm. Compare (William Blake):
- Tyger, Tyger, burning bright
- In the forests of the night
These lines are primarily trochaic, with the last syllable dropped Catalectic trochaic tetrameter) so that the line ends with a stressed syllable to give a strong rhyme or masculine rhyme. By contrast, the intuitive way that the mind groups the syllables in later lines in the same poem makes them feel more like iambic lines with the first syllable dropped (headless iambic tetrameter):
- Did he smile his work to see?
In fact the surrounding lines by this point have become entirely iambic:
- When the stars threw down their spears
- And watered Heaven with their tears
- . . .
- Did he who made the lamb make thee?
In fact, because iambic and trochaic rhythms both follow the same pattern of alternating stressed and unstressed syllales (but differ only in which syllable follows the other in a foot), the catalectic iambic meter and headless trochic meter scan exactly the same. Take, for instance W.H. Auden's "Lullaby":
Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
It's only the presence of a few regularly iambic lines
- But in my arms till break of day
- And fashionable madmen raise
- The hermit's carnal ecstacy
that allow one to identify the verse as iambic, not trochaic.
Trochaic verse is also well-known in Latin poetry, especially of the medieval period. Since the stress never falls on the final syllable in Medieval Latin, the language is ideal for trochaic verse. The dies irae of the Requiem mass is a perfect example:
- Dies irae, dies illa
- Solvet saeclum in favilla
- Teste David cum Sybilla.
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