Q:

What is an example of dactyl poetry?

A:

An example of poetry written in dactyl is Robert Browning's poem "The Lost Leader." A dactyl is a poetic foot consisting of one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed ones, and this poem is filled with such rhythm.

The poem's first line is an excellent example: "Just for a handful of silver he left us." The first word, "[j]ust" is the accented syllable, and the words "for a" are both unaccented. The same rhythm occurs again with "handful of" and "silver he." The last two words are not part of a dactyl, but a trochee, another poetic foot consisting of one accented and one unaccented syllable. In their original Greek, epic poems, such as Homer's "Iliad," are written with dactyl too, but many English translations do away with the particular Greek rhythms in favor of the text's plain meaning.


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