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Hi, I am doing some research on the poetry of Emily Bronte for some of my poetry events this year (for her bicentenary) and I am fascinated by her use of dactylic foot, especially in the poem "High Waving Heather." I would like to ask if anyone has any particularly interesting information about the dactyl, especially factual: I am aware that the dactyl, like all forms of poetic foot, is given a Greek name - but I do not know the history of the terms as concepts. Does anyone now when the dactyl was first used, and whether it was referred to in this term fro the start? For that matter, the same question could potentially apply to any poetic form or meter. Was the term Iambic pentameter in use when Shakespeare was writing in this way? And do you know why such things are traditionally found in Western poetry but not elsewhere - is this down to natural speech rhythms or other cultural reasons?
In case anyone is wondering - I am not trying to get answers for an academic essay or anything like that (I've been accused of this when asking similar sorts of questions on other forums). I am interested personally, and for the purposes of my talks and research, which I'm more than happy to explain about in case anyone doubts this.
Fri, 5 Jan 2018 09:44 pm
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A lot of the terms actually come from Greek/Latin versification; but there is a difference in that the standard unit of measure was not stress as in English verse but length of sylable (as in long o/short o etc). Also, the standard line in Greek epic verse was the hexameter (6 sylables not five) - the heroic couplet comes from this (and the mock heroic couplet was a hexameter and a pentameter.)

Lyric verse often included several different meters in the one line, as in the Sapphic.

English meter really comes from the Rennaisance importation of Italian and French meters via the Normans. Old/Middle English meters are largely stress-based and alliterative, and actually lie behind a lot of modernist free verse (along with other influences from Chinese and Japanese verse.)

Some have said that iambic is close to speech; but I think it's the language of the administrative class. The language of the street is much more Anglo-Saxon.
Tue, 9 Jan 2018 02:52 pm
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Many thanks Steven!

In case it is of interest to anyone, here is the essay about the poem which sparked off my renewed interest in the dactyl http://simonzonenblickcaterpillarpoet.blogspot.co.uk/2018/01/emily-bronte-high-waving-heather.html
Tue, 9 Jan 2018 09:12 pm
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One mistake in my account - a hexameter is 12 syllables, a pentameter 10 (in iambic). There are 6 anf 5 'feet' respectively. Sorry about the mistake.
Wed, 10 Jan 2018 11:35 am
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