|˘ ˘||pyrrhus, dibrach|
|¯ ˘||trochee, choree|
|˘ ˘ ˘||tribrach|
|¯ ˘ ˘||dactyl|
|˘ ¯ ˘||amphibrach|
|˘ ˘ ¯||anapest, antidactylus|
|˘ ¯ ¯||bacchius|
|¯ ¯ ˘||antibacchius|
|¯ ˘ ¯||cretic, amphimacer|
|¯ ¯ ¯||molossus|
|Number of feet per line|
|See main article for tetrasyllables.|
An amphibrach (/ˈæmfibræk/) is a metrical foot used in Latin and Greek prosody. It consists of a long syllable between two short syllables. The word comes from the Greek αμφίβραχυς, amphíbrakhys, "short on both sides".
Amphibrach in EnglishEdit
In English accentual-syllabic poetry, an amphibrach is a stressed syllable surrounded by two unstressed syllables. It is the main foot used in the construction of the limerick, as in "There once was / a girl from / Nantucket." It was also used by the Victorians for narrative poetry, e.g. Samuel Woodworth's "The Old Oaken Bucket" beginning "How dear to / my heart are / the scenes of / my childhood." W.H. Auden's "Oh Where Are You Going" is a more recent and slightly less metrically-regular example. The amphibrach is also often used in ballads and light verse, such as the hypermetrical lines of Sir John Betjeman's "Meditation on the A30."
Amphibrachs are a staple meter of Russian poetry. A common variation in an amphibrachic line, in both Russian and English, is to end the line with an iamb, as Thomas Hardy does in "The Ruined Maid": "Oh did n't / you know I'd / been ru in'd / said she".
Some books by Dr. Seuss contain many lines written in amphibrachs, such as these from If I Ran the Circus:
- And NOW comes an act of enormous enormance!
- No former performer's performed this performance!
- And NOW comes / an ACT of / ENORmous / ENORmance!
- No former / performer's / performed this / performance!
The individual amphibrachic foot often appears as a variant within, for instance, anapestic meter.
- It's four in the morning, the end of December
- I'm writing you now just to see if you're better
- (Leonard Cohen, "Famous Blue Raincoat")
- It's FOUR in / the MORning, // the END of / DeCEMber
- I'm WRITing / you NOW just / to SEE if / you're BETter
- All ready to put up the tents for my circus.
- I think I will call it the Circus McGurkus.
- All REAdy / to PUT up / the TENTS for / my CIRcus.
- i THINK i / will CALL it / the CIRcus / McGURkus.
- (Dr. Seuss, If I Ran the Circus)
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