In English verse Edit
The term "hendecasyllable" is sometimes used in English poetry to describe a line of iambic pentameter hypercatalectic (meaning, five iambic feet or ten syllables, plus an extra syllable at the end), as in the first line of John Keats's Endymion: "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever."
In Italian verseEdit
In classical verseEdit
The classical hendecasyllable is a quantitative meter used in Ancient Greece in Aeolic verse and in scolia, and later by the Roman poet Catullus. Each line has eleven syllables; hence the name, which comes from the Greek word for eleven. The heart of the line is the choriamb (- u u -). The pattern (also known as the Phalaecian) is as follows (using "-" for a long syllable, "u" for a short and "x" for an "anceps" or variable syllable):
x x - u u - u - u - - (where x x is either - u or - - or u -)
Another form of hendecasyllabic verse is the "Sapphic" (so named for its use in the Sapphic stanza), with the pattern:
- x - x - u u - u - -
Of the polymetric poems of Catullus, forty-three are hendecasyllabic. The metre has been imitated in English; the most important examples are by Alfred Tennyson and Swinburne and Robert Frost, cf. "For Once Then Something." In English, the long/short pattern becomes a stress/unstress pattern, although Tennyson maintained the quantitative features of the metre:
- O you chorus of indolent reviewers,
- Irresponsible, indolent reviewers,
- Look, I come to the test, a tiny poem
- All composed in a metre of Catullus...
For an example, see Catullus 1.
- The Italian hendecasyllable
- Raffaele Spongano, Nozioni ed esempi di metrica italiana, Bologna, R. Pàtron, 1966
- Angelo Marchese, Dizionario di retorica e di stilistica, Milano, Mondadori, 1978
- Mario Pazzaglia, Manuale di metrica italiana, Firenze, Sansoni, 1990
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