There are six well-known feet in English poetry--dactyl, spondee, anapest, iamb, trochee, and pyrrhic. However, is there also a name for the foot with unstressed, stressed, stressed, and/or is it usable? Also, why is it that other combinations of stressed/unstressed syllables are uncommon? Is there a particular metrical reason why such other forms are not considered often? This form of meter is used in the Persian epic shahnameh and elsewhere in the Middle East. An example, whether it has a name or not, of its usage in English poetry (assuming there is a usage) would be appreciated as well.

  • 3
    Wikipedia shows this to be a Bacchius [The second link isn't very helpful, but it does mention somewhere it's used.] – Andrew Leach Jul 11 '14 at 8:49

A poetic foot comprised of three syllables, the first unstressed, the following two stressed, is called a Bacchius. In fact, most poetic feet up through tetrasyllables have Greek names: a stressed syllable followed by three unstressed syllables is a "first epitrite".

As to why certain poetic feet are common in one language, and theoretical curiosities relates to the use of language among particular sets of people. Even within English, I note that Hymnals from Britain have texts which have numbers of feet and stress patterns which are uncommon in the US, and vice versa. And hymns translated from German to English using the German tune, have different numbers of feet and stress patterns which are not native to English.

I suspect that questions about the patterns of stresses, and numbers of feet in poetry in various languages may lie in an overlapping zone between language usage and lingusitiscs.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy