Skip to main content

Double Dactyl: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the double dactyl, a light verse form invented by Anthony Hecht and Paul Pascal.

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the double dactyl, a light verse form invented by Anthony Hecht and Paul Pascal.

Image placeholder title

Double Dactyl Poems

The double dactyl form is a light verse form invented by poets Anthony Hecht and Paul Pascal. It has the following guidelines:

  • two quatrains
  • each quatrain has three double-dactyl lines
  • followed by a shorter dactyl-spondee pair
  • the two spondees rhyme
  • the first line is a nonsense phrase
  • the second line is a proper or place name
  • one other line (usually the sixth) uses a single double-dactylic word that has never been used before in any double dactyl [not sure how you can prove this, but...]

A couple notes on dactyls and spondees:

  1. one dactyl has a stress followed by two unstressed sounds; so, a double dactyl line does that twice
  2. a spondee is two syllables, both stressed

One final note: Some versions of the double dactyl replace the dactyl-spondee pair with a dactyl and stressed sound--so four syllables instead of five.

*****

Image placeholder title

Master Poetic Forms!

Learn how to write sestina, shadorma, haiku, monotetra, golden shovel, and more with The Writer’s Digest Guide to Poetic Forms, by Robert Lee Brewer.

This e-book covers more than 40 poetic forms and shares examples to illustrate how each form works. Discover a new universe of poetic possibilities and apply it to your poetry today!

Click to continue.

*****

Here’s my attempt at a double dactyl:

big game, by Robert Lee Brewer

Boopily, woopily--
Ann Arbor, Michigan,
fights for its football team
that never beats State!

Wolverines could use a
veterinarian
to help them win again
in the big ball game!

Change of Plans

Change of Plans

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, there's been a sudden and unforeseen change of plans.

5 Things to Know When Writing About the Music Industry

5 Things to Know When Writing About the Music Industry

Author Ashley M. Coleman gives you her top five tricks for writing about the music industry—even if you're not an industry expert.

10 Tips on Covering Events as a Freelance Journalist

10 Tips on Covering Events as a Freelance Journalist

From planning ahead to staying late, Alison Hill shares 10 tips for journalists while covering events as a freelancer.

From Script

Character Studies, Writing the Immigrant Experience, and Six Adaptation Steps Before You Adapt a Book (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, navigate different character study approaches in your writing, and tracking emotional journeys.

Lora Senf: On Trusting Children With Middle Grade Fiction

Lora Senf: On Trusting Children With Middle Grade Fiction

Author Lora Senf discusses how one chilling text message led her to writing her new middle grade horror novel, The Clackity.

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Critically acclaimed novelist Katrina Leno discusses the process of bringing her childhood memories to magical life in her new young adult novel, Sometime in Summer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: A New Podcast Episode, "Your Story" Prompt, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our latest episode of "Writer's Digest Presents," the new "Your Story" prompt, and more!

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Here are the top live streams, podcasts, and YouTube channels as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

You might have heard the term, especially if you’re in online fandoms, but what exactly is fan fiction? Managing Editor Moriah Richard explains.