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.
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:
- one dactyl has a stress followed by two unstressed sounds; so, a double dactyl line does that twice
- 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.
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Here’s my attempt at a double dactyl:
big game, by Robert Lee Brewer
Ann Arbor, Michigan,
fights for its football team
that never beats State!
Wolverines could use a
to help them win again
in the big ball game!