Poetic Forms: Double Dactyl


Hello Everyone!

Welcome to week ten of poetic forms! This is also going to be the last week for now so instead of having until Sunday to submit your poem, you have until the end of Tuesday to give it a go!

To enter a poem, make sure it’s written in this week’s style and then either post a link to it in a comment below, or post the full text of the poem.

There are still a lot of poetic forms to choose from but there’s nothing like the Double Dactyl to really test a poet’s skill. This highly structured form has only been around since 1961, but if I had to choose a favourite, I’d look no further. In fact, I only discovered the form last April, but it has quickly risen in my esteem. Let’s look at a few examples:

Neil Gaiman (1960-present)

Hankety pankety
Boy in a blanket, he’s
Off on a goose-chase to
Look for a star
Journeys through Faërie
Strip off the blanket to
See who you are.

 John Hollander (1929-2013)


Higgledy piggledy,
Benjamin Harrison,
Twenty-third president
Was, and, as such,
Served between Clevelands and
Save for this trivial
Idiosyncrasy, (7)
Didn’t do much.
What then is required of a Double Dactyl?
1. The poem has two stanzas, each with four lines.
2. The first three lines of each stanza are a double dactyl (two three syllable segments where the first syllable of each is stressed)
3. The last line of each stanza is a choriamb (stressed, gentle, gentle, stressed)
4. The two choriambs (last lines) rhyme with one another.
5. The first line is a nonsense phrase.
6. The second line is a proper (name or he, she, it) or place noun.
7. At least one line must be a single double-dactylic word, i.e. one word with six syllables which is stressed-gentle-gentle-stressed-gentle-gentle.
Remember, you’re always free to use a little poetic licence so if you fail one of the above criteria, it’s not the end of the world!
                                                                                                     Good luck!

** Image owned by Enokson at Flickr.


Heather, who goes by Rydia on YWS, has long been an aspiring author. In the early days of her life she attached herself to poetry and would curl up on the playground bench to scrawl down lines of forgotten virtue. Or, more likely, little virtue at all. At the very old age of 11, she joined The Young Writers Club and progressed into the realms of roleplay. Here she constructed characters to fight off dragons or rally to their allies' aid with healing spells; a joint love of gaming heavily influenced this fondness of adventure storybooks. A few more years went by before Heather became a serious novelist and she still considers poetry to be her favourite media for getting those thoughts down on paper. Outside of writing her loves include puzzle books, strategy/ fantasy games, movies, swimming, skiing (when she actually has money), crafty things, baking, food in general, fun pranks and anything involving snow.

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5 Responses

  1. Heather says:

    I’m still working on the ending, but here’s mine 🙂

    Pillypog dillydog,
    Christopher Chorus-frog
    ate a thesaurus to
    learn a new word.

    big books prove auditive;
    and Christopher croaked out
    the clearest we’ve heard.

  2. Niteowl says:

    Shickety shackety
    I am so sorry that
    I had no time left to
    write a good piece.

    these forms have been to me,
    yet sorry I am that
    they soon will cease.

    Gosh I probably put the least effort into this one and it still was hard.

  3. Hannah says:

    I’m still working on mine! This is difficult as anything in the world, but so lovely when you can get it just right!

    • Heather says:

      Keep trying, there’s still time! I’m not entirely happy with mine, perhaps because my previous attempts have been better so I may attempt to write another today/ tomorrow.

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