Poetic Forms: Double Dactyl
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.