Examples of Greek and Latin meters in English verse
The hexameter is illustrated in English verse by this passage from Kingsley's Andromeda
Over the sea, past Crete, on the Syrian shore to the southward,
Dwells in the well-tilled lowland a dark-haired Aethiop people,
Skilful with needle and loom, and the arts of the dyer and carver,
Skilful, but feeble of heart; for they know not the lords of Olympus,
Lovers of men; neither broad-browed Zeus, not Pallas Athene,
Teacher of wisdom to heroes, bestower of might in the battle;
Share not the cunning of Hermes, nor list to the songs of Apollo,
Fearing the stars of the sky, and the roll of the blue salt water.
The elegiac couplet is composed of two lines: the first is dactylic hexameter and the second dactylic pentameter. The most famous example in English is by Coleridge ("Ovidian Elegiac Metre"):
"In the Hexameter rises the fountain's silvery column,
Fred Schreiber, email@example.com
In the pentameter aye falling in melody back."
Here's more information about the source of Coleridge's couplet.
There's also another, more folksy, model which I just about remember as
taught to me many moons ago by a Brother of the De La Salle order of
teachers. It went somewhat as follows:
Down in a filthy sty is an old sow chewin' a bean-stalk;
Robert J Baker,
Classics & Ancient History,
University of New England,
Armidale. NSW. 2351,
Out of her mouth she grunts, squealing with greedy delight.
The version I use, which does actually scan more or less
as an elegiac is:
Up springs hexameter, with might as a mountain ariseth,
there are plenty of these, e.g.
Lightly the fountain falls, lightly the pentameter.
And the sunshine and the palm trees and the tinkly temple bells
All the night sleep came not upon my eyelids
shed with dew, nor shook nor unclosed a feather,
yet with lips shut close and with eyes of iron
stood and beheld me.
o mighty mouth'd inventor of harmonies,
o skilled to sing of Time or Eternity,
god-gifted organ of England,
Milton, a name to resound for ages.
This information was originally discussed on the Classics Discussion List
Date: Thu, 21 Apr 1994 17:28:22 +0100
Sender: Classical Greek and Latin Discussion Group (CLASSICS%UWAVM.BITNET@cmsa.Berkeley.EDU)
From: "M. Rosemary Wright"
Subject: Re: elegiac couplet
To: Multiple recipients of list CLASSICS
and was revised and augmented by John Gruber-Miller, Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Cornell College, 600 First St. W, Mount Vernon, IA 52314-1098;
Last modified 8/30/95 by firstname.lastname@example.org.