The Heroic Hexameter or dactylic hexameter was considered the Grand Style of classic Greek and Latin verse displayed in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid. The line was often enjambed which was conducive for the long almost prose like epic verse.
The line employs Alcmanic verse in the first 4 feet, the 5th foot is almost always another dactyl and the line ends with a spondee. Suu/Suu/Suu/Suu/Suu/SS Classic meter allows for the substitution of a spondee for a dactyl at any position in the line but the dominant meter here is the dactyl. Somewhere in the line there is at least 1 caesura. And if you want to really get technical there are 2 bridges, 1 in the 2nd foot (Meyer’s bridge) and another in the 4th foot(Herrmann’s bridge). Yep, they even have names. A bridge is an unbroken word unit in a metric foot. e.g. In the line below, “murmuring” is a bridge, “primeval” is not a bridge.
This is the / forest pri / meval. The | murmuring | pines and the | hem locks
from Longfellow’s Evangeline
Here is the intro to this very long poem Evangaline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers —
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?
Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed!
Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October
Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o’er the ocean.
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pré.
Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,
Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman’s devotion,
List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest;
List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.
Pasted from http://www.poetrymagnumopus.com/index.php?showtopic=1576
My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on this fine PMO resource.
As in all classical verse forms, the phenomenon of brevis in longo is observed, so the last syllable can actually be short or long.
Hexameters also have a primary caesura — a break in sense, much like the function of a comma in prose — at one of several normal positions: After the first syllable in the third foot (the “masculine” caesura); after the second syllable in the third foot if the third foot is a dactyl (the “feminine” caesura); after the first syllable of the fourth foot; or after the first syllable of the second foot (the latter two often occur together in a line, breaking it into three separate units). The first possible caesura that one encounters in a line is considered the main caesura. A masculine caesura can offset a hiatus, causing lengthening of an otherwise light syllable.
In addition, hexameters have two bridges, places where there very rarely is a break in a word-unit. The first, known as Meyer’s Bridge, is in the second foot: if the second foot is a dactyl, the two short syllables generally will be part of the same word-unit. The second, known as Hermann’s Bridge, is the same rule in the fourth foot: if the fourth foot is a dactyl, the two short syllables generally will be part of the same word-unit.
It must be stressed that Meyer’s and Hermann’s Bridge concern only Homeric verse and are not observed in Latin dactylic hexameter. Even in Homer, these bridges are not prescriptive. The first line of the Iliad violates Meyer’s Bridge (Μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος) since there is a word break between ἄειδε and θεὰ.
Pasted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dactylic_hexameter
Life as a Symbol (Heroic Hexameter)
Vile is the violence often committed by powerful bad men
seeking compliance with orders they’ve fashioned, demanding we bow.
Poisons and bombs and the boots on the ground will demand some men be slaves.
Some will proclaim that we ought to submit, that non-violence can win!
Maybe it’s likely I’d speak well in German, if Hitler’d had his way.
I am as likely a lackey today I am thinking, as Tytler*
Pointed out. Power’s accretion enslaves us at last, what did we gain?
Millions of people have died and for what? An illusion of freedom?
Bow down and scrape, and serve well your new master, ascend in his order.
Aid in the evil, or die in denial, you can’t have it both ways.
Camelot pledged that its might would be used just for right, not abandoned.
(c) Lawrencealot – December 15, 2014
*Tytler Cycle: (LINK)