Alcaic Stanza poetry form

Alcaics “gives an impression of wonderful vigour and spontaneity”. The 1911 Edition Encyclopedia. The stanzaic form is attributed to the poet Alceaus 6th century BC and is an Aeolic classic meter.

Alcaics stanzaic form is:
• stanzaic, any number of quatrains may be written.
• metric, quantitative verse. The first 3 lines are 5 metric feet and the last line, 4 metric feet with a specific combination of trochees and dactyls. There are variations on the rhythm of the Alcaics quatrain but the following (one source refers to it as the dactyl Alcaic quatrain) seems to me the most common as demonstrated in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Milton.

(acephalous refers to the missing 1st syllable of an iambic foot)

L1 & L2 acephalous iamb, 2 trochees and 2 dactyls;
L3 acephalous iamb, 4 trochees;
L4 2 dactyls 2 trochees in that order

Quantitative Verse

Milton Part I by Alfred Lord Tennyson 1891
O mighty-mouth’d inventor of harmonies,
O skill’d to sing of Time or Eternity,
God-gifted organ-voice of England,
Milton, a name to resound for ages;
Whose Titan angels, Gabriel, Abdiel,
Starr’d from Jehovah’s gorgeous armouries,
Tower, as the deep-domed empyrean
Rings to the roar of an angel onset–
Me rather all that bowery loneliness,
The brooks of Eden mazily murmuring,
And bloom profuse and cedar arches
Charm, as a wanderer out in ocean,
Where some refulgent sunset of India
Streams o’er a rich ambrosial ocean isle,
And crimson-hued the stately palm-woods
Whisper in odorous heights of even.
Pasted from
My thanks to Judi Van Gorder for years of work on this fine PMO resource.

My example poem

Middle Class Morass (Alcaics)

O Yes! The rich have bankable balances;
O Yes! they choose the candidate’s policies.
Not those for whom the dole is dribbled,
though they contribute the votes those men need.

© Lawrencealot – August 3 , 2014
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