The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018


Alexandrine: A line of verse with twelve syllables, characterized in French by four stresses and a caesura after the sixth syllable and in English by the use of iambic hexameter (six iambic feet). Likely named after medieval French romances commemorating Alexander the Great, the Alexandrine became the dominant meter in French verse from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. It was also popular in Dutch and German verse but relatively rare in English, though it appears as the ninth and final line of the Spenserian stanza (following eight lines of iambic pentameter).

EXAMPLES: The second line of the following couplet, which ends one of the Spenserian stanzas in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1590, 1596):

A loathly, wrinckled hag, ill-favoured, old,

Whŏse sé│crĕt fі́lthgŏod mán│nĕrs bі́ddĕth nót│bĕ tóld.