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


Hexameter: A line of verse consisting of six metrical feet. In classical (ancient Greek or Latin) hexameter, this verse pattern was rigidly constructed; it consisted of four dactyls (ˊ˘˘) or spondees (ˊˊ) followed by a dactyl and then a spondee or trochee (ˊ˘). Since true spondees are fairly rare in English, the classical hexameter is infrequently used by English-language poets.

EXAMPLE: The following lines from William Butler Yeats’s “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” (1893):

Í wı̇̆ll ă│́se ănd│gó nŏw,│ănd gó│tŏ Ínn│ı̇̆sfrĕe,

And a small│cabin│build there,│of clay│and wat│tles made… .│