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


Tetrameter: A line of verse consisting of four metrical feet.

EXAMPLE: In Thomas Hardy’s “Channel Firing” (1914), written in iambic tetrameter, skeletons resting in a churchyard are momentarily disturbed by the noise of gunnery practice on the English Channel:

That night│your great│guns, un│awares,

Shook all│our cof│fins as│we lay,

And broke│the chan│cel win│dow-squares,

We thought│it was│the Judge│ment-day

And sat│upright.│While drear│isome

Arose│the howl│of wa│kened hounds:

The mouse│let fall│the al│tar-crumb,

The worms│drew back│into│the mounds… .

Much of Dr. Seuss’s (Theodor Seuss Geisel) verse for children was written in anapestic tetrameter, including his first children’s book And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), the title of which exhibits tetrameter.