Weak ending

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

Weak ending

Weak ending: The final syllable of a line of verse that is stressed to conform to the meter but would be unstressed in ordinary speech. So defined, the term weak ending is distinguished from feminine ending, in which a line of verse ends with an unstressed, extrametrical syllable. Some critics, however, use the term as a synonym for feminine ending.

EXAMPLE: The following stanza from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798), which alternates iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter lines, concludes with a weak ending, given the wrenched accent in the word countree:

Oh! dream of joy! is this indeed

The lighthouse top I see?

Is this the hill? is this the kirk?

Ĭs thі́smı̇̆ne oẃncŏuntrée?