Mammoth Memory

Dactylic dimeter

A dactylic foot (known as a dactyl) has a long syllable followed by two short syllables (LSS or /UU)


Dimeter is two feet per line.


Again, not many poems are written entirely in dactylic dimeter. Poets tend to use dactyls for some lines, or parts of lines, interspersed with other types of feet.



Dimeter is two feet per line

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death 
Rode the six hundred.
Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Alfred Lord Tennyson, from The Charge of the Light Brigade


Lines one, five and six are pure dactylic dimeter. In other lines, dactyls are mixed with other types of foot for variation.


A closer look at the feet in these lines


U = short syllable; / = long syllable; | = division between feet

 Dactylic dimeter example 1


Example 2

Dactylic dimeter image 2

Higgledy Piggledy,

Bacon, Lord Chancellor,

Negligent, fell for the

Paltrier vice.


Bribery toppled him


Finished him, testing some

Poultry on ice.

                        Ian Lancashire, Higgledy Piggledy


All lines are dactylic dimeter except the last in each verse, which have a single dactyl followed by an accented syllable (or, you could, argue, a trochee – LS – followed by an iamb – SL).

A closer look at the feet in this poem


U = short syllable; / = long syllable; | = division between feet


    /   U  U        /  U  U

Higg ledy | Piggledy,

Dactylic dimeter example 2

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