Mammoth Memory

Dactylic octameter


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


Octameter is eight feet per line.


Dactylic octameter is far from being a popular choice of metre among poets.



The following was the only example of a dactylic octameter poem we could find. It doesn’t have a title – apparently it’s been referred to as “that ‘gods-be’ poem” and “the poem in dactylic octameter”.

Dactylic octameter is eight feet per line

What is the difference 'tween sunlight and starlight, ‘tween cool lazy breezes and wild stormy winds?

Where lies the mark between evening and morning, or midnight and noontime, or sunset and dawn?

How can I separate light out from shadow? Though why would I rob me of all that is deep?

The shape of the pattern is forged in its difference; the ends and beginnings are lost in a song.



That the last foot in each line loses its final two short syllables, so that there’s just one long syllable to end each line. This provides at least a little respite from the repetitive, rather tiresome rhythm.


A closer look at the feet in these lines


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

Dactylic octameter example

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