Mammoth Memory

Dactylic tetrameter

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


Tetrameter is four feet per line.



Dactylic tetrameter

Part of the Beatles’ lyrics for Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds is a great example of dactylic tetrameter:


Picture yourself in a boat on a river with

Tangerine trees and marmalade skies


That this is not entirely dactylic – the last word of the second line (skies) is a single long syllable and, in the same line, “…trees and…” is a trochee (LS or /U). The first line, however, it pure dactylic tetrameter.

A closer look at the feet in these lines


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

Dactylic tetrameter example

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