Mammoth Memory

Trochaic tetrameter

A trochaic foot (trochee) has a long syllable followed by a short syllable (LS or /U).


Tetrameter is four feet per line.



Not all of the lines in the following poem are pure trochaic tetrameter, but most are. See if you can spot the variations – they usually happen where the poet wants to change the tone suddenly.

trochaic tetrameter image 


On the day of the explosion
Shadows pointed towards the pithead:
In the sun the slagheap slept.

Down the lane came men in pitboots
Coughing oath-edged talk and pipe-smoke
Shouldering off the freshened silence.

One chased after rabbits; lost them;
Came back with a nest of lark's eggs;
Showed them; lodged them in the grasses.

So they passed in beards and moleskins
Fathers brothers nicknames laughter
Through the tall gates standing open.

At noon there came a tremor; cows
Stopped chewing for a second; sun
Scarfed as in a heat-haze dimmed.

The dead go on before us they
Are sitting in God's house in comfort
We shall see them face to face

Plain as lettering in the chapels
It was said and for a second
Wives saw men of the explosion

Larger than in life they managed —
Gold as on a coin or walking
Somehow from the sun towards them

One showing the eggs unbroken.

Philip Larkin – The Explosion


A closer look at the feet in this poem


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

Tetrameter is four feet per line

More Info