In traditional Eng. accentual or accentual-syllabic verse the following feet are the most common:
iamb (iambic) x / (as in "destroy") anapest (anapestic) x x / ("intervene") trochee (trochaic) / x ("topsy") dactyl (dactylic) / x x ("merrily") spondee (spondaic) / / ("amen") pyrrhic x x ("the sea | son of | mists")
What are these accents? Look here.
Iambic and anapestic feet are called ascending or rising feet; trochaic and dactylic, descending or falling. Feet of 2 syllables are called duple feet; feet of 3, triple. Spondaic (except in sprung rhythm, q.v.) and pyrrhic feet are generally "substitute feet. Some prosodists recognize also a monosyllabic f. con- sisting of I stressed syllable. The exemplification of these feet by single words, above, of course distorts their nature: it is important to remember that f. divisions do not necessarily correspond to word divisions, and that the structure of a f. is determined contextually by the nature of the feet which surround it.
The f. bears a close resemblance to the musical bar: both are arbitrary and abstract units of measure which do not necessarily coincide with the phrasal units which they underlie. The major difference between them is that the bar always begins with a "stress."
It is perhaps unfortunate that the terminology of feet is borrowed from classical quantitative prosody, where practice is in general much more regular than in most Eng. verse and where "substitutions" are largely governed by rule rather than by whim or instinct. The Greek and Latin poets included feet such as:
amphibrach x / x bacchius x / / molossus / / / tribrach x x x
Document URL: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/foot.html
Last modified: Wednesday, 18-Jul-2007 16:25:52 EDT