poet composes a hexameter
verse by placing words into the metrical scheme wherever they best fit. One potential
problem is that not every word has one short syllable, let alone two. What to
do, then, with words that have only long syllables? |
answer is that the meter
must become more flexible. Specifically, the poet, at his or her license, may
replace (or contract)
the pair of short syllables in the arsis
with (or into) a long syllable:
for . The
foot is no longer a dactyl,
but a spondee:
derives from the Greek spondê,
which means "libation". Spondaic feet, because of their stately, "dum-dum" rhythm,
often occurred in songs at solemn drink-offerings.
opposite of contraction is resolution,
whereby the poet breaks up a long syllable for two shorts. Every foot in a hexameter
verse, therefore, has the potential to be either a dactyl
or a spondee.
Figure C illustrates this notion.