The double-dactyl is a short verse form invented by the American poets Anthony Hecht and John Hollander in 1966. The poem consists of one sentence containing forty-four syllables that are distributed over eight lines and fall into two four-line stanzas. The first three lines of each stanza are dactylic dimeter; the last one is a choriamb. The two stanzas end with a masculine rhyme on the last syllable of the choriamb. The final feature of the form is found in line six of the poem: a single, six-syllable word which is a double-dactyl. The example illustrates the rhythm, rhyme scheme, and other salient features of my favorite form.

Dactyls in dimeter,
Verse form with choriambs
(Masculine rhyme):
One sentence (two stanzas)
Challenges poets who
Don't have the time.


Greco-Roman Double-Dactyls

In Need of a Steed




Rock 'N' Roll


The Cave: Reality Bytes


Clippedy-Cloppedy Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy
Thracian-born Spartacus Claudian Livia Stone-Pusher Sisyphus Plato, philosopher,
-Captured a free man and Numbered her husband Au- Twice cheated Death, but he Dreamed up a new concept
Sold as a slave- Gustus's days; Learned who was boss; One febrile night:
Rome's insurrectionist Armed with her aconite, Sentenced to Hades for Juxtaposed images,
Gladiatorial Premeditatedly, Pretereternity Phantasmagoria,
Slaughtered his getaway, Spiced up his life as she Rolled a stone uphill, just Objects that do not go
Error most grave. "Fig"ured her ways... Gathering dross! Bump in the light.

Marc 'N' Cleo


Vulpes et Corvus


Horsing Around


Hamilcar Barca's Son


Wiggledy-Jiggledy Cunningly-Charmingly Clippedy-Cloppedy Higgledy-Piggledy
Marcus Antonius, Fox spies a crow with prize, Wingéd horse Pegasus, General Hannibal,
Smitten by beautiful Plying his flattery: Steed of Bellerophon, "Favor of Baal" his
Queen of the Nile, "I like your spunk!" Legend does tell, Name indicates,
Married her, died for her, Crow, with the cheese in beak, Hoofed up Mt. Helicon Vowed to his father a
Megamaniacal Cheddar-forgetfully Hydrodiviningly, Pro-Carthaginian
Victim of Actium/ Opens her mouth to speak... Giving the Muses their Warfare with Rome for as
Feminine guile. Chunk goes kerplunk! Hippocrene well. Long as it takes.

Dire Straits


The Fates


Kalendae Ianuariae


Unworthy Son


Dashingly-Swirlingly Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy
Scylla Charybdisque Clotho and Lachesis Janus Patulcius, Son of Aurelius,
"Rock and a hard place" of -Atropos, too, is a God of beginnings and Commodus died on a
Homeric fame, Part of the trip- Also of gates, Far new year's eve;
Physical features are Destiny's goddesses Figures in calendars, Poisoned then strangled, he
Anthropomorphously Interrelatedly, Primopositional, Antiheroically
Merged into monsterous Practice their specialities: Foremost in naming the Got his comeuppance and
Women in name. Spin, measure, snip! Months in our dates. Then took his leave.



Dramatis Personae


Morituri Te Salutant




Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy
Hadrian's favorite, Thespis of Athens is Flavian spectacle: Cries of "Talassio!"
Born in Bythinia, Given the credit for Humans and animals Mark the beginning of
Drowned in the Nile, Drama's début: Give it their best; Marital bliss;
Gone like the city of Solo and choral parts Stirring the crowd with the Auspices taken for
Antinoöpolis, Seriocomically Amphitheatrical Confarreatio
Left just one legacy: Spoken by actors through "Ave, Imperator..."; Favor the dowry that's
Statuesque smile. Masks with a view. You know the rest. Sealed with a kiss.

Mistaken Identity


Februa of the Luperci


Hercules' 12th Labor


Like Father, Like Son


Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy Diggedy-Doggedy Higgledy-Piggledy
Marcus Aurelius' Feast of the Lupercal, Three-headed Cerberus Philip of Macedon
Statue in bronze on the Rites of fertility Stood as a guard at the Formed up the phalanx and
Capitoline, (Purity, too), Entrance to Hell; Harried the Greeks;
Famous equestrian Spurred Gaius Julius' Hercules, armed only Murdered, he missed out on
Verdigrisiferous, Luperlubricity: Proprioceptively, Mesopotamia,
Slipped by the Christians as "Make sure, Calpurnia, Managed to tame him, but So, it's his son of whom
Great Constantine. That one strikes you." Freed him as well. All the world speaks.

Physician, Heal Thyself!


    Little Boots


Dyed in the Wool


Just Desserts


Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy
Galen of Pergamum Gaius Caligula, Tyrian purple, a Pitiful Tantalus
Published a treatise on Son of Germanicus Highly-prized dyestuff in Stole food and drink from the
Medicine's art, Named for those boots, Ancient world times, Table of Zeus;
But it was based upon During his reign, which was Came from a mollusk, the So, he was punished with
Gross-anatomical Ultra-tyrannical, Mediterranean Juxtapositional
Findings in Barbary Punished most everyone Murex (M. trunculus), Torture of sustenance
Ape parts in part. Deemed in cahoots. Made crimson lines. Just beyond use.

Head Honcho


    The Mausoleum


Moving Heaven & Earth


  Too, if by Sea


Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy
Pontifex Maximus, Tomb of Mausólus, a Gardens of Babylon Lighthouse on Pharos, a
"Builder of bridges" in Wonderous sepulcher Hung from tall terraces Beacon of fame in the
Latin it means, Built by his queen, Built overhead; Maritime climes,
Headed the state's role in One of the fabled, the Urged by his Persian wife, Crowned Alexandria's
Religiosity, Halicarnassian NebuchadnezzarII Mediterranean
Supervised priests and the Stop was a must on the Strove to create all the Harbor and shoreline in
Vestals it seems. Ancient world scene. Mountains she'd pled. Ancient world times.

Beside, not Bestride


    Still a Wonder


The Artemision


Olympian Zeus


Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy Higgledy-Piggledy
Famous Colossus, the Cheops' Great Pyramid, Temple of Artemis, Zeus at Olympia,
Rhodian statue one Tomb of the pharaoh, in Wonder of Wonders, in Statue by Phidias,
Hundred feet high, Giza still stands; Ephesus stood; Sight to behold,
Stood at the harbor and Tourists who flock to see Housed in the shrine was a Image of ivory
Ever-so-splendidly Archaeological Multimammiferous Ultramagnificient,
Glorified Helios Marvels of mankind still Symbol of fruitfulness Sat on a throne made of
Bright in the sky. Blink in the sands. Carved out of wood. Cedar and gold.

Did you like those? Then here is an index to all of those written at The Tenth Muse.

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