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The Poetry of Senex Caecilius

In general, poetry is distinguished from prose by its compressed and rhythmic form. The means by which rhythm is measured and described is called meter. In Latin verse, meter depends upon the number of long and short syllables in a line, for example pentameter or hexameter, whereas in English it depends upon the accent of stressed and unstressed syllables. The various meters also have different patterns of long and short syllables which are measured in the unit called a poetic foot, for example a dactyl (long-short-short) or an anapest (short-short-long). The best known meter in Latin poetry is the hexameter, and it was perfected by Vergil.

Rhyme, the repetition of accented sounds in words, is not a feature found in Latin verse, but it is another element that characterizes poetry in English. If the rhyme sound is the very last syllable of the word, the rhyme is called masculine; if the accented sound is followed by an unaccented syllable, the rhyme is called feminine. Rhymes usually occur at the end of a line of verse, but those falling within a single line are said to be internal. Most verse forms are variations on the different combinations of rhythm and rhyme schemes.

You can view my collection of verses that deal with classical subjects, Greco-Roman or otherwise, by choosing from the menu below. Each link provides a description of the form and a number of examples.

double-dactyl
haiku
cinquain
diamante
limerick
sijo
triolet
sonnet
rime royal
ghazal
Tyburn
lai
clue-line
madrigal
ochtfochlach
clogyrnach
villanelle
luc bat
ballade
binary tree
Breton lai
rubai
yadu
ballad
blank verse
redondilla
rannaicheacht ghairid
ae freslighe
jueju
cyrch a chwta
englyn cyrch
zejel
calavera
cuaderna vía
rhupunt
conachlonn
quatern
lanturne
lausavísa
cento
lushi
englyn lleddbroest
found
tanaga
than-bauk
chastushka
rondeau
rondel
sapphic
Saturnian
terzanelle
barzelletta
etheree
next
more

For more information on the art of classical poetry, you can consult these references:

  • A collection of audio files can be downloaded from Viva Voce to hear Roman poetry recited: Catullus, Horace, Virgil, and others.
  • An anthology of classical poetry offers various translations of selections from Archilochos, Sappho, Catullus, and Horace.
  • An explanation of Reading Latin Poetry gives a succint account of terms along with audible and visual examples.
  • A website of Ancient World History provides a few biographical comments about early Roman poets.


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