Alexandrine

An alexandrine is a metrical verse of iambic hexameter - a line of six feet or measures, each of which has two syllables with the stress on the first beat.

Alexandrines are common in French poetry of the early modern and modern period and much less common in English, which is fond of an iambic pentameter or 5-foot verse. In the poetry of Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene 8 lines of pentameter are followed by an alexandrine, the 6-foot line slowing the regular rhythm of the 5-foot lines.

Undoubtedly the most famous Alexandrine in the English language is a rhyming couplet of Alexander Pope's, in which the first line is in iambic pentameter and the second line is an alexandrine:

A needless alexandrine ends the song
that like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.



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