Write one of these…

Quoted from Wikipedia:

Hendecasyllable verse (in Italian endecasillabo) is a kind of verse used mostly in Italian poetry, defined by its having the last stress on the tenth syllable. When, as often happens, this stress falls on the last but one syllable, the line has exactly eleven syllables (and the literal meaning of the word is just “of eleven syllables”).

The most usual stress schemes for an hendecasyllable are stresses on 6th and 10th syllables (Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, Dante Alighieri, first line of The Divine Comedy), and on 4th, 7th and 10th syllables (Un incalzar di cavalli accorrenti, Ugo Foscolo, I Sepolcri).

Most classical Italian poems are composed of hendecasyllables, for instance, the main works by Dante, Francesco Petrarca, Ludovico Ariosto, and Torquato Tasso.

It has a role in Italian poetry, and a formal structure, comparable to the iambic pentameter in English or the alexandrine in French.

This form is not to be confused with hendecasyllabics, a quantitative meter used by Catullus.

Notes on Catullus’ meter

and from A.Word.A.Day:

hendecasyllabic (hen-dek-uh-si-LAB-ik) adjective

Having eleven syllables.


A word or line of eleven syllables.

[From Latin hendecasyllabus, from Greek hendekasyllabos, from hendeca- (eleven), from hen, neuter of heis (one) + deka (ten), + syllabic.]

Read Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Hendecasyllabics.

“There are those long, elaborate, beautifully balanced sentences, with their trailing clusters of dependent clauses, frequently so arranged as to reproduce the characteristic hendecasyllabic rhythms of Italian poetry.” T. Gwynfor Griffith; Obituary: Professor G. H. McWilliam; Independent (London, UK); Jan 11, 2001.

“If he were alive today, the great Roman poet, Catullus, master of the hendecasyllabic metre, would likely be front and centre in the savage war on words and the importance of hourly grammar drills in the Alberta education system.” Bill Sass; The Savage War on Words And the Particulars of Grammar; Edmonton Journal (Canada); Nov 8, 2001.


by Tennyson

O you chorus of indolent reviewers,
Irresponsible, indolent reviewers,
Look, I come to the test, a tiny poem
All composed in a metre of Catullus
All in quantity, careful of my motion,
Like a skater on ice that hardly bears him,
Lest I fall unawares before the people,
Waking laughter in indolent reviewers.
Should I flounder awhile without a tumble
Through this metrification of Catullus,
They should speak to me not without a welcome,
All that chorus of indolent reviewers.
Hard, hard, hard is it, only not to tumble,
So fantastical is the dainty metre.
Wherefore slight me not wholly, nor believe me
Too presumptuous, indolent reviewers.
O blatant Magazines, regard me rather —
Since I blush to belaud myself a moment —
As some rare little rose, a piece of inmost
Horticultural art, or half coquette-like
Maiden, not to be greeted unbenignly.

Published in _Cornhill_, Dec. 1863. I believe Tennyson wrote other such “metrifications”, but don’t have the references.

(from the “Classics” list, 29 August 1995, posted by Jim Helm of Oberlin).

Original post on LJ


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