Rail yard background, from the Library of Congress

Connections

A Hypertext Resource for Literature

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Two-Syllable Feet
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  • An iamb contains an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable; "A bug!" is an iamb, as is "But why?". The adjective form is iambic.

  • A trochee contains a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable. "Erik Simpson" is a pair of trochees, for example. The adjective form is trochaic.

  • A spondee contains two stressed syllables, as in "Oh my!" The adjective form is spondaic.

  • A pyrrhic contains two unstressed syllables, which makes it difficult to think of examples that stand alone. (A pyrrhic victory is a battle with no real winner; a pyrrhic foot is one with no stress.) The adjective form is also pyrrhic.

Most accentual-syllabic verse uses a two-syllable foot as its base, and most often that foot is the iamb. Verse can also be trochaic (reversing the iambic stress), but because stresses must vary at least a little, verse in English cannot sustain a pyrrhic or spondaic base.
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