I was going through an old poetry notebook last week and found some notes on double dactyls, along with attempts at the form. I've come across a few words lately that sound like they belong in a double dactyl, so this seems like a good time to have another go at this one.
What is a dactyl you ask? A dactyl is a foot in a line of poetry that contains three syllables, one stressed followed by two unstressed (/ _ _ ).
A double dactyl poem consists of two quatrains that follow these guidelines:
1 - double dactyl nonsense phrase (like Higgeldy Piggeldy)
2 - double dactyl of a person's name
3 - double dactyl
4 - one dactyl plus a stressed syllable (/ _ _ / )
5 - double dactyl
6 - double dactyl
7 - double dactyl
8 - one dactyl plus a stressed syllable (/ _ _ / )
Here are some other helpful notes.
- Somewhere in the second stanza is a double dactyl formed by a single word (usually).
- The last lines of the quatrains (4 and 8) must rhyme.
- Like the clerihew, these are generally written about famous people and are meant to be humorous.
Phew! I hope this makes sense to you. Writing it in this way helps me to see what the poem should sound like. Here is an example.
Hans Christian Andersen
Wrote of a mermaid who
Swam up on shore.
There she became somewhat
Less than amphibious;
Drowned in the sea-foam 'mid
If my notes aren't helpful, you can find a description of double dactyls at Poetry Base and Everything2.com.
I hope you'll join me this week in writing a double dactyl (or two) . Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.