Trochaic Heptameter

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Trochaic heptameter is a metrical pattern that consists of seven sets of two syllables. The first syllable in each foot is stressed and the second is unstressed. In total, there are fourteen syllables in every line of trochaic heptameter. 

E.g. An example of trochaic heptameter is this line from 'The Ravenby Edgar Allan Poe: "And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting."

Trochaic heptameter is a poetic meter with a long history of use in English literature. It has been used in several works of literature and poetry, by poets of vastly different periods, but it is not an overly popular choice in poetry. 

It can be used to great effect in shorter poems about strong emotions or passionate topics. When used correctly, trochaic heptameter can create an incredibly powerful and memorable poem.

Trochaic Heptameter Definition and Examples


Trochaic Heptameter Definition

Trochaic Heptameter is a poetic meter that consists of seven trochees. A trochee is a type of poetic foot made up of two syllables, with the first syllable stressed and the second syllable unstressed.

Trochaic heptameter has a consistent, regular rhythm which makes it useful for writing poems and songs. It is also a great way to practice using iambic meter, as it can help writers learn the basics of poetic rhythm.

Examples of Trochaic Heptameter in Poetry 

As a rarer meter, it’s far more difficult to find good, successful examples of trochaic heptameter in use. 

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe 

‘The Raven’ is one of the best-loved pieces of poetry in the English language. It uses long lines, some of which are written in trochaic heptameter. Here are a few lines from the long poem: 

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

The first line of this small excerpt is a good example of trochaic heptameter. With the stressed syllables bolded, the line would look like: 

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

The majority of ‘The Raven’ uses a different meter, trochaic octameter, such as can be seen in the famous opening line: “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary.” 

Discover more Edgar Allan Poe poems

Why is Trochaic Heptameter Important? 

Trochaic heptameter is an important poetic meter as it is highly effective in conveying ideas and emotions. It is a poetic form that consists of seven feet, each foot containing one trochee (a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable). 

The meter can be used to create a natural, flowing rhythm, often with the sound of a heartbeat or horse’s hooves when read aloud. This makes it especially powerful for conveying stories and messages that are meant to evoke an emotional response.

Trochaic Heptameter also has the advantage of allowing for great flexibility in its structure. Its seven-foot pattern allows for a variety of word lengths and the number of syllables in each line, creating a pleasing variety and structure within the poem. This makes it easier to craft poetry that is both memorable and impactful.

All in all, trochaic heptameter is an important poetic meter because it allows for flexible structure, powerful emotion, and great memorability. It is an invaluable tool for any poet looking to create powerful, impactful works of art.

How to Write in Trochaic Heptameter

Writing in Trochaic heptameter is a great way to add structure and rhythm to a poem. Trochaic heptameter is composed of lines of seven trochees, which are two-syllable poetic feet with a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable. This meter can create a strong, driving rhythm and can be used to great effect in poems about strong emotions or passionate topics.

When it comes to writing in trochaic heptameter, the most important thing to remember is that the stressed syllable of each line should be the same. This creates a consistent pattern throughout the poem, which will help the reader recognize the meter and appreciate the poem’s structure and rhythm. It is also important to keep the lines short; too long of a line can disrupt the flow of the poem and make it harder to recognize the meter.

Finally, it is important to consider when trochaic heptameter is most useful. Generally, this type of meter works best in longer poems where the poem’s energy needs to be sustained for a longer period of time.

FAQs 

Is trochaic heptameter hard to use? 

Trochaic heptameter can be hard to use. More than anything, it’s hard to sustain. It’s very difficult to write an entire poem using trochaic heptameter. Most poets will vary the form, perhaps writing one line in every stanza in trochaic heptameter and using trochaic tetrameter or another meter in the rest. 

Is trochaic heptameter popular in poetry? 

No, trochaic heptameter is far from being the most popular metrical pattern in poetry. Other simpler and shorter patterns, like trochaic tetrameter and iambic pentameter, are much more popular. 

How many syllables are in a line of heptameter? 

Lines of heptameter usually have a total of fourteen syllables. The word “hepta” means seven and refers to the number of feet in a line. Most of the time, each foot is two syllables long. But, if a poem was written in spondaic heptameter, dactylic heptameter, or anapestic heptameter, there are three syllables per foot. 


Related Literary Terms 

  • Free Verse: lines are unrhymed, and there are no consistent metrical patterns. But, that doesn’t mean it is entirely without structure.
  • Blank Verse: poetry that is written in unrhymed lines but with a regular metrical pattern.
  • Sprung Rhythm: a rhythmic pattern used in poetry that mimics natural speech.
  • Anapest: two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed.
  • Iambic Pentameter: one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable. The most popular metrical pattern.
  • Dactyl: one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables. It is the opposite of an anapest.
  • Spondee: an arrangement of two syllables in which both are stressed.


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