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Syllabic Verse

A poetic form having a fixed number of syllables per line or stanza regardless of the number of stresses that are present. It is common in languages that are syllable-timed such as Japanese or modern French or Spanish, as opposed to accentual verse, which is common in stress-timed languages such as English.


The following stanza from "Especially When The October Wind" by Dylan Thomas is an example of syllabic verse in English. Each line is made up of 10 syllables.(Note how the line "And cast/ a sha/dow crab/ upon/ the land/" can be scanned as regular iambic pentameter even though it is considered syllabic in the context of the poem)

Especially when the October wind
With frosty fingers punishes my hair,
Caught by the crabbing sun I walk on fire
And cast a shadow crab upon the land,
By the sea's side, hearing the noise of birds,
Hearing the raven cough in winter sticks,
My busy heart who shudders as she talks
Sheds the syllabic blood and drains her words.

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