Feminine line ending or caesura

(113 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume : WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.

Feminine ending or caesura: an extra offbeat (see prosody) at the end or at the caesura of a line of iambic metre. Feminine endings are rare in neo-classical verse; feminine caesuras are confined to looser kinds of versification, such as dramatic verse. The following line from Macbeth has both:

The love | that fo|llows [us], some|time is |our troub[le] (1.6.11)
w--S w---S w---------S w---S w----S

The reference is to grammatical gender: in French, feminine adjectives often scan with an extra weak syllable on the end. Compare the following two lines from Racine’s Phèd…

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Groves, Peter Lewis. "Feminine line ending or caesura". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 February 2005
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1525, accessed 27 September 2016.]