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…

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 24 October 2016.]