Alexandrine (2738 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

  • Edward Forman (University of Bristol)


An alexandrine is a line of poetry containing 12 syllables. It is most commonly found in French literature, both Classical and Romantic, and in the hands of French poets it is a remarkably flexible and expressive form. This flexibility is possible because French verse depends on neither stress (like English or German poetry) nor vowel length (like Classical Greek and Latin), so the 12 syllables can be arranged in almost any pattern, enabling each line to maintain a strong and regular structure whilst accommodating many variations of speed and emphasis to reflect the sense of the content.

The alexandrine in French poetry

The form emerged in medieval French poetry, and in epic and tragic works i…

Forman, Edward. "Alexandrine". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 April 2017
[, accessed 23 April 2017.]

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