Ictothetic metre

(157 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

A metre in which each line has a fixed number of syllable-positions and a fixed number of beats, which may appear in different places on the grid of syllable-positions. The most widely-used ictothetic metre in English is iambic pentameter. In the fourth line of the last scene of Othello, for example, all five beats occur, as we might expect, in even-numbered positions: “Nor scar| that whi|ter skin| of hers| than snow|”. In the second line of that scene, however, we find that the first beat has migrated from position two to position one and the fourth beat from position eight to position nine: “Let me| not name| it to| you, you| chaste stars|”. The …

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Groves, Peter Lewis. "Ictothetic metre". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 June 2008
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=5520, accessed 30 July 2014.]