Catalexis (174 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

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


Catalexis (adj. catalectic): the omission of an expected offbeat (see prosody). It is commonplace in ictosyllabic verse at the beginning or end of the line, as in this example of anapestic tetrameter:

(.)      .      *  |    .    .    *|    .     .     * |   .      .      *
    While Pan |and fair Sy|rinx are fled |from our shore,

(.)    .     * |  .    .     *|    .         .      *    | .  .     *
    The Mu|ses are ba|nished, and Love |is no more;

(Dryden, “The Lady's Song”)

In ictothetic verse it is rather rare, however, and occurs only i…

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Groves, Peter Lewis. "Catalexis". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 November 2001; last revised 02 November 2005.
[, accessed 23 October 2017.]

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