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Trochee

Trochee

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A trochee or choree, choreus, is a metrical foot used in formal poetry. It consists of a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one.

Examples

Longfellow's The Song of Hiawatha is written almost entirely in trochees, barring the occasional substitution (iamb, spondee, pyrrhic, etc.).

Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odours of the forest,
With the dew and damp of meadows,

In the second line, "and tra-" is a pyrrhic substitution, as are "With the" in the third and fourth lines, and "of the" in the third. Even so, the dominant foot throughout the poem is the trochee.


Apart from the famous case of Longfellow's Hiawatha, this metre is rare a perfect example.

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Perhaps owing to its simplicity, though, trochaic meter is fairly common in children's rhymes:

Peter, Peter pumpkin-eater
Had a wife and couldn't keep her.

Often a few trochees will be interspersed among iambs in the same lines to develop a more complex or syncopated rhythm. Compare (William Blake):

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night

These lines are primarily trochaic, with the last syllable dropped so that the line ends with a stressed syllable to give a strong rhyme or masculine rhyme. By contrast, the intuitive way that the mind groups the syllables in later lines in the same poem makes them feel more like iambic lines with the first syllable dropped:

Did he smile his work to see?

In fact the surrounding lines by this point have become entirely iambic:

When the stars threw down their spears
And watered Heaven with their tears
. . .
Did he who made the lamb make thee?

Trochaic verse is also well-known in Latin poetry, especially of the medieval period. Since the stress never falls on the final syllable in Medieval Latin, the language is ideal for trochaic verse. The dies irae of the Requiem mass is a perfect example:

Dies irae, dies illa
Solvet saeclum in favilla
Teste David cum Sybilla.

See also

de:Trochäus et:Trohheus ia:Trocheo it:Trocheo hu:Trocheus nl:Trochee no:Troké pl:Trochej pt:Troqueu ro:Troheu ru:Хорей sv:Troké uk:Хорей

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