Lyric Meters


“The most helpful way to remember how a
meter goes is just to memorize a line or two.”




Pure Iambics

“Purity is not really normal, is it?”

Catullus 4:
Phaselus ille quem videtis hospites


Limping Iambics (Scazontes)

“You’ve got to be thinking about the limp constantly.”

Catullus 8:
Miser Catulle desinas ineptire


Writing Nydia
in Limping Iambics (Scazontes)

Heu bis sodales alma perdidit caeca
flammis et inde negligentiae causa

Alas twice, dear blind girl, you have lost your companions:
first to flames, and then to neglect.



“Here a dactyl can be a problem because there’s only one place for it.”

Catullus 2:
Passer deliciae meae puellae



“Three longs are the hint to the whole Asclepiadic family of meters.”

Horace I.1
Maecenas atavis edite regibus

Horace III.30
Exegi monumentum aere perennius


Writing “Tiffany Balustrade”
in First Asclepiadics

Num celare potes namque epimedium
lautum divitibus tintinat auribus

You cannot hide.
An elegant balustrade
jangles wealthy ears.


Sapphic Stanzas

“That little Adonic, the short 4th line, lends itself to witty remarks.”

Horace II.10
Rectius vives, Licini, neque altum
semper urgendo neque dum procellas
cautus horrescis nimium premendo
litus iniquum

Alcaic Stanzas

“The movement from slowness to extreme slowness to rapidity is extremely subtle, and gives the poet quite a lot of possibilities.”

Horace II.14
Eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume
labuntur anni nec pietas moram
rugis et instanti senectae
adferet indomitaeque morti


Hexameters vs. Lyric Meters

“There’s a reason, I think, why hexameters were used for very long poems . . . .”