Experiments in Form Part 5: Finger Exercises

The third of the four main poetic feet, the dactylic foot, is perhaps the most fun to play with, though also very challenging. Its name comes from “dactyl” for “finger” and it relates to the three sections of the finger: one long, two short, meaning one stressed beat followed by two unstressed beats. It gives poetry a light, bouncing rhythm which I have had a bit of fun working with in this poem.

Bounding (Dactylic Foot)

Into the treetops I fly in my singing, all
Green and fresh bounding, the heights of my laughter. The

Sun in its climbing brings life to the rafters; I
Dance over rooftops of houses and canopies.

Listen: my birthday is come; I am newly born.
Death has been flung to its deep forest grave.

6 thoughts on “Experiments in Form Part 5: Finger Exercises

      1. I haven’t actually. I wonder if it would help. I try to get my students to feel the rhythm more instinctively rather than making it mechanical, but it might work.

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