The Alcaic stanza is a Greek lyrical meter, an Aeolic verse form traditionally believed to have been invented by Alcaeus, a lyric poet from Mytilene on the island of Lesbos, about 600 BC. The Alcaic stanza and the Sapphic stanza named for Alcaeus' contemporary, Sappho, are two important forms of Classical poetry. The Alcaic stanza consists of two Alcaic hendecasyllables, followed by an Alcaic enneasyllable and an Alcaic decasyllable.
In Sappho's and Alcaeus' poetry
× ¯ ˘ ¯ × ¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ ˘ ¯ || (alc11) × ¯ ˘ ¯ × ¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ ˘ ¯ || (alc11) × ¯ ˘ ¯ × ¯ ˘ ¯ ¯ || (alc9 ) ¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ ˘ ¯ ¯ ||| (alc10)
In Latin poetry
_ _ u _ _ : _ u u _ u _ _ _ u _ _ : _ u u _ u _ _ _ u _ _ _ u _ _ _ u u _ u u _ u _ _
(An "_" denotes a long syllable, "u" a short one, and ":" is the caesura.)
_ _ u _ _ :_ u u _ u _ Antehac nefas, depromere Caecubum _ _ u _ _ : _ u u _ u_ cellis avitis, dum Capitolio _ _ u _ _ _ u_ _ Regina dementis ruinas _ u u _ u u_ u _ _ funus et Imperio parabat.
An English translation, which still fits the metre, is :
_ _ u _ _ : _ u u _ u _ Prior to this, 'twas | irreligious to waste _ _ u _ _ : _ u u _ u _ Old Caecuban wine | whilst, for the Capitol _ _u _ _ _ u _ _ Mad ruination plots the Queen, and _ u u _ u u _ u _ _ Even a funeral for the Empire.
A famous example of English Alcaics is Tennyson's "Milton:"
O mighty-mouth'd inventor of harmonies, O skill'd to sing of Time or Eternity, God-gifted organ-voice of England, Milton, a name to resound for ages!
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Alcaics.|
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