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In Greek and Latin poetry, a choriamb /ˈkɔːriˌæmb/ is a metron (prosodic foot) consisting of four syllables in the pattern long-short-short-long (— ‿ ‿ —), that is, a trochee alternating with an iamb. Choriambs are one of the two basic metra[1] that do not occur in spoken verse, as distinguished from true lyric or sung verse.[2] The choriamb is sometimes regarded as the "nucleus" of Aeolic verse, because the pattern long-short-short-long pattern occurs, but to label this a "choriamb" is potentially misleading.[3]

In the prosody of English and other modern European languages, "choriamb" is sometimes used to describe four-syllable sequence of the pattern stressed-unstressed-unstressed-stressed (again, a trochee followed by an iamb): for example, "over the hill", "under the bridge", and "what a mistake!".

English prosody[edit]

In English, the choriamb is often found in the first four syllables of iambic pentameter verses, as here in Keats' To Autumn:

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Wikisource Gosse, Edmund William (1911). "Choriambic Verse" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 269.


  1. ^ The other is Ionic meter.
  2. ^ James Halporn, Martin Ostwald, and Thomas Rosenmeyer, The Meters of Greek and Latin Poetry (Hackett, 1994, originally published 1963), p. 23.
  3. ^ Halporn et al., Meters, pp. 29–31.