What is a dactyl?  In a nutshell it is a rhythm in poetry that is rather like a waltz in music, ie:


DUM dee dee DUM dee dee


In other words, one long sound followed by two short ones.  The word "PO e try" is a good way to remember and DAC ty lic PO e try makes two good ways to remember.


If you are teaching children to write some sentences using dactyllic metre, why not let them listen to Julie Andrews singing "A Few of My Favourite Things" and clap DUM dee dee along with the music?


Then, look at the following and, having read them a few times, write some sentences of their own:


Summer and ice cream and playing on beaches.

Mummy and Daddy and brothers and sisters.

Birthdays and Christmas with lots of nice presents.


Strictly speaking we should be ending on two double light beats, but in English, this is rather difficult.  


Bears on the moun tain top, flies on the el e phants.

Run in the sunshine and hide when the rain is here.

Capture the rainbow to keep in your treasure box.

Melting white snowflakes upon Granny's window pane.


Well I for one don't like the double light sound at the end of the line, so I will keep my dactylic verse finishing on one light beat.  It will be easier for you to do also.


Try writing a few sentences of your own first of all, but you may prefer to see some of my dactyl poems first to get the flavour of this strange metre.  





Those of you who have studied a little metre before coming to this page will, of course, note that dactyls are the opposite of anapaests which to:  


Dee dee DUM de de DUM de e DUM


eg:  On four SOFT padded PAWS walks the QUEEN of the NIGHT.


If you find it difficult remembering these words, listen to the sounds:


an e PEST - (ie de de DUM)


DAC ty lic - (ie DUM de de)


Try this poem:  











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By Josie Whitehead