Thread: Double Dactyls
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Old 03-12-2005, 03:30 PM   #1
Marcus Bales
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Double Dactyls

This verse form was invented by Anthony Hecht and Paul Pascal, as documented by Hecht and John Hollander in their compilation, "Jiggery-Pokery: A Compendium of Double Dactyls" (Athenaeum, New York, 1967).

Higgledy, piggledy,
Siren Calliope
Bids double dactyls to
Keep perfect time.
Then, not forgetting a
Hexasyllabical
Flourish, they always must
End with a rhyme. [Joshua W. Burton]

Higgledy, piggledy,
Anthony Hollander,
Two bards in one, worked their
Brains to a storm,
Seeking out words for the
Antepenultimate
Line of this dismally
Difficult form. [Anthony Hecht & John Hollander]

The idea is to put a name in the second line, while the sixth line is one single word (in some classic double dactyls this single-word requirement wanders around in the second stanza from the fifth through the eighth lines, as you'll see below, but the ordinary method is that it appear in the sixth), the meter of the whole is dactylic (HIG gle dee PIG gle dee), and the fourth and eighth lines rhyme.

Some more examples:

Higgledy, piggledy,
Mary of Magdala
Said to the dolorous
Mother of God:
`Parthenogenesis
Ought to be left to the
Simple amoeba or
Gasteropod.' [James Merrill]

Higgledy, piggledy,
Mme. de Maintenon
Shouted `Up yours!' when
Approached for the rent,
And, in her anger,
Proceded to demonstrate,
Iconographically,
Just what she meant. [Anthony Hecht]

Higgledy, piggledy,
Empress Victoria
Answered when asked to give
Gladstone the nod,
`Screw that old Aryan
Parliamentarian!
Disraeli and I stand for
Britain and God.' [E. William Seaman]

Higgledy, piggledy,
Franklin D. Roosevelt,
High over Jutland, flew
In from the East;
`Well,' quipped a Minister
Plenipotentiary,
`Something is Groton in
Denmark, at least!' [John Hollander]

Higgledy, piggledy,
Juliet Capulet
Cherished the tenderest
Thoughts of a rose:
`What's in a name?' said she,
Etymologically,
`Save that the Montagues
Stink in God's nose.' [Anthony Hecht]

Higgledy, piggledy,
Robert C. Rauschenberg
Gunked up his canvas with
All kinds of glop.
`Though mixing media
Metalinguistically
Seems to me silly, I
Can't seem to stop.' [Eric Salzman]

Higgledy piggledy
Theotokopoulos
Painted so well he was
Blessed with this curse:
When he was good at his
Spirituality
None did it better but
When not none worse. [Marcus Bales]

Bonne chance!
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