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Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444333275.2013.x


A line of verse of ten syllables. It seems to have first been used c . 1050 in France. It became an increasingly popular form and was used by Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio. Chaucer's discovery of it is important because he worked out a five-stress line which became fundamental to the development of the sonnet, the Spenserian stanza, the heroic couplet and blank verse ( qq.v. ). In practice, often enough, a decasyllabic line has eleven syllables (occasionally nine) but the extra one is often negotiated by an elision ( q.v. ). This couplet from Pope's Moral Essays illustrates the two kinds of line: To observations which ourselves we make, We grow more partial for th'observer's sake. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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