Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A line of English verse composed in iambic hexameter, usually with a caesura after the third foot.
  • n. A line of French verse consisting of 12 syllables with a caesura usually falling after the sixth syllable.
  • adj. Characterized by or composed in either of these meters.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A line of poetic meter having twelve syllables, usually divided into two or three equal parts.
  • n. An Alexandrine parrot or parakeet.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Belonging to Alexandria; Alexandrian.
  • n. A kind of verse consisting in English of twelve syllables.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Same as Alexandrian, 1.
  • n. In prosody, an iambic hexapody, or series of six iambic feet.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (prosody) a line of verse that has six iambic feet

Etymologies

French alexandrin, from Old French, from Alexandre, title of a romance about Alexander the Great that was written in this meter.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • The 6-stress line is called the alexandrine (probably from the name of an Old French poem in this metre).

    The Principles of English Versification

  • a poem of twenty thousand lines (to the form of which this romance gave its name -- "alexandrine" verse), the work of Lambert le Tort and

    A History of French Literature Short Histories of the Literatures of the World: II.

  • William Carlos Williams' poem is structured into three verses, but it is basically three alexandrine 12-syllable lines, which makes it an extremely easy form to follow.

    This Is Just To Say

  • The present sewer is a beautiful sewer; the pure style reigns there; the classical rectilinear alexandrine which, driven out of poetry, appears to have taken refuge in architecture, seems mingled with all the stones of that long, dark and whitish vault; each outlet is an arcade; the Rue de Rivoli serves as pattern even in the sewer.

    Les Miserables

  • Hear, hear; that's the first thing about poetry I remember learning--the alexandrine verse--its soft and hard accents--"aloft, I laughed."

    Surviving Yet Another Day

  • Too many marching alexandrine feet for me, pieds, like the pied in the Pied Piper or the Piedmont, but not impediment, though I once saw a man wearing a pedometer the Lone Ranger had sent him.

    Poetic Justice

  • One day I learned in school about an alexandrine--and even today I still remember that an alexandrine was a type of poem some oldtimer wrote honoring Alexander the Great--and how an alexandrine fit a certain pattern based on syllabic time counted by iambs and I'll be damned if I learned where the caesuras go.

    Poetic Justice

  • But Jonathan's a smart cookie and up on his old-time as well as modern poetry; I saw him discussing the alexandrine in one of his posts.

    Surviving Yet Another Day

  • Yet there will be found some instances where I have completely failed in this attempt, and one, which I here request the reader to consider as an erratum, where there is left, most inadvertently, an alexandrine in the middle of a stanza.

    The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley

  • It would not have surprised me to learn that I must subtract at least half a dozen syllables from that portentous phrase to reduce it to alexandrine dimensions.

    The Guermantes Way

Comments

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  • (n): a line of six iambic feet that is often used to conclude a work written in heroic couplets.

    "Then, at the last and only couplet fraught | With some unmeaning thing they call a thought, | A needless Alexandrine ends the song, | That like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along." --Alexander Pope

    (n): a line of twelve syllables that is the dominant form of French verse.

    January 17, 2009