Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Metre, in language, especially in song or verse and in music, is the rhythmic arrangement of syllables or notes in respect of time-length and stress. The term, with descriptive epithets, is used to indicate the particular rhythmic system on which a verse or stanza is constructed. For instance, in English hymnology common metre denotes a stanza or verse of four lines, the first and third lines containing eight syllables with stress on the even places, and the second and fourth of six syllables with stress- on the even places. This metre is also called an iambic metre, because the lines can be divided into similar dissyllabic sets of syllables called feet, in which the ictus or stress falls on the second syllable. [Iambics, Trochees.] Song and dance originally went together, and the rhythm of verse corresponded to the rhythm or measure of the movements of the feet in dancing or marching. In most ancient metres the rhythmic ictus generally fell on a long vowel, or a vowel followed by more than one consonant, so that the syllable was long. The ictus of simple metres was marked by the beat of the descending feet or thesis, with which alternated the lighter foot of the metre or arsis (" raising"); but Latin metricians inverted the use of these terms, and their example is generally followed. Except in a comparatively few special cases, a long syllable had double the time-length of a short syllable or mora. [Iambic, Dactyl, Hexameter, Spondees.]