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alexandrine

alexandrine (ăl´Ĭgzăn´drēn´, –drīn´), in prosody, a line of 12 syllables (or 13 if the last syllable is unstressed). Its name probably derives from the fact that some poems of the 12th and 13th cent. about Alexander the Great were written in this meter. In French, rhyming couplets of two alexandrines of equal length, usually containing four accents, have been the classic poetic form since the time of Ronsard, e.g., in the dramas of Racine and Corneille. In English an iambic hexameter line is often called an alexandrine. The most notable example is found in the Spenserian stanza, which contains eight iambic pentameters and an alexandrine rhyming with the last pentameter. Pope's "Essay on Criticism" contains what is probably the most quoted alexandrine in English literature:

A needless alexandrine ends the song
That like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.

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alexandrine

al·ex·an·drine / ˌaligˈzandrin; -ˌdrēn/ Prosody • adj. (of a line of verse) having six iambic feet. • n. (usu. alexandrines) an alexandrine line.

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alexandrine

alexandrine pert. to verse of twelve syllables. XVI. — F. alexandrin, f. Alexandre, title of a famous OF. romance (XII–XIII), concerning Alexander the Great, in which the metre is used; see -INE1.

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alexandrine

alexandrine an iambic line of twelve syllables or six feet. The term comes (in the late 16th century) from French, from Alexandre (see Alexander1), the subject of an Old French poem in this metre.

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alexandrine

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