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after while, crocodile

Cretic

[kree-tik]
Cretic or amphimacer feet are a unit of prosody that contain three syllables, metrically long, short, long. In Greek poetry, the amphimacer was usually a form of paeon or aeolic verse. However, any line mixing iambs and trochees could employ a cretic foot as a transition. In other words, a poetic line might have two iambs and two trochees, with a cretic foot in between (-' -' '-' '- '-).

For Romance language poetry, the cretic has been a common form in folk poetry, whether in proverbs or tags (e.g., in English, "See ya' lat'r, alligator/ After while, crocodile"). Additionally, some English poets have responded to the naturally iambic nature of English and the need for a trochaic initial substitution to employ a cretic foot. That is, it is commonplace for English poetry to employ a trochee in the first position of an otherwise iambic line, and some poets have consciously worked with cretic lines and fully cretic measures. English Renaissance songs employed cretic dimeter fairly frequently (e.g. "Shall I die? Shall I fly?" attributed to William Shakespeare). Because the cretic, in stress-based prosody, is natural for a comparison or antithesis, it is well suited to advertising slogans and adages.

Annie Hall's often-quoted line from the movie of that name is spoken as a cretic: "La-di-dah!"

References

  • Getty, Robert J., A. Thomas Cole, and T.V.F. Brogan. "Cretic" in Preminger, Alex and T. V. F. Brogan, eds. The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1993. 248.

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