What Are Examples of Anapestic Tetrameter?

Some examples of anapestic tetrameter include the famous Christmas poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore, many of the works of Dr. Seuss, and Lewis Carroll’s “‘Tis the Voice of the Lobster.” Anapestic tetrameter is a poetic rhythm that consists of four anapests per line. An anapest is a poetic foot, or unit of rhythm, consisting of two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable.

The opening lines of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” perfectly illustrate anapestic tetrameter: “‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house / not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” The first anapest in the line is “‘Twas the night,” and the second is “before Christ-.” The anapests continue with “-mas when all” and “through the house.” This pattern continues in a driving “da-da-DUM” rhythm throughout the poem. “‘Tis the Voice of the Lobster” is another fine example of anapestic tetrameter: “Tis the voice of the Lobster; I heard him declare. / ‘You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair.'” Dr. Seuss uses the same rhythm in “The Lorax”: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, / nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”