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(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 hexameterhexameter
[Gr.,=measure of six], in prosody, a line to be scanned in six feet (see versification). The most celebrated hexameter measure is dactylic, which was the meter for most Greek and Latin poetry.
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 line is often called an alexandrine. The most notable example is found in the Spenserian stanza, which contains eight iambic pentameterspentameter
[Gr.,=measure of five], in prosody, a line to be scanned in five feet (see versification). The third line of Thomas Nashe's "Spring" is in pentameter: "Cold doth / not sting, / the pret / ty birds / do sing.
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 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.



(1) In French versification, a 12–syllable line with fixed accents on the sixth and 12th syllables and a caesura after the sixth syllable. The rhyme pattern is a a b b (heroic alexandrine) or a b a b (elegiac alexandrine) with obligatory alternation of masculine and feminine rhymes. Alexandrine verse has been known since the 12th century; the name is derived from a 12th-century poem about Alexander of Macedonia. During the age of classicism it was the canonical meter of the epic, tragedy, and other exalted genres. During the age of romanticism it acquired greater freedom of sound and was applied to any content.

(2) In Russian poetry, iambic hexameter with a caesura after the third foot and with a rhyme pattern of a a b b and alternation of masculine and feminine rhymes. In the 18th century it was used in “high” genres; in the post-Pushkin era it is found primarily in antique stylizations. An example of the Russian alexandrine is K. F. Ryleev’s satire “To the Favorite.”

References in periodicals archive ?
Like Les regrets et complaintes de tres illustre Princesse Elisabeth, Ronsard's Tombeau is written in couplets of alexandrines.
The writer follows a consistent procedure: after providing a straight translation of the Latin, he then furnishes commentary in a series of different verse forms, exploiting various combinations of hexasyllabic, heptasyllabic, octosyllabic, and alexandrine lines.
Section C, "Petites Odes," contains no poems in alexandrines or decasyllabic lines.
W]hat constitutes the fatal fault of the rhyming Alexandrine of French tragedy [is] its incurable artificiality, its want of the fluidity, the naturalness, the rapid forward movement of true dramatic verse.
Monte prefers to use English alexandrines, loosely adapted, finding this a more flexible form.
99-104) a familiar idea surfaces when he proposes rescuing the 'well-formedness' of alexandrines which show a clitic at the sixth syllable by reading them as 4-4-4 or 4-8 or 8-4.
Some are long, including a poem to which Jouet returns periodically over the four-year period, written in alexandrines and terza rima, with an internal rhyme scheme he calls "rime berrychonne" (after the American poet John Berryman), which includes-thus far-4,002 lines.
The Rou, written in octosyllabic couplets and monorhyme stanzas of alexandrines, is a history of the Norman dukes from the time of Rollo the Viking (after 911) to that of Robert II Curthose (1106).
Plessen's attention to alexandrines in Illuminations is dismissed as 'scolaire'.
It is written in alexandrines and observes the classical unities to the letter; at the end all the characters die, on the same day and in the same place.
Except for a few poems in rich alexandrines, she opts for free verse, adapting the length of each unit to the flow of thought.
The translation of Griboedov's Alexandrines is more difficult.