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a rhythmic ending (in prose, of a phrase; in poetry, of a line) determined by the number of unstressed syllables following the last stressed one.
If the stress falls on the last syllable, it is called a masculine clausula (for example, golová, “head”); on the penultimate syllable, feminine (golóvka, “little head”); on the third from the end, dactylic (gólovy, “heads”); and on the fourth or more from the end, hyperdactylic (pokriákivaet, “it quacks,” or pádaiushchie, “falling”). Since it is the clausulas that are harmonious in rhymed verse, the terms “masculine rhyme” and so on are also used.
The nature of the clausula influences the rhythmic flow of the verse: masculine clausulas create jerky rhythms, and feminine and dactylic ones smoother verse. Compare the sound flow in lines that differ only in their clausula:
Vórŏn vórŏnú krĭchít:
’Vórŏn! gdé b năm ótŏbédăt’?’
Said one raven to the other:
“Raven! Where shall we dine?”
A. S. Pushkin
Ói, pŏlná, pŏlná kŏróbŭshkă
V bléskĕ zímnĕi nóchĭ taóŭshchăiă
Oh, the peddler’s box is full
N. A. Nekrasov
Melting in the splendor of the winter night
A. A. Blok
The pattern of the clausula alternation—one of the determinants of the strophe—also influences the rhythm of a poem. In Russian poetry the alternation of masculine and feminine clausulas is most common.