Syllabic Versification

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Syllabic Versification


a type of versification based on a fixed number of syllables in each line of verse. It was in use mainly in languages with a fixed stress, for example in French, which has end stress, and in Polish, which has penultimate stress.

The meter of syllabic verse is determined by the number of syllables in the line. Since the rhythm of polysyllabic meters is difficult to discern, long lines are generally divided into two hemistichs by a caesura, which helps form a rhythm. Lines with two caesuras are found in the syllabic verse of Turkic peoples and in Serbian folk poetry.

In Russian poetry, syllabic versification predominated from the mid-17th century to the 1730’s. The principal meters were the 13-syllable meter, with the caesura after the seventh syllable, and the 11-syllable meter, with the caesura after the fifth syllable. After the reform of Trediakovskii and Lomonosov, syllabic versification rapidly fell into disuse.


Timofeev, L. I. Ocherki teorii i istorii russkogo stikha. Moscow, 1958.
Akhmetov, Z. A. Kazakhskoestikhoslozhenie. Alma-Ata, 1964.
Teoriia stikha: Sb. statei. Leningrad, 1968.
Verrier, P. Le Vers français, vols. 1–3. Paris, 1931–32.
Sylabizm. Wroclaw, 1956.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Trediakovsky advocated the use of accentual rather than syllabic versification, arguing that the syllabic system then in use was a Western form that had been imposed on Russian poetry and that it was unsuited for Slavic verse.
Realizing that the old - style syllabic versification, based on the number of syllables in a line, was not fitted for Russian, Lomonosov introduced a system based on accents -- alternating stressed and unstressed syllables.