Catalexis


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Related to Catalexis: Acatalexis
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Catalexis

 

(1) The type of verse meter at the rhythmic end of a line (clausula), that is, at the last stressed syllable and any unstressed syllables following it. The number of unstressed syllables can vary; in Russian verse there are usually from none to two (rarely three or more).

(2) In the narrow sense of the word: in discussing feet in old prosody, catalexis described a line ending a foot shorter than other lines by one or two unstressed syllables; for example, “Mútno nébo, nóch, mutná” (—⌣/—⌣/—⌣/—). The ear distinguishes the clausula irrespective of the character of the foot, so that contemporary Russian poetics tends not to classify lines of verse as catalectic (with a shortened foot at the end), acatalectic (full), or hypercatalectic (extended).

REFERENCE

Zhirmunskii, V. M. Vvedenie v metriku. Leningrad, 1925. Pages 131–38.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
One naturalistic device that Larkin takes further than Lowell (as Table 1 shows) is medial catalexis. Where it coincides with and thus reinforces an existing syntactic break, one simple effect is (again) to roughen up the texture of the line, this time by rendering it more life-like and colloquial for the twentieth-century reader, less "literary" and shaped, as in l7 (the double solidus indicates an obligatory intonation-break): 17.
More interestingly, the catalexis can point a rhetorical pause of some kind: it can suggest a slight hesitation, mirroring the poet's mild disappointment at the dull predictability of the interior in "Church Going," for example, or his surprise at "finding out how much had gone of life,/How widely from the others" in "Dockery and Son"; alternatively, it can register the anxious hiatus that follows the nurse's beckoning in "The Building": 18.
Where the catalexis does not coincide with an existing major syntactic break, the tiny ungrammatical pause or deceleration it intrudes can suggest a typically Larkinesque hesitation over le mot juste: 19.
The fifth-foot catalexis seen in 20 and in the last examples of 19 (often combined, as here, with harsh mapping) became with its sombre or musing cadence a trademark of Larkin's style right up to the last great poem that he wrote: 21.
Though single catalexes generally go unremarked, multiple catalexis will sometimes obtrude itself upon a critic's attention, in which case it will tend to be interpreted prescriptively as a departure from metricality.
This line can only be iambic, because trochaic tetrameter (perhaps being too recent a form to have developed conventional variations) does not tolerate inversion, internal catalexis or hypermetricality: 37.
As we have said, it is hard to know exactly which metrical position is the catalectic one, so we follow traditional analyses and assume it is the last, since catalexis (like extrametricality) seems to target final constituents rather than initial ones, at least in phonology (Kiparsky 1991).
For one thing, the clearest case of catalexis in Greek stichic meter, iambic tetrameter catalectic, has initial catalexis, not final.
(31) Knights 773-776 (assuming that catalexis is initial) (--H)(H L L)(H H)(H L L)(H H)(H L kai po:s an e.mou mal.lon se [p.sup.h]i.lo:n o: de:me L)(HL L)(HH) ge.noi.to po.li:.te:s
This is not an issue we can answer here -- we know of no conclusive evidence (from bridges, caesurae, etc.) that catalexis in this meter is either initial or final.(9) But we should not assume that the seventh foot is always LLH any more than we should assume that it is always HLL.
Comparing this meter with the dimeter discussed above (27) we see that the only differences are that the tetrameter has four daughters (tetrameter) instead of two and that the final verse foot is half-empty (catalexis).
Again, most of the structure and rhythm is unmarked, so we are left with little to notate overtly except the catalexis. We capture this formally by noting that a catalectic meter intentionally violates FILL.