Dactylic Hexameter

I made the mistake of telling the kids that their recent literature assignment might be more difficult than anything of the sort that I had to do in school. That gave them an opening to insist that it was impossible, and challenge me to prove that it wasn’t by doing it myself. Oops.

The assignment was to write a 25-line poem in dactylic hexameter, the verse-form the Iliad was written in. “Dactylic” means the rhythm uses sets of three syllables with the first one stressed, so it goes DA-da-da-DA-da-da, like a waltz. “Hexameter” means there are six of those DA-da-da sets in each line, though Homer apparently cheated a little and ended some lines a syllable or three early. Fortunately, it doesn’t also have to rhyme.

So I threw one together to show them it could be done. Since it’s only the second or third poem that I’ve ever written of my own free will, I thought I might as well put it up here for posterity. I don’t think it’s too bad, for 9th grade work. I cheat a little in spots (is “girl” one syllable or two? Here it’s both!) but not too much. I’m especially proud of the fact that I worked a Homeric simile into it.

So if you have a Kolbe Greek Literature student who thinks this assignment is too hard, feel free to show him this as proof that it can be done. If you are a Kolbe Greek Literature student and you decide to steal this, let me know what kind of grade you get.