Among a number of short Latin poems by Walter Savage Landor, of which an interesting appreciation was published recently by Bruce Mackinnon, of British Columbia, is one particularly attractive pastiche of Catullan hendecasyllables. In many respects this poem could claim to reproduce the manner of Catullus himself. My own uneasiness was aroused by the rhythm of the opening line:
I was aware of no rule for the composition of this type of verse which was infringed here; but the run of the words appeared curiously prosaic. After some consideration, I identified the metrical feature in question as the opening of the verse with two disyllables: the former spondaic (no examples were to turn up, as it happened, with a trochaic or iambic word), the latter of necessity trochaic. It is a rhythm often employed by Landor in the fifty and more pages of hendecasyllables found in the 1847 edition of his Poemata et Inscriptiones (pp. 125–78), occurring for example in poems 3, 5, 9, 10, and three times in 12. A particularly striking example is found in 88.8, quaedam scripsit avunculus… which nobody would mistake for a production of Catullus.
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