High Renaissance

March 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

‘Nomine Domini
Theotocopoulos,
None of these prelates can
Manage your name.

Change it. Appeal to their
Hellenophilia.
Sign it “El Greco.” I’ll
Slap on a frame.’

– George Starbuck

Thanks to English prosody, a six-syllable word is almost always double-dactylic; stresses shimmy into their appropriate positions based on a word’s syllable count (compare op-er-a to op-er-a-tic). Anthony Hecht and John Hollander must have known this linguistic trick when they invented the double-dactyl in the late 60s — the rules call for a single six-syllable double-dactylic word in the antepenultimate line. And George Starbuck must have known that a name like Theotocopoulos practically demands its use in the form.

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