Often called 'The Lame Iambic Trimeter', the metre is completely identical to the iambic trimeter
, except that the last iambic foot
is replaced with either a trochee
or a spondee
(hence the 'lameness').
This exchange creates a humoristic surprise at the end of each line, as the ear naturally expects the continuation of the row of iambic feet.
The scheme of the Choliambic metre is therefore:
^ - ^ - / ^ : - ^ - / ^ - - ^
- - ^ - / - - ^ : - / ^ - - -
An example of the use of this metre (in Latin):
^ - ^ - |^ : - ^ - |^ - - ^
Miser Catulle, :desinas ineptire,
(Catullus 8, 1)
* - long or stressed syllable; ^ short or unstressed syllable; : caesura.