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Poetry Guide: Amphibrach

An amphibrac is a metrical foot used in formal poetry. It consists of a long syllable between two short syllables.

Amphibracs are seldom used to construct an entire poem. They mainly occur as variants within, for instance, an anapaestic structure.

In English, stress-based poetry an amphibrach is a stressed syllable surrounded by two unstressed syllables. It is the main foot used in the construction of the limerick. E.G. "There was a | young lady | of Wantage"

The amphibrach is also often used in ballads and light verse. E.G. the hypermetrical lines of Sir John Betjeman's Meditation on the A40