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Want to impress your teachers? Make all your friends gaze at you with awe? Have your name remembered for thousands of years to come? Here’s my suggestion. Learn Dactylic Hexameter. No, really. It’s nowhere near as hard as you think. All you have to do is figure out what you want to say and learn to be a little bit clever about how you say it.

Here’s the scoop. Dactylic Hexameter is all about syllables. Kind of like Haiku except way cooler. There are some terms you might want to know. You don’t need to remember their names, but this guide would feel way incomplete without them. But don’t let them scare you just because you’ve never seen them before. They’re just words, not monsters. Monsters are scary. Words? Not so much.

Meter: the type of rhyming scheme you’re using, made up of a bunch of lines. In our case, the meter is Dactylic Hexameter, but this is just one of many different types of meter. You can check those others out on your own.

Foot: this is like a section of a line. Since the meter we’re working in is hexameter, there are six of these feet in one line.

Dactyl: a foot made up of one long and two short syllables (so three syllables in total)

Spondee: a foot made up of two long syllables (so two syllables in total)

What’s a long syllable? What’s a short syllable? I wouldn’t get too caught up in worrying about that. For now, get the general rules down, and then later, once you’re a master, you can worry about things like diphthongs.

General rules to follow:
1. The sixth foot should be a spondee.
2. The fifth foot should be a dactyl if possible (but not required).
3. The first through fourth feet can be spondees or dactyls.

Yep. That’s it. Three simple rules. Anyone can do it.

Here are some of my favorite examples of Dactylic Hexameter.

Your feet are | so smelly | they make me | feel queasy | so I plug | my nose.

Pancakes | and waffles | with syrup | and sugar | are always | so nice.

School is | so boring | and makes me | so sleepy | sometimes my | eyes close.

Potatoes | are lumpy | and ugly | but French fries | are simply | divine.

Go ahead. Try some of your own. Challenge your friends to see who can up with the funniest, most clever line of meter ever.

Check out this cool picture I drew to show you what I’m talking about.

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