Double dactyls, also known as higgledy-piggledies or jigery-pokeries, are
biographical poems consisting of two four-line stanzas. Each of the first three
lines of each stanza contains six syllables with the first and fourth accented (DA-da-da DA-da-da).
The last line of each stanza contains four syllables, also stressing the first and fourth.|
The opening line calls out nonsense syllables (traditionally “Higgledy-piggledy”
though I and most others prefer to buck this trend and be a bit more creative).
The individual's name follows in the second. Also, in general, either the
first, second or third line of the second stanza consists of a single word. Only
the fourth and eighth lines need to rhyme. Additional rhyming, word-splits
wrapping onto the next line and so forth are welcome bonuses if you can manage them.
Worshiped a bolide and
Married five wives.
Prompted his courtiers to
Vent him with knives.
Known as El Greco, a
Took as a given his
Vision was skewed.
Ditters von Dittersdorf
Gentleman, scholar, com-
Poser of note.
Mortal, he lived merely
Lifeless, no further so-
Natas he wrote.
© Peter Blinn
Heliogabalus, also known as Elagabalus, was born Varius Avitus Bassianus and became Roman
emperor in 218 C.E. He led the worship of a sun god in the form of a conical black
meteorite that he brought to Rome in a ceremony illustrated on the backs of some of his
coins. His anything-goes personal debaucheries rivaled even those of Caligula and
Commodus (according to the Augustan Histories, nowadays taken cum grano salis) and he was
eventually murdered, along with his mother, in 222.
Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf (1739-1799), a contemporary of Haydn and Mozart, wrote over
120 symphonies. [The adverb “sexagesimally” means “in a manner
pertaining to the number sixty” though I had to cheat a bit and stress the fourth
syllable to make it fit.]