French poetry

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French poetry is a category of French literature. It may include Francophone poetry composed outside France and poetry written in other languages of France.

French prosody and poetics

The modern French language does not have a significant stress accent (like English) or long and short syllables (like Latin). This means that the French metric line is generally not determined by the number of beats, but by the number of syllables (see syllabic verse; in the Renaissance, there was a brief attempt to develop a French poetics based on long and short syllables ). The most common metric lengths are the ten-syllable line (decasyllable), the eight-syllable line (octosyllable) and the twelve-syllable line (the so-called "alexandrin").

In traditional French poetry, all permissible liaison are made between words. Furthermore, unlike modern spoken French (at least in the north of France), a silent or mute 'e' counts as a syllable before a consonant and is pronounced, but is elided before a vowel (where "h aspiré" counts as a consonant). When it falls at the end of a line, the mute "e" is hypermetrical (outside the count of syllables). (For more on pronunciation of French, see French phonology).

The ten-syllable and 12-syllable lines are generally marked by a regular syntactical pause, called a "césure" (cesura):
  • The ten-syllable line is often broken into syntactical groups as 5-5, 4-6, or 6-4.
  • The alexandrine is broken into two six-syllable......
  • ...

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