"The Greeks often made drink-offerings called
sponde ("libation") to the gods on solemn occasions.
A slow meter use in poetry read on such occasions
also came to be called sponde and it was this word
that gave us our word spondee, for a "metrical foot
of two stressed or long syllables." The spondee is
often used to slow the rhythm of a line."
(Robert Hendrickson, The Henry Holt Encyclopedia
of Word and Phrase Origins, New York, NY)
The many different names for various metrical feet
are summed up rather well in Coleridge's little poem
"Metrical Feet", which he wrote for one of his sons;
each line written in the foot that it names. The only
style omitted being Pyrrhic (the antithesis of a
Spondee), having two unstressed feet.
"Trochee trips from long to short;
From long to short in solemn sort
Slow Spondee stalks; strong foot! yet ill able
Ever to come up with Dactyl trisyllable.
Iambics march from short to long; --
With a leap and a bound the swift Anapaests -
One syllable long, with one short at each side,
Amphibrachys hastes with a stately stride;--
First and last being long, middle short, -
Strikes his thundering hoofs like a proud high-
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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