In poetry, a spondee is a metrical foot consisting of two long syllables. This makes it a unique type of metre in English verse as all the other metric forms contain no more than one long syllable.
It is impossible to construct a whole, serious poem with spondees. So spondees mainly occur as variants within, say, an anapaestic structure.
For example (from G. K. Chesterton, Lepanto):
- White founts falling in the courts of the sun
- And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
- The basic template for both lines is anapaestic tatrameter: four feet, each consisting of two short syllables then a long syllable (duh-duh-DAH, duh-duh-DAH, duh-duh-DAH, duh-duh-DAH). It is then heavily modified:
- The second, third and fourth feet in the second line each has three instead of two short syllables (duh-duh-duh-DAH).
- The first anapaest in the first line is replaced with a spondee ("White founts," DAH-DAH)
- The second anapaest in the first line is replaced with a trochee (DAH-duh).
- There are white fountains falling in the courts of the sun .
Grammatically speaking, a spondee is a two-syllable word in which there is equal emphasis placed on both syllables. Examples include "pancake", "railroad" and "robot".