Tennyson's freedom did not come of avoiding form, but of seeing opportunity in its inevitability, and through staging collisions of overdetermined formal moments--or "clashing systems" as he calls them in that unpublished galliambic fragment.
The poem is written in the galliambics of Catullus, Roman poet of the first-century BCE, but our British poet of the nineteenth is careful to specify that his lines, which are unrhymed trochaic octameter more or less, are only a "far-off echo" of Catullus.
Maecenas composed poems in a variety of meters including hexameter, hendecasyllabic, galliambic
, and iambic trimeter; his poetry is not singled out for praise, but unlike his prose ancient commentators do not criticize the style of his verses, and as mentioned Seneca actually praised one of Maecenas' hexameters (Ep.
Poem 63 is Catullus's wildest, and maybe the wildest of all extant Roman poems, for the machine-gun staccato of its "galliambic
" metre no less than its theme.
galliambic Latin galliambus galliambic meter, from gallus priest of Cybele + iambus iamb
The galliambic meter is scanned as U U U - | UU - - || U U - U | U U - , with a diaeresis after the second foot.
into all the other secret societies'; this is not unlike the sort of furtive locker-room sodality which Graves encountered at Charterhouse.(60) The verse-composition has no specific counterpart in Goodbye to All That, but the 'many difficult bardic metres' recalls Ernest Pontifex's struggles with Alcaics (probably as hard a metre as any, except such oddities as Galliambics
In a series of letters (to Mary Gordon) from 1864 (Letters, 1:109-11), Swinburne recounts how, when a schoolboy at Eton, he once "tried" to do his composition lesson in galliambics
: the meter supposedly inspired by the frantic ritual chanting of the galli and surviving from the ancient world only (as far as Swinburne knew) in Catullus 63.