Also known as gradual verse or wedge verse, rhopalic is a type of verbal play.
Charles O. Hartman notes that the "oddness of this form resides in only two characteristics--its unusual reliance on word boundary and its simplicity" (Free Verse: An Essay on Prosody, 1980).
Etymology:From the Greek, "club, bludgeon"
Examples and Observations:
- "I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly perplexing handwriting; nevertheless, extraordinary pharmaceutical intellectuality, counterbalancing indecipherability, transcendentalizes intercommunications' incomprehensibleness."
(Dmitri Borgmann, Language on Vacation: An Olio of Orthographical Oddities. Scribner, 1965)
- "Very rare and curious is rhopalic verse (from Greek, 'clublike'--expanding or
thickening toward the end). In whatever the meter, the words in the line get longer as the line moves on, e.g.,
Words along rhopalic pentameters(John Hollander, Rhyme's Reason: A Guide to English Verse. Yale Univ. Press, 2001)
Add extra syllables, gradually;
While shadows, lengthening, attenuate,
Lines thicken approaching termination.
- "A rhopalic line is one in which each successive word has one more syllable than
its predecessor. This sentence cleverly exemplifies rhopalicism. There are variations, like increasing each word in a line letter by letter (I am not sure about trying variant rhopalics) and decreasing rather than increasing the count . . .."
(Stephen Fry, The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within. Gotham, 2006)