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In modern poetry, an anapest is a foot composed of two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable. In Classical verse, an anapest is two short syllables followed by a long one.

Anapests are rare in spoken English, and in English-language poetry anapests are far less common than dactyls, iambs, and trochees. There are very few anapestic English words, so an anapest in a line of poetry typically spans two or three words. Yet even when this is the case, it’s hard to avoid placing some stress on the first syllable of an anapest—for example:

To display
He appeared
Her sublime

Even when these phrases begin a new line, we’re tempted to stress the first syllable.

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