Two: Description of the Metres

 

2.3 Siloka (Śloka)
a.k.a. Vatta (Vaktra) & Anuṭṭhubha (Anuṣṭubh)

The most important and prevalent metre in canonical Pāḷi is the Siloka, which has a great deal of flexibility, and seems to be equally well adapted to aphorism, question & answer, narrative, and epic.

A Siloka verse normally consists of 4 lines (sometimes 6, rarely 5) with 8 syllables to the line, organised in dissimilar pairs which are repeated to make up a verse (note that owing to resolution sometimes a Siloka line may contain 9 syllables).

Here is an analysis of the pathyā structure of the Siloka:

Odd (prior) line:

⏓⏓⏓¦⏑−−×

Even (posterior) line:

⏓⏓⏓¦⏑−⏑× (x 2)

In the 2nd & 3rd positions two successive light syllables ⏑⏑ are normally avoided, as we can see through occasional changes of syllabic weight in words that occur in these positions. However, there appear to be texts (e.g. Dhammapada) in which this rule is not always applied.