Three: The Mixing of Metres


3.1 Introduction

As we have seen from the description of the metres presented above, one of the main features of Pāḷi verse composition in the Canon is its flexibility. Even the fixed Classical metres which were just beginning to emerge towards the end of this period were somewhat fluid in structure, and there was still some room within which composition could take place.

Another way in which this shows itself is in the flexibility allowed to move between metres as and when required. This is evident both in the freedom with which different metres may be employed within a composition, and even the allowance to change metres within the verse itself, if that proved to be convenient for expression.

In what follows we will be concerned with what may be considered the more extreme case of metre mixing within the limits of a verse, but this will also serve to provide examples of the ability to move between metres in the composition as a whole.