|Primer on Metta Sutta versification|
In a number of Pali meters, the smallest metrical unit is a "mattā" which is equivalent to a light syllable. A heavy syllable is two mattās in length. A "gaṇa" (metrical measure or bar) is composed of four mattās. Thus, in general, a standard gaṇa consists of either:
According to Ānandajoti, Safeguard Recitals (2004), pp. 276-7, the Metta Sutta is in "Old Gīti" meter. In Old Gīti, a metrical line (pāda) has seven or seven-and-a-half gaṇas; a verse is a couplet. In the Metta Sutta, a typical pāda has the following pattern:
As can be seen, in the first six gaṇas, odd-numbered gaṇas most frequently consist of a spondee (— —) while even-numbered gaṇas most frequently consist of an amphibrach (o — o, or in Pali, jagaṇa) (cf. Warder, 1967, pp. 165ff.; Ānandajoti, 2006, ver. 3.5, sec. 2.18).
Note that, in an Old Gīti pāda, after the fourth gaṇa's first syllable is a natural break, a caesura (yati), here represented by a colon (:). Based on this caesura, the pāda can be divided into two half-lines. Thus, a verse can be represented as a four half-lines, which is consistent with how this sutta's verses are frequently representated in English translations as well as with the Bodhi Lankarama chanting referenced on this web page (where a leader pauses after each half line for the congregants' repetition). Thus, for easier comprehension and consistency with various resources, a verse on this web page is represented as four metrical half-lines with a typical resultant verse structure being: