Dante’s hendecasyllables

Once in Sicily, I came upon a century old Italian
school-book containing intelligent remarks upon
metric ••• the author did not ‘lay down rules,’ he
merely observed that Dante’s hendeca-syllables
were composed of combinations of rhythm units of
various shapes and sizes and that these pieces
were put together in lines so as to make, roughly,
eleven syllables in all ••• I had discovered this
point for myself in Indiana twenty years before
and in my own work had made use of the knowledge
continuously ••• This system represented versification when it was in a healthy state, when motz had not been divorced from son.
(“Cavalcanti,” p. 169)