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Iambic Pentameter-General Information

Page history last edited by cbennett 8 years, 8 months ago

 

Let’s define some terms to help explain this one. Meter refers to the pattern of syllables in a line of poetry. The most basic unit of measure in a poem is the syllable and the pattern of syllables in a line, from stressed to unstressed or vice versa. This is the meter. Syllables are paired two and three at a time, depending on the stresses in the sentence.

 

Two syllables together, or three if it’s a three-syllable construction, is known as a foot. So in a line of poetry the cow would be considered one foot. Because when you say the words, the is unstressed and cow is stressed, it can be represented as da DUM. An unstressed/stressed foot is known as an iamb. That’s where the term iambic comes from.  

 

 

Pentameter is simply penta, which means 5, meters. So a line of poetry written in pentameter has 5 feet, or 5 sets of stressed and unstressed syllables. In basic iambic pentameter, a line would have 5 feet of iambs, which is an unstressed and then a stressed syllable. For example:

 

 

If you would put the key inside the lock

 

This line has 5 feet, so it’s written in pentameter. And the stressing pattern is all iambs:

 

if YOU | would PUT | the KEY | inSIDE | the LOCK

 

da DUM | da DUM | da DUM | da DUM | da DUM

 

That’s the simplest way to define iambic pentameter.  

 

 

 

 

 

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