Video:What is Iambic Pentameterwith Milo De Prieto
Iambic Pentameter is a way of organizing syllables in a poem to create a rhythm. Learn about this common poetic pattern and it's uses in this how-to video from About.com.See Transcript
Transcript:What is Iambic Pentameter
Hello, I'm Milo for About.com, and today we are talking about iambic pentameter.
What is Iambic Pentameter?
Iambic pentameter is a way of organizing syllables in a poem to create a particular rhythm. In fact, it may be the most common pattern in the English language. Iamb comes from the Greek referring to a minor goddess of poetry. It now means a poetic foot or meter, which is a syllable pattern or a group of syllables.
This pattern is a unit where the syllables together are "weakSTRONG" like “the stage.” “The” is weak or unstressed and “stage” is strong or stressed. Pentameter means that the line in the poem has 5 of these feet, or "weakSTRONG" units. The variation and the rise and fall of the stress in the verse give it a melodic sound and it makes it easier to remember as it marks a very clear structure.
Iambic Pentameter in Poetry
Iambic pentameter is the most common technique used to create rhythm in English poetry especially in verse and verse drama. William Shakespeare was very fond of working in Iambic pentameter. He used it in his sonnets and plays, in which the characters spoke in verse. When said aloud, an iambic sounds like “du-DUM.” Again, the first syllable is short or unstressed and the second is long or stressed.
Poems in Iambic pentameter may or may not rhyme, in fact a skillful poet will make variations in the pattern to emphasize specific words which adds a more dramatic feeling to the work. Varying the pattern will also break the rhythm and make the piece more interesting melodically speaking.
Iambic Pentameter and Shakespeare
Looking closely at one of Shakespeare's most famous lines you will notice that he breaks the rules when applying iambic pentameter and that there is an extra unstressed syllable at the end of the line. This is known as a feminine ending. - to BE / or NOT / to BE / THAT is / the QUEST / ion.
Shakespeare at times took the liberty of inverting the order of the stresses when working in iambic pentameter. Let's take a look at another famous Shakespearean phrase. - NOW is / the WIN / ter of / OUR DIS / con TENT.
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