What Is Iambic Pentameter

No doubt, many of you aspiring to be poets and writers are asking: what is iambic pentameter? Many have read the timeless classics of William Shakespeare, and are familiar with the distinct meter that he used in his poetry. This meter focuses on dividing each line by its syllables, and bringing the reader’s attention to each word’s significance in the poem. While William Shakespeare and many others, such as Chaucer, originally crafted this meter and mastered it for use in their poetry, it is a fairly simple meter to learn and you too can apply its poetic structure in your writings.

Prior to beginning, one must understand how this poetry structure works before attempting to apply it in their poems. As one can deduce from the name, the line’s meter is divided into five pairs of two syllables each; each line has to contain exactly ten syllables for the meter to be effective. Each syllable pair is known as an iambus, and though five of these were most prevalent in the works of Shakespeare, he often produced less or more in his writings, to add variety and color to the words that were read.

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Although the poetry structure is extremely attractive and can be very fun to recreate, it is important to use it when it is best applicable: such as in poems that are meant to be read aloud. One of the most prominent uses for these types of meters is in the lyric poem, where the poetic rhythm is clearly defined and easily adapted relevantly to the subject matter and presentation. A petrarchan sonnet is also a particularly good place for this poetic structure to be set, because of how the sonnets themselves may appear as something Shakespeare would write. These romantic texts are meant to revolve around the subject matter of unattainable love, and as such can be read aloud with the iambic pentameter keeping the rhythm for your audience.

Experimentation with such meters in different poetic genres and styles can be a very fun part of the creative process. By playing with various applications of blank verse and free verse, as well as the pentameter form, you can create an exciting effect in your poetry. As with any art however, practicing can help you get used to the style and apply it with increased skill. With applied time and dedication – you too can apply the iambic structure to your writings in a way that is both uniquely done and attractively enticing.

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