Iambic pentameter is a meter in poetry, consisting of lines with five feet (hence "pentameter") in which the iamb (or "iambus") is the dominant foot (hence "Iambic"). Iambic rhythms are quite easy to write in English and iambic pentameter is among the most common metrical forms in English poetry. Like other meters, it has its origins in Greek poetry. William Shakespeare, like many of his contemporaries, wrote poetry and drama in iambic pentameter. Here is an example from his Sonnet XVIII: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer's lease hath all too short a date: When read aloud, such verse naturally follows a beat. There is some debate over whether works such as Shakespeare's was originally performed with the rhythm prominent, or whether it was disguised by the patterns of normal speech as is common today. In written form, the rhythm looks like this: da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM (weak STRONG / weak STRONG / weak STRONG / weak STRONG / weak STRONG) Shall I com - PARE thee TO a SUM mer's DAY Although strictly speaking, iambic pentameter refers to five iambs in a row (as above), in practice, most poets vary their iambic pentameter a great deal, while maintaining the iamb as the most common foot. The second foot of a line of iambic pentameter is almost never altered. The first foot, on the other hand, is the most likely to be changed, often in order to highlight a particular word or mark a shift in a poem. An iambic inversion, in which a trochee is substituted for an iamb in the first foot, is perhaps the most common alteration of the iambic pentameter pattern. Here is the first quatrain of a sonnet by John Donne that demonstrates how poets use variations in their iambic pentameter: Batter my heart three-personed God, for you as yet but knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend. That I may rise and stand o'erthrow me and bend Your force to break, blow, burn and make me new. The rhythm is: DUM da | da DUM | da DUM | da DUM | da DUM da DUM | da DUM | DUM DUM | da DUM | da DUM da DUM | da DUM | da DUM | DUM DUM |dada DUM da DUM | da DUM | DUM DUM | da DUM | da DUM Donne uses a trochaic inversion in the first line to stress the key verb, "batter," and then sets up a clear iambic pattern with the rest of the line (da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM). He uses spondees in the third foot to slow down the rhythm when he lists verbs in lines 2 and 4. The parallel rhythm and grammar of these lines highlights the comparison Donne sets up between what God does to him "as yet" (knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend"), and what he asks God to do ("break, blow, burn and make me new"). Donne also uses enjambment between lines 3 and 4 to speed up the flow as he builds to his desire to be made new. To further the quickening effect of the enjambment, Donne puts an anapest (dada DUM) in the final foot, carrying you to the next line. The other common departure from standard iambic pentameter is the addition of a final unstressed syllable. This is known as a weak or feminine ending. The most famous line of iambic pentameter of them all is hendecasyllabic (eleven syllables): To be, or not to be: that is the question. Here, the rhythm is : da DUM | da DUM | da DUM | DUM da | da DUM | da Also note the trochaic inversion of the fourth foot, helped by the caesura following the second 'to be.' Most poets who have a great facility for iambic pentameter frequently vary the rhythm of their poetry as Donne and Shakespeare do here, both to create a more interesting overall rhythm and to highlight important thematic elements. In fact, the skillful variation of iambic pentameter, rather than the consistent use of it, may well be what distinguishes the rhythmic artistry of poets like Donne, Shakespeare, Milton, and the 20th century sonneteer Edna St. Vincent Millay. The answer is: 'Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, introduced the metre, along with the sonnet and other Italian humanist verse forms, to England in the early 16th century. Thomas Sackville and Thomas Norton used blank verse for the first English tragic drama, Gorboduc (first performed 1561), and Christopher Marlowe developed its musical qualities and emotional power in Tamburlaine, Doctor Faustus, and Edward II.' from http://www.britannica.com/shakespeare/article-9015598 Although this is a description of blank verse, blank verse is in iambic pentameter and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey is the first person to use it as an adaptation of the alexandrine meter. See also http://theliterarylink.com/versification.html ------------ Chaucer used iambic pentameter in the 14th century!
Iambic pentameter is the use of 5 pairs of syllables, where the second syllable in each pair receives the stress. Possibly the most famous iambic pentameter by an English writer is that of William Shakespeare. When writing in verse in his plays, he almost exclusively uses iambic pentameter (strict pentameter is sometimes broken for pragmatic or stylistic reasons).
ANSWER:To learn if your poem is in iambic pentameter, an understanding of iambic and pentameter is required.Iambic:To achieve the " iambic " you need a word that you choose not to emphasize followed immediately by a word that you choose to emphasize.For example: the boyTo make ' the boy ' iambic, the word ' the ' must be spoken lightly [unemphasized] and the word ' boy ' must be spoken firmly [emphasized].That is: the boyOther examples: a lamb; my pie; yan-keePentameter:Place five iambics consecutively and you have pentameter.Example of iambic pentameter from modified Shakespeare:to be or not to be that is to seeto be / or not / to be / that is / to see1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
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