Pentameter - Definition and Examples of Pentameter


define iambic pentameter in literature

Define iambic. iambic synonyms, iambic pronunciation, iambic translation, English dictionary definition of iambic. adj. Consisting of iambs or characterized by their predominance: iambic pentameter. n. Define Iambic meter. Iambic meter synonyms, Iambic meter pronunciation, Iambic meter translation, English dictionary definition of Iambic meter. also i·am·bus n. pl. i·ambs also i·am·bus·es or i·am·bi 1. Metrically both lines are lawful instances of the English iambic pentameter, literature, geography, and other reference data. Iambic pentameter is one of the most commonly used meters in English poetry. For instance, in the excerpt, “When I see birches bend to left and right/Across the line of straighter darker trees ” (Birches, by Robert Frost), each line contains five feet, and each foot uses one ezycurtains.mles of Iambic Pentameter in Literature.

Literature Glossary - Iambic Pentameter

The term describes the rhythm, or meter, established by the words in that line; rhythm is measured in small groups of syllables called " feet ". Iambic pentameter is the most common meter in English poetry; it define iambic pentameter in literature used in the major English poetic formsincluding blank versethe heroic coupletand some of the traditionally rhymed stanza forms. It is used both in early forms of English poetry and in later forms. William Shakespeare famously used iambic pentameter in his plays and sonnetsas did the 20th century poet Wallace Stevens.

As lines in iambic pentameter usually contain ten syllables, it is considered a form of decasyllabic verse. An iambic foot is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. The rhythm can be written as:. Define iambic pentameter in literature da-DUM of a human heartbeat is the most common example of this rhythm.

Straightforward examples of this rhythm can be heard in the opening line of William Shakespeare 's Sonnet 12 :. In this notation a standard line of iambic pentameter would look like this:. The scansion of the examples above can be notated as follows:.

The term "iamb" originally applied to the quantitative meter of classical poetry. The classical terms were adapted to describe the equivalent meters in English accentual-syllabic verse. Different languages express rhythm in different ways. In Ancient Greek and Latinthe rhythm was created through the alternation of short and long syllables.

In Englishthe rhythm is created through the use of stressalternating between unstressed and stressed syllables. An English unstressed syllable is equivalent to a classical short syllable, while an English stressed syllable is equivalent to a classical long syllable. When a pair of syllables is arranged as a short followed by define iambic pentameter in literature long, or an unstressed followed by a stressed, pattern, that foot is said to be "iambic".

The English word " trapeze " is an example of an iambic pair of syllables, since the word is made up of two syllables "tra—peze" and is pronounced with the stress on the second syllable "tra— PEZE ", rather than " TRA —peze". Although strictly speaking, iambic pentameter refers to five iambs in a row as abovein practice, poets vary their iambic pentameter a great deal, while maintaining the iamb as the most common foot.

However, there are some conventions to these variations. Iambic pentameter must always contain only five feet, and the second foot is almost always an iamb. The first foot, in contrast, often changes by the use of inversionwhich reverses the order of the syllables in the foot.

Another common departure from standard iambic pentameter is the addition of a final unstressed syllable, which creates a weak or feminine ending. One of Shakespeare's most famous lines of iambic pentameter has a weak ending: [6]. This line also has an inversion of the fourth foot, following the caesura marked with " ".

In general a caesura acts in many define iambic pentameter in literature like a line-end: inversions are common after it, and the extra unstressed syllable of the feminine ending may appear before it, define iambic pentameter in literature. Shakespeare and John Milton in his work before Paradise Lost at times employed feminine endings before a caesura. Here is the first quatrain of a sonnet by John Donnewhich demonstrates how he uses a number of metrical variations strategically.

In the second and fourth lines he uses strongly-stressed offbeats which can be interpreted as spondees in the third foot to slow down the rhythm as he lists monosyllabic verbs. 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 three and four to speed up the flow as he builds to his desire to be made new. To further the speed-up effect of the enjambment, Donne puts an extra syllable in the final foot of the line this can be read as an anapest dada DUM or as an elision.

As the examples show, iambic pentameter need not consist entirely of iambs, nor need it have ten syllables. Most poets who have a great facility for iambic pentameter frequently vary the rhythm of their poetry as Donne and Shakespeare do in the examples, 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 define iambic pentameter in literature be what distinguishes the rhythmic artistry define iambic pentameter in literature Donne, define iambic pentameter in literature, Shakespeare, Milton, and the 20th century sonneteer Edna St. Vincent Millay. It has been described by Attridge as based on doubling: two beats to each half line, two half lines to a line, two pairs of lines to a stanza, define iambic pentameter in literature.

The metrical stresses alternate between light and heavy. Because of its odd number of metrical beats, iambic pentameter, define iambic pentameter in literature, as Attridge says, does not impose itself on the natural rhythm of spoken language.

Pope exemplifies "swiftness" partly through his use of contraction: two extra implied syllables squeezed into the metrical template between the first 2 ictuses Moreover, iambic pentameter, instead of the steady alternation of lighter and heavier beats of four-beat, permits principal accents, that is accents on the most significant words, to occur at various points in a line as long as they are on the even—numbered syllables, define iambic pentameter in literature on the first syllable, define iambic pentameter in literature, in the case of an initial trochaic inversion.

Essentially, the Halle—Keyser rules state that only "stress maximum" syllables are important in determining the meter. A stress maximum syllable is a stressed syllable surrounded on both sides by weak syllables in the same syntactic phrase and in the same verse line.

In order to be a permissible line of iambic pentameter, no stress maxima can fall on a syllable that is designated as a weak syllable in the standard, unvaried iambic pentameter pattern. In the Donne line, the word God is not a maximum.

That is because it is followed by a pause. Rewriting the Donne quatrain showing the stress maxima denoted with an "M" results in the following:. The Halle—Keyser system has been criticized because it can identify passages of prose as iambic pentameter. Later generative metrists pointed out that poets define iambic pentameter in literature often treated non-compound words of more than one syllable differently from monosyllables and compounds of monosyllables.

Any normally weak syllable may be stressed as a variation if it is a monosyllable, but not if it is part of a polysyllable except at the beginning of a line or a phrase. The stress patterns are the same, and in particular, the normally weak third syllable is stressed in both lines; the difference is that in Shakespeare's line the stressed third syllable is a one-syllable word, "four", whereas in the un-Shakespearean line it is part of a two-syllable word, define iambic pentameter in literature, "gazelles".

The definitions and exceptions are more technical than stated here. Pope followed such a rule strictly, Shakespeare fairly strictly, [20] Milton much less, and Donne not at all—which may be why Ben Jonson said Donne deserved hanging for "not keeping of accent". Latin verse included lines of ten syllables. It is widely thought that some line of this length, perhaps in the Alcmanian meter, led to the ten-syllable line of some Old French chansons de geste such as The Song of Roland. Those Old French lines invariably had a caesura after the fourth syllable.

This line was adopted with more flexibility by the troubadours of Provence in the 12th century, notably CercamonBernart de Ventadornand Bertran de Born. Italian poets such as Giacomo da LentiniBoccaccioPetrarchand Dante adopted this line, generally using the eleven-syllable form endecasillabo [22] because most Italian words have feminine endings.

This pattern came to be considered typically Italian. Geoffrey Chaucer followed the Italian poets in his ten-syllable lines, placing his pauses freely and often using the "Italian" pattern, but he deviated from it by introducing a strong iambic rhythm and the variations described above. This was an iambic pentameter. Chaucer's meter depended on the pronunciation of final e' s that even by his time were probably silent.

It was soon forgotten that they were ever pronounced, so later readers could not recognize his meter and found his lines rough, define iambic pentameter in literature. Dunbar, in particular, wrote poems in true iambic pentameter. In England, the poems of the 15th and early 16th centuries are in a wide variety of meters. Thomas Wyattfor example, often mixed iambic pentameters with other lines of similar length but different rhythm. Henry Howard, Earl of Surreyon the other hand, used a strict ten-syllable line that was similar to the Old French line, with its pause after the fourth syllable, define iambic pentameter in literature, but typically had a regular iambic pattern, and had many of the modern types of variation.

Thomas Sackvillein his two poems in the Mirror for Magistratesused a similar line but with few caesuras. The result was essentially the normal iambic pentameter except for the avoidance of the "Italian" line. It was Philip Sidneyapparently influenced by Italian poetry, who used large numbers of "Italian" lines and thus is often considered to have reinvented iambic pentameter in its final form. He was also more adept than his predecessors in working polysyllabic words into the meter.

However, Sidney avoided feminine endings. They appear more often in the work of such masters of iambic pentameter as Edmund Spenser and Shakespeare. Iambic pentameter became the prevalent meter in English. It was estimated in that at least three-quarters of all English poetry since Chaucer has been written in this meter.

There is some debate over whether works such as Shakespeare's were originally performed with the rhythm prominent, or whether the rhythm was embedded in the patterns of contemporary speech. In either case, when read aloud, such verse naturally follows an iambic beat. Scholars have explained that there are few stage directions in Shakespeare "because the verse serves that purpose. The dramatic action of the lines is related to the physical action required.

The rhythm of iambic pentameter was emphasised in Kenneth Branagh 's production of Love's Labour's Lostdefine iambic pentameter in literature a scene where the protagonists tap-dance to the "Have at you now, affection's men-at-arms" speech.

In this case, each iamb is underscored with a flap step. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, define iambic pentameter in literature. Metric line consisting of five iambic feet. Normal heart sounds. A healthy human heartbeat follows the iamb, with each pair of beats resembling an iambic foot.

The Rhythms of English Poetry, define iambic pentameter in literature. Easthope, Antony []. Poetry as Discourse. Halpern, Martin June Fall Papers on Language and Literature. University of Delaware Press.

Thus Hayes's characterization "vanishingly few" seems more accurate. A New History of English Meter. Modern Humanities Research Association, define iambic pentameter in literature.

Duffellpp. Sydney Theatre Company Magazine. Sydney Theatre Company.


Iambic pentameter - Wikipedia


define iambic pentameter in literature


Iambic pentameter refers to the pattern or rhythm of a line of poetry or verse and has to do with the number of syllables in the line and the emphasis placed on those syllables. William Shakespeare's works are often used as great examples of iambic pentameter. Define iambic. iambic synonyms, iambic pronunciation, iambic translation, English dictionary definition of iambic. adj. Consisting of iambs or characterized by their predominance: iambic pentameter. n. Iambic pentameter (/ aɪ ˌ æ m b ɪ k p ɛ n ˈ t æ m ɪ t ər /) is a type of metric line used in traditional English poetry and verse term describes the rhythm, or meter, established by the words in that line; rhythm is measured in small groups of syllables called "feet". "Iambic" refers to the type of foot used, here the iamb, which in English indicates an unstressed syllable.