What is iambic pentameter definition?

Iambic pentameter is a metrical foot that consists of 5 iambic feet. Iambic foot has 2 syllables: the first unstressed, the second stressed. Iambic pentameter is considered to be one of the most popular foot in English poetry and verse drama. It is wide-known that William Shakespeare wrote using iambic pentameter a lot.

Iambic Pentameter Example

Ode to Autumn (By John Keats)

“Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run…

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.”

***

Holy Sonnet XIV (by John Donne)

As yet but knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend.

That I may rise and stand o’erthrow me and bend.

Shakespeare Iambic Pentameter

As it has been already mentioned, Shakespeare was some kind of fan of iambic pentameter.

  • If music be the food of love, play on. (Twelfth Night)
  • O that this too too solid flesh would melt! (Hamlet)
  • But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? (Romeo and Juliet)

Famous Iambic Pentameter Poems

When I do count the clock that tells the time,

And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;

When I behold the violet past prime,

And sable curls all silver’d o’er with white;

When lofty trees I see barren of leaves

Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,

And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves

Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,

Then of thy beauty do I question make,

That thou among the wastes of time must go,

Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake

And die as fast as they see others grow;

And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence

Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

William Shakespeare

Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit

Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste

Brought death into the World, and all our woe,

With loss of Eden, till one greater Man

Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,

Sing, Heavenly Muse, that, on the secret top

Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire

That shepherd who first taught the chosen seed

In the beginning how the heavens and earth

Rose out of Chaos: or, if Sion hill

Delight thee more, and Siloa’s brook that flowed

Fast by the oracle of God, I thence

Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song,

That with no middle flight intends to soar.

John Milton

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