Mammoth Memory

Iambic dimeter

An iambic foot (iamb) has a short syllable followed by a long syllable (SL, or U/).

Dimeter is two feet per line.



The following is not quite perfect iambic dimeter. For instance, the fifth line of the first verse has two short syllables before the first long one (And a happy). This is anapest, which actually doesn’t upset the rhythm if you say “And-a” with hardly a break between the words. The rhythm also changes in the last line of the third verse, and in the last two lines of the fourth verse. This variation adds interest to the overall rhythm of the poem.

Iambic dimeter has 2 feet

When up aloft

I fly and fly,

I see in pools

The shining sky,

And a happy bird

Am I, am I!


When I descend

Toward the brink

I stand and look

And stop and drink

And bathe my wings

And chink, and pink.


When winter frost

Makes earth as steel

I search and search

But find no meal,

And most unhappy

Then I feel.


But when it lasts,

And snows still fall,

I get to feel

No grief at all

For I turn to a cold, stiff

Feathery ball!

                       Thomas Hardy – The Robin


A closer look at the feet in this poem


U = short syllable; / = long syllable; | = division between feet

Dimeter has 2 feet

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