Mammoth Memory

Iambic pentameter – Shakespeare

Iambic pentameter is the rhythm Shakespeare mostly used when writing poetry.

Most of Shakespeare’s famous quotations are iambic pentameter.

Shakepeare write in iambic pentameter

I am a Bic (iambic) writer living in a penthouse (pentameter) and if you make too much noise I’ll use my SPEAR (Shakespeare).”

We saw earlier that:

An iambic foot has a short syllable followed by a long syllable – SL

and pentameter = five feet per line.

So an iambic pentameter must look like: 

 Pentameter broken down
Each beat of the line is on the long stress. There are five beats per line in iambic pentameter.


Examples of Shakespeare’s famous iambic pentameter

Example 1

Iambic pentameter example 1 



Did you notice something different in line three above? This line actually starts with a spondee – two stressed syllables (see Spondaic). “Rough” and “winds” have equal stress. It just shows that rules can be broken: occasionally changing the rhythm in this way gives variation and, in this case, draws attention to the roughness of the “winds”.


Example 2


Iambic pentameter example 2 

Example 3

 Iambic pentameter example 3 from romeo and juliet


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