Iambic pentameter – Shakespeare
Iambic pentameter is the rhythm Shakespeare mostly used when writing poetry.
Most of Shakespeare’s famous quotations are 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:
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
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”.