Word of the Day – Thursday, June 28th



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A metrical foot consisting of a short (unstressed) syllable followed by a long (stressed) one
Common clues: Poetic foot; Two-syllable poetic foot; Metrical foot; Anapest relative; Limerick unit; Shakespeare's foot; Prosodic foot
Crossword puzzle frequency: 2 times a year
Shakespeare: Iambic Pentameter, the Beat of the 16th Century

An iamb is a metrical foot used in formal poetry. It consists of a short (unstressed) syllable followed by a long (stressed) one.

The iambic pentameter is one of the most powerful measures in English and German poetry.

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. – Alfred Tennyson

Shakespeare is considered a master of iambic pentameter.

William Shakespeare, like many of his contemporaries, wrote poetry and drama in iambic pentameter and is one of the masters of the craft. John Milton's unrhymed blank verse in Paradise Lost and his other epic poems use iambic pentameter as well.

Here is an example of iambic pentameter from Christopher Marlowe's "Dr Faustus":

Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships

And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?

When read aloud, such verse naturally follows a beat. There is some debate over whether works such as Shakespeare's and Marlowe's were originally performed with the rhythm prominent, or whether it was disguised by the patterns of normal speech as is common today. In written form, the rhythm looks like this:

da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM

(weak STRONG / weak STRONG / weak STRONG / weak STRONG / weak STRONG)


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Iamb" and from the Wikipedia article "Iambic pentameter".