A pentameter is a line of poem that has five metrical feet. The favored foot in English verse, where pentameter has been the dominant metre since the 16th century, is the iamb—that is, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one, represented in scansion as V'. While most languages have several different types of metered lines, English readers are used to hearing and reading pentameters because they are common in English-language poems.
Five feet make up a pentameter: unaccented - accented - unaccented - accented - unaccented. A heptameter has seven metrical units and a hexameter has six. Many more varieties of regular meter exist; for example, an octameter has eight metrical units and a nonameter has three. Most meters can be used to structure a poem, but it must be remembered that while some varieties are easier to read than others, no metric pattern is easy for a reader to follow.
Pentameter was popular in ancient Greece and Rome, where many great poets including Horace, Vergil, Ovid, and Catullus wrote their work in this form. In modern times, it has been popular among poets including John Milton, William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Samuel Johnson, Andrew Loewenich, and Robert Lowell.
The poetic foot then indicates where accented and unaccented syllables should be placed. However, the second half of the phrase, pentameter, indicates the number of feet per line. In the case of pentameter, each line is five feet long. Thus, the line length for a poem written in pentameter is determined by the number of times the pattern "abba" is repeated throughout the poem.
An example would be The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. This poem is composed of fourteen lines, each ending with an unstressed syllable. Thus, the line length of The Raven is determined by the number of times the pattern "abba" is repeated. In this case, it is done seven times, which means that each line of the poem is estimated to have been about thirty-five words long.
This poem was published in 1845. At this time, the standard line length in English poetry was thirteen lines, which means that The Raven was considered short at the time it was written. However, since fourteen is one more than thirteen, The Raven is also considered long today.
Poe wrote other poems that were also considered long at the time they were written. One example is The Coliseum, which was described as a "couplet" in some reviews of its time. This means that it was viewed as a short poem at the moment it was written but would be longer today.
When most people think of an iamb, they think of its most common and extensively used form, iambic pentameter. This is a metrical pattern used in poetry that indicates how many iambs are present in a single line. The term "pentameter" indicates that each line of poetry has five iambs. Although modern poets may use other numbers of iambs per line, usually they will follow the pattern established by ancient Greek and Roman poets.
In English literature, iambs first appeared around 1400 and became popular among 17th-century poets. Today, iambs are still used by contemporary poets for their rhythmic quality and simplicity of sound.
There are different ways of counting iambs in a line of poetry. The most common way is to count the number of syllables within each iamb (or foot). So, if we look at this line from Wallace Stevens's poem "The Man With the Blue Guitar":
She was too beautiful not to be believed -- he loved her more than life itself -- she married him next morning -- never saw her again --
We can say with certainty that it contains eight iambs because there are two feet in each line of the poem and each foot consists of one stressed and one unstressed syllable.
Two accented syllables make up a metrical foot.
Examining the Spondee Metrical Foot In poetry, a spondee is a metrical foot made up of two stressed syllables in a row. A regular foot (such as an iamb) is frequently employed throughout a line or poem. Iambs can make up a full 14-line Shakespearean sonnet.
In poetry, how long is a line? The following are the several sorts of line lengths: The monometer is on one foot. Diameter is two feet. Double dactyl is three feet. Triple dactyl is four feet. Quadruple dactyl is five feet.
A dimeter is composed of two different meters, usually iambic and trochaic but sometimes anapestic or ternary as well. A hemistich is half of a dimeter, so these lines have one iambic meter and one trochaic meter within them. A monody has the same number of syllables in every line. A sestet has six lines with two pairs of diameters (three feet between words). A tetrameter is four-four measure; a trimeter is three-three; a heptameter seven-seven.
An octave is a unit of measurement equal to eight lines or verses. An elegy is based on eight-line stanzas. A hymn is usually written in stanzas of eight lines or more. A madrigal has several short poems, called partes, that often include refrains at the end of each part. These pieces were sung to music during religious services or celebrations.
English poetry has five fundamental rhythms with different stressed (/) and unstressed (x) syllables. Iambs, trochees, spondees, anapests, and dactyls are the meters. The stressed syllables in this document are represented in boldface type rather than the conventional alpha "/" and "x." Each unit of rhythm is referred to as a "foot" of poetry. There are variations on these feet, but that's enough information for now.
Iambic meter consists of one stressed and one unstressed foot per line of poetry. The first foot of each iamb is strong or heavy, while the second foot is light. Thus, an iamb is a pair of strong/light pairs. Iambic meter is found in many poems by classical authors such as Virgil and Horace and is also used extensively in jazz lyrics.
The trochaic meter has two pairs of strong/light feet per line of poetry. The first foot of each trochaic line is strong, while the second foot is light. Thus, a trochee is a pair of strong-light pairs. Trochic meter is found in many poems by Classical authors and is also used in some blues songs.
Spondaic meter has three pairs of strong/light feet per line of poetry. The first foot of each spondaic line is strong, while the other two feet are light. Thus, a spondeo is a trio of strong-light pairs.