Skill: Understanding meter
Name: ____________________________________ Class: ___________________ Date: _____________
You probably alreadyknow that rhythm—or meter—is an important element of poetry. one of the most common rhythms used in poetry throughout the centuries is called iambic pentameter. Understanding this poetic rhythm willhelp you read and write poetry.
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I. What is iambic pentameter?
Let’s look at these twoterms separately. An iamb is a combination of stressed and unstressed syllables. Say the words between, mature, and instead. These are iambs. In poetry, repeated rhythmic units are called “feet.” An iambis a kind of foot. Pentameter means that the foot is repeated five times. It has the Greek root penta-, which means five. (Think of a pentagon; it has five sides.) Now put the two terms together:iambic pentameter is a line of poetry with five iambs in it. It has this rhythm: da DUM / da DUM / da DUM / da DUM / da DUM Try clapping it out!
Clap out the rhythms of the sonnet. Thendraw slashes in each line to show how they break into iambs. Finally, underline all the stressed syllables. We did the first line for you: Shall I / compare / thee to / a sum / mer’s day?
III. CraftYour Own Poem!
Writing in iambic pentameter requires thought and discipline to find just the right words. Create your own poem using iambic pentameter. If you don’t get the right rhythm or number ofsyllables at first, think about how you can rephrase your thoughts or use different words to express yourself. Use the lines below to write your poem. Continue on the back if you wish.