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Questions & Answers

What is Iambic Pentameter in Shakespeare's work?

The term Iambic Pentameter refers to a special and particular style of poetry writing. It’s a line of poetry’s verse with five metrical feet where an unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed one. This creates a distinct sort of rhythm in the work. In simple words, there exist five iambs in each line for this rhythmic device.
An example could be from John Keat’s Ode to Autumn:
“Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run…
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.”

Due to the Greek word ‘Penta’ the iambic pentameter has five stressed syllables in a line. Many examples of Shakespeare’s could be observed to follow such a rhythm, for instance his Sonnet 18:

“Henceforth be earls, the first that ever Scotland
In such an honour named. What’s more to do,
Which would be planted newly with the time,
As calling home our exiled friends abroad
That fled the snares of watchful tyranny;
Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen…
So, thanks to all at once and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crown’d at Scone.”

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