Iambic pentameter describes the particular rhythm that the words establish in a line. That rhythm is measured in small groups of syllables; these small groups of syllables are called ‘feet'. The word "iambic" describes the type of foot that is used (in English, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable). The word "pentameter" indicates that a line has five of these "feet".
Shakespeare used a lot of Iambic Pentameter in his sonnets and plays. Here is an example:
"And I do love thee: therefore, go with me;
I'll give thee fairies to attend on thee,
And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep,
And sing while thou on pressed flowers dost sleep; (Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream)"
Why don’t you try writing a poem using an Iambic pentameter and enter it into one of our poetry competitions.
More poetry terms below.
Teach in the USA? Then why not visit our American site today!