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Welcome to Young Writers' free Poetry Glossary


What is Rhythm & Meter?

Rhythm is the pattern of stresses within a line of verse. All spoken word has a rhythm formed by stressed and unstressed syllables. When you write words in a sentence you will notice patterns forming.

In poetry pre-measured patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables are called meters.

Stressed syllables - long sounding

Unstressed syllables - short sounding

Meters are the pattern of feet within a sentence

Feet are individual units of rhythm made up of patterns of syllables. A sentence is made up of one or more feet.

There are 5 Rhythms in poetry:

Foot Type Pattern Example Rhythm
Iamb unstressed/ stressed Today buh BUH
Trochee stressed/ unstressed Trochee BUH buh
Spondee stressed/ stressed hip hop BUH BUH
Anapest unstressed/ unstressed/ stressed Metaphor buh buh BUH
Dactyl stressed/ unstressed/ unstressed syllable BUH buh buh

To form a line of verse a poet can use repetitions of feet:

Monometer - 1 foot:

Dimeter - 2 feet:

Trimeter - 3 feet:

Tetrameter - 4 feet:

Pentameter - 5 feet:

Hexameter - 6 feet:

Rhythm is a natural effect within poetry. The meter of a sentence and which feet used to make that sentence are what give the poem its effect and flow.

Why don't you write a poem and enter it into one of our poetry competitions.

More poetry terms below.

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