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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.

Thank you for using Young Writers' Poetry Glossary

Have you visited the rest of our website yet? There are lot more free resources such as poetry workshops, activities and games for young writers as well as lesson plans and themed packs for teachers - come have a look!

Please see below for other poetry terms!
Please also visit our Poetry Glossary – Poetry Types

Teach in the USA? Then why not visit our American site today!