Iambic Pentameter

What is Iambic Pentameter

Iambic Pentameter is a style of writing poetry or verse which originated in English poetry. It is a specific type of poetry writing in a defined rhythm.

Understanding poetry

Poetry is a narration or composition which contains a rhythm and aesthetically placed words. Let us take this example.

There was a dog named Rover
And the story is over

A poem is about a story or an incident but the difference is the arrangement of words and the rhythm. Like a computer programmer, even a poet has to summarise his message in least possible words too.

The history of poetry is as old as that of the spoken word or language. As soon as humans started speaking, they also started singing as well as writing poetry. Earliest evidence of poetry is Pyramid Texts. After that came the Epic of Gilgamesh believed to be more than 2000 years BC. Rigveda is believed to be around 1500 years BC. The Gathas of Zoroastrians and Psalms of Jews are two other religious texts of that period but the Rigveda is considered to be the oldest.

Another interesting fact about Sanskrit is that all the vedas and ancient epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata were never written down as a document. It was passed on verbally. In order to achieve this the text was entirely made of verses which can be chanted easily and memorised too. Almost all Sanskrit texts are poems. That is another reason why we do not have Sanskrit calligraphy.

Greeks attempted to define poetry by putting emphasis on repetition, verse and rhythm. The most notable of the Greek poets was Aristotle. After that poetry evolved the same way as languages in various parts of the world. Japanese called it Tanka and Haiku, Chineses called it Shi, Greeks came up with an Ode while Ghazals originated in Persia and India. But the real explosion of poetry began when the British started writing sonnets. Though sonnets originated in Italy in the court of the Emperor, they quickly spread around Europe and mostly England.

Shakespeare’s Sonnets

In 1609, Shakespeare published a collection of 154 sonnets. Earlier his sonnets appeared in Romeo and Juliet, Henry V and Love’s Labour’s Lost. His sonnets were written in Iambic Pentameter. This style of poetry evolved into popularity because it replicates the way we talk to each other. It is rhythmic like a heartbeat.

How to build Iambic Pentameter

Before you attempt to write an Iambic Pentameter, understand that it is mostly technical writing inserted with meaning full words. So you may need some practise before attempting to write one. For the first timers it can be a bit daunting.

First you need a storyline. Then a list of words you are going to use. Finally you start arranging your verses.

An Iambic pentameter sonnet consists of 14 lines. The first 12 lines are arranged in the pattern of abab, cdcd and so on in group of 4 lines. The last two lines are a couplet.

Each line has ten syllables, first one is an unstressed syllable followed by stressed syllable. Here is an attempt.

Both kids adults alike, are mesmerised by her spirit free
Genius eyes with a wonderful piercing look
Carrying own wallet in her purse she goes shopping spree
Apron sans any stars, there is no dish her hands cannot cook
Mix of passion & compassion, her voice melts a lover’s heart
Her eyes is a resolve tough as steel
Try to catch her off guard, conversations are work of art
There isn’t any mortal, front of whom she shall kneel
Effortlessly she waltz in rooms, bringing her light along
Stubborn to a fault, frustrating at times her silence is aloud
Any idea which seeds in her mind, becomes a resolve strong
What she wants she aims for as high as any cloud
Because there is just one way to make her smile
Just as you surrender to the Gods, make her time worth a while

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge
%d bloggers like this: