What is a FOOT? A foot of poetry is the metrical pattern of syllables in a line of poetry. Other types of feet include trochee, anapest, dactyl, and spondee.
Back to Iambs… An IAMB is a metrical pattern of one UNSTRESSED syllable followed by one STRESSED syllable.
Why “Penta”? The word root “penta” refers to the number FIVE. Do not mistakenly think that a line of poetry in IAMBIC PENTAMETER features FIVE syllables. Instead, it features FIVE feet, or iambs, per line. Therefore, each line of IAMBIC PENTAMETER features TEN syllables.
What is METER? A regular or repeated pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables.
Iambic Pentameter is… A line of poetry made of five iambs. Used in some Medieval Ballads such as “Lord Randall”: “O where hae ye been, Lord Randall, my son? O where hae ye been, my handsome young man?” Used by Geoffrey Chaucer in both “The General Prologue” to The Canterbury Tales and the individual pilgrims prologues. Chaucer is actually the first known author to use iambic pentameter in literature.
Tips for writing in Iambic Pentameter: 1Decide what you want your poem to be about. 2Determine whether or not you will write a rhyming poem, blank verse or a sonnet. 3Choose a rhyme pattern for rhyming poetry. Example: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. 4Think about how many lines you plan to write and if it should be divided into stanzas. 5Write your first line and count out the beats. Your lines should have five beats or meters per line. 6Make sure that your syllables have one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one. NOTE: all lines will begin with an unstressed syllable and end with a stressed syllable. 7Proofread your poem using slash marks above each word to indicate stressed and unstressed beats. Count up your beats and write at the end of each line. If you're over or under you'll have to go back and rework.