Friday, March 11, 2011


pentameter [pen-tamm-t-er] A metrical verse line having five main stresses , traditionally described as a line of five ‘feet’ (see foot ). In English poetry since Chaucer, the pentameter—almost always an iambic line normally of 10 syllables—has had a special status as the standard line in many important forms including blank verse , the heroic couplet , ottava rima , rhyme royal , and the sonnet . In its pure iambic form, the pentameter shows a regular alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables, as in this line by Percy Bysshe Shelley :
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
There are, however, several permissible variations in the placing of stresses, which help to avoid the monotony of such regular alternation (see demotion,promotion, promotioninversion ); and the pentameter may be lengthened from 10 syllables to 11 by a feminine ending . In classical Greek and Latin poetry, the second line of the elegiac distich , commonly but inaccurately referred to as a ‘pentameter’ is in fact composed of two half-lines of two and a half feet each, with dactyls or spondees in the first half and dactyls in the second.

It helps to know how speak in Shakespearian language if you know how it is broken down. Like reading poetry knowing when to breathe and take breaks is a very important. You can ruin simple lines if you can't say them right. It takes a special person to pick up on Shakespeare's poetic language.

Works Cited: "pentameter" The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Chris Baldick. Oxford University Press, 2008. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Central Washington University. 11 March 2011

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