Iambic Pentameter

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curiousplumber88
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Iambic Pentameter

Post by curiousplumber88 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:00 pm

I'm an English major and recently been writing some poems. I've briefly studied iambic pentameter before and used to think it was a clear objective fact, but the more I look into it, it seems to be complete and utter BS. Most teachers teach it as an actual method by which poets write, but there are hundreds of examples in which Shakespeare's lines are over 10 syllables and do not match the du-DUM beat (and I'm not talking about the prose sections in his plays). Most of his lines are 10 syllables long, but the unstressed/stressed patter is random. What do you guys think?

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Monster
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Re: Iambic Pentameter

Post by Monster » Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:16 am

I suspect you're right.

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Gremled the Great
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Re: Iambic Pentameter

Post by Gremled the Great » Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:40 am

curiousplumber88 wrote:I'm an English major and recently been writing some poems. I've briefly studied iambic pentameter before and used to think it was a clear objective fact, but the more I look into it, it seems to be complete and utter BS. Most teachers teach it as an actual method by which poets write, but there are hundreds of examples in which Shakespeare's lines are over 10 syllables and do not match the du-DUM beat (and I'm not talking about the prose sections in his plays). Most of his lines are 10 syllables long, but the unstressed/stressed patter is random. What do you guys think?

Have you considered the effect that several hundred years of language change might have on the present perception of Shakespeare's choice for stress placement?

Also, if you could give an example where you think Shakespeare has misplaced stress, it would greatly help us determine why modern eyes might see the stress as misplaced.

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monica f
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Re: Iambic Pentameter

Post by monica f » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:51 am

Hi,
This is my very first day in this forum...! I think that An English unstressed syllable is equivalent to a classical nshort syllable, while an English stressed syllable is equivalent to a classical long syllable. What do you say that is it right?
Thanks...!
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Poodle
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Re: Iambic Pentameter

Post by Poodle » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:38 am

@monica ... Yes.

@curiousplumber ... Iambic pentameter is not the ONLY scheme used in English poetry and, even when it is used, variation reduces boredom.

From the annals of The Great Wikipedia ...

"Although strictly speaking, iambic pentameter refers to five iambs in a row, in practice, poets vary their iambic pentameter a great deal, while maintaining the iamb as the most common foot. There are some conventions to these variations, however. Iambic pentameter must always contain only five feet, and the second foot is almost always an iamb. The first foot, on the other hand, is the most likely to change by the use of inversion, which reverses the order of the syllables in the foot. The following line from Shakespeare's Richard III begins with an inversion:

Now is | the win- | ter of | our dis- | con- tent

Another common departure from standard iambic pentameter is the addition of a final unstressed syllable, which creates a weak or feminine ending. One of Shakespeare's most famous lines of iambic pentameter has a weak ending:[3]

To be | or not | to be, || that is | the ques- tion"