meter of English poetry, iambic pentameter is an unrhymed line containing five iambs (feet), alternating unstressed and stressed syllables. This terminology is derived from the quantitative meter of classical Greek poetry, which consists of a short syllable followed by a long syllable. In English, it is the basis of many major poetic forms, such as blank verse and heroic couplets, among numerous others.
Although traditional iambic pentameter consists solely of iambs and has 10 syllables, this does not need to be the case. Many poets, especially skilled ones such as William Shakespeare, vary the rhythm of their lines while still maintaining the overall scheme of iambic pentameter.
See also sonnet.
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