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Meter!. It’s how we get rhythm. Iambic. Each foot of iambic poetry is comprised of one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable (da DUM). Invade the castle; enter now! The stressed and unstressed syllables are charted as below. Invade the castle; enter now!. u. u. u. u. ‘.

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Meter!


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meter

Meter!

It’s how we get rhythm.

iambic
Iambic

Each foot of iambic poetry is comprised of one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable (da DUM).

Invade the castle; enter now!

The stressed and unstressed syllables are charted as below.

Invade the castle; enter now!

u

u

u

u

iambic1
Iambic

Each foot of poetry is marked below. Remember that in iambic, one foot has two syllables.

Invade the castle; enter now!

The line above has four feet of iambic poetry.

just so you know what you re missing
Just so you know what you’re missing…

trochaic = one stressed and one unstressed (DUM da)

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

anapestic = two unstressed and one stressed (da da DUM)

And today the Great Yertle that marvelous he

dactyllic = one stressed and two unstressed (DUM da da)

This is the party medieval, the jousting and eating is…

spondaic = two evenly stressed syllables

pyrrhic = two evenly unstressed syllables

pentameter
Pentameter

Regardless of metrical form—iambic, trochaic, etc.—lines written in pentameter have five feet of poetry.

In iambic pentameter, a popular pairing, each line has ten syllables since each foot of iambic is two syllables.

Besides that time thou should in me behold

1 2 3 4 5

other common pairings
Other Common Pairings

trochaic tetrameter

4 feet of trochaic = 8 syllables

anapestic trimeter

3 feet of anapestic = 9 syllables

dactylic hexameter

6 feet of dactylic = 18 syllables

all one meter all the time
All one meter all the time?

Not necessarily. A writer can alter the meter for emphasis.

Read these lines from “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats.

Thou still unravished bride of quietness
 Thou foster child of silence and slow time

Each is iambic pentameter, but parts of it sound off, right?

all one meter all the time1
All one meter all the time?

Thou still unravished bride of quietness (u’u’u’u’uu)

Read the end of the first line. Is stress on “ness”? No. Keats ends that line with a foot of pyrrhic poetry.

Thou foster child of silence and slow time (u’u’u’u’’’)

Read the end of the second line aloud. Is “slow” stressed differently from “time”? Keats ends that line with a foot of spondaic poetry.

A change in syllable pattern changes the way we say and hear a line, bringing attention to the altered segment.

meter in song lyrics
Meter in Song Lyrics

Lyrics are often written in iambic trimeter (3 feet per line), iambic tetrameter (4 feet per line), or a combination of the two.

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

mark the meter of these lines
Mark the meter of these lines.

New slang when you notice the stripes, the dirt in your fries.

Hope it's right when you die, old and bony.

Dawn breaks like a bull through the hall,

Never should have called

But my head's to the wall and I'm lonely.

--“New Slang” by the Shins

mark the meter of these lines1
Mark the meter of these lines.

Every time I see your face

It reminds me of the places we used to go

But all I've got is a photograph

And I realize you're not coming back anymore

-- “Photograph” by Ringo Starr

mark the meter of these lines2
Mark the meter of these lines.

I'm living in the twenty-first century doin' something mean to it

Do it better then anybody you ever seen do it

Screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it

I guess every superhero need his theme music

--“Power” by Kanye West”

mark the meter of these lines3
Mark the meter of these lines.

You wake up late for school man you don't wanna go

You ask your mom, "Please?" but she still says, "No!"

You missed two classes and no homework

But your teacher preaches class like you're some kind of jerk

-- “Fight for Your Right” by the Beastie Boys

mark the meter of these lines4
Mark the meter of these lines.

I hurt myself today

To see if I still feel

I focus on the pain

The only thing that's real

--“Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails