2.29 Iambic Pentameter

You now have the opportunity to immerse yourself in iambic pentameter when writing an English Sonnet, also known as the Shakepearean Sonnet. The sonnet was actually created a couple hundred years prior to Shakespeare’s arrival on the scene by the Italian poet, Petrarch, who also got his own sonnet—the Petrarchian Sonnet. As I noted in the video, Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets all following the iambic pentameter form, and not a single one of them titled by anything other than the number order in which it was written. I covered it in the video, but let’s again go through iamb combined with another poetic meter called the pentameter.  I do not want to get too technical here, but a pentameter is known as a qualitative meter because it contains stressed syllables with regular intervals, which in this case with the penta-meter is the interval of five groups of two syllables. The penta part means five, as in the Pentagon, the five-sided building housing the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C. Pentameter simply means a line of verse with five groups of two syllables for a total of ten. Iambic Pentameter means a line of verse consisting of five sets of syllable groups, all stressed and unstressed. buh bum  buh bum  buh bum  buh bum

Activity: Shakespeare’s Sonnet #18

Let’s take a look at my favorite of Shakespeare’s sonnets, which is also his most popular of the 154: Sonnet #18. 

Shakespeare’s Sonnet #18

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?  (a)
Thou art more lovely and more temperate. (b)
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, (a)
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date. (b)
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, (c)
And often is his gold complexion dimmed; (d)
And every fair from fair sometime declines, (c)
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed; (d)
But thy eternal summer shall not fade, (e)
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest, (f)
Nor shall death brag thou wanderest in his shade, (e)
When in eternal lines to time thou growest. (f)
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, (g)
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. (g)

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