Iambic Pentameter

The meter of choice for Shakespeare and countless other English-language poets is iambic pentameter. In short, it is a line of poetry consisting of five iambs.

The opening line of Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 130” provides a perfect example: “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.” When we scan the poem, we see a series of unstressed and stressed syllables:

/ / / / /
My mis- tress’ eyes are no- thing like the sun

Another excellent is the opening line of Shakespeare’s eighteenth sonnet:

/ / / / /
Shall I com- pare thee to a su- mmer’s day
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