Iambic Pentameter Examples

Iambic Pentameter

Iambic pentameter is a metric pattern in lines of poetry where unstressed syllables are alternated with stressed syllables and there are 5 sets of unstressed/stressed syllables in the line of poetry. This means that there are 5 feet, or beats, in the line.

Shakespeare wrote almost exclusively in lines of iambic pentameter.

Examples of Iambic Pentameter:

u \ u \ u \ u \ u \

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;

U \ u \ u \ u \ u \

Coral is far more red than her lips' red

Notice that in each line of these lines from Shakespeare's "Sonnet 130," there are 10 total syllables, with 5 sets of unstressed/stressed syllables.

More Examples from Literature:

From "Romeo and Juliet":

U \ u \ u \ u \ u \

But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks;

U \ u \ u \ u \ u \

It is the east, and Juliet the sun.

From Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "Sonnet 43":

U \ u \ u \ u \ u \

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

U \ u \ u \ u \ u \

I love thee from the depth and breadth and height

From John Milton's Paradise Lost:

U \ u \ u \ u \ u \

Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit

U \ u \ u \ u \ u \

Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste

U \ u \ u \ u \ u \

Brought death into the World, and all our woe,

Related Links:
Literary Terms Examples