Poetry 101: Iambic Pentameter
by James Matthew Byers
Greetings from the Darque Bard!
We’ve looked deeply into the realm of iambic tetrameter. Its natural flow makes for great story telling. I had a blast sharing examples and discussing how it played a major role in developing Beowulf. But what other measures of poetry await our investigation? In deciding what to delve into next, I’ve opted for numerical sequence.
Iambic pentameter is a line of verse made up of five metrical feet, following the unstressed, stressed pattern. This is the most used form of meter in English poetry. William Shakespeare utilized iambic pentameter for his plays and sonnets. (And in his plays) Blank verse, the heroic couplet, and traditional rhymes stanzas use this format as well. This form might appeal to more of you.
Here’s a link that explains that quite well:
From the link you will find there are other styles that utilize pentameter. It’s always fascinated me how poetry comes in so many forms. Here’s a sonnet centering on Beowulf and his disgust over Hrunting’s uselessness during the fight with Grendel’s mother.
Swords and Feathers
This sword that Unferth gave unto my keep
Is useless as a feather in a fight
No need for Hrunting as it seems to sleep
Against the gnash of Grendel’s mother’s bite
Alas, I took the weapon in good trust
Believing Unferth knew its strength in arms
However it has failed me in each thrust
The she-wolf has protection from her charms
Perhaps the blade there hanging on the wall
A remnant of Goliath and his kind
Enlisted in my hands shall make her fall
Releasing Grendel’s mother from the bind
Of life as she will join her son in death
And victory will squeeze her final breath
Let’s do one more. This one mentions Mythalonia and other names from my upcoming release from Stitched Smile Publications, The Shelot Saga: Valkyria.
As Mythalonia prepared to burn,
A hero rose to shelter those from harm.
Removed from all the issues she would spurn,
She rallied in the Aura’s mystic charm.
Around her purple mystic rays aligned
Extinguishing an evil, rancid beast.
Valkyria was bright, for how she shined
Bespoke of her and of the Shelot Priest.
The desperation in the evil loomed,
And she would not back down before the fight.
For battle, she had more than been well groomed
And swore to banish darkness with her light.
Within the confines of her hammer’s swing,
Her glory prompted bards to come and sing …
We’ll look deeper at the format next week. I like to introduce, then practice. Want to try a sonnet? Here’s a prompt- a line iambic pentameter for you to build from.
In space there is no one to hear you scream.
Until then, happy writing!
-The Darque Bard
About the Author
James Matthew Byers, the Darque Bard, is a published, award winning poet. He has been in numerous anthologizes, eZines, and magazines, such as Weirdbook, Grievous Angel eZine, and Heroic Fantasy Quarterly. His debut publication, Beowulf: The Midgard Epic, was published in 2016 by Stitched Smile Publications and is a rhyming version of the ancient poem. He has also won or placed in multiple contests in the Alabama State Poetry Society. He resides in Odenville, Alabama, drifting between the forests. A bard’s work is never done.