How does Iambic Pentamiter work


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Iambic pentameter is a type of poetic line that was widely used in Shakespeare’s day.

The words tell you how the lines are constructed: a meter(line) of five iambs, which is a word that means an unstressed and a stressed syllable together.

Let’s look at an example from John Milton’s *Paradise Lost*:

>Fast by the Oracle of God: I thence

>Invoke thy aid to my adventurous Song,

>That with no middle flight intends to soar

>Above th’ Aonian Mount, while it pursues…”

If you count the syllables in each line, you’ll get ten. And if you slow down as you read each line, you can feel where the stresses go:

>Fast **by** the **Or**a**cle** of **God**: I **thence**

>In**voke** thy **aid** to **my** ad **ven** t’rous **Song**

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