From Poetry Wiki
An iamb or iambus is a metrical foot used in various types of poetry. Originally the term referred to one of the feet of the quantitative meter of classical Greek prosody: a short syllable followed by a long syllable (as in i-amb). This terminology was adopted in the description of accentual-syllabic verse in English, where it refers to a foot comprising an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable (as in a-bove).
In accentual-syllabic verse we could describe an iamb as a foot that goes like this:
Using the 'ictus and x' notation (see systems of scansion for a full discussion of various notations) we can write this as:
The word 'attempt' is a natural iamb:
Iambic trimeter is the metre of the spoken verses in Greek tragedy and comedy. In English accentual-syllabic verse, iambic trimeter is a line comprising three iambs.
A. B. Paterson wrote much of his poetry in iambic heptameter (which is sometimes called the 'fourteener'), and Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner also conforms to this stress pattern (although it is usually written as though it were composed of lines alternating between iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter).
The reverse of an iamb is called a trochee.
Types of Meter
- Non-bold = unstressed syllable
- Bold = stressed syllable