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Iambic tetrameter

Iambic tetrameter

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Iambic tetrameter is a meter in poetry. It refers to a line consisting of four iambic feet. The word "tetrameter" simply means that there are four feet in the line; iambic tetrameter is a line comprising four iambs. The term originally applied to the quantitative meter of Classical Greek poetry, in which an iamb consisted of a short syllable followed by a long syllable. The term was adopted to describe the equivalent meter in English Accentual-syllabic verse, where an iamb refers to an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.

Simple example

An iambic foot is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. A line of iambic tetrameter is four of such feet in a row:

da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM

See the article on iambic pentameter for a more detailed presentation of the basic rhythm of iambic lines.

An example:

For- get | not yet | the tried | in- tent


Come live | with me | and be | my love

(The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, by Christopher Marlowe)

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