What is iambic pentameter, and why is it the most popular metre in English poetry? There are two things which need to be addressed here: what ‘iambic’ means and what ‘pentameter’ means. So, by way of introduction to this common metre, here’s a little bit of background on iambic pentameter – with some examples of how it’s been used by some of the greatest poets in the English language.
Lines of poetry can be counted in terms of syllables. So, in this line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: