The iambic pentameter, of which an author's example is shown here, is the classic verse of English poetry, the blank verse of Henry Howard (Surrey), Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, John Donne, John Milton, Edwin Atherstone, John Keats and Robert Browning and is the son of the hendecasyllable of Dante Alighieri and Francesco Petrarca.
The name, borrowed from the classical metric, indicates that it is made up of five iambic feet, that is to say each composed of a short syllable - long syllable sequence. In the accent metric this sequence becomes, by analogy, between the unstressed syllable and the stressed syllable.
In its basic form the verse consists of ten syllables with strong accents on the even syllables: sSsSsSsSsS.
A sea of glorious architecture, thus;
A dream of more than world's magnificence;
Before me towers the mighty city of old,
Imperial Nineveh. At her throne kings bowed:
From her their own hereditary crowns
As boon received: their riches di lei in her vaults, -
As rivers in the all - engulfing sea, -
Through ages long still poured out plenteously:
Their armies, - north, or south, toward east, or west, -
Her wars to wage, her pomp to magnify,
At her command di lei sent forth, - her will their law!
(Edwin Atherstone, The Fall of Nineveh, Prelude, 22-32) "The iambic pentameter is like an anteater, high behind and with short legs in front", as stated by Frederic Kimball, in the documentary film Richard III - A man, a king. In the practice of recitation the initial syllables of the verse are higher and more marked, and then slip into the final.
Iambic pentameter and hendecasyllable
The Italian hendecasyllable, like the blank verse, has the last strong accent on the tenth syllable and the main accents almost always on the even seats; but the iambic pentameter, like the French decasyllable, mainly ends with a truncated word, sometimes flat, very rarely slipping.
(EN) iambic pentameter, in Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.