Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I is for Iambic Pentameter

So this going to be one of my intellectual posts. (Ho hum.)

Let's talk about iambic pentameter.

Now to refresh your minds, since I'm sure many of you might have forgotten what iambic pentameter is from your school days (I can't remember anything prior to 1990 so if you're older than me there's a good chance you can't even remember your name) I shall refresh your memory with an explanation taken straight from a dictionary rather than using my own explanation because my own garbled definition would probably make you wonder if I have any brain cells left.

So, accordingly, this is the explanation from the Oxford Dictionary:

A line of verse with five metrical feet, each consisting of one short (or unstressed) syllable followed by one long (or stressed) syllable.

Yep, makes no sense to me either. Thirty years ago I think it did. Although, frankly, at school, I was a bit of blagger back then too and had an uncanny ability to sound like I knew what I was talking about when in fact I had absolutely no idea. This was probably because I read a lot and knew lots of big words thus pulling over the wool over many of my teacher's eyes. Unfortuantely, that didn't work well in Maths where big words can't replace numbers. Although I think I tried a few times. Unfortunately, the answer "Gobbledygook" doesn't impress most maths teachers who usually have some type of personality disorder. 

Who other than a maths teacher would snort with laughter when you put down 2X for an answer instead of 2Y?

So back to iambic pentameter. Basically, it's quality prose or poetry that sounds really good and trips off the tongue. The best way to appreciate it is to read or listen to some of the best or most famous pieces. Like these pieces from master craftsmen, William Shakespeare:

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

Richard III

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date

Sonnet XVIII

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour! Enough; no more:
'Tis not so sweet now as it was before.

Twelfth Night

Now I have been lucky enough over the course of my life to have seen some of our finest British actors perform Shakespeare and if you ever have a chance to see the Royal Shakespeare Company in action at Stratford then do take up the opportunity. Shakespeare is not always easy to appreciate if you are unfamiliar with the language but I guarantee that the live spectacle of theatre in the home of Shakespeare is something not to be missed and will keep you riveted to your seat.

Anyhow, I've been trying over the course of the ten years writing this blog to get to grips with poetry and iambic pentameter. And the result has been - I have failed miserably! I am now reduced to writing free poetry (without rhyme or rhythm) in the form of 3 line haikus. Here are a few previous A to Z attempts:

Haikus in praise of Jason Statham:

Jason is very cool
Even though he is bald
Sometimes he wears a flat cap

Jason has a big gun
His aim is accurate
He doesn't have to lift the toilet seat

Jason and Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious
I am so going to watch it

Now to be honest, as you can probably tell from the above attempts, I'm not sure if I've really got the hang of this haiku business. Three lines are just too complicated for me. I'm now working on developing my own form of poetry called the "Two Liner." Here are my first attempts:

Shakespeare, awesome.
Me, shit.

Brexit, bring it on
Tunnel sealed

Jason, still cool
Ring me

Daniel Craig, what again?
I vote Jason

Trump, floppy hair
Scissors please

Daily Mail, pictures
pictures, pictures, fail

Poetry awesome
Me, bucket of piss

So there we go - I've developed a new form of poetry and I'm rather impressed with my own first attempts! I may yet get the Nobel prize for literature! Now if you'd like to try the new "Two Liner" leave your attempt in the comments. The best one gets a copy of my novel - paperback or ebook (your choice) of my novel The Changing Room.


  1. Hehehe I absolutely loved your witty two liners. They are so well written, but I am a fan of Vin Diesel.

    1. Thanks Rajlakshmi! I like Vin Diesel too - hot!

  2. Good ole Billy.
    I proclaimed to be a master of a lot of things back in school, but poetry or verse in any form was not included. I just cannot write poetry.

    1. Well that's two of us Geraint. I may shortly be down to a one-line poem:D

  3. Hilariously funny!
    Iambic pentameter, be damned.

    Perspectives at Life & Faith in Caneyhead


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