Get your iambs and feet ready. We are putting them together again to make pentameter.
That sounds like something that’s hard to do. It just sounds hard. Pentameter is easy.
And since we worked with iambs that were stressed on the even numbered syllables the last time we discussed iambs, we will switch it this time.
We will put the stresses on the odd numbered syllables this time. And we will combine words with more than two syllables to create iambic phrases and sentences.
Poetic word of the day: “pentameter” (click here to see the definition on Merriam-Webster’s Word Central)
When you hear the word “pentameter”, does it make you think of a number? There is a famous government building that has a name that begins the same way.
If you know the name of this building, you probably can tell me what is different about it (see below)
Back to making pentameter. When we started with iambs, we put three feet together. We returned and put four together. Pentameter happens when we put five iambs (or feet) together.
QUICK MATH QUESTION: If an iamb contains two syllables, and we are putting five of them together, how many syllables will be in one line of pentameter? (see below for the answer)
I do not always write backwards when creating pentameter, I piece together words or phrases of 2, 3 or 4 syllables. Sometimes I start from the middle and add words before and after.
Here is a list of words that have 3 syllables. You can test big words using whisper-shout. First, whisper the first syllable, shout the second and whisper the third. Then reverse it. Shout the first, whisper the second and shout the third. Which way seems right? Test yourself using these words:
Depending on where you place a word in your line, it can support a right or left-foot iambic sentence. As I build my iambic lines, I keep track of the number of syllables as my line grows. For example (using the words above):
double-jointed acrobat (7)
He thinks I am a true believer (9)
cucumber salad (5)
an opened envelope (6)
my crazy rock fanatic (7)
helium baloon (5)
bright idea (4)
All of these phrases have alternating stressed and unstressed syllables.
The lines for today’s prompt will begin with a stressed syllable.
PROMPT: Make a word list of three syllable words. Put at least 20 words on your list. Underline or highlight the stressed syllables. Put each word into a phrase that is iambic (stressed syllables separated by unstressed syllables). Write a poem, based on your favorite or best practice phrase, that has 8 lines where each is written in iambic pentameter (10 syllables). You may rhyme if you like.
FOR PARENTS OF YOUNGER CHILDREN: Help your child(ren) make a word list of 3 syllable words. Take each word and ask them to put a word before each word or after. Write down those phrases and ask them to do it again. Count the syllables and check where the stresses are in each phrase using whisper-shout. Make at least one iambic pentameter line. With parents helping, I would not ask younger children to work on much more than one or two lines.
*The Pentagon is named for the geometric shape of the same name. It has 5 sides.
MATH QUESTION ANSWER: Two syllables per iamb times five iambs to make pentameter equals ten syllables per line of pentameter. 2 x 5 = 10
WORD LIST WITH STRESSED SYLLABLES IN UPPERCASE LETTERS: