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(pĕntăm`ətər) [Gr.,=measure of five], in prosody, a line to be scanned in five feet (see versificationversification,
principles of metrical practice in poetry. In different literatures poetic form is achieved in various ways; usually, however, a definite and predictable pattern is evident in the language.
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). The third line of Thomas Nashe's "Spring" is in pentameter: "Cold doth / not sting, / the pret / ty birds / do sing." Iambic pentameter, in which each foot contains an unaccented syllable and an accented syllable, is the most common English meter. Chaucer first used it in what was later called rhyme royal, seven iambic pentameters rhyming ababbcc; as Chaucer pronounced a final short e, his pentameters often end in an 11th, unstressed syllable. In his Canterbury Tales the pentameters are disposed in rhyming pairs. The pentameter couplet was used also by his imitators in Scotland, with the important difference that when the final e disappeared from speech the couplet became one of strict pentameters. This, known as the heroic couplet, became important in the 17th and 18th cent., notably in the hands of Dryden and Pope.
True wit is Nature to advantage dress'd,
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd.
Pope, "Essay on Criticism"
Blank verse, a succession of unrhymed iambic pentameters, is primarily an English form and has been used in the loftiest epic and dramatic verse from Shakespeare and Milton to the present.
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
Shakespeare, The Tempest, iv:1
The sonnetsonnet,
poem of 14 lines, usually in iambic pentameter, restricted to a definite rhyme scheme. There are two prominent types: the Italian, or Petrarchan, sonnet, composed of an octave and a sestet (rhyming abbaabba cdecde
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 is one of the most familiar and successful uses of iambic pentameter in English poetry.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in ancient prosody, a dactylic line formed by doubling the first hemistich of a hexameter; each of the two hemistichs consists of two and a half dactylic feet. The hemi-stichs are divided by a caesura, and the dactyls may be replaced by spondees only in the first hemistich. The metric scheme is Pentameter.

The pentameter was used only in alternation with the hexameter, to form the elegaic couplet; in this form it was the basic meter of ancient elegies and epigrams. An example of a tonic rendition of an elegaic couplet whose second line is a pentameter follows (from a poem by A. S. Pushkin):

Slýshu umólknuvshii zvúk bozhéstvennoi éllinskoi réchi,

Stártsa velíkogo tén’ chúiu smushchë́nnoi dushói.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a verse line consisting of five metrical feet
2. (in classical prosody) a verse line consisting of two dactyls, one stressed syllable, two dactyls, and a final stressed syllable
3. designating a verse line consisting of five metrical feet
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
He said police should make Operation Pentameter a permanent measure so that the problem was treated as a priority all year round.
Last year, the original Operation Pentameter resulted in 515 raids and 84 suspected victims of human trafficking being identified.
The UK Pentameter team also worked with forces abroad to help snare international slavemasters raking in millions of pounds from human misery.
He said the raids were part of a UK-wide Operation Pentameter which "aimed to tackle the trafficking of women, children and sometimes men for sexual exploitation."
Operation Pentameter was launched nationally last month and involves the police, the travel industry, Government and other agencies across the UK and Europe in tackling the organised criminals responsible for trafficking and sexual exploitation.
The nationwide campaign - Operation Pentameter - involves every UK police forcethe country.
Add to this some discipline, which she actually shows in several selections, such as "bergfruhling," a poem in octaves of iambic pentameter which has the imaginative strangeness of the other poems but is readily understood and remembered, and the intriguing title poem will be a masterpiece.
The nearly two thousand iambic pentameter lines of the Salve Deus proper at once retell the biblical story of Christ's Passion and continue the imaginative vision of women's community begun in the dedications.
elegiac stanza In poetry, a quatrain in iambic pentameter with alternate lines rhyming.
Written in seven parts, it includes two villanelles with unpredictable rhyme written in masterful iambic pentameter.
Terza rima may be written in any meter, but iambic pentameter is preferred in English.
It was part of the national Operation Pentameter II, involving forces across the UK and Ireland.