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My question is, 'Is Iambic pentameter just an illusion?'

When I learned Shakespeare in school, my teacher emphasized on the thing called 'iambic pentameter'. That goes like 'du Dum du Dum......' But when I looked up at the famous 'tomorrow speech' from Macbeth, I really didn't think this isn't on Iambic pentameter. Only Iambic pentameter I can name was the line 'That strets and frets his hour upon the stage.'

So I posted a question in the other site and the answer I was given was that there is no strict iambic pentameter. No-one writes poems in strict iambic pentameter and that shakespeare isn't much of it. They said it is even debatable whether Shakespeare 'knew' what is iambic pentameter or he just followed what other people in his period wrote. I was... deeply confused?

And they say the poem I gave as an example of Iambic trimeter isn't much of Iambic either. It goes like this.

'Although the sun and moon were gone And the universe ceased to be And thou art left alone Every existence would exist in thee.'

Is my perception of Iambic completely wrong? I've always thought that poems are to be written in iambic. I don't know why my teacher so much gave an emphasis on it.

marked as duplicate by Rand al'Thor, user111 Aug 3 '17 at 15:39

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  • As you can see from my writing, I'm not a native speaker, and may lack in understanding of Iambic rhythm in sense of word accent. If my question needs to be narrower and more specific, please tell me. – Victoria Aug 3 '17 at 11:56
  • Related, tangentially: Why did Shakespeare write in iambic pentameter? – user58 Aug 3 '17 at 12:04
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    Tomó/ row ánd/ to mór/ row ánd /to mórrow. Five feet, with a feminine ending in the last one (allowed in strict iambic pentameter). – Peter Shor Aug 3 '17 at 16:34
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    Créeps in/ this pét/ ty páce/ from dáy/ to dáy/. Five feet, the first one a trochee and the next four iambs. Trochaic substitution is allowed. – Peter Shor Aug 3 '17 at 17:01
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    See this website for allowed substitutions in "strict iambic pentameter". The idea is that truly strict iambic pentameter is too monotonous (not to mention too hard to write), so allowing substitutions of trochees, spondees and double iambs is a good idea, as long as you don't use too many of them. – Peter Shor Aug 3 '17 at 17:07