Iambic pentameter is probably the most prevailing and widely used meter in classical English poetry, and it's the 'standard' form of verse in many forms of poetry such as sonnets. From Wikipedia (admittedly not the best of sources):

The most frequently encountered metre of English verse is the iambic pentameter, in which the metrical norm is five iambic feet per line, though metrical substitution is common and rhythmic variations practically inexhaustible. John Milton's Paradise Lost, most sonnets, and much else besides in English are written in iambic pentameter. Lines of unrhymed iambic pentameter are commonly known as blank verse. Blank verse in the English language is most famously represented in the plays of William Shakespeare and the great works of Milton, though Tennyson (Ulysses, The Princess) and Wordsworth (The Prelude) also make notable use of it.

How and why did iambic pentameter become so prevalent? Why this particular choice of meter, and how did it happen - e.g. was there one particularly prominent writer who favoured it and influenced others?

Related, but not duplicates:

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    It goes back at least to Chaucer. Wikipedia claims it was Chaucer who evolved decasyllable meter to iambic pentameter. Maybe it would be worth reading Chaucer and his contemporaries to search for when it became popular – b a Dec 30 '18 at 12:58
  • From a brief googling, it looks to me like Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower introduced iambic meters in English (iambic pentameter and iambic tetrameter being adaptions to English of the French decasyllable and octasyllable). And they were greatly admired poets whom other poets copied. – Peter Shor Dec 31 '18 at 20:42
  • I did a little more research, but not enough to write a complete answer. Before Chaucer and Gower, nobody followed iambic meter that closely ... my guess is that they were basing their meter on French octosyllables and decasyllables, where the constraints on internal stresses are much looser. Chaucer and Gower wrote the first real iambic meter – pentameter for Chaucer's masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, and tetrameter for Gower's masterpiece, Confessio Amantis. And many poets in the next century copied their innovations, particularly Chaucer's. – Peter Shor Mar 5 '19 at 18:03
  • There are a number of papers analyzing how close pre-Chaucerian poets were to iambic tetrameter and pentameter, and these papers generally find they were a lot less close than Chaucer. Since Middle English was losing the pronunciation of its final e's at the time, and the stresses on many words were different, scansion of poetry from this period is not an easy undertaking. At some point, I should write an answer. – Peter Shor Mar 5 '19 at 18:07
  • What period are you looking at? When did "classical English poetry" end? – Tsundoku May 26 at 21:43

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