Iambic Trimeter, Tetrameter, and (Pentameter) Examples in Poetry

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Before learning about Iambic meter and its examples, let’s first know ”Iambic” which comes from the word ”iamb”, a metrical and poetic foot (a unit of stressed and an unstressed syllable) used in poetry containing a short, unstressed syllable followed by a longer stressed syllable.

Related: Types of Meter in Poetry with Examples

What is Iambic Meter in Poetry?

When a line of poetry is composed of two-syllable units, where the first is a stressed syllable, following the second unstressed syllable, creating an Iambic meter in the poetry and making the da-DUM sound.


A tree that may in summers wear

A nest of robins in her hair..

The above two lines from Joyce Kilmer‘s poem, Trees, which is composed of strict iambic tetrameter, a meter in poetry containing four pairs of first unstressed & second stressed syllable in four poetic feet and making the repeated (da-DUM) sound in each line.

See the complete meter scansion to understand better-

A tree/ that may/in sum-/mers wear

da DUM/da DUM/da DUM/da DUM

A nest/ of ro-/bins in/ her hair

da DUM/da DUM/da DUM/da DUM

Note- da DUM = One foot

Related: Definition & Examples of Assonance in Poetry

Types of Iambic Meter in Poetry

1. Iambic diameter (two iambs per line containing two feet)

2. Iambic trimeter (three iambs per line containing three feet)

3. Iambic tetrameter (four iambs per line containing four feet)

4. Iambic pentameter (five iambs per line containing five feet)

5. Iambic hexameter (six iambs per line containing six feet)

6. Iambic heptameter (seven iambs per line containing seven feet)

Here we will only discuss the generally used iambic meters in poetry like Iambic Dimeter, Trimeter, Iambic Tetrameter and Iambic Pentameter.

Related: Definition & Examples of Consonance in Poetry

Iambic Dimeter-

Iambic meter is defined as a meter in poetry consisting of two iambic feet (two pairs of a first unstressed and second stressed syllables).

Examples of Iambic Dimeter in Poetry-

Example #1- Alexander’s Feast by John Dryden

With rav-/ished ears

The mon-/arch hears

Assumes/ the God

Affects/ to nod

Example #2- Dust of Snow by Robert Frost

The Way/ a crow

Shook down/ on me

The dust/ of snow

From a hem-/lock tree

Example #3- The Robin by Thomas Hardy

When up/ aloft

I fly /and fly,

I see /in pools

The shin-/ing sky

Iambic Trimeter-

Iambic trimeter is defined as a meter in poetry consisting of three iambic feet (three pairs of first unstressed and second stressed syllables).

Examples of Iambic Trimeter in Poetry-

Example #1- The way, not mine, O Lord by Horatius Bonar

The way,/ not mine,/ O Lord,

Howev-/er dark/it be;

Lead me / by thine / own hand,

Choose out/ the path/ for me.

Example #2- My papa’s Waltz by Theodore Roethke

We romped/ until / the pans

Slide from/ the kit-/chen shelf;

My mo-/ther’s coun-/tenance

Could not/ unfrown/ itself.

Example #3- The only news I know by Emily Dickinson

The on-/ly news/ I know

Is bul-/letins /all day

From im-/mortal/ity.

The on-/ly show /I see,

Tomor-/row and/ today

Perchance/ eter-/nity

Example #4- I love the Jocund dance by William Blake

I love/ the joc-/und dance,

The sof-/tly brea-/thing song,

Where in-/nocent eyes /go glance,

And where/ lisps the/ maiden’s tongue

Example #5- If you were coming in the fall by Emily Dickinson

If only/ Centu-/ries, delayed,

I’d count/ them on/ my hand,

Subtracting,/ till my /fingers dropped

Into /Van Die-/man’s land

Iambic Tetrameter

Iambic tetrameter is defined as a meter in poetry consisting of four iambic feet (four pairs of a first unstressed syllables are followed by an unstressed syllable).

Examples of Iambic Tetrameter in Poetry-

Example #1-The Lay of the Last Minstrel by Sir Walter Scott

The way /was long / the wind / was cold,

The min-/strel was / infirm/ and cold;

The harp,/ his sole / remain-/ing joy,

Was car/ried by/ an or-/phan boy.

Example #2- I wandered lonely as a cloud by William Wordsworth

I wan-/dered, lone-/ly as /a cloud

That floats /on high /o’er dales/ and hills

When, all /at once, /I saw/ a crowd

A host/ of gol-/den daff-/odils.

Example #3- Trees by Joyce Kilmer

I think /that I /shall nev-/er see

A po-/em love-/ly as /a tree.

A tree / whose hung-/ry mouth /is prest

Against /the earth’s /sweet flow-/ing breast

Example #4- Jerusalem by William Blake

And did/ those feet/ in an-/cient time

Walk up/on Eng-/lands moun-/tain green:

And was/ the ho-/ly lamb/ of God,

On Eng-/lands plea-/sant pas-/tures seen!..

Example #5- The Romany Girl by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The sun/ goes down, /and with/ him takes

The coarse-/ness of /my poor /attire;

The fair/ moon mounts, /and aye /the flame

Of Gyp-/sy beau-/ty blazes/ higher.

Iambic Pentameter-

Iambic pentameter is defined as a meter in poetry consisting of five iambic feet (five pairs of a first unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable).

Iambic pentameter is the most common meter used in poetry writing and often can be seen in poetries of many poets and writers.

Sonnets are the best examples of Iambic Pentameter as they are often written in Iambic pentameter

Examples of Iambic Pentameter in Poetry

Example #1- Sonnet, 71 by William Shakespeare

No long-/er mourn/ for me/ when I/ am dead

Than you/ shall hear/ the sur-/ly sul-/len bell

Give warn-/ing to /the world /that I / am fled

From this/ vile world / with vil-/est worms/ to dwell

Example #2- The Last Duchess by Robert Browning

That my/ last Du-/chess pain-/ted on/ the wall

Looking/ as if/ she were/ alive/. I call

That piece/ a won-/der, now;/ Fra Pan-/dolf’s hands

Worked bu-/sily /a day, /and there /she stands.

Example #3- Paradise Lost by John Milton

Of Mans / First Di-/sobe-/dience, and/ the Fruit

Of that/ Forbi-/dden Tree,/ whose mor-/tal tast

Brought Death/ into /the World,/ and all/ our woe

With loss/ of E-/den till /one grea-/ter Man

Restore/ us, and /regain /the bliss-/ful seat

Example #4- Holly Sonnet 14 by John Donne

Batter /my heart/ three-per-/soned God,/ for you

as yet/ but knock,/ breathe, shine /and seek/ to mend.

That I/ may rise /and stand/ o’erthrow /me and bend

Your force /to break, /blow, burn /and make /me new.

Example #5- Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare

Shall I / compare/ thee to / a sum-/mer’s day

Thou art / more love-/ly and /more tem-/perate:

Rough winds/ do shake/ the dar-/ling buds/ of May,

And sum-/mer’s lease/ hath all/ too short /a date

Related: A Huge List of Poetry Themes

Watch this below informative video by Ted-Ed on why Shakespeare loved Iambic Pentameter.

Neel Rana

About the Author- Neel Rana is a young adult fiction writer and children’s book author. He is a literary enthusiast and the founder of Pandora Post. Neel holds a degree in BA Honors in English Literature and has been writing since 2017. His magnum opus YA short storybook, “The Drunken Ghost” has been well received by the readers.