When I wrote my first sonnet at ten, I had no idea it had to be in iambic pentameter — that’s probably one thing to keep in mind when writing one. Plus, the nifty ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyme scheme. But then I can just hear my ten-year old self screaming, “What in fuck’s name does ‘iambic pentameter’ mean!?” (not that I was one to curse when I was younger). Allow me to explain:
An iamb is a disyllabic metrical foot. A foot is a unit that makes up a verse. An iamb is then composed of two syllables: one unstressed followed by one stressed. Iambic pentameter simply refers to a line made up of five iambic feet (resulting in ten syllables per line). For example:
Oh, how / I want / so bad / ly now / to leave—
As simple as that.
Oh, how I want so badly now to leave—
This, the realm of apathetic masses.
So, I step out, on this, the eve of eves,
With only a pair of foggy glasses.
For you see, I am leaving you behind—
With all the hatred and the ignorance
That which myself, I do not wish remind.
Nor that of the nights when we used to dance.
Beneath moonlight pallid, I remember:
When you first held my hand and then we kissed;
Ours, a love of loves, our love so tender.
But no one understood, their eyes through mist.
I can still remember when they took you;
I swear I will not let them take me, too.