The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1306 Monday, 13 May 2002
From: Takashi Kozuka <
Date: Saturday, 11 May 2002 21:03:09 +0100 (BST)
Subject: Blank Verse (The Daily Telegraph)
There has been a discussion in the 'letters to the editor' section in
the Daily Telegraph relating Shakespeare's use of iambic pentameter. I
copied & pasted it below as I recall that there was a thread about it on
SHAKSPER. If you would like to write to the editor of the newspaper, you
can e-mail your comment to
Re: On poetry
Date: 28 April 2002
YOUR Exmouth correspondent, Mr Dunne,
confuses, like so many, "blank" and "free";
blank verse (that's most of Shakespeare) is a form
of iambic pentameters like this,
each line contains five iambs
and there's no need for any sort of rhyme.
Vers libre - so very hard to write -
will flow with rhythms,
with cadences of the speaking voice.
"Tennis with the net down"
Eliot, his contemporary, served aces.
So many people think
that if they use impressive words,
quite often archaic,
and cut a piece of prose
into lines (like this)
it is a poem.
But it's not!
Imogen Grosberg, Crewe, Cheshire
Re: Iambic correction
Date: 5 May 2002
Since the subject of verse and metre seems to be popular, may I correct
a widely held false belief which I have seen most recently expressed by
Imogen Grosberg (Letters, April 28)?
Shakespeare did not write in "iambic pentameters", and I am not aware of
anyone who did.
An iambic metron consists of two iambi, restricted in ways concerning
the position of long and short syllables: the dialogue line used by the
Greek dramatists consists of six iambi, and is called a "trimeter"
(3x2). The Latin dramatists used a line of six iambic feet, but this is
not a trimeter, because it does not follow the same rules: it is known
as a "senarius" (6x1).
If Shakespeare thought it was a pentameter, he was in error. It is an
Peter Baldwin, Godalming, Surrey
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