Iambic tetrameter

Iambic tetrameter

Iambic tetrameter is a meter in poetry. It refers to a line consisting of four iambic feet. The word "tetrameter" simply means that there are four feet in the line; iambic tetrameter is a line comprising four iambs. The Green Lantern oath (as well as the oaths for the other corps) is written in iambic tetrameter.

Some poetic forms rely upon iambic tetrameter: triolet, Onegin stanza, Memoriam stanza, long measure (or long meter) ballad stanza.

Quantitative verse

The term originally applied to the quantitative meter of Classical Greek poetry, in which an iamb consisted of a short syllable followed by a long syllable. See syllable weight.

Accentual-syllabic verse

The term was adopted to describe the equivalent meter in accentual-syllabic verse, as composed in English, German, Russian, and other languages. Here, iamb refers to an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. A line of iambic tetrameter consists of four such feet in a row:

da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM

See the article on iambic pentameter for a more detailed presentation of the basic rhythm of iambic lines.

Here is an English example of iambic tetrameter:

 x     /   x    /  x   /  x  /
Come live with me and be my love

(Christopher Marlowe, "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love")

Here is a German example:

 x    /   x   /   x  /  x      /
Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön[1]

(Emanuel Schikaneder, libretto to The Magic Flute)


  1. ^ "This image is enchantingly lovely". See Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön.

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  • Iambic trimeter — is a meter consisting of three iambic units per line.In Ancient Greek, iambic trimeter was a quantitative meter in which a line consisted of three iambic metra; and each metron consisted of two iambi. It was found in the spoken verses of tragedy… …   Wikipedia

  • tetrameter — /te tram i teuhr/, n. 1. Pros. a verse of four feet. 2. Class Pros. a line consisting of four dipodies in trochaic, iambic, or anapestic meter. adj. 3. Pros. consisting of four metrical feet. [1605 15; < L tetrametrus < Gk tetrámetros having four …   Universalium

  • Tetrameter — In poetry, a tetrameter is a line of four metrical feet. The particular foot, of course, can vary, as follows: * Anapestic tetrameter: ** And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea (Byron, The Destruction of Sennacherib ) * Iambic… …   Wikipedia

  • Tetrameter — Te*tram e*ter, n. [L. tetrametrus, Gr. ?; te tra (see {Tetra }) + ? a measure: cf. F. t[ e]tram[ e]tre.] (GR. & Latin Pros.) A verse or line consisting of four measures, that is, in iambic, trochaic, and anapestic verse, of eight feet; in other… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tetrameter — /tɛˈtræmətə/ (say te tramuhtuh) Prosody –adjective 1. having four measures. –noun 2. a tetrameter line. In ancient poetry, it consisted of four dipodies (eight feet) in trochaic, iambic, or anapaestic metre. {Latin tetrametrus, from Greek… …   Australian English dictionary

  • iambic — Synonyms and related words: Alexandrine, accent, accentuation, amphibrach, amphimacer, anacrusis, anapest, antispast, antispastic, arsis, bacchius, beat, cadence, cadenced, caesura, catalexis, chloriamb, chloriambus, colon, counterpoint, cretic,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • tetrameter — noun Etymology: Greek tetrametron, from neuter of tetrametros having four measures, from tetra + metron measure more at measure Date: 1612 a line of verse consisting either of four dipodies (as in classical iambic, trochaic, and anapestic verse)… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • tetrameter — te•tram•e•ter [[t]tɛˈtræm ɪ tər[/t]] n. 1) pro a verse of four feet 2) pro a line of classical verse consisting of four dipodies in trochaic, iambic, or anapestic meter 3) pro consisting of four metrical feet • Etymology: 1605–15; < L… …   From formal English to slang

  • Trochaic tetrameter — is a meter in poetry. It refers to a line of four trochaic feet. The word tetrameter simply means that the poem has four trochees. A trochee is a long syllable, or stressed syllable, followed by a short, or unstressed, one. Example Literary… …   Wikipedia

  • Poetry — This article is about the art form. For other uses, see Poetry (disambiguation). Literature Major forms Novel · Poem · Drama Short story · Novella …   Wikipedia