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Feet in Blank Verse (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
I mean... I'd say it depends how exactly you define blank verse and how strict you want to be.

The most strict answer is that blank verse is always iambic pentameter; thus, only ever iambs. That's what I do when I write in it. If you want to let other things creep in, though, go for it: just be somewhat consistent about what you allow, or don't call it blank verse.


TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
That's a good point JW. If iambic pentameter defines blank verse then it isn't blank verse without i.p.. A sonnet is also defined as being iambic pentameter, but a sonnet has many othe characteristics as well, so a sonnet is more loosely defined. A sonnet today is not necessarily i.p., nor does it have to have a rhyme scheme. But blank verse is more narrowly defined. It's iambic pentameter of any length that doesn't rhyme. So I must agree with with the strict definition. Of course, small and occasional variations from i.p. seem to be acceptable.


Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Most blank verse is iambic pentameter because the iamb is the most dominant beat in normal speech and we are comfortable with it. Its use enables the poet to carry the audience into the poem, into the story, without pauses and puzzlement over 'strange' rhythms. Five beats to the line is not a 'rule', it simply evolved as comfortable from the mid-sixteenth-century to the present. Most of the major action and speeches in Shakespeare's plays, and all of Milton's Paradise Lost, are blank verse in ambic pentameter. But those two giants introduce variations whenever they damn well feel like it and context benefits. Anapests, trochees, etc. do not abound but are definitely used when needed. At the other end of the scale--Alexander Pope, the absolute master of the Heroic couplet (also iambic pentameter) translated the Iliad into English. . .IN COUPLETS. apparently. It was viciously reviewed.

Olly Buckle

Okay Shakespeare introduced other feet in places, but he felt like it for a reason. Take the 'To be or not to be?' speech. It is mostly very conventional, but when the speaker is playing with the idea of madness and the strange places that may take you the feet stray from the conventional iambs. The same sort of things happen in Romeo and Juliette at the end when the lovers find each other 'dead' the emotion overwhelms and the iamb goes by the board.

I would say write blank verse in iambs, that is what it is, iambic pentameters. If you have reason to use other forms to make a particular point, fine. But you should have a reason and not do it simply because you feel like it, you owe it to the reader. If you break with the norm they will look for a reason. If there is no reason you are misleading her.

Darren White

co-owner and admin
Staff member
Well, to be honest, also anapest, trochee and dactyl are used in Blank Verse. And that's a good thing, it brings variation, and that's much needed, also in sonnets :)