Iambic Tetrameter: Definition and Examples

Discover the definition of iambic tetrameter, review iambic tetrameter examples and see passages from poems that feature iambic tetrameter.

Although “iambic tetrameter” may sound exotic, it is a fairly common poetic format. Iambic tetrameter, which consists of eight alternately stressed syllables per line, is a versatile and simple meter.


What is Iambic Tetrameter?

Iambic tetrameter is a type of poetry meter that consists of four feet with an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.

This pattern of unstressed and stressed words can be expressed as beats assigned to each word and is known as iambic pentameter. Tetrameter refers to the number of occurrences of this pattern in a single line of poetry.


Explanation of Iambic Tetrameter

Iambic Tetrameter


Every word in a poem can be broken down into syllables. A syllable is a beat that is assigned to a specific word or portion of a word. For example, the word “cup” has only one syllable or beat, whereas the word “babble” has two.

Humans naturally speak words with stressed and unstressed syllables. To emphasize one part of a word means to give it more weight or pronunciation than another.

This is a natural part of the cadence of speech. The word “away” has two syllables, the first of which is unstressed and the second of which is stressed. The word “way” is typically spoken longer than the initial “a.”

Poetry is frequently written as a series of lines of verse. The poet can choose whether or not to rhyme the lines. He can write in free verse or require each line to follow a specific pattern. Writing in meter is the practice of employing a specific pattern in a poem.

A foot is a meter unit made up of one stressed syllable and one or two unstressed syllables. Iambic is a name given to a specific pattern of stressed and unstressed feet.

Words in iambic tetrameter are separated by one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable. An iambic foot sounds like da DUM when the only rhythm is used.

The length of a line is determined by the number of feet present. Four feet make up an iambic tetrameter line.

The iambic foot can be used in meters that are less than or greater than four. Similarly, tetrameter lines may include other types of feet, such as those with the stressed syllable written first or two unstressed syllables.


Examples of Iambic Tetrameter

There are numerous famous iambic tetrameter examples found throughout English poetry history. Some speculate that the popularity and prevalence of iambic meter can be attributed, at least in part, to the way iambic meter appears to flow naturally in English.

It sounds natural to the ear and appears to be well suited to the English syllable structure. It is also simple to read aloud.

Emily Dickinson was a famous poet who used iambic tetrameter frequently in her writing. She frequently alternated tetrameter lines with iambic trimeter lines, which hold only three feet instead of four.

This pattern is used in her poem Because I Could Not Stop for Death. Here is the poem:

Because I could not stop for Death,

He kindly stopped for me;

The carriage held but just ourselves

And Immortality.

If the first line is written in such a way that the portions of the verse that should be emphasized are highlighted, it looks like this: “beCAUSE i COULD not STOP for DEATH.”

Iambic tetrameter is used in lines 1 and 3. Each word or group of words can be divided into one unstressed beat and one stressed beat. Lines 2 and 4 contain the same iambic foot, but only three of them instead of four.



Iambic tetrameter is a poetry line with four beats of one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable. It sounds like this: duh-DUH, duh-DUH, duh-DUH, duh-DUH.

Some people believe that tetrameter is a natural rhythm that is simple to read aloud. The reader usually pauses after each 8-syllable line.

We believe the above piece of information was useful. Please, kindly share this content on all platforms. Kindly drop a comment, question, or suggestion, if you have any.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *