While studying the poetry of Shakespeare, we are becoming familiar with the sonnet form. At the moment we are focussing on one of the most famous love poems of all time: Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 often referred to by its first line, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” It is a beautiful poem written to the Fair Youth dealing with the loveliness of the beloved, the effect time has on all and the power of poetry to immortalise the beloved. This is captured n 14 lines written in iambic pentameter and following a strict rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg.
Let’s refresh ourselves on what iambic pentameter is. In simple terms it is a line of verse with ten syllables grouped into pairs. Each pair of syllables has one soft and one strong beat. Each pair is called an IAMB and there FIVE pairs – that’s why each line of 5 pairs is called IAMBIC PENTAMETER. The rhythm in each line sounds like: