Is this couplet in iambic pentameter?

Sir thou are in love, take Cupid's wings
fly to acquire the source of that feeling.

  • 1
    I see this has attracted a close-vote under "questions about existing literary works". If the close-voter has any evidence that OP did not write the couplet quoted in the question, please feel free to present it and I'll close the question. Otherwise, I see no reason to believe that OP is asking about someone else's writing and not their own. Please remember that "existing literary works" does not include things the OP has already written but not published. – F1Krazy Sep 24 '20 at 13:43
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    Just to add to @F1Krazy's point, it's also possible to have legitimate questions about writing that use published writing as an example. This question may not be the best example of that, but I'm taking it as more of a "how do you write iambic pentameter" question. – Chris Sunami supports Monica Sep 24 '20 at 14:25

Close, but not quite.

A line in iambic pentameter is made up of five iambic feet. An iambic foot is made up of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable (for example, the word "a-bove"). For this answer, I will be using bold to indicate stressed syllables.

Your first line fits the meter, but only has nine syllables, and is missing an unstressed syllable at the beginning:

Sir thou are in love, take Cupid's wings

Your second line has ten syllables, but the first and last feet are inverted, with the stressed syllable coming first:

Fly to acquire the source of that feeling

That's not to say you can't do this: Wikipedia lists several examples of rhythmic variations, from Shakespeare and others.


Iambic pentameter means lines made of five ("penta") feet ("meter"), where each foot is an "iamb", meaning two syllables where the second one is stressed. So the rhythm of iambic pentameter is

da-DA da-DA da-DA da-DA da-DA

Typically, this is intended to follow the natural stress of the words, meaning, the way they are spoken in ordinary conversation. Occasionally you'll find a poem in sprung rhythm, where the stresses are not always in the expected places.

It's not entirely clear where the stresses are in your poem. I think it reads best to me as

Sir THOU are in LOVE take CUP-id's WINGS
FLY to acQUIre the SOURCE of that FEELing

This would be iambic quadrimeter (four feet) with some doubling on the unstressed beat, and the initial unstressed syllable omitted at the beginning of the second verse, neither of which are uncommon variations. If that is your intended reading, you may want to mark the stresses, since there are other, equally plausible readings. Alternately, you could drop the "Sir," I think that makes it easier to read it in the right rhythm, and gives both lines the same pattern.

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