79: Iambic Pentameter

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Iambic Pentameter
Of course, you don't wanna limit yourself to the strict forms of the meter.  That could get pretty difficult.
Title text: Of course, you don't wanna limit yourself to the strict forms of the meter. That could get pretty difficult.


In this entry in the My Hobby series, the hobby is responding to casual questions in iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter (origin Greek) is form of prose based on a number of syllables per line, and the emphasis of those syllables. In iambic pentameter, prose contains exactly five (penta meaning five in Greek) "iambs" per line, an iamb being an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one (such as "behind" or "repel", but not "enter" or "over").

The character on the right's responses are each one line of iambic pentameter visually broken into two for space reasons. They read (adding the emphasis):

"Well, I can meet the plane at ten of six" and "I'll meet him at the stairs before the gate, With a sort of bouncing rhythm. Shakespeare was one of the most famed users of iambic pentameter in his plays.

This is the "strict form" of iambic pentameter. In practice, poets often strayed from the strict count of iambs as the image text suggests. Wikipedia offers two Shakespearian examples being "Now is the winter of our discontent" in which the first iamb is reversed ("Now" is stressed rather than "is"), and "To be or not to be, that is the question" which adds an extra unstressed syllable at the end. As the comic suggests, without such exceptions, it can be very difficult to stick to strict iambic pentameter for every sentence.


Person 1: What time can you pick Michael up?

Person 2: Well, I can meet the plane at ten of six.

Person 1: Do you know where to find him?

Person 2: I'll meet him at the stairs before the gate.

{My hobby: answering casual questions in iambic pentameter.}

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It's really not so hard to write such prose,
To stick to Shakespeare's scheme for fellow bards,
Of course the preparation always slows,
So spontaneity aint on the cards.
The better art of live concoction sits,
Beyond the skill of I your editor,
And this is why the comic title bits,
Are true and accurate without a flaw.
Or so I humour Randall by these lines,
Restricted by the form I've set upon,
Fearing that soon I'll commit rhyming crimes,
That you the readers see arrive, 'ere long.
And thus a sonnet author finds to be,
Whether for fun or for a Dark Lady. 14:08, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

Wait, normal people don't communicate exclusively in iambic pentameter? Shakespeare lied to me! 04:04, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

There is a community portal discussion of what to call Cueball and what to do in case with more than one Cueball. I have added this comic to the new Category:Multiple Cueballs. Since Randall is the one with the hobby and also the one that Cueball represents I have kept Cueball in this explanation and transcript. But made a note of it. --Kynde (talk) 13:58, 15 March 2015 (UTC)