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Why Shakespeare loved iambic pentameter - David T. Freeman and Gregory Taylor

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View full lesson: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/why-shakespeare-loved-iambic-pentameter-david-t-freeman-and-gregory-taylor Shakespeare sometimes gets a bad rap in high schools for his complex plots and antiquated language. But a quick peek into the rhythm of his words reveals a poet deeply rooted in the way people spoke in his time — and still speak today. Why do Shakespeare’s words have such staying power? David T. Freeman and Gregory Taylor uncover the power of iambic pentameter. Lesson by David T. Freeman and Gregory Taylor, animation by Brad Purnell.
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Text Comments (277)
soo young choi (20 hours ago)
thank you this was so helpful i am in year 7 and my english teacher said this is supposed to be taught in yr 9 help me
Jahanvi sharma (7 days ago)
This is so informative!!
LokiRudder (7 days ago)
Is this for children? Adults don't require cartoons.
Daniel Hamilton (8 days ago)
Looks like you said iambic and trochaic are the same things and they aren't.
Aaryan Irani (20 days ago)
Think it also helped the actors to recall their lines easier on stage
Jeonghan Trash (28 days ago)
My teacher tried to explain this but I understand it more from watching this lol
Joachim Luchterhand (1 month ago)
Great explanation and very useful in my Shakespeare lessons ! Thanks a lot 👍🙏
Miles Kluckow (1 month ago)
wow im smater now
Sayed Husson (1 month ago)
it is so hard to write a sonnet
Sean Franks (1 month ago)
excellent explanation!
Michael Lochlann (1 month ago)
Beats Per Minute/tempo in music is also based on the human heartbeat, from what I understand. Our base heartbeat determines what tempos are felt as slow or fast.
Tackle Box (2 months ago)
Seamlessly my hand flows a fast flash flood For the space most high, my mind places thee. Volcanic heart, bursts lava, writes with blood: Thou hath given inspiration to me. My love, my joy full of life, providing The faith I trace to only the divine. For no nature, no leaf bush handwriting Could make thee so perfectly to be mine. Though my flesh fails to know thine face so fair, It drys and cracks and smiles, for its love. My mind aches and my eyes, so distant, stare To meet thee again, though never enough. And one can only hope to find a way To wait for the date that whispers: someday. I wrote this sonnet and it’s about a girl I like a lot and I can’t share it with anyone so I thought I’d put it here.
Precious Reyes (2 months ago)
ARISE FAIR SUN AND KILL THE ENVIOUS MOON, WHO IS ALREADY SICK AND PALE WITH GREED
ZioPuledro (2 months ago)
DIOPORCO LAZIO MERDA
Wilsons Paradise (2 months ago)
oh!!! 😮 Heartbeat! 💓
Pat Meyer (2 months ago)
The thing that bothers me is how many people completely misread Hamlet's famous "to be" speech. He is NOT suicidal (that is early on in the play) he is not questioning HIS existence, but rather marvelling how people find the strength to move on "to dream, to sleep; to sleep, to dream -ay, there is the rub" (working off memory, sorry if exact words are off). Basically he is saying that were it not for our hopes and dreams who wouldn't want to die. It's an incredibly powerful piece of writing that is sadly mis-interpreted.
NiXO (2 months ago)
Yoink mate
Juan Rivas (3 months ago)
Brilliant
Bailey Story (4 months ago)
4:06 "Question" is more than one syllable which means the "tion" should be unstressed which makes it a feminine ending.
Sophia Canoy (6 months ago)
Idk if someone already posted it, but in question 4, the first line is iambic, not trochaic, but the second one is correct. My English teacher rather gleefully pointed it out since this is a Ted Talk, and is a rather silly mistake.
Riyarsini (6 months ago)
There is so much beyond this video and dumbstruck by the comments on the so called 'ta Dum' meter 😶
xNWOxMarc (6 months ago)
He copy other plays and just change the word lol
xNWOxMarc (6 months ago)
He was an editor not a playwright. :)
Amber Elouise-Rose (6 months ago)
That is so beautiful
Sorrow Fred (7 months ago)
gcse english anyone?
Lingke Jiang (7 months ago)
Man how literature sucks...
The 17th Earl of Oxford (7 months ago)
LOL!
Amanda Aucoin (7 months ago)
this is poooooooop
Harrison Edwards (8 months ago)
yoooo mind blown about the heart bit
Mitchell Whisner (8 months ago)
Only here for an English assignment
Nutter On Butter (8 months ago)
What is this?
Eugene (8 months ago)
How is "the question" an iamb, "question" has two syllables, not one?? https://youtu.be/I5lsuyUNu_4?t=4m8s
Eugene (8 months ago)
also "envious" has three syllables
beeroux (8 months ago)
The heart beats in 5/4? You are a special kind of moron. I hope that this specialness eases the burden of your stupidity in daily life.
Sarah James (8 months ago)
Brilliant. Thank you!
Lil Mikuu 不明 (8 months ago)
...
Cibel Mascarenhas (9 months ago)
Is it that a poem should mostly (but not necessarily always) follow a certain metre to be called a poem in that metre? Or does it absolutely HAVE to follow, say, iambic pentameter, all throughout to be called a poem in iambic pentameter?
Augusto Lozada 131 (9 months ago)
Beautiful!!
troubleinlipstick (10 months ago)
Woooow
Ed deSa (10 months ago)
The animators at 4:24 got the Trochaic Haxameter illustration WRONG. If the pirates foot represents a stressed syllable and a slur is silent then the Trochaic would start with a foot followed by a slur, and repeats this pattern 6 times. Other than that minor error it was beautifully illustrated and thanks for an interesting, clear wonderful explanation of these useful poetry concepts.
nameless wanderer (10 months ago)
i m dying inside. and all i see are demons
Advika Sadasivan (10 months ago)
Wow! This is so intuitively explained.
Ramen Noodle Doodles (10 months ago)
We have to write sonnets in class and this helped me a lot
Kai Bernards (10 months ago)
3 interesting things: 1. how he creates verses as if it was music 2.how he uses foots and how it adds emphasis and dramatic elements 3.how he uses the iambic pentameter and how the punctuation is use
veronica eve (10 months ago)
"In all the matters vegitable , animal and mineral I am the very model of a modern major general "
mycroftlectures (1 year ago)
As a big fan of iambic pentameter here's a sonnet based on Sonnet 18. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dj1qUWYlBWI&t=14s What do you think?
Silo21 (1 year ago)
That allusion to the heart left me speechless.
Gavin Hughes (1 year ago)
*The thumbnail is one line of Iambic Pentameter*
kuku swuro (1 year ago)
very cool explanations.
RoseOfTheNight4444 (1 year ago)
The ending made me fall in love with the iambic pentameter even more than Halo got me interested in it. "Child of my enemy, why have you come? I offer no forgiveness, a father's sin passed to his son."
Natalie P (1 year ago)
Anyone know the iambic parameter for Juliet's gallop space soliloquy?
crazy tube (1 year ago)
If any of you have trouble with the stressed and unstressed syllables. You can go to a dictionary like marriam webster and find the word in its syllables which should look like this: \ sək-ˈses \ and \ bi-ˈhīnd \ The ( ' ) part is placed right before the stressed syllable. On dictionary.com the stressed part is marked with a deeper and fatter color.
Leonard Wong (1 year ago)
Thou speaketh .. the language of the sages! a fine lad thou art!!!!
Manoj de Cochin (1 year ago)
I like iambic pentameter and iambic tetrameter. I often write couplets and quatrains in them. O Prophets, tell us what your words have done The words of love and wisdom heard by none. The scriptures ask to help the poor in need And yet this world is rife with senseless greed. O Prophets, tell us why believers kill When God hath said it's all against His will. Behold the world with all its dreadful pain You must admit your words are all in vain.
roseability86 (1 year ago)
The word envious has three syllables... en-vi-ous
People were a lot poorer back in Shakespeare's day. They had to make do without as many syllables are you and I enjoy.
Abdullah Tekin (1 year ago)
amazing :)
David Warren (1 year ago)
Brilliant video. Thank you.
torosalvajebcn (1 year ago)
She: "is that the sound of the night owl, or the morning cock?" Me: "More like the second option...."
Reggie Edouard (1 year ago)
Who noticed the clock throughout the video?
THERIGHTHOOK (1 year ago)
So the real word for bar is dactyl
Maria Rouces (1 year ago)
Very good explained 👌👌
Shot Down In Flames (1 year ago)
Shakespeare was a playwright who was a poet, And he didn't even know it.
Cem Izgi (1 year ago)
Amazing
Dalton Sims (1 year ago)
My teacher is making us watch this stupid video fml.
SpankinMusic (1 year ago)
Now every time I tell a tale, to children yet unlearned, Iambic prose will surely build a healthy, lifelong interest. And interest in the works of him whose words spans age to age, shall yield for those young little minds a passion for the stage.
steve ! (1 year ago)
I'm failing this literature class
steve ! (1 year ago)
Fucking literature
HowToCameron (1 year ago)
good
Nathan Fernandes (1 year ago)
This hands down the best videos I have seen on youtube till date............ thank you Ted
Elena Cai (1 year ago)
Simpson⊙▽⊙
Ear Destroyer (1 year ago)
Why Shakespeare Loved Iambic Pentameter
W L8 (1 year ago)
English lit exam 2:00 to 3:00 pm, only one hour I wish
Rasheeda Madani (1 year ago)
dats how u teach Shakespeare 😋
Rezwanul Choudhury (1 year ago)
They taught us Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello and Macbeth at school without telling us about Iambic Pentameter.
Zeynep Aytekin (1 year ago)
Can anyone tell me how to understand if a line is written in iambic or not, just by reading it?
Lisa van Dam (1 year ago)
This was awesome!
Winston Brady (1 year ago)
Wonderful video! Love anything on the value of iambic pentameter. https://whbradyblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/06/featured-content-the-benefits-of-writing-in-iambic-pentameter/
Babe yei (1 year ago)
my teacher is making us watch this rn.
Charles Ayre (1 year ago)
Brilliant!
PstrOwl Ministries (1 year ago)
Superb lesson on the heartbeat of the flow and rhthym of verse in Shakespeare.
Trlr (1 year ago)
I had to watch this for school and its boring af and it makes no sense.
Mr. Conscience (2 years ago)
Shakespear's most poetic lines don't just talk about matters of the heart they follow its rhythim. Wow really great ending line.
Eric Piotrowski (2 years ago)
Beautiful video. This will help me immeasurably in teaching IP. However, at 4:24 I don't think the red image is trochaic hexameter. Those look like iambs. Am I missing something?
Warren Day (2 months ago)
Also "to be..." is 11 syllables.
major yoonkook stan (10 months ago)
Eric Piotrowski there's 12 "pirate steps" not 10
Huncho Yak (1 year ago)
Eric Piotrowski you're right.
It's Pretty Big (2 years ago)
I LIKE SEX
Trlr (1 year ago)
o
IAM BSC22 (2 years ago)
Mamsks
arshalan beg (2 years ago)
what a beautiful explanation!
Brandon Peniuk (2 years ago)
Hmm? I just don't get why they call it stressed and unstressed. I mean, yeah, I get it but I can't seem to figure out which is which. Help if you could internet world....
Brandon Peniuk (1 year ago)
Not Colorful Thank you!
Not Colorful (1 year ago)
By "stressed" and "unstressed" he means what is emphasized and what isn't.
Adi - (2 years ago)
Am I the only one reading the comments in iambic pentameter and failing miserably?
Jooji (1 year ago)
I will, must say, that I find you amusing, pal! So please, my friend, you can't and shouldn't stop it now :D
Rezwanul Choudhury (1 year ago)
Boy Bawang Thank you for this comment. (Am I iambic pentametering right?)
Taco Meme (1 year ago)
(ok I'll try iambic pentameter) Seems not, but you can try to read this now.
Sam Seegmiller (2 years ago)
Poetry is the rhythm of the heart. I like that observation.
Christopher Muratore (2 years ago)
The sun killing the moon in the background made me chuckle for some reason.
Gaylie Bowles (2 years ago)
Thank you, what a clear, entertaining way of looking at Shakespeare's use of rhythm.
Alia Hicks (2 years ago)
Cool video,explained a lot, thanks!!
Ru (2 years ago)
aren't those phrases in groups of 12 not 10 though?
Nóra Bánfi (2 years ago)
2:38 Why is there a woman? He famously wrote these line to a man!
Sir Knight (10 months ago)
I thought that was supposed to be Juliet.
Quinten Whyte (2 years ago)
Nóra Bánfi maybe Shakespeare's trying to tell this: "Follow the rhythm and get the V!... if ye know what I mean"
Hari Taqwan Santoso (2 years ago)
I tried to make a poem based on that video. But I'm not a native speaker. O thee, who shine as bright as moon itself Just let my words reside inside your heart The sun will come to melt your wall of ice Then I sow seeds of love and wait, and wait Till we unite our soul with every rose Anyone could check the grammar for me please?
That's beautiful
simal qureshi (23 days ago)
NICEEEEE I CANT EVEN WRITE A SMALL POEM THAT MAKE SENCE
Dark Side (2 months ago)
It doesn't have rhyme scheme?
Thejashree Sai (7 months ago)
wonderful start! keep it up upcoming Shakespeare!!
Ramen Noodle Doodles (10 months ago)
Dang that was really good
Andrew O'Connell (2 years ago)
It's a myth that the Shakespeare's language follows the rhythm of the heart. The heart does not go Da-DUM, Da-DUM, Da-DUM. It actually goes DUM-da, DUM-da, DUM-da - the "S1" heart sound (systole) is louder than the "S2" heart sound (diastole). So, if we really did follow the rhythm of the heart when it comes to pronouncing Shakespeare, we would have not "To BE or NOT to BE" but "TO be OR not TO be".
everazephyr (1 year ago)
Chicken or egg
Andrew O'Connell (2 years ago)
Yes!
lite daya7 (2 years ago)
trochaic then
c c (2 years ago)
Shakespeare writings were actually his sisters.... yes a female!
thed0dgydancer (2 years ago)
Surely the 'to be or not to be' doesn't count as iambic pentameter. In fact, doesn't that famously not follow the expected rhythm? 'The question' is three syllables. That's what I was taught anyway.
Christopher Booth (1 year ago)
The line is overall iambic pentameter. The final foot, "the question", is an amphibrach--an unstressed-STRESSED-unstressed foot. Shakespeare was keeping to an overall pattern of iambic pentameter, but not making it rigid. It still needed to maintain naturalness and to flow as speech. Rigid adherence to a specific metrical pattern can become stilted. Remember, this was drama, and Shakespeare wanted the lines to come from the wellspring of the character's mental/emotional state and not from the wellspring of an overlaid form. Metrical verse can become rumpty-tum and artificial. Even in his sonnets, Shakespeare made his lines fall naturally; meter served the line rather than the line serving the meter. In the line in question, Shakespeare maintains the pentameter--five feet--but varies the type of foot. So it falls like this: to BE | or NOT | to BE, | that IS | the QUEStion There is another factor to consider, which is interpretation. I.e., instances in which one emphasizes for meaning rather than to be in line with normal, dispassionate pronunciation. Very often, people emphasize "that is" on the "that", making it a trochee: "THAT is". Even if so, it is not a departure from iambic pentameter but a variation within it. It maintains the five-foot line and is overall in iambs. [You can play with that a bit: it is crucial to Hamlet to 1. identify the problem and then 2., choose how to act. So one emphasizes "THAT" because it answers the question, "What is the question"--i.e., what is the problem/issue/matter Hamlet faces? If one does not freight the "that" with such meaning, the emphasis is on "IS". But then consider this good reason to lay the emphasis on "IS": It is the present tense of the very verb that Hamlet is wrestling with--"to be". ;-) ]
Adi - (2 years ago)
Or he just messed up. Cut the poor man some slack, people
codemiesterbeats (2 years ago)
the way I understand it is, since iambic pentameter follows the syllables and not the words themselves it is iambic pentameter... you are just left with an extra syllable "shun" from question. I think they think he done it on purpose to make the reader feeling incomplete with the rhythm... and the question is supposed to be a deep thinking one so it kinda leaves you trailing off in your mind.
falguni nimje (2 years ago)
+thed0dgydancer actually "To be or not to be that is the question" is an iambic pentameter. "To be or not to be" was only used to explain what an iamb is.
falguni nimje (2 years ago)
+thed0dgydancer actually it's "To be or not to be that is the question" that's an iambic pentameter. To be or not to be is only an example of iamb.
Kar Malh (2 years ago)
thanks for the information
Nursel Gökalp (2 years ago)
What a man Shakespeare was! I adore him much more now! He was a great poet.
Mycroft Holmes (9 months ago)
Lee Spicer, thanks to confirming to everyone you're a creep.
Lee Spicer (2 years ago)
+Destructive Strife OMG!!! I've been diagnosed by an cyber-psychologist! It MUST be true if some cartoon guy said it. Tell me, please; where do you get off in giving me YOUR stupid opinion and then telling me to keep MINE? That's the kind of clown you are, you don't think, you just talk..Dumb ass.
Twisted Samurai (2 years ago)
+Lee Spicer Why are you so defensive? It's probably because of the fact that you're an insecure loser. Keep your opinion to yourself. She obviously didn't need it.
Avi Attavar (2 years ago)
+Lee Spicer Safe bro x, Ps: y do u keep liking ur own comment?
A Digital (2 years ago)
Awesome video, it explained a lot!

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