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Making a mess of the iambic pentameter | Letters

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A reader’s suggestion that ‘The mess we inherited from Labour’ is an iambic pentameter draws howls of protest

Harold Mozley (Letters, 29 April) is wrong. “The mess we inherited from Labour” is an iambic tetrameter, not pentameter = three iambic beats, not five, on three second syllables. “Strong and stable leadership in the national interest” has six trochees = six beats on six first syllables. “Corbyn: the courage of his convictions” has four trochees. Shakespeare used iambic pentameter and everything else he could find and not just for rhetorical effect either.
Chris Hardy
London

• “The mess we inherited from Labour” may have 10 syllables, but is far from being an iambic pentameter. In terms of its prosody it’s decidedly messy, with a single iamb followed by a couple of anapaests and a weak final syllable. “Strong and stable leadership” may have only six syllables, but its strength and stability lie in its trochaic vigour. This only goes to show that iambs, anapaests and trochees can all be employed in the promotion of half-truth, untruth and damned lies.
Jon Nixon
Kendal, Cumbria

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