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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
French Verse

The Iambe, although the name might suggest it, poetry framed in iambs form is not written in iambic meter at all. It is an 18th century French verse that is named for the satirical iambic poetry of the Greek poet Archilochus (7th or 8th century B.C.) The French form is said to be well suited to bitter satire because of the dramatic contrasts of rhythm from line to line. The verse shifts from Alexandine lines to octasyllabic lines and back again. According to the NPEOPP, the shorter lines give a sense of urgency or exasperation in its interuption of the looser, more conversational rhythm of the longer lines.

The elements of the Iambe are:

  1. written in variable lengths. Usually short, between 4 and 10 lines.
  2. composed with alternate octasyllabic and Alexandrine lines.
  3. rhymed, alternate rhyme, abab cdcd etc.
  4. satirical, satire with a bite.


    Nul ne resterait done. . .
    Pour cracher sur leurs noms, pour chanter leur supplice?                          
    Allons, étouffe tes clameurs;
    Soufre, ô couer gros de haine, affemé de justice.
    Toi, Veru, pleure si je meures.
    --------------- Andre Chenier
    French Revolutionary Poet (10/30/1762 to 7/25/1794), Iambes XI

    No one would be done...
    To spit on their names, to sing their torment?
    Come on, choking your shouts;
    Sulphur, Oh big heart of hate, mocker of justice.
    You, Veru, cry if I die.


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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