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What is Rhythm?

Rhythm is the pattern of stresses within a line of verse. All spoken word has a rhythm formed by stressed and unstressed syllables. When you write words in a sentence you will notice patterns forming.

In poetry pre measured patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables are called meters.

Stressed syllables - long sounding
Unstressed syllables - short sounding

Meters are the pattern of feet within a sentence
Feet are individual units of rhythm made up of patterns of syllables. A sentence is made up of one or more feet.

There are 5 Rhythms in poetry:

Foot Type




Iamb unstressed/stressed Today buh BUH
Trochee stressed/unstressed Trochee BUH buh
Spondee stressed/stressed hip hop BUH BUH
Anapest unstressed/unstressed/stressed Metaphor buh buh BUH
Dactyl stressed/unstressed/unstressed syllable BUH buh buh

To form a line of verse a poet can use repetitions of feet:

Monometer - 1 foot:
Dimeter - 2 feet:
Trimeter - 3 feet:
Tetrameter - 4 feet:
Pentameter - 5 feet:
Hexameter - 6 feet:

Rhythm is a natural effect within poetry. The meter of a sentence and which feet used to make that sentence are what give the poem its effect and flow.

Why don't you try writing a poem using metaphors and enter it into one of our poetry competitions.

For information on poetry terms other than a metaphor visit our poetry glossary – poetry terms.

Poetry Terms

Adjective Kenning Poetry Slam Rhythm
Alliteration Metaphor Powerful Verbs Simile
Anthology Meter Prose Stanza
Assonance Onomatopoeia Refrain Syllable
Chorus Oxymoron Repetition Synonym
Consonance Personification Rhyme Verb
Envoi Poetry Rhyming Couplet Verse
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