The main difference between iambic and trochaic is that iambic meter refers to an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one, while trochaic meter refers to a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one.
Simply put, ‘meter’ refers to the rhythm of a poem. Generally, the poetic meter generates as a result of the pattern created by the stressed and unstressed syllables. Sometimes, we think of poetic meter in relation to music. In such instances, we consider a stressed syllable as on beat and an unstressed syllable as an offbeat.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Iambic
– Definition, Features
2. What is Trochaic
– Definition, Features
3. Similarities – Iambic and Trochaic
– Outline of Association
4. Difference Between Iambic and Trochaic
– Comparison of Key Differences
Iambic, Trochaic, Meter
What is Iambic
When it comes to English poetry, each pair of syllables always creates a pattern flowing from one syllable to another syllable. We call this pattern the poetic meter. When a line of poetry consists of two-syllable units that flow from an unstressed beat to a stressed beat, it creates a rhythmic pattern known as an iambic meter.
Iambic meter is a pattern of a poetic line made up of iambs. An iamb is a metrical foot of poetry containing two syllables – an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. It can be made up of one word with two syllables or two different words. The word iamb comes from the Greek term ‘iambos’ and the Latin term ‘iambus,’ which describe a short syllable followed by long syllables. An example of an iambic meter would be a line like this:
The bird has flown away.
What is Trochaic
A trochaic meter is a type of metrical foot that includes two syllables, and the first syllable is stressed, and the second is unstressed. When studying Greek or Latin poetry, we find that the term “ trochee” refers to a long syllable that comes after a short syllable, and a line of verse with this kind of foot has a trochaic meter. The terminology “trochee” derives from the French word trochée and “trokhaios pous,” a Greek phrase that means “running foot.” For example, William Blake opens his poem The Tyger with the trochaic line “Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night.”
Similarities Between Iambic and Trochaic
- Iambic and trochaic are two of the most common types of metrical feet in English poetry.
- Both Iambic and trochaic meters include stressed syllables and unstressed syllables.
- Furthermore, both Iambic meter and trochaic meter make an impact on the rhythm of a verse
- These meters are visible in English poetry.
- Both the terms “Iambic” and “Trochaic” have Greek origins to them.
Difference Between Iambic and Trochaic
Iambic meter refers to an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one, while trochaic meter refers to a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one.
Combination of Syllables
Moreover, an iambic meter includes a combination of short and long syllables, where a short syllable is followed by a long one. In contrast, a trochaic meter includes a long syllable followed by a short one.
Type of Feet
Iambic = Unstressed + Two Stressed Syllables
Trochaic = Stressed + Two Unstressed Syllables
The Shakespearean line of verse, “Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day ?” comes with a foot of an unstressed syllable which is followed by a stressed syllable. Therefore this line has an iambic meter. On the other hand, William Blake opens his poem The Tyger with the trochaic line “Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night.”
In brief, the main difference between iambic and trochaic is that iambic meter refers to an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one, while trochaic meter refers to a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one. Therefore, trochaic refers to poetry composed out of trochees whereas iambic refers to poetry composed out of iambs.