Poetry Challenge #65-I Yam! Channeling Shakespeare/Popeye

William Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, 4 poems and 154 sonnets (that we know of). Of these, many of the plays and all 154 sonnets are written in iambic pentameter. Popeye guzzled spinach from the can and sang one truly memorable song, “I Yam what I Yam.”  


What do Shakespeare and Popeye have in common? I Yam!

“I Yam” as in I-Yam-bic Pentameter. Iambic meaning a two-syllable soft-hard beat foot: “I-am” or “I-Yam”; Pentameter meaning five metrical of these feet, thus creating that singsong rhythm—da DA da DA da DA da DA da DA.


That pattern soft-HARD-soft-HARD-soft-HARD (like a horse gallop) is said to “fit the natural rhythms of English fairly well” in that it offers “enough structure to be memorable and enjoyable, without feeling sing-songy.”

 Too, in Shakespeare’s case (and maybe Popeye’s creators, too) the words were intended to be memorized—not read. Mimicking the natural rhythm of the english language I am I yam I am I yam I am made memorization easier.*

If Shakespeare and Popeye could do it, surely we can to.  

Poetry Challenge #65  

I Yam! Channeling Shakespeare/Popeye 

Can you write a four-line rhyming stanza of iambic pentameter?

Or, in Popeye-ese, four-lines each line five I-Yams long?

You can rhyme each pair of lines (AABB) or every other one (ABAB), whichever you choose.

Write on any subject you want or choose one of the prompts below.

 I wish I could remember…

I love the smell of…

I’m waiting for…

Once you’ve got the rhythm, ala Shakespeare, try writing a complete 14-line sonnet.  

BTW: “French and Italian frequently use six-foot lines, which correspond to about the same number of words but with more gender-marked endings,” (Literature Stack


*Cindy Faughnan nd I began this 7-Minute Poetry Challenge over 950 days ago. We now take turns creating our own prompts to share with you. If you join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole poem in the comments.

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