(from Professor Joe Lewis, Hamline University)
Ask Ss to take their pulse at their throat and write something that mimics the rhythm of their heartbeats. Point out that the iamb is the same as a heartbeat: da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM. This is what Shakespeare uses in his plays and sonnets. Have students stand up and in a circle, walk to the beat of iambs, left foot light, right foot heavy. Try stomping to the words of Dr. Seuss:
Do you like
green eggs and ham?
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
I do not like
green eggs and ham.
Would you like them
here or there?
I would not like them
here or there.
I would not like them anywhere.
Try stomping to some iambic pentameter:
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Try stomping out to iambic pentameter from the play you are reading.
Then try stomping to the Witches chant from MacBeth:
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
Why does Shakespeare give the witches lines the exact opposite of the “natural” rhythm of the rest of the play?