Category: Lessons

Rhythm in Poetry – More than Two Feet

In the last two Rhythm in Poetry lessons, we discussed the “iamb” and the “trochee.” Each of these is a two-syllable poetic “foot.” But iambs and trochees aren’t the only kinds of poetic feet. There are other types of two-syllable feet and even a few different three-syllable feet.

Let’s See the Spondee

The “spondee,” (pronounced “SPON-dee”) is a two-syllable foot in which both syllables are stressed. It is not as common as the iamb and the trochee, but it has a very interesting sound, as you’ll hear in a moment.

A poem written in spondees is said to be in “spondaic.” For example, my poem “Snow Day” is written in spondaic, meaning that every syllable is a stressed syllable. Here’s how it begins:

/     /
“Snow day!”
/    /
Fred said.
/    /
“All play.
/     /
Let’s sled!”

/   /
“No school!
/    /
Just snow.
/   /
Way cool!
/     /
Let’s go!”

As you can see, each line in this poem has two syllables, and each syllable is stressed, meaning each line is a single spondee.

While there are some two-syllable words in English in which both syllables are stressed, such as “bookmark,” “handshake,” “groundhog,” “picnic,” “sunset,” etc., most spondees are formed with two words, such as “hip hop,” “sit down,” “go slow,” and so on.

If you are writing poems in spondaic, you can use one-syllable or two-syllable words, as long as all of the syllables are stressed. In general, it is harder to write in spondaic than in iambic or trochaic but, now that you know about spondees, maybe you’ll want to give it a try?

Let’s Meet the Triple Feet

In English, it’s possible for poetic feet to contain more than two syllables. A poem written using three-syllable feet is called “triple meter.”

The most common three-syllable feet are the “dactyl” (pronounced “DAK-tuhl”) and the “anapest” (pronounced “AN-uh-pest”). Let’s start with the dactyl.

Fingers on Your Feet

Have you heard of the flying dinosaur called the pterodactyl? From the Greek language, “ptero” means “wing” and “dactyl” means “finger.” So a pterodactyl gets it’s name from the fact that it has fingers on its wings.

In poetry, a “dactyl” also gets its name from fingers, but in a different way. Just as your fingers have three joints, or knuckles, a dactyl has three syllables.

When a poem is written in dactyls, we call it “dactylic” (pronounced “dack-TILL-ick”). Some examples of dactylic words include “poetry,” “alphabet,” “excellent,” etc. Do you notice how each of these words is stressed on the first syllable (PO-uh-tree, AL-fuh-bet, EX-suh-lent)?

One common form of poem written in dactylic is the “double-dactyl,” also known as a “higgledy-piggledy.” It is called a double-dactyl because every line contains two dactyls, and one of the words is a six-syllable “double-dactylic,” word. It is sometimes called a “higgledy-piggledy” because these are often the first words of the poem.

Here’s one I wrote about Doctor Frankenstein and his monster:

/  -  -  /  -  -
/  -   -  / -  -
Modern Prometheus
/  -   -   /    - -
Victor von Frankenstein,
/    - -   /
made a new life

/ --/  -     -
/   -    -   /   -   -
Creature was lonely, said,
/   -      -   / -   -
"If you're not busy, please
/    -  - /
make me a wife."

The Anapest Strikes Back

Just as the word “dactyl” comes from Greek, the word “anapest” comes from a Greek word meaning “struck back” or “reversed.” This is because the anapest is the reverse or opposite of the dactyl. That is, an anapest is a three-syllable foot where the stress is on the last syllable instead of the first.

When you write a poem using anapests, it is called “anapestic.” One of the best-known anapestic poems in English is Clement Moore’s famous poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” also called “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

-     -   /     - -    /     -    -    /   -       -   /
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
-   - /   -    -   /   -     -   / -  - /
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

Another author who wrote stories in anapestic was none other than Dr. Seuss. For example, here are a couple of lines from his book Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

-   -    /      -  -    /     -   -    /    -  -    /
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
-   -   /     -   -    / - - /  -    -   /
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

As you can see, every third syllable is stressed, giving the poem the same rhythm as “A Visit from St. Nicholas”

In fact, except for his “Beginner Books” such as Green Eggs and Ham and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, nearly all of Dr. Seuss’ rhyming stories were written in anapestic, including The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Horton Hears a Who, and The Lorax.

You Have Feet in Your Head

While, as Dr. Seuss’ said, “You have feet in your shoes,” you also now have several new “feet” in your head. Poetic feet, that is. And, in just these few lessons, you have learned nearly everything you need to know about rhythm in poetry.

You can use these new feet, and the ones we learned earlier, to create rhythmical – or “metrical” – poems of your own and make them just as fun to read as the works of famous poets like Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, and Jack Prelutsky.

Kenn Nesbitt
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That Doesn’t Sound Right to Me

When you read poems, you will sometimes come across things that don’t sound right to you. Often, this is because people pronounce some words differently depending on where they grew up. The writer of the poem may have grown up somewhere that they pronounce things a little differently than you do.

Probably the most well-known example is the word “tomato.” In Britain, this word is pronounced “toe-MAH-toe,” whereas in America it is pronounced “toe-MAY-toe.”

Similarly, “pajamas” is pronounced “puh-JAW-muhz” (rhymes with “llamas”) in Britain, but can be pronounced either “puh-JAM-uhz” (rhymes with “panoramas”) or “puh-JAW-muhz” in America. And, in America, “dance” rhymes with “France,” while in Britain “dance” is often pronounced “dahns.”

I once wrote a poem for a publisher in India where I rhymed “face” with “vase.” (In America, these two words rhyme with one another.) My publisher was very confused because in India, as well as Britain and much of the world, “vase” is pronounced “vahz” (rhymes with “jaws”).

When I read poems by British authors, sometimes I am surprised by their rhyme choices. For example, I recently saw “speedier” rhymed with “media” because Brits often do not pronounce the r’s at the ends of words.

Dealing with different pronunciations

In general, it’s a good idea to think about who your readers might be. When you run into a word that your readers may pronounce differently than you, you may want to choose a different rhyme. For example, instead of saying:

I like to sing and dance.

You might say:

I like to dance and sing.

A syllable and a half

Another problem you might encounter has to do with the number of syllables in a word.

Many types of poems require counting syllables, or counting “feet,” which are groups of syllables. For example, haiku usually have five syllables on the first and last lines, and seven syllables on the second line. Sonnets normally have five feet of two syllables each, ten syllables total, on each line.

When I write poems, I not only think about the rhymes, but also the rhythm, or “meter” of the words. I usually count feet rather than syllables, but it still requires knowing how many syllables are in any given word.

For most words, the number of syllables is pretty easy to count. “Cat” is clearly a one-syllable word. “Mother” is easy to identify as two syllables. But not every word in English is pronounced the same way by everyone.

Depending on where you live, you may pronounce things a little differently than people in other places. Sometimes this can change the number of syllables you hear when you pronounce certain words.

For example, take the word “poem.” Depending on where you live, this might be pronounced “POE-uhm,” “poe-EHM,” or even “pome.” If you pronounce it “pome,” you might rhyme it with “home,” but this might sound wrong to people in other parts of the country or world. Regardless of how you pronounce it, because other people might pronounce it with a different number of syllables, which would make the rhythm different to them than it is to you.

When a word can be correctly pronounced with one syllable or two, I call these “one-and-a-half-syllable words.” Other examples include words such as “orange” (which some pronounce “OR-uhnj” while others say “ornj”) and “fire” (which many would argue is a one-syllable word, while others say it rhymes with “higher,” which is definitely two syllables.

Similarly, there are many “two-and-a-half-syllable words,” such as “family” (which can be correctly pronounced with either two syllables — “FAM-lee” –or three — “FAM-uh-lee”) and “chocolate” (“CHOK-lit” or “CHOK-uh-lit”).

Dealing with different syllable counts

When you discover that other people may pronounce a certain word differently than you, you can fix the problem in one of two ways.

Substitute a different word

One easy way to solve this issue is to avoid the word by substituting a different one, such as “mother” or “father” in place of “family.”

Change the placement of the word

Another way to fix the problem is by placing the word where it can be pronounced either way without affecting the rhythm.

For example, instead of saying:

My family is very nice.

You might say:

I really like my family.

This way, regardless of whether your readers pronounce “family” as two syllables or three, it doesn’t affect the rhythm of the line.

Whenever you encounter words that others might pronounce differently than you, it’s good to keep these words in mind when you are writing poems that require rhythm or syllable counting so that your poems can be read more easily by everyone, no matter where they are.

List of Rhyming Letters and Numbers

More than once, I have found myself writing a poem where I needed to rhyme letters of the alphabet, or numbers, or both. For example, my poems Swimming Ool, Alphabet Break, and The Man from Planet X all rhyme letters of the alphabet with one another. If you ever find yourself writing a poem where you are rhyming letters or numbers, this short list might be useful to you.

  • A / J / K
  • B / C / D / E / G / P / T / V / Z / 3
  • I / Y
  • Q / U / 2
  • 7 / 11

Click here for other lists of rhyming words.

Words and Phrases that Rhyme with Themselves

Sometimes when you’re writing a rhyming poem, you may want to include a word or phrase that rhymes with itself, such as itsy-bitsy or super-duper. Also called “close rhymes,” these are what are known as “reduplicated” words or phrases. “Reduplication” is the term for words or phrases that are created by repeating sounds. Here is a list of rhyming reduplicated words and phrases that may come in handy to you sometime.

  • abracadabra
  • argle-bargle
  • argy-bargy
  • artsy-fartsy
  • backpack
  • backtrack
  • bandstand
  • bed head
  • bees knees
  • big rig
  • bigwig
  • blackjack
  • blame game
  • blues clues
  • bolo
  • boo-hoo
  • boogie-woogie
  • boot scoot
  • bowwow
  • boy toy
  • brain drain
  • bucket truck
  • chick-flick
  • chilly willy
  • chip dip
  • chock-a-block
  • chop shop
  • chug-a-lug
  • chunky monkey
  • claptrap
  • clean green
  • cookbook
  • crop top
  • cuddly-wuddly
  • cutie patootie
  • deadhead
  • ding-a-ling
  • ditch witch
  • double bubble
  • double trouble
  • downtown
  • drop crop
  • drop-top
  • dry fly
  • easy cheese
  • easy-peasey
  • eency-weency
  • even-steven
  • fancy nancy
  • fancy-schmancy
  • fat cat
  • fender-bender
  • fiddle diddle
  • fight or flight
  • fit bit
  • flyby
  • fomo
  • fright night
  • fuddy-duddy
  • fun in the sun
  • fun run
  • fuzzy-wuzzy
  • go low
  • go pro
  • go slow
  • great state
  • green bean
  • ground round
  • handstand
  • handy-dandy
  • hanky-panky
  • harum-scarum
  • heart smart
  • heebie-jeebies
  • helter skelter
  • heyday
  • hi-fi
  • higgledy-piggledy
  • high and dry
  • high fly
  • hinky dinky
  • hippy-dippy
  • hobby lobby
  • hobnob
  • hobo
  • hocus-pocus
  • hoddy-noddy
  • hodgepodge
  • hoi polloi
  • hoity-toity
  • hokey-pokey
  • holy cannoli
  • holy moly
  • hong kong
  • hoodoo
  • hooley-dooley
  • hot pot
  • hotshot
  • hotspot
  • hotsy-totsy
  • hubbub
  • huffing and puffing
  • hugger-mugger
  • hulu
  • humdrum
  • humpty dumpty
  • hurdy-gurdy
  • hurly-burly
  • hurry-scurry
  • hustle and bustle
  • itsy-bitsy
  • itty-bitty
  • jeepers creepers
  • jelly belly
  • jet set
  • kowtow
  • laffy taffy
  • lardy-dardy
  • lean and mean
  • lite brite
  • loosey-goosey
  • lovey-dovey
  • low and slow
  • low blow
  • low-flow
  • mama
  • mai tai
  • maintain
  • make or break
  • mars bars
  • mayday
  • melee
  • mellow yellow
  • might makes right
  • mojo
  • mudblood
  • mukluk
  • mumbo-jumbo
  • namby-pamby
  • name game
  • naysay
  • neato burrito
  • night-light
  • night-night
  • nighty-night
  • nitty-gritty
  • nitwit
  • no-go
  • no-no
  • no-show
  • nutter butter
  • oingo boingo
  • okey dokey
  • one-ton
  • out and about
  • pall mall
  • papa
  • payday
  • pedal to the metal
  • pell-mell
  • phony-baloney
  • pickwick
  • picnic
  • pie in the sky
  • piggly wiggly
  • plain jane
  • polo
  • pooper scooper
  • pop-top
  • powwow
  • prime-time
  • pump and dump
  • quick pick
  • quiet riot
  • quite a sight
  • ragtag
  • rat-tat
  • rat-a-tat
  • razzle-dazzle
  • razzmatazz
  • reese’s pieces
  • righty tighty
  • ring ding
  • rinky-dink
  • roly-poly
  • rom-com
  • rootin’ tootin’
  • rough and tough
  • rough stuff
  • scat cat
  • shake and bake
  • shock jock
  • shoe goo
  • shout out
  • silly-willy
  • single mingle
  • sky high
  • slim jim
  • sloppy copy
  • slow-mo
  • snack pack
  • snail mail
  • snow blow
  • soho
  • solo
  • space case
  • space race
  • spruce goose
  • steak ‘n shake
  • steer clear
  • stop and shop
  • study buddy
  • stun gun
  • sump pump
  • super-duper
  • tee-hee
  • teen scene
  • teenie-weenie
  • teensy-weensy
  • tepee
  • tex-mex
  • thin skin
  • tighty-whitey
  • tinky winky
  • tohubohu
  • top crop
  • tramp stamp
  • true blue
  • turkey jerky
  • tutti frutti
  • TV
  • undone
  • voodoo
  • wall ball
  • walkie-talkie
  • waylay
  • wear and tear
  • white flight
  • white knight
  • wi-fi
  • willy-nilly
  • wing-ding
  • without a doubt
  • wonton
  • word nerd
  • yolo

Non-Rhyming Reduplicated Words and Phrases

Some reduplicated words and phrases don’t quite rhyme because they contain different vowel sounds, such as ping-pong or zigzag. Technically, these are known as “ablaut reduplications.” Here is a list of reduplicated words and phrases that don’t rhyme.

  • bric-a-brac
  • chit-chat
  • clip-clop
  • criss-cross
  • dig dug
  • dilly-dally
  • ding-dong
  • fiddle faddle
  • flimflam
  • flip-flop
  • hee-haw
  • hip hop
  • jibber-jabber
  • jingle-jangle
  • king kong
  • kit kat
  • kitty cat
  • knickknack / nicknack
  • mishmash
  • ping-pong
  • pitter-patter
  • riffraff
  • seesaw
  • shilly-shally
  • shipshape
  • singsong
  • skimble-scamble
  • splish splash
  • teeny tiny
  • teetertotter
  • tic-tac
  • tick-tock
  • ticky-tacky
  • tip-top
  • tittle-tattle
  • wibble-wobble
  • wiggle-waggle
  • winky dink
  • wishy-washy
  • zigzag

Click here for other lists of rhyming words.

How to Write a Tongue Twister

Tongue twisters are one of the most fun forms of wordplay for kids. The more challenging they are to speak, the more fun they can be. Most tongue twisters take one of three forms:

  1. Phrases that are hard to repeat several times in a row, such as “toy boat” or “unique New York.”
  2. Phrases or sentences that are hard to say, such as “she sells sea shells by the seashore” or “rubber baby buggy bumpers.”
  3. Poems like “Betty Botter” by Carolyn Wells.

You can create your own tongue twisters too. All you need is a pencil and paper, and a little imagination. Let me show you how.

List of Rhyming Sports and Games

If you are writing a poem, especially a list poem, that includes games or sports, you may find it useful to have a list of names of sports and games that rhyme. Here are a few that I have collected. These include sports, board games, card games, party games, and video games.

  • baton twirling / curling / hurling
  • bench press / chess
  • biking / hiking
  • blackjack / hacky sack / track / You Don’t Know Jack
  • Blockade / Old Maid
  • Candyland / marching band
  • canoeing / crewing / snowshoeing
  • capture the flag / tag
  • cheering / mountaineering / orienteering
  • Civilization / Operation / recreation
  • Clue / Taboo
  • dancing / lancing
  • decathlon / marathon / pentathlon / Pokémon / Settlers of Catan / triathlon
  • diving / driving
  • Donkey Kong / mahjong
  • gliding / riding / sliding
  • Go / hammer throw / javelin throw / kenpo / Pokémon Go / taekwondo
  • hockey / jockey
  • judo / Ludo
  • kickball / stickball
  • kick the can / Pac-Man
  • lacrosse / motocross / ring toss
  • polo / flying solo
  • rafting / crafting
  • race / steeplechase
  • rings / swings
  • rowing / throwing
  • skis / trapeze
  • sledding / shredding
  • t-ball / skeeball
  • truth or dare / WarioWare / We Dare

Click here for other lists of rhyming words.

How to Write a Traditional Nursery Rhyme

Humpty Dumpty

Some of the best known children’s poetry in the English language are the “nursery rhymes” of Mother Goose. Though no one knows for certain if Mother Goose was a real person, her rhymes have been popular with young children since the 1600’s. Some of the most popular Mother Goose rhymes include “Humpty Dumpty,” “Hey, Diddle Diddle,” “Little Bo Peep,” “Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater,” and many others. In fact, Mother Goose is credited with writing several hundred nursery rhymes.

But did you know that Mother Goose isn’t the only writer of nursery rhymes? “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” was written by an English woman named Jane Taylor. Many of the short nonsense poems of Edward Lear would qualify as nursery rhymes. And some, such as “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” are “traditional,” meaning we don’t know who wrote them.

In the past few decades, a number of children’s poets have also begun writing new nursery rhymes. For example, Canadian poet Dennis Lee has authored a number of books, including Alligator Pie, Jelly Belly, and Bubblegum Delicious, that are filled with new nursery rhymes. American poet Jack Prelutsky followed suit with books such as Ride a Purple PelicanBeneath a Blue Umbrella, and The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders.

Many authors have even started writing funny “fractured” nursery rhymes, taking well-known Mother Goose poems and updating them with humor and modern ideas.

In fact, even you can write your own new nursery rhymes, and it’s not that hard. All you need is a pencil, a piece of paper, a little time, and your imagination.

Rhyming Cities, States, Countries

Rhyming Places List

If you ever find yourself writing a poem that involves geographical locations — cities, states, countries, etc. — you may find it helpful to have a list of places that rhyme with one another. Here are some that you could use:

  • Alaska / Nebraska
  • Albania / Lithuania / Mauritania / Pennsylvania / Romania / Tasmania / Transylvania
  • Albuquerque / Turkey
  • Algeria / Assyria / Iberia / Liberia / Nigeria / Siberia / Syria
  • Altoona / Laguna
  • Anapolis / Indianapolis / Minneapolis
  • Anatolia / Mongolia
  • Andorra / Aurora / Sonora
  • Angola / Hispaniola / Pensacola
  • Arizona / Barcelona / Daytona / Pomona / Ramona / Verona
  • Armenia / Sardinia / Slovenia
  • Aruba / Cuba / Dinuba
  • Asia / Australasia / Eurasia / Malaysia
  • Astoria / Peoria / Pretoria / Victoria
  • Austin / Boston
  • Australia / Vidalia / Visalia / Westphalia
  • Azerbaijan / Bhutan / Ceylon / Iran / Kazakhstan / Milan / Oman / San Juan / Saigon / Taiwan / Tehran
  • Bahrain / Biscayne / Champlain / Fort Wayne / Maine / Spain / Ukraine
  • Baku / Guangzhou / Kalamazoo / Kathmandu / Peru / Thimphu / Timbuktu
  • Bali / Raleigh
  • Bavaria / Bulgaria
  • Bombay / L.A. / Malay / Monterey / Saint Tropez / San Jose / Santa Fe / Taipei / USA
  • Botswana / Ghana / Guyana / Tijuana
  • Brazil / Capitol Hill / Seville
  • Bruges / Baton Rouge
  • Brunei / Chennai / Dubai / Mumbai / Shanghai / Uruguay / Versailles
  • Caledonia / Catalonia / Estonia / Macedonia / Patagonia / Slavonia
  • Casablanca / Minnetonka / Sri Lanka
  • Chicago / Santiago
  • China / Indochina / North Carolina / South Carolina
  • County Cork / New York
  • Copacabana / Fontana / Indiana / Louisiana / Montana / Santa Ana / Savannah / Susquehanna
  • Crimea / Eritrea / Korea / Sofia / Tanzania
  • Gambia / Zambia
  • Goa / Krakatoa / Samoa
  • Gobi / Lake Okeechobee / Nairobi
  • Greece / Nice / Tunis
  • Guam / Vietnam
  • Illinois / Troy
  • Indonesia / Micronesia / Polynesia / Rhodesia / Tunisia
  • Isle of Capri / Tennessee / Waikiki / Washington D.C.
  • Isle of Man / Cannes / Japan / Saipan / Spokane / Sudan
  • Jakarta / Puerto Vallarta / Sparta
  • Libya / Namibia
  • Malta / Yalta
  • Martinique / Mozambique
  • Milwaukee / Nagasaki
  • Minnesota / North Dakota / Sarasota / South Dakota
  • Montreal / Nepal / Senegal
  • North Pole / Seoul / South Pole
  • Oklahoma / Point Loma / Sonoma / Tacoma
  • Prussia / Russia
  • Reno / San Bernardino / San Marino / Torino
  • Rwanda / Uganda
  • Serbia / Suburbia

Click here for other lists of rhyming words.

Five Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

How to overcome writer's block

“Writer’s block” is an expression that describes how it feels when it seems like you can’t write. Maybe you’re working on a particular poem and then you just start to feel stuck, not knowing how to finish it. Or maybe you sit down to write and you just can’t think of anything at all to write about. Either way, writer’s block can feel pretty discouraging.

The good news is that there are lots of easy ways to break free from writer’s block and start writing again. Next time you feel blocked, give one of these tips a try:

1. Get Goofy

Writer’s block can make you feel very serious, so one way to break free is to get silly. Try to write the most awful, ridiculous poem in the world. Write a poem complaining about how you can’t possibly write a poem right now because of all your terrible problems. Or write your poem from the point of view of your dog, or your lunch, or the dust bunnies under your bed.

2. Make a List

Sometimes it helps to forget about writing in a poetry format for a while. Instead, just list all the things you want someone to know about what your poem will be like after you write it. Or, if you don’t like making lists, just start writing or typing the words “This poem is going to be about…” and then finish the sentence. Try to keep writing without stopping for at least five minutes. When you’re done, you’ll have lots of ideas about how to finish your poem.

3. Try Something Different

Maybe you need a totally different way to write for a while. Instead of writing a free verse poem, try your hand at rhyming couplets. Or instead of sitting at your desk to write, stand up. If you’re really stuck, stand on one foot, or write with the opposite hand for a change. Or get outside of your usual writing place to sit in a park, in the passenger seat of a car, or in a bookstore or library.

4. Go for a Walk

Physical activity is really good for busting you out of a writing rut and resetting your brain. So is a change of scene! You can go for a walk in your neighborhood, or take a bike ride, or jump on a trampoline, or even take a dance break—anything to get your body moving and distract your brain. You can come back to your writing in a few minutes, or even another day, and you’ll have fresh ideas.

5. Be a Reader Instead

Sometimes you can take the pressure off and inspire yourself at the same time. How? By picking up another writer’s work and enjoying it. It doesn’t even have to be poetry. You could read a short story, a graphic novel, or any kind of writing that reminds your brain what great writing can do. Reading can be a great warm-up for anytime you want to write a poem, or it can be a break from writing when your mind feels stuck.

Need More Ideas for Overcoming Writer’s Block? has an excellent article/infographic entitled “Beating Writer’s Block: 11 Awesome Tips” with even more suggestions on ways to break through your writer’s block.

No matter what you decide to try for your writer’s block, keep in mind that the best way to get un-stuck is to do something different. Start anywhere! Even a very small change can help a lot, and you’ll be writing poems again in no time.

Rhythm in Poetry – Okie Dokie, Here’s the Trochee

Edgar Allan Poe

In the last Rhythm in Poetry lesson, we talked about the “iamb,” a two-syllable poetic foot with the stress on the second syllable. The reverse of the iamb is called the “trochee” (pronounced TRO-kee). Like the iamb, the trochee is a two-syllable foot. But instead of being stressed on the second syllable, trochees are stressed on the first syllable. For example, the word “today” is an iamb because we emphasize the “day” not the “to.” (That is, we say “to-DAY,” not ‘TO-day.”) But the word “candy” is a trochee, because we emphasize the “can” and not the “dy.” (It’s pronounced “CAN-dee,” not “can-DEE.”) Look at it like this: