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Iambic tetrameter is a poetic meter in ancient Greek and Latin poetry; as the name of a rhythm, iambic tetrameter consists of four metra, each metron being of the form | x – u – |, consisting of a spondee and an iamb, or two iambs. There usually is a break in the centre of the line, thus the whole line is:
| x – u – | x – u – || x – u – || x – u – |
("x" is a syllable that can be long or short, "–" is a long syllable, and "u" is a short one.)
In modern English poetry, it refers to a line consisting of four iambic feet. The word "tetrameter" simply means that there are four feet in the line; iambic tetrameter is a line comprising four iambs, defined by accent. The scheme is thus:
x / x / x / x /
Some poetic forms rely upon the iambic tetrameter, for example triolet, Onegin stanza, In Memoriam stanza, long measure (or long meter) ballad stanza.