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The foot of a poem describes the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line. There are several common ones:

  • Trochaic - a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one.

  • Iambic - an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one (opposite of trochaic).

  • Anapestic - two stressed syllables followed by an unstressed one.

  • Dactylic - one stressed syllable followed by two unstressed ones.

One way to think about these is in terms of ‘da’ and ‘DUM’. So for instance, iambic pentameter can be thought of as ‘daDUM daDUM daDUM’, with ‘da’ representing the unstressed syllable, and ‘DUM’ representing the stressed syllable.