Cummings wrote “i carry your heart with me” in free verse, which means the poem doesn’t use a regular meter. The lack of a consistent meter is somewhat surprising, given that Cummings modeled the poem on the sonnet form. Conventionally, sonnets consist of fourteen lines of iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter refers to a meter where every line has ten syllables, broken down into five metrical feet called iambs. (Recall that iambs have one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, as in the word “to-day.”) Although Cummings doesn’t use iambic pentameter in “i carry your heart with me,” each of the lines in the poem does have five stressed syllables. In this way, the free-verse lines exhibit a basic pentameter rhythm, even without the rigid meter. As an example, consider the opening quatrain (lines 1–4):

     i car-ry | your heart | with me| (i car-ry | it in
     my heart) | i am | ne-ver | with-out it | (an-y-where
     i go | you go, | my dear; | and what-e-ver | is done
     by on- | ly me | is your | do-ing, | my dar-ling).

Even though each individual line has either eleven or twelve syllables, a very elementary breakdown shows an underlying, five-beat rhythm that persists throughout the passage. Thus, even as he refuses the use iambic pentameter in a rigidly defined way, Cummings nonetheless approximates the traditional meter of the sonnet form.