Blank Verse

What Is Blank Verse?

Blank verse is verse that contains consistent rhyme scheme — it may, however, rhyme sometimes — yet maintains a steady meter throughout. It is a staple of both long narrative poems and dramatic monologues, in which the poem’s narrator reveals information directly to readers. Dramatists use blank verse as well, and it has sometimes been used effectively in prose as well. Introduced into English literature by the Earl of Surrey in 1540, blank verse was popular for centuries.

How Do You Identify Blank Verse in Writing?

Identifying blank verse means finding a consistent meter. Although blank verse may be composed of any meter — including iambic, trochaic, anapestic, and dactylic — iambic pentameter is the most common form. An iambic foot has one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one; there are five stressed syllables in a line of iambic pentameter. “It little profits that an idle king,” the first line of Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses, is in iambic pentameter.

Examples of Blank Verse

Blank Verse Examples 1. Many Shakespeare plays, including all of Hamlet, are written in blank verse.

Blank Verse Examples 2. Milton’s epic Paradise Lost is written in blank verse.

Blank Verse Examples 3. Samuel Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight” is one of many lyric poems written by the British Romantics in blank verse.

Blank Verse Examples 4. Robert Frost’s “The Mending Wall” is in blank verse.

Blank Verse Examples 5. MacKinley Kanter’s “novel,” Glory for Me, is a long narrative poem composed in blank verse.


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