Poetic forms & genres<br />Blank Verse<br />Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
Blank Verse<br />The unrhymed five beat iambic line, otherwise known as iambic pentameter<br /> Shakespeare’s plays, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Wordsworth’s long poem ‘The Prelude’, are written in blank verse.<br />Chaucer (c1342-1400) wrote in iambic pentameter BUT not blank verse. His poetry rhymed:<br />Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
From The Canterbury Tales(Chaucer, late 14th C)<br />Whan that aprill with his shouressoote<br />The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,<br />And bathed every veyne in swichlicour<br />Of which vertuengendred is the flour;<br />Whanzephirus eek with his sweetebreeth<br />Inspired hath in every holt and heeth<br />Tendrecroppes, and the yongesonne<br />Hath in the ram his halve coursyronne,<br />And smalefowelesmakenmelodye,<br />That slepen al the nyght with open ye<br />(so priketh hem nature in hircorages);<br />Thannelongen folk to goon on pilgrimages<br />Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
History of Blank Verse<br />Like the sonnet, blank verse came to English poetry from Italy: verse sciolati da rima (‘verse freed from rhyme’)<br />1540: Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey translated ‘The Aenied’ into English using this ‘straunge meter’<br />In the Renaissance there was intense interest in finding an unrhymed line which would be as powerful as the Classical Greek or Latin epic<br />Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
Uses of Blank Verse<br /><ul><li>Particularly, but not exclusively, suited to long works
Continuity, enjambment, relatively natural word order. Verse Drama.
Also suited more unusual word order (‘syntactic inversion’). Epic poetry.
Milton: argued against ‘the troublesome and modern bondage of rhyming’, rhyme is a ‘constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse than else they would have exprest them’</li></ul>Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
Stress: a little revision<br /><ul><li>An iamb is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one. ‘I am’, ‘Alert’, ‘Revolv/ingDoor’
Pentameter means that there are five of these in a line.</li></ul> x/x/x/x/x/<br />(diDUMdiDUMdiDUMdiDUMdiDUM)<br /><ul><li>Often there are slight variations involving substituting an iamb with one of the other three main types of ‘feet’:</li></ul>Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
Variations – three other types of ‘foot’<br />Trochee /X (DUM di) laughter, never<br />Anapest XX/ (di diDUM) Tennesee<br />Dactyl (particularly the first two) /XX (DUM di di)suddenly<br />Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
Variations – three common variations in the iambic pentameter line<br />A reversed foot. Instead of an iamb, you have a trochee. Often at the beginning of the line:<br />‘Something there is that doesn’t love a wall’.<br />An extra unstressed syllable at the end:<br />‘Which, he once heard, was proper togrow wise in’<br />Replacing an iamb with a three syllable foot:<br />‘The fair Ophelia! Nymph in thy orisons’<br />Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
John Hollander says...<br />Iambic five-beat lines are labelled blank<br />Verse (with sometimes a foot or two reversed,<br />Or one more syllable –“feminine ending”). <br />Blank verse can be extremely flexible: <br />It ticks and tocks the time with even feet<br />(Or sometimes, cleverly, can end limping). <br />Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
From Shakespeare’s Othello<br />O, that the slave had forty thousand lives!One is too poor, too weak for my revenge.Now do I see 'tis true. Look here, Iago;All my fond love thus do I blow to heaven.'Tis gone.Arise, black vengeance, from thy hollow cell!Yield up, O love, thy crown and hearted throneTo tyrannous hate! Swell, bosom, with thy fraught,For 'tis of aspics' tongues!<br />Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
From King John:<br /> My lord?<br /> <br /> A grave.<br /> <br /> He shall not live.<br /> <br /> Enough.<br />Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
Milton: Paradise Lost (1667)<br /><ul><li>Very skilful use of blank verse including suspended syntax, extensive enjambment, and internal rhyming echoes</li></ul>...<br /> The force of those dire Arms? yet not for those<br /> Nor what the Potent Victor in his rage<br /> Can else inflict do I repent or change,<br /> Though chang'd in outward lustre; that fixt mind<br /> And high disdain, from sence of injur'd merit,<br /> That with the mightiest rais'd me to contend,<br /> And to the fierce contention brought along<br /> Innumerable force of Spirits arm'd<br /> That durst dislike his reign, and me preferring,<br /> His utmost power with adverse power oppos'd<br /> In dubious Battel on the Plains of Heav'n,<br /> And shook his throne. <br />(from Bk 1)<br />Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
Enjambment and ‘double syntax’can be used effectively in blank verse<br />I formed them free, and free they must remain,<br />Till they enthral themselves: I else must change<br />Their nature, and revoke the high decree<br />Unchangeable, eternal, which ordained<br />Their freedom, they themselves ordained their fall.<br />(PL, Bk 3) <br />Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
Romantic Period<br /><ul><li>Blank verse used for longer meditative verse. E.g. Wordsworth’s Prelude, Coleridge’s ‘conversation poems’ e.g. From ‘The Aeolian Harp’ (1796):</li></ul>Full many a thought uncall'd and undetain'd,<br />And many idle flitting phantasies,<br />Traverse my indolent and passive brain,<br />As wild and various, as the random gales<br />That swell and flutter on this subject Lute !<br />And what if all of animated nature<br />Be but organic Harps diverslyfram'd,<br />That tremble into thought, as o'er them sweeps<br />Plastic and vast, one intellectual breeze,<br />At once the Soul of each, and God of all ?<br />Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
20th C<br /><ul><li>From Robert Frost ‘Mending Wall’ (1914)</li></ul>Something there is that doesn't love a wall,<br />That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,<br />And spills the upper boulders in the sun;<br />And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.<br />The work of hunters is another thing:<br />I have come after them and made repair<br />Where they have left not one stone on a stone,<br />But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,<br />To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,<br />No one has seen them made or heard them made,<br />But at spring mending-time we find them there.<br />I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;<br />And on a day we meet to walk the line<br />And set the wall between us once again.<br />We keep the wall between us as we go.<br />Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
From the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry & Poetics:<br /><ul><li>‘the advent of free verse sounded the death-knell of this meter which was once and for long a powerful, flexible, and subtle form, the most prestigious and successful modern rival to the greatest meter of antiquity’. A little too solemn?</li></ul>Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />
Rhythm and Rap<br /><ul><li>In rap and performance poetry there is a resurgence of the importance of regular rhythm, with appropriate variations.
rap tends to use a four-beat line which is associated with oral poetry and performance, whereas the five beat, pentameter line, has traditionally been associated with more text-based poetry. </li></ul>Sarah Law Poetic Forms & Genres<br />