What is blank verse?
Blank verse describes poetry with unrhyming verses.
History of blank verse:
The creation of this style of poetry is attributed to the Earl of Surrey (Henry Howard) circa 1540, however, it was Italian poet Giovanni Rucellai who coined the phrase versi sciolti (“blank verse”).
This poetic style was adapted from the Greek and Latin tradition of heroic verse (a type of poetry reserved for epic or heroic subjects).
Blank verse soon became the standard meter of Italian Renaissance drama and became the standard technique for dramatic and narrative poetry written in English and German as well.
Despite the glow of its initial reception, blank verse experienced a lull until 1667 when John Milton used the style to compose Paradise Lost.
Structure of blank verse:
Blank verse does not have a fixed number of lines or stanzas.
Blank verse does not make use of rhyme scheme.
Types of blank verse:
1.) Iamb pentameter (unstressed/stressed syllables)
2.) Trochee blank verse (stressed/unstressed syllables)
3.) Anapest blank verse (unstressed/unstressed/stressed syllables)
4.) Dactyl blank verse (stressed/unstressed/unstressed syllables)
Famous examples of blank verse
Thomas Sackville and Thomas Norton used blank verse for the first English tragic drama, Gorboduc which was first performed in 1561.
Playwright William Shakespeare famously used iambic pentameter to craft classics like Romeo and Juliet (1594), Hamlet (1600), and Macbeth (1605).
Christopher Marlowe made use of blank verse in his most famous play Doctor Faustus (1604).
William Wordsworth used blank verse in his autobiography of the poetic spirit, The Prelude (1799). His contemporaries, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats also made use of this poetic form.
Robert Frost even used blank verse in Mending Wall (1914) and A Masque of Reason (1945).
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