Blank verse is poetry written with regular metrical but unrhymed lines, almost always in iambic pentameter. It has been described as "probably the most common and influential form that English poetry has taken since the 16th century", and Paul Fussell has estimated that "about three quarters of all English poetry is in blank verse".
The first documented use of blank verse in the English language was by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey in his translation of the Æneid (composed c. 1540; published posthumously, 1554–1557). He may have been inspired by the Latin original as classical Latin verse did not use rhyme; or possibly he was inspired by the Ancient Greek verse or the Italian verse form of versi sciolti, both of which also did not use rhyme.
Christopher Marlowe was the first English author to make full use of the potential of blank verse. The major achievements in English blank verse were made by William Shakespeare, who wrote much of the content of his plays in unrhymed iambic pentameter, and John Milton, whose Paradise Lost is written in blank verse. Miltonic blank verse was widely imitated in the 18th century by such poets as James Thomson (in The Seasons) and William Cowper (in The Task). Romantic English poets such as William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats used blank verse as a major form. Shortly afterwards, Alfred, Lord Tennyson became particularly devoted to blank verse, using it for example in his long narrative poem "The Princess", as well as for one of his most famous poems: "Ulysses". Among American poets, Hart Crane and Wallace Stevens are notable for using blank verse in extended compositions at a time when many other poets were turning to free verse.
You stars that reign'd at my nativity,
Whose influence hath allotted death and hell,
Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist
Into the entrails of yon labouring clouds,
That when they vomit forth into the air,
My limbs may issue from their smoky mouths,
So that my soul may but ascend to Heaven.
Shakespeare developed this feature, and also the potential of blank verse for abrupt and irregular speech. For example, in this exchange from King John, one blank verse line is broken between two characters:
He shall not live.
Enough.— King John, 3.3
Shakespeare also used enjambment increasingly often in his verse, and in his last plays was given to using feminine endings (in which the last syllable of the line is unstressed, for instance lines 3 and 6 of the following example); all of this made his later blank verse extremely rich and varied.
Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves,
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make
Whereof the ewe not bites; and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,
Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimmed
The noontide sun, called forth the mutinous winds,
And 'twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war – to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire, and rifted Jove's stout oak
With his own bolt;...— The Tempest, 5.1
This very free treatment of blank verse was imitated by Shakespeare's contemporaries, and led to general metrical looseness in the hands of less skilled users. However, Shakespearean blank verse was used with some success by John Webster and Thomas Middleton in their plays. Ben Jonson, meanwhile, used a tighter blank verse with less enjambment in his great comedies Volpone and The Alchemist.
Blank verse was not much used in the non-dramatic poetry of the 17th century until Paradise Lost, in which Milton used it with much license and tremendous skill. Milton used the flexibility of blank verse, its capacity to support syntactic complexity, to the utmost, in passages such as these:
....Into what Pit thou seest
From what highth fal'n, so much the stronger provd
He with his Thunder: and till then who knew
The force of those dire Arms? yet not for those
Nor what the Potent Victor in his rage
Can else inflict do I repent or change,
Though chang'd in outward lustre; that fixt mind
And high disdain, from sence of injur'd merit,
That with the mightiest rais'd me to contend,
And to the fierce contention brought along
Innumerable force of Spirits arm'd
That durst dislike his reign, and me preferring,
His utmost power with adverse power oppos'd
In dubious Battel on the Plains of Heav'n,
And shook his throne. What though the field be lost?
All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
Milton also wrote Paradise Regained and parts of Samson Agonistes in blank verse. In the century after Milton, there are few distinguished uses of either dramatic or non-dramatic blank verse; in keeping with the desire for regularity, most of the blank verse of this period is somewhat stiff. The best examples of blank verse from this time are probably John Dryden's tragedy All for Love and James Thomson's The Seasons. An example notable as much for its failure with the public as for its subsequent influence on the form is John Dyer's The Fleece.
At the close of the 18th century, William Cowper ushered in a renewal of blank verse with his volume of kaleidoscopic meditations, The Task, published in 1784. After Shakespeare and Milton, Cowper was the main influence on the next major poets in blank verse, teenagers when Cowper published his masterpiece. These were the Lake Poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Wordsworth used the form for many of the Lyrical Ballads (1798 and 1800), and for his longest efforts, The Prelude and The Excursion. Wordsworth's verse recovers some of the freedom of Milton's, but is generally far more regular:
Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! And again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur. – Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs...— Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey, lines 1–5
Coleridge's blank verse is more technical than Wordsworth's, but he wrote little of it:
Well, they are gone, and here must I remain,
This lime-tree bower my prison! I have lost
Beauties and feelings, such as would have been
Most sweet to my remembrance even when age
had dimmed mine eyes to blindness! They, meanwhile...— This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison, lines 1–5
His so-called "conversation Poems" such as "The Eolian Harp" and "Frost at Midnight" are the best known of his blank verse works. The blank verse of Keats in Hyperion is mainly modelled on that of Milton, but takes fewer liberties with the pentameter and possesses the characteristic beauties of Keats's verse. Shelley's blank verse in The Cenci and Prometheus Unbound is closer to Elizabethan practice than to Milton's.
Of the Victorian writers in blank verse, the most prominent are Tennyson and Robert Browning. Tennyson's blank verse in poems like "Ulysses" and "The Princess" is musical and regular; his lyric "Tears, Idle Tears" is probably the first important example of the blank verse stanzaic poem. Browning's blank verse, in poems like "Fra Lippo Lippi", is more abrupt and conversational. Gilbert and Sullivan's 1884 opera, Princess Ida, is based on Tennyson's "The Princess". Gilbert's dialogue is in blank verse throughout (although the other 13 Savoy operas have prose dialogue). Below is an extract spoken by Princess Ida after singing her entrance aria "Oh, goddess wise".
Women of Adamant, fair neophytes—
Who thirst for such instruction as we give,
Attend, while I unfold a parable.
The elephant is mightier than Man,
Yet Man subdues him. Why? The elephant
Is elephantine everywhere but here (tapping her forehead)
And Man, whose brain is to the elephant’s
As Woman’s brain to Man’s—(that’s rule of three),—
Conquers the foolish giant of the woods,
As Woman, in her turn, shall conquer Man.
In Mathematics, Woman leads the way:
The narrow-minded pedant still believes
That two and two make four! Why, we can prove,
We women—household drudges as we are—
That two and two make five—or three—or seven;
Or five-and-twenty, if the case demands!
Blank verse, of varying degrees of regularity, has been used quite frequently throughout the 20th century in original verse and in translations of narrative verse. Most of Robert Frost's narrative and conversational poems are in blank verse; so are other important poems like Wallace Stevens's "The Idea of Order at Key West" and "The Comedian as the Letter C", W. B. Yeats's "The Second Coming", W. H. Auden's "The Watershed" and John Betjeman's Summoned by Bells. A complete listing is impossible, since a sort of loose blank verse has become a staple of lyric poetry, but it would be safe to say that blank verse is as prominent now as it has been any time in the past three hundred years.
Ja, Daja; Gott sei Dank! Doch warum endlich?
Hab ich denn eher wiederkommen wollen?
Und wiederkommen können? Babylon
Ist von Jerusalem, wie ich den Weg,
Seitab bald rechts, bald links, zu nehmen bin
Genötigt worden, gut zweihundert Meilen;
Und Schulden einkassieren, ist gewiss
Auch kein Geschäft, das merklich fördert, das
So von der Hand sich schlagen lässt.
Lines are 10 syllables long or 11 syllables long.
Anne of the Thousand Days is a 1969 British costume drama made by Hal Wallis Productions and distributed by Universal Pictures. It was directed by Charles Jarrott and produced by Hal B. Wallis. The film tells the story of Anne Boleyn. The screenplay is an adaptation by Bridget Boland, John Hale and Richard Sokolove of the 1948 play by Maxwell Anderson. Anderson employed blank verse for parts of his play, but most examples of this were removed from the screenplay. One blank verse episode that was retained was Anne's soliloquy in the Tower of London. The opening of the play was also changed, with Thomas Cromwell telling Henry VIII the outcome of the trial and Henry then recalling his marriage to Anne, rather than Anne speaking first and then Henry remembering in flashback.The film stars Richard Burton as King Henry VIII and Geneviève Bujold as Anne Boleyn. Irene Papas plays Catherine of Aragon. Others in the cast include Anthony Quayle, John Colicos, Michael Hordern, Katharine Blake, Peter Jeffrey, Joseph O'Conor, William Squire, Vernon Dobtcheff, Denis Quilley, Esmond Knight and T. P. McKenna, who would later go on to play Henry VIII in Monarch. Elizabeth Taylor makes a brief, uncredited appearance.
Despite receiving some negative reviews and mixed reviews from the New York Times and Pauline Kael, the film was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won the award for best costumes. Geneviève Bujold's portrayal of Anne, her first in an English-speaking film, was, however, very highly praised, even by Time magazine, which otherwise skewered the movie. According to the Academy Awards exposé Inside Oscar, an expensive advertising campaign was mounted by Universal Studios that included serving champagne and filet mignon to members of the Academy following each screening.Debshankar Haldar
Debshankar Haldar (or Debshankar Halder or Debsankar Halder) is a Bengali theatre actor with a long career in Bengali theatre groups such as Nandikar, Rangapat, Natyaranga, Sudrak, Gandhar, Bratyajon, Sansriti and Blank Verse. Known for his versatility, he played the role of Debabrata Biswas in ‘Bratyajon’'s production ‘Ruddha Sangeet’, Swami Vivekananda in Lokkrishti's Biley and the historical theatrical figure Sisir Kumar Bhaduri in Indraranga's Nisshanga Samrat. Debshankar has also worked in films.English translations of Dante's Divine Comedy
The Divine Comedy by Dante Aligheri was translated into French and Spanish and other European languages well before it was first translated into English. In fact the first English translation was only completed in 1802, almost 500 years after Dante wrote his Italian original. The lack of English translations before this is due in part to Dante's Catholic views being distasteful, or at least uninteresting, to Protestant English audiences, who viewed such a Catholic theology, mixed with references to classical mythos, as heretical.
Since 1802, however, the Divine Comedy has been translated into English more times than it has into any other language, and new English translations continue to be published regularly, so that today English is the language with the most translations by far. A complete listing and criticism of all English translations of at least one of the three books (cantiche; singular: cantica) up until 1966 was made by Cunningham. The table below summarises Cunningham's data with (incomplete) additions between 1966 and the present. Many more translations of individual cantos from the three cantiche exist, but these are too numerous to allow the compilation of a comprehensive list.Essay of Dramatick Poesie
Essay of Dramatic Poesie is a work by John Dryden, England's first Poet Laureate, in which Dryden attempts to justify drama as a legitimate form of "poetry" comparable to the epic, as well as defend English drama against that of the ancients and the French. The Essay was probably written during the plague year of 1666, and first published in 1668. In presenting his argument, Dryden takes up the subject that Philip Sidney had set forth in his Defence of Poesie in 1580.
The treatise is a dialogue between four speakers: Eugenius, Crites, Lisideius, and Neander. The four speakers represented, respectively Charles Sackville ( Lord Buchhurst and later sixth Earl of Dorset), Sir Robert Howard [playwright and Dryden's brother-in-law], Sir Charles Sedley ( Edward Malone identified him as Lisideius) and Dryden himself (neander means "new man" and implies that Dryden, as a respected member of the gentry class, is entitled to join in this dialogue on an equal footing with the three older men who are his social superiors). On the day that the English fleet encounters the Dutch at sea near the mouth of the Thames, the four friends take a barge downriver towards the noise from the battle. Rightly concluding, as the noise subsides, that the English have triumphed, they order the bargeman to row them back upriver as they begin a dialogue on the advances made by modern civilization. They agree to measure progress by comparing ancient arts with modern, focusing specifically on the art of drama (or "dramatic poesy"). The four men debate a series of three topics: (1) the relative merit of classical drama (upheld by Crites) vs. modern drama (championed by Eugenius); (2) whether French drama, as Lisideius maintains, is better than English drama (supported by Neander, who famously calls Shakespeare "the greatest soul, ancient or modern"); and (3) whether plays in rhyme are an improvement upon blank verse drama—a proposition that Neander, despite having defended the Elizabethans, now advances against the skeptical Crites (who also switches from his original position and defends the blank verse tradition of Elizabethan drama). Invoking the so-called unities from Aristotle's Poetics (as interpreted by Italian and refined by French scholars over the last century), the four speakers discuss what makes a play "a just and lively imitation" of human nature in action. This definition of a play, supplied by Lisideius/Orrery (whose rhymed plays had dazzled the court and were a model for the new drama), gives the debaters a versatile and richly ambiguous touchstone. To Crites' argument that the plots of classical drama are more "just," Eugenius can retort that modern plots are more "lively" thanks to their variety. Lisideius shows that the French plots carefully preserve Aristotle's unities of action, place, and time; Neander replies that English dramatists like Ben Jonson also kept the unities when they wanted to, but that they preferred to develop character and motive. Even Neander's final argument with Crites over whether rhyme is suitable in drama depends on Aristotle's Poetics: Neander says that Aristotle demands a verbally artful ("lively") imitation of nature, while Crites thinks that dramatic imitation ceases to be "just" when it departs from ordinary speech—i.e. prose or blank verse. A year later, the two brothers-in-law quarreled publicly over this third topic. See Dryden's "Defense of An Essay of Dramatic Poesy" (1669), where Dryden tries to persuade the rather literal-minded Howard that audiences expect a play to be an imitation of nature, not a surrogate for nature itself.Fra Lippo Lippi (poem)
Fra Lippo Lippi is an 1855 dramatic monologue written by the Victorian poet Robert Browning which first appeared in his collection Men and Women. Throughout this poem, Browning depicts a 15th-century real-life painter, Filippo Lippi. The poem asks the question whether art should be true to life or an idealized image of life. The poem is written in blank verse, non-rhyming iambic pentameter.
A secondary theme of the dramatic monologue is the Church's influence on art. Although Fra Lippo paints real life pictures, it is the Church that requires him to redo much of it, instructing him to paint the soul, not the flesh. ("Paint the soul, never mind the legs and arms!"). Aside from the theme of the Church and its desires to change the way holiness is represented artistically, this poem also attempts to construct a way of considering the secular with the religious in terms of how a "holy" person can conduct his life. Questions of celibacy, church law, and the canon are considered as well by means of secondary characters.Jean-Michel Maulpoix
Jean-Michel Maulpoix was born on November 11, 1952 in Montbéliard, Doubs.
The author of more than twenty volumes of French poetry (in blank verse fragments and in prose) and of several volumes of essays and criticism, he teaches modern French literature at the University Paris X Nanterre and is the director of the quarterly literary journal Le Nouveau Recueil. He is an alumnus of the École normale supérieure de Saint-Cloud.
His most acclaimed work 'Une histoire de bleu' (translated in English as 'A Matter of Blue') consists of prose poems and blank verse in which, writes translator Dawn Cornelio, he 'uses the color blue to encompass melancholy and nostalgia, but also the joy and hope inherent in life'.
He is webmaster of his own website, in French, English and Spanish.John Milton's poetic style
The poetic style of John Milton, also known as Miltonic verse, Miltonic epic, or Miltonic blank verse, was a highly influential poetic structure popularized by Milton. Although Milton wrote earlier poetry, his influence is largely grounded in his later poems: Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes.List of English translations of De rerum natura
De rerum natura (usually translated as On the Nature of Things) is a philosophical epic poem written by Lucretius in Latin around 55 BCE. The poem was lost during the Middle Ages, rediscovered in 1417, and first printed in 1473. Its earliest published translation into any language (French) did not occur until 1650; in English — although earlier partial or unpublished translations exist — the first complete translation to be published was that of Thomas Creech, in heroic couplets, in 1682. Only a few more English translations appeared over the next two centuries, but in the 20th century translations began appearing more frequently.
Only complete (or nearly complete) translations are listed. Notable translations of individual passages include the "invocation to Venus" by Edmund Spenser in The Faerie Queene IV.X.44-47; and five passages in John Dryden's Sylvae (1685).List of long poems in English
This is a list of English poems over 1000 lines. This list includes poems that are generally identified as part of the long poem genre, being considerable in length, and with that length enhancing the poems' meaning or thematic weight. This alphabetical list is incomplete, as the label of long poem is selectively and inconsistently applied in literary academia.Michael Madhusudan Dutt
Michael Madhusudan Dutt, or Michael Madhusudan Dutta (Bengali: মাইকেল মধুসূদন দত্ত (Maikel Modhushudôn Dôtto ); 25 January 1824 – 29 June 1873) was a popular 19th-century Bengali poet and dramatist. He was a pioneer of Bengali drama. His famous work Meghnad Bodh Kavya, is a tragic epic. It consists of nine cantos and is exceptional in Bengali literature both in terms of style and content. He also wrote poems about the sorrows and afflictions of love as spoken by women.
Dutta is widely considered to be one of the greatest poets in Bengali literature and the father of the Bengali sonnet. He pioneered what came to be called Amitrakshar chhanda (blank verse). Although his first love remained poetry, Dutt showed prodigious skill as a playwright. He was the first to write Bengali plays in the English style, segregating the play into acts and scenes. He was also the pioneer of the first satirical plays in Bengali – Buro Shaliker Ghare Rnow (Bengali - বুড়ো শালিকের ঘাড়ে রো) and Ekei Ki Boley Sabyota (Bengali - একেই কি বলে সভ্যতা?)".Shakespeare's influence
Shakespeare's influence extends from theatre and literature to present-day movies, Western philosophy, and the English language itself. William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the history of the English language, and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He transformed European theatre by expanding expectations about what could be accomplished through innovation in characterization, plot, language and genre. Shakespeare's writings have also impacted a large number of notable novelists and poets over the years, including Herman Melville Charles Dickens, and Maya Angelou, and continue to influence new authors even today. Shakespeare is the most quoted writer in the history of the English-speaking world after the various writers of the Bible; many of his quotations and neologisms have passed into everyday usage in English and other languages.Sindhi poetry
Sindhi poetry (Sindhi: سنڌي شاعري ) continues an oral tradition dating back a thousand years. The verbal verses were based on folk tales. Sindhi is one of the oldest languages of the Indus Valley having a peculiar literary colour both in poetry and prose. Sindhi poetry is very rich in thought as well as contain variety of genres like other developed languages. Old Sindhi poetry impacts upon contemporary languages and also accepts the healthy influence of some languages like Hindi. Sindhi poetry contains two main original forms of verse, such as bait and Waei. Bait slightly resembles with form Dohas and Sorthas, moreover also influenced by Persian forms like Ghazal, Mathnavi, Rubai, and Kaafi. Since the 1940s, Sindhi poetry has incorporated broader influences including the sonnet and blank verse. Soon after the independence of Pakistan in 1947, these forms were reinforced by Triolet, Haiku, Renga and Tanka etc. At present, these forms continue to co-exist, albeit in a varying degree, with Azad Nazm having an edge over them all.Strophe
A strophe () is a poetic term originally referring to the first part of the ode in Ancient Greek tragedy, followed by the antistrophe and epode. The term has been extended to also mean a structural division of a poem containing stanzas of varying line length. Strophic poetry is to be contrasted with poems composed line-by-line non-stanzaically, such as Greek epic poems or English blank verse, to which the term stichic applies.
In its original Greek setting, "strophe, antistrophe and epode were a kind of stanza framed only for the music," as John Milton wrote in the preface to Samson Agonistes, with the strophe chanted by a Greek chorus as it moved from right to left across the scene.Summoned by Bells
Summoned by Bells, the blank verse autobiography by John Betjeman, describes his life from his early memories of a middle-class home in Edwardian Hampstead, London, to his premature departure from Magdalen College, Oxford.
The book was first published in November 1960 by Betjeman's London publishers, John Murray, and was read by the author, chapter by chapter, in a series of radio broadcasts on the Third Programme (later to become Radio Three) of the BBC. A later, illustrated edition with line and water colour illustrations by Hugh Casson was published in 1989 by Murray (ISBN 0-7195-4696-6). A paperback edition appeared in 2001.There is also a BBC film version directed by Jonathan Stedall for television in 1976. In an autobiography covering the life of Betjeman before he started his first job, narrated in blank verse by him, Betjeman visits places that played an important part in his early life.The Prelude
The Prelude or, Growth of a Poet's Mind; An Autobiographical Poem is an autobiographical poem in blank verse by the English poet William Wordsworth. Intended as the introduction to the more philosophical poem The Recluse, which Wordsworth never finished, The Prelude is an extremely personal work and reveals many details of Wordsworth's life.
Wordsworth began The Prelude in 1798, at the age of 28, and continued to work on it throughout his life. He never gave it a title, but called it the "Poem (title not yet fixed upon) to Coleridge" and in his letters to Dorothy Wordsworth referred to it as "the poem on the growth of my own mind". The poem was unknown to the general public until the final version was published three months after Wordsworth's death in 1850. Its present title was given to it by his widow Mary. It is widely regarded as Wordsworth's greatest work.The Seasons (Thomson)
The Seasons is a series of four poems written by the Scottish author James Thomson. The first part, Winter, was published in 1726, and the completed poem cycle appeared in 1730.The poem was extremely influential, and stimulated works by John Christopher Smith, Joseph Haydn, Thomas Gainsborough and J. M. W. Turner among many others.Venus Observed
Venus Observed is a play in blank verse by the English dramatist and poet Christopher Fry. It was first performed on 18 January 1950 at the St James's Theatre, London, with the following cast:
The Duke of Altair – Laurence Olivier
Edgar, his son – Denholm Elliott
Herbert Reedbeck, his agent – George Relph
Dominic, Reedbeck's son – Robert Beaumont
Rosabel Fleming – Valerie Taylor
Jessie Dill – Brenda de Banzie
Captain Fox Reddleman, the Duke's butler – Fred Johnson
Bates, the Duke's footman – Thomas Heathcote
Hilda Taylor-Snell – Rachel Kempson
Perpetua, Reedbeck's daughter – Heather Stannard
Director – Laurence Olivier
Set designer – Roger Furse
Composer – Herbert Menges
Costume designer – Margaret FurseScenes:
The Observatory Room at Stellmere Park, the Duke's mansion
The Temple of the Ancient Virtues, Stellmere ParkVerse (poetry)
In the countable sense, a verse is formally a single metrical line in a poetic composition. However, verse has come to represent any division or grouping of words in a poetic composition, with groupings traditionally having been referred to as stanzas.
In the uncountable (mass noun) sense verse refers to "poetry" as contrasted to prose. Where the common unit of verse is based on meter or rhyme, the common unit of prose is purely grammatical, such as a sentence or paragraph.In the second sense verse is also used pejoratively in contrast to poetry to suggest work that is too pedestrian or too incompetent to be classed as poetry.