poetry tips

Poetry Tips: Blank Verse

There are a number of poetry tips to consider when crafting your next poem. Blank verse is a form of poetry which is un-rhyming but which adheres to a regular meter. Meter basically refers to the amount of syllables in a line of verse, which make up its rhythm. Meter is made up of feet, being pairings of two/three syllables together. The most commonly used meter in blank verse is iambic pentameter, which comprises five iambic feet, or iambs, each comprised of one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Below is an example of blank verse in its most typical metrical form, iambic pentameter:

Their mo|tion, at | whose front | a fla|ming sword,

In sig|nal of | remove, | waves fier|cely round ;

We may | no lon|ger stay : | go, wa|ken Eve ;

Her al|so I | with gen|tle dreams | have calmed,

John Milton

da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM


Blank verse is one of the oldest verse forms, dating back to Ancient Greek poets such as Homer (The Iliad; The Odyssey), the Roman poet Virgil (The Æneid), through Dante (The Divine Comedy); and, in English literature: Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, John Milton (Paradise Lost; Paradise Regained) through to the Romantic poets such as William Wordsworth (The Prelude) at the turn of the 19th century.

Free Verse

Free verse (from the French vers libre), which started to come into fashion in the early 20th century, is a form of poetry, still common today, which not only does away with rhyme (as blank verse), but also with regular meter, fixed line length and specific verse pattern. Here is an example below:

Bavarian gentians, big and dark, only dark

darkening the daytime, torch-like, with the smoking blueness of Pluto’s


ribbed and torch-like, with their blaze of darkness spread blue

down flattening into points, flattened under the sweep of white day

torch-flower of the blue-smoking darkness, Pluto’s dark-blue daze,

black lamps from the halls of Dis, burning dark blue,

giving off darkness, blue darkness, as Demeter’s pale lamps give off


lead me then, lead the way.

DH Lawrence

Poetry Tips compiled by Alan Morrison for Creative Future

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