Free Iambic Verse

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Free Iambic Verse


a variety of syllabotonic verse with an inconstant number of equal feet in a line (as distinguished from the varied feet in free verse). Moreover, verse lines of unequal length are combined freely. Free iambic verse is usually written in iambs with a variation in the number of feet ranging from one to six, for example:

Skazat’ li na ushko iasnee mysT moiu? (6 feet)
  Khudye pesni Solov’iu (4 feet)
    V kogtiakh u koshki (3 feet)

(I. A. Krylov)

An obligatory element in free iambic verse is rhyme— experiments by V. A. Zhukovskii and others in writing free iambic verse without rhymes were not developed further. The intonation of free iambic verse is close to that of conversational speech. The verse form became firmly established in fables; during the 18th and early 19th centuries it was used for epigrams, epitaphs, and inscriptions. It is rarely encountered in lyrical poems (A. S. Pushkin’s “The Light of Day Has Faded”), narrative poems (I. F. Bogdanovich’s Dushen’ka), and drama (A. S. Griboedov’s Woe From Wit). Free iambic verse was first used by A. P. Sumarokov in his parables.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.