blank verse

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pentameter (pĕntămˈətər) [Gr.,=measure of five], in prosody, a line to be scanned in five feet (see versification). The third line of Thomas Nashe's “Spring” is in pentameter: “Cold doth / not sting, / the pret / ty birds / do sing.” Iambic pentameter, in which each foot contains an unaccented syllable and an accented syllable, is the most common English meter. Chaucer first used it in what was later called rhyme royal, seven iambic pentameters rhyming ababbcc; as Chaucer pronounced a final short e, his pentameters often end in an 11th, unstressed syllable. In his Canterbury Tales the pentameters are disposed in rhyming pairs. The pentameter couplet was used also by his imitators in Scotland, with the important difference that when the final e disappeared from speech the couplet became one of strict pentameters. This, known as the heroic couplet, became important in the 17th and 18th cent., notably in the hands of Dryden and Pope.
True wit is Nature to advantage dress'd,
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd.
Pope, “Essay on Criticism”
Blank verse, a succession of unrhymed iambic pentameters, is primarily an English form and has been used in the loftiest epic and dramatic verse from Shakespeare and Milton to the present.
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
Shakespeare, The Tempest, iv:1
The sonnet is one of the most familiar and successful uses of iambic pentameter in English poetry.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Blank Verse


(literally from the French vers blanc, which can be traced back to the English “blank verse”), unrhymed verse in syllabic and tonic syllabic versification.

Blank verse should not be confused with ancient metrical or Russian bylina (epic folk song) verse, for which rhyme was not at all characteristic. The similarity or alternation of fixed “closures” (the endings of the verse lines) plays the structural role of rhymes in blank verse. Because it lacks a rhyme system, blank verse is characterized by a lack of stanzas or weak stanzas and a great deal of freedom and verbal flexibility.

In Russia, blank verse was first used in syllabic versification by A. D. Kantemir and in tonic syllabic versification by M. V. Lomonosov. Blank verse was used by A. N. Radishchev (Bova and Ancient and Historical Songs; on blank verse, see his Journey . . . , the chapter “Tver’ ”) and V. A. Zhukovskii.

Blank verse (usually iambic pentameter) is associated primarily with dramatic genres (for example, Shakespeare’s plays; in Russian literature, A. S. Pushkin’s Boris Godunov and “Little Tragedies” and A. K. Tolstoy’s dramatic trilogy). Examples of blank verse in Russian poetry include Pushkin’s poem “I Visited Anew,” M. Iu. Lermontov’s “If That’s Your Voice I Hear,” and V. A. Lugovskii’s narrative poems “The Middle of the Century.”

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

blank verse

Prosody unrhymed verse, esp in iambic pentameters
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
They also use blank verse more metrically restrictive than Ferry's and maintain line-for-line equivalence, which Ferry doesn't.
Chapters 1-3 consider how the cartographic imagination uses the enlistment of excerpted blank verse to create the "Lake District," while also showing the relevance of mapping in Wordsworth's Prelude revisions and the subsequent role of Wordsworth's poetry in Victorian debates about mapping Britain.
I am in the hands [of] the unknown God, He is breaking me down to his own oblivion An important line in "Bei Hennef" is in blank verse:
The action is set in an industrial Scottish port closely modeled on Greenock, where Davidson's father served as a minister in the Evangelical Union Congregational Church, and where Davidson renounced Christianity early on, preferring to spend his Sunday afternoons writing blank verse. (4) But "A Ballad in Blank Verse" is anything but an autobiographical transcript.
"His message," as Appleyard, a supple interviewer, summarizes it, "is that technology and the image--the machine and the hand--are natural companions." Undoubtedly they are--for Hockney, rather as blank verse was the natural companion of poetic vision for Milton.
In a departure from his traditional stand-up routine, which has been nominated three times for the if.comedy awards at the Edinburgh fringe, Fakespeare sees modern tales told in Shakespearean blank verse.
The text is transcribed from Arabic to Latin, and faces a literal English translation in blank verse. He also comments in detail on the text, discusses the narrative structure, and explores the mythological and religious dimensions of what is a foundational document of Parsi Zoroastrian culture.
Second Place went to Andrew Osborn's "Ultrasound," a dramatic monologue in blank verse, whose metrical assurance blended perfectly with the wit of its syntax, the range of its diction, and its discursive clarity.
Which short-lived dramatist is regarded as the first great exponent of blank verse?
Loose blank verse, free verse, rhymed traditional form and syllabics were all well represented in "Birds and Other Beasts." Unconventional in his style and a bit unorthodox, Richard shows his romantic side with such poems as "Morning Song." Although the ending is not a happy one, it begins as any love affair.
Basing his work on the ample historical research available on the Lewis and Clark journey, Wolf has created 14 characters who speak to the reader individually, sometimes in prose, but more often in blank verse and occasionally in song.
The "Blank Verse" series seems to have grown out of a previous set of works, in which clusters of plain plywood boxes appear to consume vintage furniture like a virus.