Feet in Blank Verse


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Thread: Feet in Blank Verse

  1. #1

    Feet in Blank Verse

    When writing blank verse, can you use other feet besides iambs and spondees?

  2. #2
    The most comprehensive explanation of the variations in blank verse that I have come across is here

  3. #3
    I mean... I'd say it depends how exactly you define blank verse and how strict you want to be.

    The most strict answer is that blank verse is always iambic pentameter; thus, only ever iambs. That's what I do when I write in it. If you want to let other things creep in, though, go for it: just be somewhat consistent about what you allow, or don't call it blank verse.

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  4. #4
    That's a good point JW. If iambic pentameter defines blank verse then it isn't blank verse without i.p.. A sonnet is also defined as being iambic pentameter, but a sonnet has many othe characteristics as well, so a sonnet is more loosely defined. A sonnet today is not necessarily i.p., nor does it have to have a rhyme scheme. But blank verse is more narrowly defined. It's iambic pentameter of any length that doesn't rhyme. So I must agree with with the strict definition. Of course, small and occasional variations from i.p. seem to be acceptable.

  5. #5
    Most blank verse is iambic pentameter because the iamb is the most dominant beat in normal speech and we are comfortable with it. Its use enables the poet to carry the audience into the poem, into the story, without pauses and puzzlement over 'strange' rhythms. Five beats to the line is not a 'rule', it simply evolved as comfortable from the mid-sixteenth-century to the present. Most of the major action and speeches in Shakespeare's plays, and all of Milton's Paradise Lost, are blank verse in ambic pentameter. But those two giants introduce variations whenever they damn well feel like it and context benefits. Anapests, trochees, etc. do not abound but are definitely used when needed. At the other end of the scale--Alexander Pope, the absolute master of the Heroic couplet (also iambic pentameter) translated the Iliad into English. . .IN COUPLETS. apparently. It was viciously reviewed.



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    "I believe in nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of the imagination". Keats, ​Letters

    "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls -- it tolls for thee. " John Donne, Meditation XVII

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