Blank Verse

Shock! Horror!

This verse form often used by Shakespeare and others doesn't rhyme. What on Earth were they (e.g. Milton, Wordsworth and Tennyson) thinking? All it is is verse written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. Examples are to be found in Shakespeare's Plays, Wordsworth's Prelude, and Tennyson's Idyll's of the King. One of the best known examples is Milton's Paradise Lost. The opening of this is:

Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste

This is a flexible, easy-to-use form. It is best to vary it by (e.g.) using the odd nine- or eleven-syllabled line

That's it. No more to say really. Try it.

A Note on Formal and Free Verse

Literary Terms



Back to main page