The UVic Writer's Guide


Blank Verse

Blank verse is written in unrhymed ("blank") lines of iambic pentameter.

Because it approximates the natural rhythms of English speech, blank verse became the standard meter for poetic drama (as in Shakespeare) after its first appearance in 1540; since Milton's use of it for his epic Paradise Lost (1667), it has been adopted for other types of poetry also (as by Wordsworth, Browning and Eliot). An example is Adam's cautioning of Eve when she wishes to forage alone despite Satan's presence in Eden:

But God left free the Will, for what obeys
Reason, is free, and Reason he made right,
But bid her well beware, and still erect,
Lest by some fair appearing good surpris'd
She dictate false, and misinform the Will
To do what God expressly hath forbid.

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated September 23, 1995