The UVic Writer's Guide

Heroic Couplet

Heroic couplets are lines of iambic pentameter that rhyme in pairs (aa, bb, cc).

Though this verse form was introduced into English by Chaucer in the fourteenth century, its name derives from its use in seventeenth-century "heroic" (epic) drama and poetry. In closed couplets, each pair of lines is self-contained, even if they are part of a larger grammatical structure, as in the following lines from Pope's "An Essay on Criticism" (1711):

In Wit, as Nature, what affects our hearts
Is not th' exactness of peculiar parts;
`Tis not a lip, or eye, we beauty call,
But the joint force and full result of all.

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