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II. Couplet Complete couplet . Closed couplet - Heroic couplet


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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
The Frame 
II. Couplet Construction

Interchangeable couplets when the right conditions occur. The repetition of content herein is deliberate for clarity of division.

  • A Closed Couplet is any Complete Couplet in which meter and syntax are sealed at the end. The frame is end-stopped. When the lines are written in iambic pentameter and linked by rhyme it is also a Heroic Couplet.

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan,
The proper study of Mankind is Man.
              --- Pope's Essay on Man
(note: this is also a Complete Couplet because it expresses a complete thought and a Heroic Couplet because it is written in iambic pentameter and is rhymed.)

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed Spring approaches - - -
            ---William Carlos Williams Spring and All?
(note: This is a Closed Couplet because it is end-stopped and a Complete Couplet because it is a complete thought, but because of the lack of rhyme and the prescribed meter it is not a Heroic Couplet. )

  • The Complete Couplet is a poetic unit of 2 lines that express a complete thought within itself. Meter and rhyme are at the poet's discretion. It need not be end-stopped to be complete.

What is an epigram: a dwarfish whole,
Its body brevity, and wit it soul.
                --Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1834
(note: Because the meter and syntax are end-stopped this is also a closed couplet. Because this example is written in iambic pentameter and linked with rhyme the couplet is also a Heroic Couplet.)

Like my daughter
I play shy
              ---A.K. Ramanujan Extended Family
(note: Because of the lack of rhyme and meter this is not a Heroic couplet and because of the lack of end stop it is not a Closed Couplet. The syntax makes it complete within itself and the spacing around the couplet sets it apart. A Closed Couplet must be complete but a Complete Couplet need not be closed.)

  • The Heroic Couplet is a complete poetic thought unit of 2 iambic pentameter lines linked by rhyme. It is also a complete couplet and a closed couplet but it is the meter and linking rhyme that sets it apart as a "heroic couplet".  Shakespeare popularized the declamatory Heroic Couplet.

"But if thou live remembered not to be,
Die single and thine image dies with thee."
                  --- William Shakespeare, Sonnet 2
(note: a complete couplet and a closed couplet are only heroic couplets when they are written in iambic pentameter and are linked by rhyme.)

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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