Blank verse is poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. It has been described as "probably the most common and influential form that English poetry has taken since the sixteenth century" and Paul Fussell has claimed that "about three-quarters of all English poetry is in blank verse."
The first documented use of blank verse in the English language was by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey in his translation of the Æneid (composed c. 1540; published 1554-1557). He was possibly inspired by the Latin original, as classical Latin verse (as well as Greek verse) did not use rhyme; or he may have been inspired by the Italian verse form of versi sciolti, which also contained no rhyme. The play Arden of Faversham (circa 1590 by an unknown author) is a notable example of end-stopped blank verse.
Christopher Marlowe was the first English author to make full use of the potential of blank verse, and also established it as the dominant verse form for English drama in the age of Elizabeth I and James I. The major achievements in English blank verse were made by William Shakespeare, who wrote much of the content of his plays in unrhymed iambic pentameter, and Milton, whose Paradise Lost is written in blank verse. Miltonic blank verse was widely imitated in the 18th century by such poets as James Thomson (in The Seasons) and William Cowper (in The Task). Romantic English poets such as William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats used blank verse as a major form. Shortly afterwards, Alfred, Lord Tennyson became particularly devoted to blank verse, using it for example in his long narrative poem "The Princess", as well as for one of his most famous poems: "Ulysses". Among American poets, Hart Crane and Wallace Stevens are notable for using blank verse in extended compositions at a time when many other poets were turning to free verse.
Read more about Blank Verse: History of English Blank Verse
Famous quotes related to blank verse:
“If you would shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say: Mother is working on her five-act tragedy in blank verse! you would be surprised how they would respect you. They would probably all become playwrights.”
—Brenda Ueland (18911985)
“All right, so there he is, our representative to the world, Mr. Western Civilization, in codpiece and pantyhose up there on the boards, firing away at the rapt groundlings with his blank verses, not less of a word-slinger and spellbinder than the Bard himself and therefore not to be considered too curiously on such matters as relevance, coherence, consistency, propriety, sanity, common decency.”
—Marvin Mudrick (19211986)