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couplet


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[kup-lit]

A pair of rhyming verse lines, usually of the same length; one of the most widely used verse forms in European poetry. Chaucer established the use of couplets in English, notably in the Canterbury Tales, using rhymed iambic pentameters later known as heroic couplets: a form revived in the 17th century by Ben Jonson, Dryden and others, partly as the equivalent in heroic drama of the alexandrine couplets which were the standard verse form of French drama in that century. Alexander Pope followed Dryden's use of heroic couplets in non-dramatic verse to become the master of the form, notably in his use of closed couplets. The octosyllablic couplet (of 8-syllable or 4-stress lines) is also commonly found in English verse. A couplet may also stand alone as an epigram, or form part of a larger stanza, or (as in Shakespeare) round off a sonnet or a dramatic scene. See also distich.

Subjects: Literature.


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