Any unrhymed verse with a regular beat pattern. May include hexameter or pentameter, iambic feet and other variants. Often used to indicate a form of courtliness (either in the sense of dealings between nobles, or of lovemaking) in speech in Shakespeare, and the lack of it can imply great familiarity.

One of the best self-referntial lines about the use of blank verse in Shakespeare is found in As You Like It, where Jaques says ``Nay then, goodbye an you talk in blank verse.'' As You Like It is perhaps the most verse-free of Shakespeare's plays. The contrast is set between Rosalind and Jaques' banter (in plain speech) and Orlando, the lover, who enters with the clearly poetical, ``Good day and happiness, dear Rosalind.''

It is with Blank verse that the distinction between poetry and prose becomes blurred. It is only Free Verse that can be said to stretch this distinction even further.

Boswell (the diarist) once asked Dr. Johnson the question: "What is poetry?" Johnson's answer is interesting.

"Why Sir, it is much easier to say what is not. We all know what light is, but is it not easy to say what it is not."

Blank Verse first became popular in the 16th Century. It was first used as an attempt to break away from the more formal sonnet forms that had controlled poetry for so long. It is decided (in contrast to the decorum of the previous century), that different modes of expression are suitable for different thoughts.

Blank Verse has a series of advantages and disadvantages.

-It can take on a wide variety of differing tones
-It has an almost conversational tone
-Blank Verse will always sound formal and elevated but it can pass as normal speech. During the early periods of its use, it is even used in the novel where it presents itself as prose.

-It can create a lack of interest therefore a wide variety of devices must be used to make it interesting. These devices are

*reinforcing and playing with the formal line ie..."To err is human to forgive devine."
*the introduction of the verse paragraph
*the shifting of stress away from syllables.
*variations of tonal quality and diction.

...Into what Pit thou seest
From what highth fal'n, so much the stronger provd
He with his Thunder: and till then who knew
The force of those dire Arms? yet not for those
Nor what the Potent Victor in his rage
Can else inflict do I repent or change,
Though chang'd in outward lustre; that fixt mind
And high disdain, from sence of injur'd merit,
That with the mightiest rais'd me to contend,
And to the fierce contention brought along
Innumerable force of Spirits arm'd
That durst dislike his reign, and me preferring,
His utmost power with adverse power oppos'd
In dubious Battel on the Plains of Heav'n,
And shook his throne. What though the field be lost?
All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
Paradise Lost -Book 1

Milton, John knows where he is standing for the meaning of not sounding the same. All those followed by 'they can't be seen from here'. What a waste or fine: something new he's trying or crying. Trust the muse and forget the rain plus rhyme! Can but heaven be near? There is nothing he can see clear -if anything supporting. Why isn't the earth sincere? What is there so forced to find? Fight the battle, hide the hate. Something he had to create. Been there, done that, simply fair. Or not.

Paradise Lost consisted of ten books (twelve in its 1674 revised version) of blank verse, Paradise Regained consists of only four.

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