Writing Free Verse- definition and examples

Penmancy posted under Writing Tips on 2020-04-06

What is Free Verse?

As the name suggests, free verse is free of any rhyme or has an irregular rhyme. It does not use a consistent meter pattern or a musical rhyme and therefore, it sounds like normal speech.

But that is not all!

Though it may seem like it does not have a regular pattern, yet it has a regular beat or rhythm to it. A regular pattern of rhythm or sound may show up in the free lines even though the poet may not adhere to a metre in their poem.

In the 19th century, Walth Whitman explored the possibilities of such a form of poetry which is shown in this poem-

When I heard the learn’d, astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Free Verse vs Blank Verse

One major difference between the two forms is that the former is not bound by rhyme or meter but the latter adheres to a strong metrical pattern.

The blank verse uses iambic pentameter which necessarily means that each line contains five iambs (feet) —two-syllable pairs in which the unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed syllable. Pentameter indicates a line of five “feet”. Consider this example from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou her maid art far more fair than she.

If we place iambic emphasis on his first line, it reads:
But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?

Free verse, on the other hand, lacks a consistent rhyme scheme, metrical pattern, or musical form. Free verse poems can be short or long and about any topic. They do not have a set number of words or syllables per line.

Rhyme Scheme in Free Verse

In rhyming poetry, the ends of each line will usually have a rhyme scheme or some set pattern.

For example,
Friendship is wonderful.  A
Friendship is grand  B
When we go through life hand in hand.  B
Friendship is trust.  C
Friendship is a lovely heart  D
When we go through life never apart.   D

In this poem, the pattern followed is- one line of poetry that doesn’t rhyme followed by two lines of poetry that do rhyme with each other. Free verse may have a few words that rhyme, but they do not follow a set pattern and randomly occur in the poem.

Modern Twists

Free Verse has existed for many centuries now and the modern poets are giving it their own twist. In spite of how unstructured these may seem, they do follow structure if you notice closely.

Accent- Rupi Kaur
my voice
is the offspring
of two countries colliding
what is there to be ashamed of
if english
and my mother tongue
made love
my voice
is her father’s words
and mother’s accent
what does it matter if
my mouth carries two worlds

Typewriter Series *1950*- Tyler Knot Gregson
She’s a lightning strike,
and I’m the grinning 
arms raised and laughing,
in the middle
of the 

With such a free flow of words, surely one can create so many worlds with their poetry. Looks like now one can begin.

Happy Writing!