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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A couplet is a pair of lines of meter in poetry and verse. It usually consists of two lines that rhyme and have the same meter. While traditionally couplets rhyme, not all do. A poem may use white space to mark out couplets if they do not rhyme. Couplets with a meter of iambic pentameter are called heroic couplets. The Poetic epigram is also in the couplet form. Couplets can also appear in more complex rhyme schemes. For example, Shakespearean sonnets end with a couplet.

Rhyming couplets are one of the simplest rhyme schemes in poetry. Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales are written in rhyming couplets. John Dryden in the 17th century and Alexander Pope in the 18th century were both well known for their writing in heroic couplets.

Because the rhyme comes so quickly in rhyming couplets, it tends to call attention to itself. Good rhyming couplets tend to "snap" as both the rhyme and the idea come to a quick close in two lines. Here are some examples of rhyming couplets where the sense as well as the sound "rhymes":

True wit is nature to advantage dress'd;
What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd.
— Alexander Pope
Whether or not we find what we are seeking
is idle, biologically speaking.
Edna St. Vincent Millay (at the end of a sonnet)

On the other hand, because rhyming couplets have such a predictable rhyme scheme, they can feel artificial and plodding. Here is a Pope parody of the predictable rhymes of his era:

Where-e'er you find "the cooling western breeze,"
In the next line, it "whispers through the trees;"
If crystal streams "with pleasing murmurs creep,"
The readers threatened (not in vain) with "sleep."

Contents

Couplets in Chinese culture

Chinese couplets known as duilian or "contrapuntal couplets" may be seen on doorways in Chinese communities worldwide. Couplets displayed as part of the Chinese New Year festival, on the first morning of the New Year, are called chunlian. These are usually purchased at a market a few days before and glued to the doorframe. The text of the couplets is often traditional and contains hopes for prosperity. Other chunlian reflect more recent concerns. For example, the CCTV New Year's Gala usually promotes couplets reflecting current political themes in mainland China.

Eight is considered a lucky number in Chinese tradition, so some Chinese couplets consists of two lines of four characters each. Couplets are often written vertically from top to bottom to add formality.

Couplets in Indian poetry

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Tamil

Rhyming couplets are also used in other poetic traditions, including non-Western ones. Kurals, which form a subclass of the Venpa class of Tamil poetry, are couplets. Tirukkural is a popular book written in Kural Venpa form. In Hindi, there are other kinds of couplets as well, including: Doha, Sortha, Chaupai, Chhand etc.

Hindi poets such as Rahim, Kabir, Tulsidas, Bihari, Surdas and many more were pioneers in this form.

Couplets in hip-hop music

Couplets are the most common type of rhyme scheme in old school rap[1] and are still commonly used in today's hip-hop music and rapping[2], though more complex rhyme schemes have progressively become more frequently employed[3][4].

See also

References

  1. ^ Bradley, Adam, 2009, Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip-Hop, Basic Civitas Books, p. 50.
  2. ^ Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 99.
  3. ^ Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 97.
  4. ^ Bradley, Adam, 2009, Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip-Hop, Basic Civitas Books, p. 73.

External links

  • Examples of Crystalline couplet form [1]
  • Prosody for the crystalline [2]
  • Example of the doublet form of couplet created by Adelaide Crapsey [3]
  • Examples of the doublet form of couplet [4]en:Coupletfgfgdggdfgnjjx udfdhshnhjsndjhdn

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Couplet
by Ezra Pound
Information about this edition
from the Chinese poem by Li Po

Drawing a sword, cut into water, water again flow:
Raise cup, quench sorrow, sorrow again sorry.

PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain). Flag of the United States.svg

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

COUPLET, a pair of lines of verse, which are welded together by an identity of rhyme. The New English Diet. derives the use of the word from the French couplet, signifying two pieces of iron riveted or hinged together. In rhymed verse two lines which complete a meaning in themselves are particularly known as a couplet. Thus, in Pope's Eloisa to Abelard: " Speed the soft intercourse from soul to soul, And waft a sigh from Indus to the Pole." In much of old English dramatic literature, when the mass of the composition is in blank verse or even in prose, particular emphasis is given by closing the scene in a couplet. Thus, in the last act of Beaumont and Fletcher's Thierry and Theodoret the action culminates in an unexpected rhyme: "And now lead on; they that shall read this story Shall find that virtue lives in good, not glory." In French literature, the term couplet is not confined to a pail of lines, but is commonly used for a stanza. A "square" couplet, in French, for instance, is a strophe of eight lines, each composed of eight syllables. In this sense it is employed to distinguish the more emphatic parts of a species of verse which is essentially gay, graceful and frivolous, such as the songs in a vaudeville or a comic opera. In the 18th century, Le Sage, Piron and even Voltaire did not hesitate to engage their talents on the production. of couplets, which were often witty, if they had no other merit, and were well fitted to catch the popular ear. This signification of the word couplet is not unknown in England, but it is not customary; it is probably used in a stricter and a more technical sense to describe a pair of rhymed lines, whether serious or merry. The normal type, as it may almost be called, of English versification is the metre of ten-syllabled rhymed lines designated as heroic couplet. This form of iambic verse, with five beats to each line, is believed to have been invented by Chaucer, who employs it first in the Prologue The Legend of Good Women the composition of which is attributed to the year 1385. That poem opens with the couplet: "A thousand times have I heard man tell That there is joy in heaven and pain in hell." This is an absolutely correct example of the heroic couplet, which ultimately reached such majesty in the hands of Dryden and such brilliancy in those of Pope. It has been considered proper for didactic, descriptive and satirical poetry, although in the course of the 19th century blank verse largely took its place. Epigram often selects the couplet as the vehicle of its sharpened arrows, as in Sir John Harington's "Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason." (E. G.)


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