A couplet is a pair of lines of meter in poetry. 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 reader's threatened (not in vain) with "sleep."


Couplets in Chinese poetry

Chinese couplets 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.

Some Chinese couplets may consist of two lines of four characters each. Couplets are read from top to bottom where the first line starts from the right.

See also


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]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • couplet — [ kuplɛ ] n. m. • v. 1360; provenç. cobla « couple de vers »; 1340 « pièces métalliques réunies par des charnières »; de couple 1 ♦ Chacune des parties d une chanson comprenant généralement un même nombre de vers, et séparées par le refrain. ⇒… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • couplet — COUPLET. s. m. Certain nombre de vers, espèce de Stance qui fait le tout ou quelque partie d une chanson. Un couplet de chanson. Cette chanson n a qu un couplet, est de quatre couplets.Couplet, en termes de Serrurerie, se dit De deux pates de fer …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • Couplet — Sn Liedchen mit gereimten Strophen per. Wortschatz fach. (18. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus frz. couplet m. gereimte Strophe(n), Reimpaare , einem Diminutivum zu frz. couple m. Paar, Vereinigung , aus l. cōpula f. Vereinigung (vgl. l. cōpulāre… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • Couplet — Coup let ( l?t), n. [F. couplet, dim. of couple. See {Couple}, n. ] Two taken together; a pair or couple; especially two lines of verse that rhyme with each other. [1913 Webster] A sudden couplet rushes on your mind. Crabbe. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • couplet — 1570s, in poetry, from Fr. couplet (mid 14c.), a dim. of couple (see COUPLE (Cf. couple)). In music, from 1876 …   Etymology dictionary

  • couplet — Couplet. s. m. Certain nombre de vers, espece de stance qui fait le tout, ou partie d une hymne, ou d une chanson. Cette chanson n a qu un couplet. cette autre est de quatre couplets. les couplets de cette hymne sont chacun de quatre vers …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Couplet — (fr., spr. Kupläh), 1) im französischen Kunstlied die Verbindung zweier gleicher Verse zu einer Strophe mit epigrammatischem Charakter; daher C. spirituel (spr. K. spiritüell), pasquillartiges Sinngedicht od. Arie in der Komischen Oper; C. de… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Couplet — (franz., spr. kuplē, v. lat. copula), ursprünglich in der Musik und Poesie die Verbindung zweier paralleler rhythmischer Sätze zu einer Strophe; jetzt gewöhnlich die Bezeichnung für gewisse, in modernen Possen und Vaudevilles vorkommende komische …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Couplet — (frz., spr. kupleh), Strophe; in der franz. komischen Oper kleines Lied witzigen Inhalts; in Vaudevilles und Possen Lied, dessen Strophen nach gleicher Melodie gesungen werden, meist mit Refrain …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Couplet — (frz. Kuplä), Strophe eines Liedes; in der Musik eine Art von Variationen …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • couplet — (fr.; pronunc. [cuplé]) m. Cuplé …   Enciclopedia Universal

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