The Library of Congress > Linked Data Service > LC Genre/Form Terms (LCGFT)

Free verse

  • Poems whose rhythms are based on the cadences of common speech instead of on conventional metrical patterns.

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  • Form

    • Free verse
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  • Sources

    • found: Columbia encyclopedia, 2013(free verse: term loosely used for rhymed or unrhymed verse made free of conventional and traditional limitations and restrictions in regard to metrical structure. Cadence, especially that of common speech, is often substituted for regular metrical pattern. Free verse is a literal translation of the French vers libre, which originated in late 19th-century France among poets, such as Arthur Rimbaud and Jules Laforgue, who sought to free poetry from the metrical regularity of the alexandrine)
    • found: Quinn, E. A dictionary of literary and thematic terms, c1999(Free verse: Lines of poetry written without regular meter and usually without rhyme. Although scattered examples of free verse appear in earlier poetry, the great pioneer of the form was Walt Whitman; in the 20th century, free verse has become the dominant poetic form.)
    • found: Ruse, C. The Cassell dictionary of literary and language terms, 1992(Free verse: Verse that does not conform to conventional forms of structure and organization such as metrical foot, rhyme and stress patterns. Instead, it has lines of varying length and uses the more natural cadences of everyday speech to gain its rhythm.)
    • found: Drury, J. A poetry dictionary, c2006(Free verse: Nonmetrical verse; lines that are not measured or counted for number of accents, number of syllables, or lengths of syllables; lines that are free of meter; also called vers libre.)
  • General Notes

    • Poems whose rhythms are based on the cadences of common speech instead of on conventional metrical patterns.
  • Change Notes

    • 2014-12-01: new
    • 2015-12-15: revised
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