1Blank verse

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Blank verse nedir?

Blank verse is poetry written with regular metrical but unrhymed lines, almost always in iambic pentameter.It has been described as “probably the most common and influential form that English poetry has taken since the 16th century”, and Paul Fussell has estimated that “about three quarters of all English poetry is in blank verse”.

The first documented use of blank verse in the English language was by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey in his translation of the Æneid. He may have been inspired by the Latin original as classical Latin verse did not use rhyme; or possibly he was inspired by the Ancient Greek verse or the Italian verse form of versi sciolti, both of which also did not use rhyme.

History of English blank verse

The 1561 play Gorboduc by Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville was the first English play to use blank verse.

Christopher Marlowe was the first English author to make full use of the potential of blank verse. The major achievements in English blank verse were made by William Shakespeare, who wrote much of the content of his plays in unrhymed iambic pentameter, and John Milton, whose Paradise Lost is written in blank verse. Miltonic blank verse was widely imitated in the 18th century by such poets as James Thomson (in The Seasons) and William Cowper (in The Task). Romantic English poets such as William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats used blank verse as a major form.

Marlowe and then Shakespeare developed its potential greatly in the late 16th century. Marlowe was the first to exploit the potential of blank verse for powerful and involved speech:

You stars that reign’d at my nativity,
Whose influence hath allotted death and hell,
Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist
Into the entrails of yon labouring clouds,
That when they vomit forth into the air,
My limbs may issue from their smoky mouths,
So that my soul may but ascend to Heaven.

— Doctor Faustus

Shakespeare developed this feature, and also the potential of blank verse for abrupt and irregular speech. For example, in this exchange from King John, one blank verse line is broken between two characters:

My lord?
A grave.
He shall not live.

— King John, 3.3

Shakespeare also used enjambment increasingly often in his verse, and in his last plays was given to using feminine endings (in which the last syllable of the line is unstressed, for instance lines 3 and 6 of the following example); all of this made his later blank verse extremely rich and varied.

Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves,
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make
Whereof the ewe not bites; and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,
Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimmed
The noontide sun, called forth the mutinous winds,
And ‘twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war – to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire, and rifted Jove’s stout oak
With his own bolt;…

— The Tempest, 5.1

This very free treatment of blank verse was imitated by Shakespeare’s contemporaries, and led to general metrical looseness in the hands of less skilled users. However, Shakespearean blank verse was used with some success by John Webster and Thomas Middleton in their plays. Ben Jonson, meanwhile, used a tighter blank verse with less enjambment in his great comedies Volpone and The Alchemist.

Blank verse was not much used in the non-dramatic poetry of the 17th century until Paradise Lost, in which Milton used it with much license and tremendous skill. Milton used the flexibility of blank verse, its capacity to support syntactic complexity, to the utmost, in passages such as these:

….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
Credit: Wkipedia

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