Free Verse (Vers Libre)

free verse

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. The term has also been applied by modern literary critics to the King James translation of the Bible, particularly the Song of Solomon and the Psalms, to certain poems of Matthew Arnold, and to the irregular poetry of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. The form is also closely associated with English and American poets of the 20th cent. who sought greater liberty in verse structure, including Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg, and Marianne Moore.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Mysterious Music: Rhythm and Free Verse
G. Burns Cooper.
Stanford University, 1998
The Background of Modern French Poetry: Essays and Interviews
.
Unknown, 1951
Librarian’s tip: Part Two "The Emergence of the Vers Libre"
FREE! Convention and Revolt in Poetry
John Livingston Lowes.
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1919
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VI "Rhyme, Metre, and Vers Libre"
FREE! A Study of Poetry
Bliss Perry.
Houghton Mifflin, 1920
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VI "Rhyme, Stanza, and Free Verse"
FREE! The Writing and Reading of Verse
C. E. Andrews.
D. Appleton & Company, 1918
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XIX "Free Verse or Vers Libre"
A History of European Versification
M. L. Gasparov; G. S. Smith; Marina Tarlinskaja; G. S. Smith; Leofranc Holford-Strevens.
Clarendon Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: "International Free Verse" begins on p. 274
Achievement in American Poetry, 1900-1950
Louise Bogan.
Henry Regnery Publishing, 1951
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Vers Libre and Avant-Garde, 1913-1918"
Poets & Their Art
Harriet Monroe.
Macmillan, 1926
Librarian’s tip: "The Free Verse Movement" begins on p. 291
Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word
Charles Bernstein.
Oxford University Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "After Free Verse the New Nonlinear Poetries"
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