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© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Free Verse (Vers Libre): Selected full-text books and articles

Mysterious Music: Rhythm and Free Verse By G. Burns Cooper Stanford University, 1998
A Companion to Poetic Genre By Erik Martiny Wiley-Blackwell, 2012
Librarian's tip: Chap. 8 "Free Verse and Formal: The English Ghazal" and Chap. 21 "“Gists and Piths”: The Free-Verse Revolution in Contemporary American Poetry"
The Background of Modern French Poetry: Essays and Interviews By P. Mansell Jones University Press, 1951
Librarian's tip: Part Two "The Emergence of the Vers Libre"
PRIMARY SOURCE
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
FREE! A Study of Poetry By Bliss Perry Houghton Mifflin, 1920
Librarian's tip: Chap. VI "Rhyme, Stanza, and Free Verse"
A History of European Versification By M. L. Gasparov; G. S. Smith; Leofranc Holford-Strevens; G. S. Smith; Marina Tarlinskaja Clarendon Press, 1996
Librarian's tip: "International Free Verse" begins on p. 274
Achievement in American Poetry, 1900-1950 By Louise Bogan Henry Regnery Publishing, 1951
Librarian's tip: Chap. 6 "Vers Libre and Avant-Garde, 1913-1918"
PRIMARY SOURCE
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word By Charles Bernstein Oxford University Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 4 "After Free Verse the New Nonlinear Poetries"
Free, Verse, Rhythm: An Introduction By Tartakovsky, Roi Style, Vol. 49, No. 1, Spring 2015
Intonation and the Conventions of Free Verse By Gerber, Natalie Style, Vol. 49, No. 1, Spring 2015
Tennyson with the Net Down: His "Freer" Verse By Nabi, Jason Victorian Poetry, Vol. 51, No. 2, Summer 2013
Wordsworth, Free Verse and Exteriority By Howarth, Peter Wordsworth Circle, Vol. 34, No. 1, Winter 2003
The Study and Writing of Poetry By Wauneta Hackleman; Amy Jo Zook Whitston, 1996
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics By Roland Greene; Stephen Cushman; Clare Cavanagh; Jahan Ramazani; Paul Rouzer Princeton University Press, 2012 (4th edition)
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