/kup"lit/, n.1. a pair of successive lines of verse, esp. a pair that rhyme and are of the same length.2. a pair; couple.3. Music. any of the contrasting sections of a rondo occurring between statements of the refrain.[1570-80; < MF; see COUPLE, -ET]
* * *Two successive lines of verse.A couplet is marked usually by rhythmic correspondence, rhyme, or the inclusion of a self-contained utterance. Couplets may be independent poems, but they usually function as parts of other verse forms, such as the Shakespearean sonnet, which concludes with a couplet. A couplet that cannot stand alone is an open couplet; a couplet whose sense is relatively independent is a closed couplet.
* * *▪ poetic forma pair of end-rhymed lines of verse that are self-contained in grammatical structure and meaning. A couplet may be formal (or closed), in which case each of the two lines is end-stopped (end stop), or it may be run-on (or open), with the meaning of the first line continuing to the second (this is called enjambment). Couplets are most frequently used as units of composition in long poems, but, since they lend themselves to pithy, epigrammatic statements, they are often composed as independent poems or function as parts of other verse forms, such as the Shakespearean sonnet, which is concluded with a couplet. In French narrative and dramatic poetry, the rhyming alexandrine (12-syllable line) is the dominant couplet form, and German and Dutch verse of the 17th and 18th centuries reflects the influence of the alexandrine couplet. The term couplet is also commonly substituted for stanza in French versification. A “square” couplet, for example, is a stanza of eight lines, with each line composed of eight syllables. The preeminent English couplet is the heroic couplet, or two rhyming lines of iambic pentameter with a caesura (pause), usually medial, in each line. Introduced by Chaucer (Chaucer, Geoffrey) in the 14th century, the heroic couplet was perfected by John Dryden (Dryden, John) and Alexander Pope (Pope, Alexander) in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. An example isThen share thy pain, allow that sad relief;Ah, more than share it, give me all thy grief.(Alexander Pope, “Eloisa to Abelard”)Couplets were also frequently introduced into the blank verse of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama for heightened dramatic emphasis at the conclusion of a long speech or in running dialogue, as in the following example:Think what you will, we seize into our handsHis plate, his goods, his money, and his lands.
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