No comments yet

UNDERSTANDING COUPLETS

Couplets are any two lines working as a unit, whether they comprise a single stanza or are part of a larger stanza. Most couplets rhyme (A-A), but they do not have to.

“Couplet, a 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 — Wikipedia.

Here, success cheers not for your age
The fool is cheered more than the sage

The lines end the thought, do not extend their sense beyond the line’s end. It may also be run-on (or open), with the meaning of the first line continuing to the second (this is called enjambment):

the girl whose lips was ‘softest’
soon turns something to detest
*the meaning in line 1 continues in the next line.

Simply put, ‘couplet’ refers two successive lines of verse, usually rhymed and of the same metre

Do you see the word couple in “couplet?” That is at least part of what a couplet is: a couple of lines. However, to the untrained eye, distinguishing a couplet from merely a couple of lines can be difficult.

Couplets generally appear in poetry, and quite frequently they rhyme and have the same meter. The two lines often belong together, and share some sort of similar idea.

Couplets can stand as single thoughts, meaning they can exist on their own, outside of the poem, or they can be enjambed, relying on the previous and succeeding couplets to be complete.

Most open form couplets are written this way, and a rhyme scheme should play no bearing on how couplets are or are not interlocked.

As well, because the couplet can be so small, it is a good idea to pack it full of image and emotion, like a hard punch packed in a tight space, very concentrated. If the power in a couplet is not contained to the couplet, then you have a quatrain or something larger.

Each couplet be a powerful, emotionally-intensive unit to the whole:

“Good night! Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow
That I shall say good night till it be morrow.”

The couplet above comes from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which is a play, not a poem. But Shakespeare often used rhyming couplets at the end of scenes to signal the ending, rhyming couplet that summed up the main ideas of the poem:

“Blessed are you whose worthiness gives scope,
Being had, to triumph; being lacked, to hope.”
“So, till the judgement that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.”

Couplets are very common in poetry. Often whole poems are written in couplet form — two lines of rhyming poetry, followed by two more lines with a different rhyme, and so on. Robert Frost, one of America’s great poets, wrote many poems using couplets.

The couplet form is a popular device in poetry. The main purpose is to make a poignant point that leaves a lasting impression with the reading. Through the use of rhyme and rhythm in the couplets, that effect is generally achieved.

Couplets are most frequently used as units of composition in long poems, but, since they lend themselves to pithy,

pigrammatic 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.

Then share thy pain, allow that sad relief;
Ah, more than share it, give me all thy grief.

The couplet can be a very lonely stanza, minimalistic. Poems whose content is melancholy or depressing, for example, can make good use of the couplet, like in this poem:

CHOICE by Kukogho Iruesiri Samson (couplets in italics)

you both did the waist dance
you the pot, he the lance

ecstasy in the arms of carelessness
careless seeding – two hearts become restless

to be
a single mother
reading spinster tips
or be
a wedded ‘bother’
under manly grips?

the girl whose lips was ‘softest’
soon turns something to detest

don’t force the dog to eat the bone
re-cook the bone, leave dog alone

to live
alone with hopes
of coming change
or live
bound with ropes
of vows exchange

*There are four couplets in the poem, each standing alone with the same meter (syllabic length) and rhyming.
The message they tell are isolated and punchy.  In these cases, there is enjambment with the message in the first lines line running into next.

Many think couplets are just some ordinary name for two lines of poetry, but they are more than that. You can read more on technicalities of couplets here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Couplet.

This article was written with materials from: Uni.Edu, Vocabulary.Com and Wikipedia

Author: Kukogho Iruesiri Samson

KIS, author of two poetry collections, ‘WHAT CAN WORDS DO?’ and ‘I SAID THESE WORDS’, is an award-winning Nigerian writer, photographer, and media professional with experience in journalism, PR, publishing and media management. In 2016, he was listed in Nigerian Writers Awards’ list of 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL NIGERIAN WRITERS UNDER 40. The same year 2016, he won the Nigerian Writer’s Award for ‘Best Poet In Nigeria 2015.’ he had also won the Orange Crush 1st Prize for Poetry in 2012.
He is the CEO of Words Rhymes & Rhythm LTD.

WordPress Themes
%d bloggers like this: