What is a Couplet?

By Shane Watson
In Poetry
Apr 6th, 2011
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Couplet, Definition, Poem Examples

Definition of a Couplet

A couplet can be defined as,

“Two successive lines of verse forming a unit marked usually by rhythmic correspondence, rhyme, length or the inclusion of a self-contained utterance”.

or

“A unit of verse consisting of two successive lines, usually rhyming and having the same meter and often forming a complete thought or syntactic unit”.

Heroic Couplets

Couplets with a meter of iambic pentameter are called heroic couplets.

Rhyming Couplets

Where a couplet is a pair of lines of verse where the end words might or might not rhyme, a rhyming couplet is when the last word of each of these lines exactly rhymes.

Couplets in Chinese Poetry

Chinese couplets known as duilian or “contrapuntal couplets” and can be frequently sighted on doorways in Chinese communities, worldwide. Couplets displayed as part of the Chinese New Year festival, on the first morning of the New Year, are called chunlian.

Chunlian are usually purchased at a market a few days before and glued to the doorframe and are considered a sign of good omen. The text of the couplets is often traditional and contains hopes for wealth and prosperity.

Examples of Couplet Poems

Rhyming Couplet Example

But if thou live, remember’d not to be,

Die single and thine image dies with thee.

-Shakespeare, Sonnet III

 

Heroic Couplet Example

O could I flow like thee, and make thy stream

My great example, as it is my theme!

Though deep, yet clear, though gentle, yet not dull,

Strong without rage, without o’erflowing full.

_Cooper’s Hill

Shakespearean Sonnet Examples

End of Sonnet XIV

Or else of thee this I prognosticate:

Thy end is truth’s and beauty’s doom and date.

End of Sonnet XVIII

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

End of Sonnet LXXXVIII

Such is my love, to thee I so belong,

That for thy right myself will bear all wrong.

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