Poetry Forms Explained: The Couplet
A stanza of two lines is called a couplet. Couplets are sometimes used to signify the end of the poem like in some sonnets. They can also be used as stand-alone poems, or just provide a way to vary stanza lengths. Their usage is endless.
A symmetrical couplet is exactly how it sounds. Each line in the couplet is made up of the same number of words. The syllable count does not matter, just the words.
the welcome scent of huckleberry jam,
steam rising from a whining kettle
Also known as a formal couplet, in a closed couplet, each line expresses a complete idea and is typically end-stopped.
True wit is nature to advantage dress’d;
What oft was thought, but ne’er so well express’d.
— Alexander Pope
Open couplets, also known as run-on couplets, are the opposite of Closed couplets (big shocker there). It is still two lines of poetry but the meaning of the first line is carried over into the second.
dropping the facade into the crisp,
forgiving lake of honesty
Two lines of poetry where each line follows iambic pentameter rules.
Intrench’d before the town both armies lie,
While Night with sable wings involves the sky.
This form of couplet was originally used by Greeks in funeral songs. These closed couplets are used to express emotions about the dead or deceased. They usually do not stand on their own and are instead components of larger poems.
Here take my picture; though I bid farewell,
Thine, in my heart, where my soul dwells, shall dwell.
Epigrams are similar to limericks in their witty, humorous nature but in this form only use two lines instead of the limerick’s four.
“I mean the opposite of what I say.
You’ve got it now? No, it’s the other way.”
A footle is a 2 line, 2 syllable poem with an integral title suitable for light, witty, pertinent, or topical verse. The example is written about Edvard Munch’s Potted Plant on Window Sill.