Difference Between Blank Verse and Free Verse

Main Difference – Blank Verse vs Free Verse

Blank Verse and Free Verse are two important features in poetry. Blank verse refers to poetry written in regular metrical but unrhymed lines. Free verse refers to an open form of poetry that has no rhyme or rhythm. The main difference between blank verse and free verse is that free verse is not written in consistent meter patterns, rhyme, or any other musical pattern whereas blank verse is written in regular metrical patterns.

What is Blank Verse

Blank verse is poetry written in regular metrical but unrhymed lines. Blank verse is mostly written in iambic pentameter. Blank verse is also known as unrhymed iambic pentameter. This type of verse contains a consistent meter with 10 syllables in each line. The unstressed syllables are followed by stressed ones; therefore, it contains five stressed syllables.

Blank verse is said to be one of the most common and influential forms in English poetry. Many of the English poems have been written in this style. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, is considered as the first poet to use blank verse in English literature. This form was used by many prominent writers such as John Milton, William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, John Donne and John Keats. Given below are some examples of blank verse.

“…bid me leap, rather than marry Paris,

From off the battlements of yonder tower;

Or walk in thievish ways; or bid me lurk

Where serpents are; chain me with roaring bears;

Or shut me nightly in a charnel-house,

O’er covered quite with dead men’s rattling bones,

With reeky shanks and yellow chapless skulls;

Or bid me go into a new-made grave,

And hide me with a dead man and his shroud;”

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

“You stars that reign’d at my nativity,

Whose influence hath allotted death and hell,

Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist

Into entrails of yon labouring clouds,……

So that my soul may but ascend to Heaven…”

Dr.Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

What is Free Verse

Free verse is a form of poetry that does not use a consistent meter, rhyme or any other pattern. Although it is devoid of regular rhyme, rhythm or meter, it still provides artistic expressions. It tends to follow the rhythm of natural speech. Since it does not follow set rules, the poet can give any shape to a poem. Free verse also gives a greater freedom for poets to choose words without bothering about the rhyme and rhythm. It is commonly used in contemporary poetry.

Free verse can be observed in poets like Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Erza Pound, and  John Ashbury.

“All truths wait in all things,

They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it,

They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon.”

– Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass


Come slowly, Eden

Lips unused to thee.

Bashful, sip thy jasmines,

As the fainting bee,

Reaching late his flower,

Round her chamber hums,

Counts his nectars—alights,

And is lost in balms!

– Emily Dickinson’s Come Slowly, Eden 

Difference Between Blank Verse and Free Verse


Blank Verse is written in regular metrical but unrhymed lines.

Free Verse does not use a consistent meter, rhyme or any other pattern.

Metrical Pattern

Blank Verse is written in the regular metrical pattern.

Free Verse is not written in a regular metrical pattern.

Iambic Pentameter

Blank Verse mostly follows iambic pentameter. 

Free Verse does not follow iambic pentameter.


Blank Verse began to be commonly used after the 16th century.

Free Verse is mostly used by contemporary poems.Difference Between Blank Verse and Free Verse - Comparison Summary

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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