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Blank verse is a term used to refer to a frequently used English verse form, namely, unrhymed iambic pentameter. It should not be confused with free verse, which is a term used to refer to poems that do not follow a fixed metrical pattern. An example of blank verse is:
By this still hearth, among these barren crags
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race ,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
English meter is based on a combination of the older Anglo-Saxon system of strong stress meter, in which lines had a fixed number of stresses and a variable number of unstressed syllables with the French system of syllabic verse that became influential after the Norman conquest. Thus most English meter pays attention to both stressed and unstressed syllables. A blank verse line takes as a basic patter the iamb, an unstressed followed by a stressed syllable, and repeats this pattern five times in a line, with occasional variations.
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