Guide to Literary Terms

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What is the definition of couplet?

A couplet is two successive lines of verse, particularly those with matching meter and rhyme.

Couplet

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Last Updated May 25, 2023.

A couplet consists of two successive lines of verse, particularly those with matching meter and rhyme. Couplets can stand alone as a complete stanza or poem or can be found within longer stanzas. Two common kinds of couplets are heroic and elegiac. 

 

Couplet derives from the Old French word cople or cuple, from the Latin word copula, meaning “a bond.” Two common kinds of couplets are heroic and elegiac.

 

An example of a couplet can be found at the end of any Shakespearean or English sonnet. These poems end in couplets that either conclude or contradict the previous lines. In Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130, the speaker spends the first twelve lines comparing the speaker’s mistress to various unattractive things. Still, the final two lines reveal that the speaker finds her beautiful despite the listed defects: 

And yet, by heaven, I think my love is rare

As any, she belied with false compare.

(lines 13-14)

 

see: poetryrhyme 

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